Peyronie’s disease and Vitamin E

My medical doctor told me to take vitamin E as a Peyronies disease treatment; how should I do it?

Vitamin E is an extremely common first Peyronie’s disease treatment prescribed by urology specialists and family doctors.   In fact, vitamin E is used more often and by more urologists and general practitioners than any single therapy as an early front line treatment for Peyronie’s disease.  This should be of interest to anyone with Peyronie’s disease because vitamin E is probably more commonly recommended than any single drug that is prescribed as a treatment for Peyronies disease.  Vitamin E is usually the only non-drug Peyronie’s disease treatment that is recommended for early care, although others like acetyl-L-carnitine or co-enzyme Q are occasionally suggested later in care if other forms of treatment have failed.

Peyronie’s disease vitamin E dosage

The typical dosage advice from a medical doctor to a patient for Peyronie’s disease using vitamin E treatment  is often something like “take 400 IU of vitamin E a day.”   Sometimes the dosage will be doubled to “take no more than 800 IU of vitamin E daily” by some doctors who are more aggressive with their recommendation.

Since vitamin E is easily available in both a naturally occurring organic form, as well as a synthetic form, which of these two forms a person uses will determine how much can be safely taken.  Making up the natural form of vitamin E are eight different family members, four known as tocopherols and four known as tocotrienols.  All vitamin E members do basically the same kind of work within the body, but each varies slightly in its availability and exact function.   A balanced diet – which is very difficult to eat these days – will contain all these eight members of the vitamin E group.  The most widely distributed member of the vitamin E family is known as gamma tocopherol; it functions in the body to eliminate nitrogen free radicals and as a very effective anti-inflammatory agent.  The tocotrienol members function primarily for tissue health and are primarily found in the skin and sub-dermis where they protect against UV light radiation and free radical damage.

As vitamin is generally sold in this country the natural form of vitamin E is d-alpha-tocopherol, and synthetic vitamin E is dl-alpha-tocopheryl.  just as the names of these chemicals are different it is easy to understand that the chemicals are different and they work – or do not work – differently in the body.

It is very important to know that most vitamin E supplements contain only the single member known as alpha tocopherol because for many years it was thought that this was the only member of vitamin E family of eight that had an actual function in human health.   In fact, most vitamin E skin products contain a small amount of synthetic dl-alpha-tocopheryl acetate.  This means that the great majority of vitamin E therapy products contain only one small part of the entire vitamin E family of eight, and often it is present in the less well absorbed and less effective synthetic form.   Recent research confirms that only those supplements that supply the complete vitamin E family, and are especially high in gamma tocopherol and all four tocotrienols in their natural and unesterified form, contribute to accelerated wound healing, minimal scarring and improved antioxidant capacity.  For these reasons anyone who is interested in following his doctor’s prescription for Peyronies treatment with vitamin E should be careful to only use a complete organic form of vitamin E of all members that is heavily slanted toward gamma tocopherol and all the tocotrienols.

In all my years of counseling thousands of men about their Peyronies disease treatment have I ever had one man tell me his doctor said much more than “take 400 or 800  IU of vitamin E a day.”   This lack of information is probably due to the average doctor’s lack of interest and lack of knowledge about human nutrition, and his over-dependence on drugs and surgery to treat patients.   It is my opinion that a large reason that many people do not notice any improvement when following their doctor’s advice to start Peyronie’s disease treatment using vitamin E is the patient is not told about what kind of vitamin E to take, and so takes a cheap, synthetic, single-family form of vitamin E that is doomed for failure from the onset.

Peyronie’s and vitamin E controversy

Concern about vitamin E safety since 2005 has been due solely to bad publicity in this area generated by the drug industry, based on perpetuation of faulty research and misinterpretation of findings leading to condemnation of vitamin E supplementation.

In a January 2005 article in The Annals of Internal Medicine titled, “Meta-Analysis: High-Dosage Vitamin E Supplementation May Increase All-Cause Mortality,” results of a flawed and biased study are presented.   the conclusions drawn in this report about vitamin E usage are incorrect for the following reasons:

  • Those who took part in this vitamin E research often combined vitamin E with various drugs while they were being studied.  All potential and actual adverse drug reactions to these different drug combinations were not factored in or considered anywhere in the study results.
  • All study participants were elderly people, already being treated for a variety of chronic diseases. The researchers report this as a strong complicating issue, and puts suspicion on all conclusions because these elderly and sick people are far more likely to be taking high doses of vitamin E. They readily admit it is inaccurate to generalize these findings of this group to a healthy, normal, average or younger age group population.
  • This study contained too many variables.  It evaluated many different research studies, all of them used different procedures and protocols such as different vitamin E dosages administered for a widely variable amount of time. They admit they evaluated and combined data from sources that originated and were collected in different ways; they went beyond comparing apples and oranges, they compared grapes and bowling balls.
  • None of the studies reported took the time to report or differentiate chemical immense differences of natural and synthetic vitamin E.
  • Within the scientific community the findings of the original research has been broadly questioned and criticized.

Vitamin E safety 

This article in The Annals of Internal Medicine states vitamin E has a relative risk of 1.05.

A relative risk of 1.0 is actually a neutral finding.   This 1.05 risk level is not clinically significant to establish an association between a fatal dose or use high dose of a vitamin like vitamin E.  Consider that water might have a relative risk of 1.05 in certain situations.

Before taking higher doses of vitamin E for therapeutic benefit, consult a health professional first.  Discuss your health concerns, possible vitamin E side effects, and what dosage of vitamin E might be best for you.  Vitamin E may be deficient in some diets, especially those following a very low fat diet.  Most nutrition experts agree that taking vitamin E supplements is safe, but not medical doctors because they do not study nutrition.

Vitamin E not researched well  as a Peyronie’s treatment

Because of the early success of vitamin E that has been reported for treating Peyronie’s disease, vitamin E is the most commonly prescribed form of non-drug Peyronies treatment.   This is why most medical doctors prescribe vitamin E as an early Peyronies treatment.  With the history of positive results for vitamin E to treat Peyronie’s disease, very limited additional research has been done after these early reports of success.  There is a reason for that.

One is the few complaints about the effects of vitamin E and Peyronie’s treatment that is used to justify not using vitamin E for PD, is that not enough research has been done to prove vitamin E is a good treatment.  But have you noticed that every time research is mentioned about vitamin E treatment for Peyronie’s disease, there will be a line that says, “Early testing of Peyronie’s disease treatment with vitamin E showed initial promise and success.  However, more testing needs to be done.”   This is such a common comment I am sure everyone who is interested in this subject has read it.   So the question must be asked, “Why hasn’t this additional testing been done after all these years about Peyronies disease and vitamin E treatment effectiveness?”

Simply because vitamin E showed early promise as a Peyronies treatment, additional research stopped.  This lack of interest appears to due to several reasons:   Vitamin E is a known essential human nutrient; it is a relatively inexpensive vitamin to extract from abundant food sources; it has widespread and valuable health benefits; the powerful drug industry is not interested in spending money proving that vitamin E can be an effective and valid Peyronie’s treatment if it cannot control and make abundant profit from it as it does drugs.  It seems that profit is the reason vitamin E has not been researched as a treatment for Peyronies disease.

Vitamin E does not offer a large profit margin to the large drug companies because it cannot be patented or held as a monopoly;  hundreds of companies already manufacture and sell it, and so the competition keeps the price and profit relatively low.   Without adequate profit, large drug companies lack motivation to investigate vitamin E as a potential treatment for Peyronie’s disease.

By not continuing to the necessary research the drug industry has blocked vitamin E from serious consideration as a valid Peyronies treatment.   For this reason you will continue to hear that your doctor cannot strongly promote the use of vitamin E for treatment of Peyronie’s disease because it has not been proven through medical research to work as a treatment.