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Burning down the house

I have a critically important warning today for anyone who may be taking medication for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – a warning that could save lives.

And I also have a follow-up to that warning: There are safe, natural options that may help treat this debilitating disease.



“Curing” to the extreme 

Earlier this month an FDA advisory panel recommended that the agency should require makers of a class of RA drugs called anti-TNF (or anti-tumor necrosis factor) to inform consumers that their products may cause incurable lymph cancer.

Tuberculosis and elevated infection risk are two of the other known side effects of this drug class. But as side effects go, you don’t get much worse than incurable cancer.

The three most popular pharmaceuticals in this class are Remicade, Enbrel, and Humira. They block TNF, a molecule that causes inflammation of joints and relieves the pain associated with RA. The problem with blocking TNF, however, is that it also helps control infection and may help the immune system fight cancer. In other words, the pharmaceutical solution here is typical of so many prescription drugs: If your house is infested with mice, burn the house down – no more mice.

Meanwhile, the FDA panel that issued the recommendations about the anti-TNF drugs is also reviewing increased reports that another type of RA drug called Arava has caused more than 50 cases of liver failure resulting in eight deaths.

When autoimmune fails

Fortunately, there is an effective natural treatment for rheumatoid arthritis that is showing promising results and doesn’t require setting the house on fire.

In autoimmune diseases like RA (and others, like lupus and MS), the immune system goes wrong somehow. Instead of serving its normal protective function, it produces abnormally high levels of antibodies called circulating immune complexes (CICs). In a healthy person, the pancreas naturally produces enzymes that break down CICs so they can pass through the kidneys for excretion. But in people with compromised immune systems, CICs begin to accumulate in the body’s soft tissue and organs, causing the inflammation that leads to RA and, in extreme cases, organ failure.

Those who suffer from an autoimmune disorder can clear their systems of excess CICs by supplementing their body’s stockpile of enzymes. This can lead to a dramatic reduction in inflammation and many of the most debilitating symptoms.

Over the last 20 years, German scientists have led the research on the use of enzymes to treat autoimmune diseases. Much of their focus has been on the oral supplement called Wobenzyme, which contains several important pancreatic enzymes, such as Pancreatin, Trypsin, and Chymotripsin. Clinical studies have shown that Wobenzyme can prevent RA flare-ups by lowering levels of CICs. In one study, more than 60 percent of the RA patients tested showed significant improvement in symptoms when using Wobenzyme.

RA benefits and more

In the HSI February 2001 Members Alert we told you about some other benefits of Wobenzyme, including its ability to

  • Speed recovery from surgery and physical trauma
  • Boost resistance to flu and colds
  • Help cleanse the body of toxins and reduce free radical damage
  • Improve symptoms associated with chronic ailments such as tinnitus, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, prostatitis, bronchitis, urinary tract infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, sinusitis, herpes, chlamydia, and circulatory disorders
It should be noted that Wobenzyme, like most natural substances, works slowly to restore your natural defenses and heal your body from the inside out. It may be several weeks before you notice a sustained reduction in swelling and other symptoms. Also, bear in mind that enzymes do effect digestion. Gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation are all possible when first starting enzyme supplementation. So, it’s important to start slowly. After a few weeks, your body will adjust and any side effects should subside.

Wobenzyme is available without a prescription and can be found at most health and vitamin stores as well as various sources on the Internet. But as always, before considering a new therapy – or considering discontinuing an existing one – it’s important to consult with your doctor, especially if you suffer from RA or any other autoimmune disease. Wobenzyme consists mainly of proteolytic enzymes, which are known to break down and dissolve particles in the blood. Therefore, if you’re taking a blood thinner, such as Warfarin, you should not use Wobenzyme.

If you know someone who’s suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, please forward this e-Alert and let them know that there’s a far safer alternative to the type of pharmaceuticals that create life-threatening “cures.”


To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson
Health Sciences Institute

“FDA Backs Warning on Three Arthritis Drugs” Associated Press, 3/5/03
“Enbrel & Remicade: Side By Side” Carol Eustice, What You Need to Know About Arthritis,