I have been trying to get my head around why Biotin makes me feel stronger, less fatigued and overall, better able to get through the day.
I have used Biotin as part of my daily supplement regime since my neurologist told me about MedDay's first pilot study in 2015. Interest in Biotin has only grown since then, even though MedDay's last stage 3 trial back in 2019 failed to meet it's end points and they abandoned their research into it. Between you and me, I think they just realised the Patents they had invested in were not going to make them the Billions they were hoping and abandoned their research! However, even with the MedDay setback, more and more entities continue to theorise, investigate and trial Biotin in an effort to understand why it seems to help with neurodegenerative diseases such as MS.
Most recently I found a report from earlier this year  which investigates how a Magnesium/Biotin formulation improved cognitive function. All be it was in rats but it got me thinking about Biotin again. So I thought I would share my theories on why it helps me Live Well with MS.
First a bit about Neurons, how they work and why they don't work quite so well in us MS'ers. Neurons create and transmit the trillions of signals around our bodies to keep us functioning properly. Let's call each of these signals an Action. I think most of us are now aware that MS results in damage to Myelin. The protective coating lining the Axon, the part of the Neuron that transmits the Action to the next Neuron and so on. The Action is relayed through billions of Neurons until it reaches it's destination and contracts a muscle, or the reverse, feeds back a sense of touch to our brains, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera... At any point in this massive network a "leak" in the Myelin of any Neuron degrades the signal. The more "leaks" we have in our Neural network the less chance the Action has of getting through to its final destination.
To give you an idea of the scale of this network, each Neuron is connected to as many as 10,000 other Neurons. It is estimated that 80 Billion Neurons can communicate at once, passing signals to one another through as many as a quadtrillion synapses. That is a 1 with 12 zeros after it.
Anyway, back on point! These Actions are electrical in nature but not the electricity we know - the electricity that powers everything from our mobile phones to our houses and cars. But I find it useful to draw a parallel here to help explain how Neurons work and why Biotin helps us function a little better.
Batteries (Neurons) create the electricity we use in our every day devices in the form of electrons. Negatively charged particles and transmits these electrons along metal wires (Axons) insulated by a plastic coating (Myelin) to insulate the wires from their surroundings. Where as Neurons use energy to form positively charged ions and transmit these positive ions along the Axon to the next Neuron. The chemistry of Neuronal Action is very different to electrical but the principles are similar.
The resting potential of the neuron refers to the difference between the voltage inside and outside the neuron. The resting potential of the average neuron is around -70 millivolts, indicating that the inside of the cell is 70 millivolts less than the outside of the cell.
A Neuron uses Ions, positively charged Sodium, Potassium and Calcium Ions and negatively charged Chloride ions to change the potential in the Neuron. It does this by opening and closing "Gates" which are specific to each Ion. The Neuron will "Fire" (send signal down Axon) when the potential difference between the inside and outside of the cell reaches a certain level. This level is referred to the Action Potential (AP) and is positive 30 millivolts (+30 mV). When this action potential travels along the Axon and hits the next Neuron the process is repeated and the signal is conveyed to the muscle or wherever it is going. If the Myelin is damaged the potential "leaks" out much like a short circuit on an electrical wire. This results in the potential reaching the next Neuron being below the Action Potential threshold required to trigger the next Neuron. Thereby the next Neuron in the chain will not fire and the process is interrupted.
The Battery in your mobile phone gets it's energy from being "charged". This reverses the chemical reaction in the battery and creates a potential difference much like a neuron. However a Neuron gets energy by using Biotin to convert sugars and oxygen into the energy it needs. When the AP is reached it either fires, this is called the All-Or-None law. However research has now shown it is not this simple . AP can be Boosted. Where the damaged Myelin short circuits the signal and a +30mV AP is not sufficient to trigger the next Neuron. Perhaps a Boosted AP of, for example, 3.3mV less leakage due to damaged Myelin results in an AP of 30mV reaching next Neuron thereby triggering that Neuron to fire and hence continuation of signal propagation.
Consider an electric light in a dodgy old home. When you flick the switch to turn it on it buzzes and crackles and the light flickers. Sometimes getting the electricity it needs to glow brightly, sometimes not. It is loosing some of the voltage (it's Action Potential) in the dodgy switch. So you flip the switch several times which helps the contacts and allows a stronger signal to reach the light and the light glows normally again.
Now I theorise that something similar is happening in our damaged Neurons and the extra Biotin provides a more robust energy source, a slightly higher action potential, which helps the signals get to their destination.
Now the chemistry of the Neuron is far more complicated that I have alluded to but the principles are valid.
I believe this is how Biotin helps our damaged Neurons function a little better and thereby reduce the symptoms we experience.
Would love any feedback/thoughts/questions.
- Burak Yulug Ertugrul Kilic Cemal Orhan, Besir Er, et all. Dose-Dependent Role of a New Biotin Compound in Hippocampal Demyelination in Rats. https://www.researchsquare.com/article/rs-1260883/v1
- and osting of Action Potential Backpropagation by Neocortical Network Activity In Vivo.