A VILLAGE GP whose pioneering research has benefited hundreds of patients has recently returned from a ground-breaking lecture tour in his native India.
In the former mining village of Horden, County Durham, Dr Joseph Chandy is a well-respected local GP who has treated generations of patients during his 40 years at the Shinwell Medical Practice.
But in India he is seen as a pioneering authority on illnesses and fatigue caused by a deficiency of the vitamin B12.
The 71-year-old says his research and vitamin injections have benefited hundreds of patients both in east Durham and in India.
Last month he spent the gap between Christmas and New Year touring part of India, speaking to medical schools, major hospital groups and government ministers.
At the Fourth Street medical practice, his methods have been used to treat dozens of patients, while in India his lecture tour was extensively reported in national and regional publications.
He has also received the Glory of India award for his work into vitamin B12 deficiency and has met Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street.
Dr Chandy believes people diagnosed with debilitating conditions like multiple sclerosis could in fact be suffering from a lack of B12.
He said: “I would describe B12 deficiency as a ‘forgotten illness’ because it is not widely recognised by the medical profession in England, but in India the medical authorities were very receptive towards me. Vitamin B12 deficiency is a dramatic disease which can have a fatal outcome. Unlike many other disorders, it can mimic multiple sclerosis, cause limb paralysis and blindness.
“Vitamin B12 deficiency is treatable and is inexpensive to treat. I even believe that the discovery of Vitamin B12 is second only in importance to penicillin but many doctors seem reluctant to recognise the fact, in this country at least.”
Most people get enough B12 through meat and dairy products in their diet, but some patients’ digestive systems can fail to absorb the vitamin even though they have a normal diet.
Dr Chandy says B12 deficiency can manifest itself in many ways, and has little to do with economic conditions.
“It can affect anyone rich or poor but symptoms include anaemia, extreme fatigue, hair loss, pins and needles in the hands and feet, paralysis of the limbs and depression,” he said.
“Patients with B12 deficiency are often labelled as neurotic or ‘heart sink’ patients, because doctors see them as a nuisance and say their heart sinks when they come into the surgery. But they have genuine symptoms which can be cured.”
Dr Chandy’s work is supported by the charity B12 Deficiency Support Group.
I would describe B12 deficiency as a ‘forgotten illness’ because it is not widely recognised