Mefloquine is a drug that was given to all UN/NATO troops in Afghanistan and Iraq as an antimalarial, as well as, presumably for its “off label effects, which we’ll go into, to prisoners at Guatanamo Bay.
First tested on prisoners, mefloquine was handed out to Canadian Armed Forces members “theoretically” as part of a controlled study by Health Canada; however, appropriate oversight did not occur, and our soldiers were forced to take a drug which causes psychosis, hallucinations, paranoia, long-term cardiac, liver, and spinal problems, and which shares action with nerve agents such as sarin or “truth serum” on acetylcholinergic and muscarin neuroreceptors respectively. I can only imagine it was for this reason that despite the CDC not requiring anti-malarials in Cuba that it was given to people in detainment at Gitmo, particularly as it was used in doses exceeding those used for either prophylaxis or treatment.
Mefloquine causes many systemic problems as mentioned, but one of the more notable difficulties posed by the drug is the fact that it severely complicates diagnoses such as PTSD, myalgic encephalitis, fibromyalgia, or even ankylosing spondylitis or liver damage.
Because of the neurotoxicity it induces, many otherwise superior soldiers succumbed to madness in the theatre of combat, particularly Canada’s Airborne, who were disbanded in disgrace following the Somalia incident, despite or possibly because of actual evidence that the drug directly contributed to the mental state that led to one of our soldiers torturing a young boy there. For further information on the Airborne and this link, I refer you to John Dowe at the International Mefloquine Alliance.
Sometimes called the military’s suicide pill, mefloquine has directly been implicated in a number of violent deaths including murders and suicides, though I do not desire to to add to the stigma our veterans face, and it is widely believed by many that the effects are both permanent and nontreatable; I however take issue with this, as thus far attempts to address the problem have been psychiatric or psychological, not molecular.
The pharmacodynamic action of the drug is incredibly complex, therefore I am choosing to address particular features which I believe may lead to appropriate treatment.
First, the drug acts by effecting mitochondrial function and this leads to degeneration of nerve axons. This dysfunction has in a laboratory setting been proven to be mitigated in cochlear organs, which are part of the ears, with the administration of NAD+. Research to support the theory that coenzyme q10 would be beneficial exists, and I see no reason why trying other proven antioxidants should be harmful.
Secondly, it effects the liver, and as discussed in previous podcasts, liver damage can cause psychiatric symptomatology. This means that supplements which support liver function are necessary, such as milk thistle seeds or extracts, coffee, etc.
Thirdly, it effects neurotransmitters and neuroreceptors as well as glial matter, leading to the manifestation of psychiatric disturbances and cognitive issues. Glial deterioration is often a result of mitochondrial dysfunction, and is best resolved with antioxidants such as q10, probiotics for biodome health, fish oils and other sources of omega fats, and oxytocin (which is now available to some autistic patients in an inhaler form, but which can be produced through nesting behaviour, hugging and kissing, looking with “soft eyes” into a dog’s eyes, or exposure to young children).
Fourth, and I’m not at all sure how to address this, aside from stem cell transplant, mefloquine has been considered as a possible chemotherapeutic agent for prostate cancer and mastocytosis, partly because it permanently kills wild mast cells, which are an important part of the body’s defence against inflammation and infection.
As for the neurotoxicity, the use of neuroprotective agents such as cannabis, NAC, turmeric, Su He Xian Wan essential oil, etc., would certainly not hurt, and may offer very real relief.
All of this creates several conundrums and contributes to confusion in both diagnosis and treatment. Most notably is the fact that the Canadian leadership has elected thus far to remain mute on the issue, despite allied nations moving forward in recognizing mefloquine toxicity as a real disability, and receiving fair compensation has proven impossible thus far.
PTSD is likely a separate problem (although evidence exists to support that it is also a biological cellular problem rather than purely psychological), but the fact is that because of overlap of symptoms, mefloquine toxicity is generally overlooked as a cause of problems, and lack of awareness of the dangers of mefloquine by both veterans and physicians makes it unlikely that toxicity would be the first thought, nor would mitochondrial dysfunction. I suggest contacting a functional health specialist or locating a very open-minded GP. Those who have recovered from mefloquine toxicity tell me they found their relief through holistic and complementary medicine, often entirely by accident.