A Detoxification Intervention for Gulf War Illness: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial.
Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Oct 28 ;16(21). Epub 2019 Oct 28. PMID: 31661809
Approximately 30% of the 700,000 US veterans of the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War developed multiple persistent symptoms called Gulf War illness. While the etiology is uncertain, several toxic exposures including pesticides and chemical warfare agents have shown associations. There is no effective medical treatment. An intervention to enhance detoxification developed by Hubbard has improved quality of life and/or reduced body burdens in other cohorts. We evaluated its feasibility and efficacy in ill Gulf War (GW) veterans in a randomized, waitlist-controlled, pilot study at a community-based rehabilitation facility in the United States. Eligible participants (= 32) were randomly assigned to the intervention (= 22) or a four-week waitlist control (= 10). The daily 4-6 week intervention consisted of exercise, sauna-induced sweating, crystalline nicotinic acid and other supplements. Primary outcomes included recruitment, retention and safety; and efficacy was measured via Veteran's Short Form-36 (SF-36) quality of life, McGill pain, multidimensional fatigue inventory questionnaires and neuropsychological batteries. Scoring of outcomes was blinded. All 32 completed the trial and 21 completed 3-month follow-up. Mean SF-36 physical component summary score after the intervention was 6.9 (95% CI; -0.3, 14.2) points higher compared to waitlist control and 11 of 16 quality of life, pain and fatigue measures improved, with no serious adverse events. Most improvements were retained after 3 months. The Hubbard regimen was feasible, safe and might offer relief for symptoms of GW illness.