autoimmune diseases

Answers for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Other Autoimmune Diseases

Rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, lupus, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, Crohn’s, and scores of other disorders fall into the general category of “autoimmune diseases.” These progressive disorders, which affect more than 24 million people in this country, cause significant pain and disability. Yet conventional medicine has blindly accepted the idiotic notion that there is no cause for autoimmunity (auto comes from the Greek word for self)—that the body’s immune system suddenly goes rogue and attacks its own tissues. As a result, physicians treat patients with powerful, toxic prescription drugs to reduce symptoms and suppress the immune system rather than looking for actual causes and effective treatments for autoimmune diseases.

What’s Triggering These Autoimmune Diseases?

In my opinion, this is just plain stupid. There must be a cause, an underlying trigger. Think about it. The immune system is tasked with identifying and attacking bacteria, viruses, and other foreign invaders. A key aspect of this finely tuned system is the ability to discern “self” from “non-self.” Why would the body turn on itself for no reason?

It doesn’t. There has to be something that initially activates the immune system—and the most likely culprit is an infectious agent. Case in point: rheumatoid arthritis, a classic and relatively common autoimmune disease that attacks the joints.

More than 70 years ago, rheumatologist Thomas McPherson Brown, MD, was working at the Rockefeller Institute in New York when he isolated small microorganisms in the synovial fluid taken from the joint of a patient with rheumatoid arthritis. Dr. Brown theorized that this bug—eventually identified as mycoplasma, a type of bacteria that lacks a cell wall and is thus resistant to penicillin and several other antibiotics—could be the cause of rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory disorders.

Breakthrough in Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

Dr. Brown discovered that mycoplasma was sensitive to tetracycline and began administering low doses of this antibiotic to affected patients with excellent results. The news spread, and patients flocked to his clinic in Washington, DC, where he was head of arthritis research for the Veteran’s Administration and later Dean of Medicine at George Washington University Medical School.

During his 50-year medical career, Dr. Brown treated approximately 10,000 people with this protocol and reported a 90 percent success rate. His most famous patient was Tomoka, a gorilla at the National Zoo. Nine-year-old Tomoka was crippled with rheumatoid arthritis and in such severe pain that his keepers seriously considered putting him to sleep. They finally consulted Dr. Brown, who treated the animal with his antibiotic protocol. He completely recovered and, until his death at age 30, Tomoka was one of the zoo’s most popular residents.

The safety and effectiveness of antibiotics for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases has been addressed in more than 200 scientific papers. The definitive study, published in the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine in 1995, involved 219 adults with active, mild-to-moderate rheumatoid arthritis who took either 200 mg of minocycline (a newer antibiotic in the tetracycline family) or a placebo daily for 48 weeks. More than half of the participants in the antibiotic group had improvements of at least 50 percent in joint tenderness, which was significantly better than the placebo group. They also had much greater reductions in inflammation and other markers of the disease.

Effective Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Still Not Accepted

This is a breakthrough, folks. Low-dose antibiotics are the first and, to date, the only therapy that goes after the cause of rheumatoid arthritis or any other autoimmune disease. But like many innovations in medicine, it’s largely ignored.

A few years ago, a group of researchers looked at the medical records of nearly 16,000 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and determined that only 9 percent of them had been treated with minocycline or doxycycline (another tetracycline-like antibiotic). They acknowledged that these drugs are “moderately effective” and “generally well tolerated” but concluded, “Rheumatologists have not embraced minocycline or doxycycline as primary treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis and reserve their use primarily in patients with long-standing, refractory disease.”

That’s just bad medicine. The side effects of low doses of these antibiotics—sun sensitivity, GI upset, and rare dizziness—are a walk in the park compared to the life-threatening adverse effects of prednisone, methotrexate, Enbrel, and other common treatments for autoimmune diseases. Furthermore, these hard hitters only address symptoms.

I’m convinced that much of this ignorance stems from the medical community’s conviction that there’s no rhyme or reason for the onset of autoimmune diseases. Rather than looking for and treating potential underlying causes, physicians simply accept Big Pharma’s  incredibly expensive and dangerous armamentarium.

A Holistic Approach to Rheumatoid Arthritis

Antibiotic therapy is not a slam dunk. It’s been best studied and most often used in rheumatic conditions that affect the joints and connective tissue, such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome, and ankylosing spondylitis. Nor is mycoplasma the only autoimmune trigger. Other microbes, food and environmental allergens, heavy metals, and chemical toxins can also cause the immune system to overreact, and they too must be identified and addressed.

In summary, it’s time we take the “auto” out of autoimmune disease, stop using a Band-Aid approach, and get to the root of the problem. Then—and only then—will patients have a fighting chance of remission and reversal of these chronic, debilitating conditions.

My Recommendations for Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

Minocycline therapy requires a prescription. The usual protocol for rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatic diseases is 100 mg of Minocin on an empty stomach twice a day, preferably taken mid-morning and at bedtime, for several months to more than a year.

The Road Back Foundation provides a wealth of information about antibiotic therapy as well as a physician referral service. Visit www.roadback.org to learn more.

LDN: A Life-Saver for Other Autoimmune Diseases

I mentioned above that I rarely prescribe prescription drugs, however, low-dose naltrexone (LDN) makes that very short list. LDN has been a godsend for many of my patients suffering with all types of autoimmune diseases.

Since we began using LDN at the Whitaker Wellness Institute eight years ago, we’ve seen amazing responses in patients with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue, as well as other health concerns like ulcerative colitis, IBS, hepatitis C, Parkinson’s disease, allergies, cold sores, and some types of cancer.

Because LDN helps regulate the immune system and enhances resistance to disease, we also prescribe it for healthy people. I take it myself, and although I can’t say for certain that it’s the reason I rarely get sick (I also take a lot of other preventive measures), LDN is a central part of my personal program for healthy aging.

LDN requires a prescription and must be obtained through a compounding pharmacy. The recommended dose is 3–4.5 mg at bedtime. If your doc isn’t willing to prescribe it, come see us. Call (866) 632-8890 or click here for a complimentary consultation today.

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