by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit
Because of its chronicity, arthritis tends to cause many sufferers to seek out "miracle cures". It's estimate that at least $2 billion dollars is spent annually on questionable remedies.
"Miracle" cures for arthritis range from honey to apple cider vinegar to copper bracelets. While these are relatively harmless, there is one major danger that peddlers of quack products cause. They cause people to postpone getting effective treatment.
In the past, there have deen devices such as the "inductoscope" which was supposed to cure through magnetic induction.
The "Congo kit" consisted of two hemp gloves that were supposed to cure arthritis through the simple act of wearing them.
Copper bracelets supposedly allow copper to be absorbed through the skin, thereby relieving arthritis symptoms.
And the "Acu-Dot," a small, round, adhesive bandage with tiny magnets attached, was touted as a remedy to relieve minor aches and pains of arthritis.
The "Stimulator," a device advertised in print and through infomercials that included a testimonial by Evel Knievel, was said to alleviate arthritis through the power of a weak electric current.
No device has proven effective in treating arthritis, and the Food and Drug Administration has taken legal action against the promoters of some of these "remedies."
Other dietary and "natural" cures have been promoted for arthritis treatment, including green-lipped mussel extract, shark cartilage, gin-soaked raisins, honey and vinegar, and dried liver extract.
Certain diets have also been promoted. Examples are avoidance of certain foods, such as tomatoes or potatoes. With the exception of gout, dietary treatments have not lived up to their promise. Which isn't to say their is no evidence they can be helpful. Some studies have shown some beneficial effects.
According to the FDA, no herb, either singly or in combination with other herbs or ingredients, can cure any form of arthritis. There is a paucity of evidence that exists to suggest that a lack of vitamins or minerals causes arthritis or that taking vitamins or minerals will cure it.
Another controversial treatment for arthritis pain relief is dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). Used as an industrial solvent, it has been promoted as a rub-on liquid to relieve arthritis. Although legally available in some states, its use as a treatment for arthritis has not been approved by the FDA. FDA reports cite side effects associated with its use in tests, including nausea, headaches, eye damage, and skin rashes. What it does do is promote the penetration of other medicines. An example is the topical arthritis anti-inflammatory drug, Pennsaid. The DMSO helps the diclofenac penetrate the skin rapidly.
Injections of growth hormones, chelation (a blood-cleansing technique), and use of Chinese herbs have their proponents.
Because the nature of arthritis is to wax and wane, use of an unproven "cure" with subsequent relief of symptoms can convince the sufferer that the therapy or product brought the relief.
Tips from the FDA and the NIH
Because causes and symptoms vary with the type of arthritis as well as from person to person, treatments vary as well. Be suspicious of any one remedy that claims to relieve the symptoms of all types of arthritis.
Be wary of advertisements that claim FDA approval. Federal law does not permit the mention of "FDA" or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in any way that suggests marketing approval for any drug or medical device.
If you have questions about an advertised product, check with your nearest FDA office or Better Business Bureau before buying the product.
Be wary of health remedies sold door-to-door or at public lectures by self-proclaimed health advisers.
Look at high-pressure sales tactics and one-time-only deals as clues that something is wrong.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Health Information Center can help you get in touch with public and private groups that have information about traditional and alternative therapies for arthritis and other conditions. Your public library also may have a computer link to provide you with direct access to the National Health Information Center.
To check on whether a product is "government approved," to learn more about an over-the-counter drug, prescription drug, cosmetic, or medical device, or to report an adverse reaction to any of these products, call the Food and Drug Administration's Consumer Affairs Information Line.
For the latest information on vitamins and nutritional supplements, call the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
The Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, is part of the United States government. It is FDA's job to make sure medicines for arthritis and other illnesses work and are safe.
You can also contact FDA through its toll-free number, 1-888-INFO-FDA (1-888-463-6332). Or, on the web at www.fda.gov.
Or call the Arthritis Foundation's toll-free number, 1-800-283-7800.
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Click here Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit
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