Vitamins for RA?

Some folks claim that vitamins can cure RA.  Is that true?

Vitamin deficiencies can cause joint pain.  If an individual has a vitamin deficiency and corrects that deficiency, then it is logical that their symptoms would resolve.  One example is Vitamin D.  It’s possible for a Vitamin D deficiency to cause joint pain.  Furthermore, many RA patients have low levels of Vitamin D.  Bringing D levels up (current recommendations are above 30) should be done in anyone who is low, regardless of their diagnosis.  This sometimes alleviates or lessens joint pain.

That doesn’t mean, however, that every RA patient can take Vitamin D and be cured.  Those who have a deficiency might experience a reduction in disease activity.  Others, however, are not going to benefit from correcting a non-existent deficiency.

There are a host of vitamins that might  help RA patients.  Why might that be?  If someone feels too crummy to eat for a few years, might that affect their nutrient levels?  Maybe.  If so, the person might well respond to vitamins.

Another person, however, might not have vitamin deficiencies.  That person wouldn’t have a response to vitamin therapy.

In general, I have no problem with people taking vitamins to supplement what’s in their foods – whether or not they have been diagnosed with an autoimmune arthritic condition.  There are studies that say it’s helpful, and studies that say it’s not.  Which studies are you going to believe?  Until more definitive studies are done, I don’t have a problem with vitamins.  I do have a problem with people who say that vitamin therapy will cure RA.  Wrong approach.

Medical doctors don’t blindly accept the word of another clinician.  They want to see test results and do their own exam before accepting a diagnosis (or rejecting it and generating their own different diagnosis).  After a diagnosis is confirmed, then treatment can be prescribed.

Vitamin salesmen, however, blindly accept people’s word regarding their diagnosis.  “Oh, you think you have arthritis?  Let me sell you some vitamins to cure you.”  Maybe the person doesn’t have arthritis.  Not any kind.  Perhaps the person misunderstood which type of arthritis they have.  Perhaps anything.  It doesn’t make sense to sell someone a product to cure them without first thoroughly understanding what the problem is.

Last month, a dear friend sprung the vitamin thing on me.  She isn’t selling these pills. She doesn’t stand to gain financially.  She genuinely believes that one particular brand of vitamins will be the answer.  Because I value the friendship, I agreed to investigate.  Because I value my life, I can’t just buy a bunch of pills and hope they work.  I will investigate.

I had already planned to do a series of posts on vitamins.  This is separate, but related.  I will still do the vitamin series, but I’ll also be looking into the claims of a specific company, too.  It would be great if it’s true.  I’m not getting my hopes up, but for the sake of my friend, I’ll listen to what she has to say.

Despite my friend’s claims that there are people with RA who were in a wheelchair, and now are out thanks to this product, I’m skeptical.  If it were that easy, everyone would invest in these wonder-vitamins.  Show me the evidence.


Gin Soaked Raisins

Imagine if you could soak golden raisins in some alcohol, faithfully eat a few every day, and be cured of your RA.  Wouldn’t that be great?

There are, unfortunately, many people pushing this crazy idea.  Newly diagnosed patients who are searching for a cure hear this one and decide to give it a try instead of trying the treatment recommended by their doctors.  The rheumatologists I’ve asked had never heard of this “cure” so didn’t realize it’s something they even need to address.

What’s astonishing is that so many websites attempt to explain how this could possibly work:  chemicals in the raisins, chemicals in the juniper berries…  If you read their explanations, though, it becomes apparent that if this works at all, it would act like an NSAID.

If NSAIDs worked to cure RA, then people who took ibuprofen for years would not have had progressive joint damage and ended up permanently disabled, confined to a wheelchair within 5-10 years of their diagnosis.  If anti-inflammatories worked to cure RA, then there would have been no reason for pharmaceutical companies to research new and more effective drugs. DMARDs would never have been discovered because they wouldn’t have been needed.

Place golden (white) raisins in a shallow bowl.  Cover with good gin made from juniper berries and allow to soak for two weeks.  The gin that doesn’t soak into the raisins should evaporate.  Store in a sealed jar.  Eat nine of these raisins per day to cure arthritis.

Don’t we all wish it were that easy!

This does not work.  Nobody is cured of rheumatoid arthritis by eating gin soaked raisins.  In fact, many RA medicines make the liver work overtime, so doctors recommend NO alcohol.  People who want to try gin soaked raisins can’t try this along with their scientifically based RA treatment, so they must try it instead of treatments that have a proven track record.

Early, aggressive treatment is recommended for RA.  Do not risk further damage to your joints and organs by being sidetracked into trying crazy ideas that don’t work and could hurt you in the long run.


NSAID:  Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug
(ibuprofen, motrin, aleve, naproxen, feldene, daypro, mobic, etc)

DMARD:  Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drug
(methotrexate, plaquenil, sulfasalazine, gold, etc)

RA:  Rheumatoid Arthritis
(a systemic autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the body’s healthy joints and organs; not to be confused with OA, osteoarthritis, in which the cartilage cushion at a single joint starts to wear away)


A few of the places you can read about gin soaked raisins on the web:

Fox News

People’s Pharmacy

About Dot Com

Healthy Body Daily


Drunken Raisins

Gin Raisins Arthritis

Annie’s Remedy

Henriette’s Herbal Homepage

Associated Content from Yahoo

eZine Articles

Food Dot Com

24 Medica

Healthcare Veda

Home Remedies

Your Inner Voice

health e treatment

Cures for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Newly diagnosed?  Searching for an alternate to the scary-sounding drugs your doctor prescribed?  That’s normal.  If there’s a natural cure, spending thousands of dollars on medicines with long lists of serious side-effects doesn’t make sense.  Unfortunately, there’s a long list of unscrupulous people willing to take money from anybody willing to hand it over, regardless of whether or not what they’re selling really works.  Others might not be deliberately deceiving people; they just don’t realize the harm that they’re doing.  Regardless of the motivation, there are many people out there trying to push alternative treatments for RA.  I was surprised, then, at one conversation with a doctor:

At least with RA, the treatment is clear.  Nobody’s trying to talk you into doing something different.  I feel bad about all the fibromyalgia patients who have to deal with scams everywhere.  I even called a few of those phone numbers to see what they were saying, and it’s just a way to take people’s money; those things won’t help.  With RA, there’s nothing like that for patients to deal with.”

My rheumatologist said this.  Laughing, I told her about the gin-soaked raisin cure.  She’d never heard of it, but admitted with a grin, “Well, I guess if you eat enough of them, you won’t notice your pain.”

I was shocked that she had no idea what her patients face.  Do doctors really not know that everybody and their brother has a sure-fire “cure” for RA, and patients face quite a battle when well-meaning family and friends present us with all the things they think we should be doing instead of following our doctor’s advice?

For everyday short-term illnesses that just need a quick round of antibiotics, not a lot of explanation is needed.  People are familiar with that.  RA is different.  When I was faced with the need for life-long treatment, it would be great if my doctors had provided me with solid information to combat the nonsense I’m inundated with on a daily basis.

Most of us don’t share our medical information with other people, but when friends know you’ve been to the doctor again, it’s natural for them to ask, “What did the doctor say this time?”  When the doctor just gave you a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, the friends only hear “arthritis” and respond with some variation of, “Oh, I have that in my neck/knee/little finger; just take a motrin/ibuprofen/tylenol plus.”  The first thing doctors should tell RA patients is that this is a disease in which the immune system starts attacking healthy tissue (both joints and organs), and it is nothing like the wear-and-tear arthritis that many people get as they age.  The second thing RA patients need to hear is about the class of medicines called NSAIDs, and that they are not sufficient treatment for RA.

Next some well-intentioned person will say, “Doctors prescribe too many medicines without even checking how they interact with other things you’re taking.  Don’t let them give you a bunch of pills.”  Or my favorite:  “Medicines are toxic; you shouldn’t be taking that stuff.”  Doctors need to explain what “early, aggressive treatment” means.  Patients need to understand that the consequence of CAM instead of DMARDs is permanent deformity.  Doctors need to thoroughly explain the treatment plan for RA, explain about combination therapy, and explicitly state that all the prescriptions are (a) necessary, and (b) not going to interfere with one another.  Patients needs to understand all this well enough to explain it to friends who try to dissuade them from following their treatment plan.

Family and close friends will start surfing the net, somehow certain that the physicians who’ve dedicated their lives to learning about this disease, searching for a cure (or at least effective management of symptoms), have missed something so obvious that a simple consultation with Dr. Google will clear everything up.

Patients’ email boxes are filled to overflowing with links to websites, and phones ring off the hook as friends follow up to make sure we got the information they sent us and we are now going to ignore our doctor’s expert advice in exchange for the word of a stranger with questionable credentials (if it’s on the internet, it must be true).  Doctors can help their patients by knowing about the internet “cures” and teaching patients how to address those issues.

I imagine that people with other chronic diagnoses face similar issues.  With RA, some of the “cures” most frequently recommended by people with no medical credentials are:

Gin-soaked raisins
Antibiotic protocol (Road Back)
Marshall protocol
Treatment for Chronic Lyme Disease
Cider Vinegar
Copper Bracelets
Bee Stings
Certo Pectin

Then there are people trying to sell stuff:

Various improvements on glucosamine

I’ll do some future posts with more information about some of these so-called cures (and edit this to add links to those posts as I get them up).  Any you’d like to add?