Wow, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) an infection? This idea has been around since the 1950s when the sulpha drug sulfasalazine was developed to deal with the possible infection that caused this painful and debilitating disease. Since the 1950s, a range of heavy-duty medications that have serious side effects have been used to control the rampant symptoms that RA can bring upon its unfortunate sufferers. This includes children, who can contract ‘Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis’ (JRA) also known as Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA). Idiopathic means ‘no known cause’.

It doesn’t make sense that healthy adults and children get literally ‘struck down, by rheumatoid arthritis. Turns out that the idea of a bacterial cause of RA is still alive and well – and people treated for it are getting better.

I was looking because a patient, a 28-year-old mother of two, had severe, galloping RA. She was on a long list of cortisone and chemotherapy medications, which were barely keeping her joint pain and hand deformities under control. Nothing I prescribed for her helped either. It just didn’t make sense to me that otherwise healthy children and adults, out of the blue, are struck down by RA. So onto the internet I went. It wasn’t long before I found a book called ‘The New Arthritis Breakthrough’ by Henry Scammell. Sure, so many book titles promise solutions, I thought, but I bought it anyway.

Henry Scammell, the author, tells the remarkable story of how a Doctor Thomas McPherson Brown pioneered the world’s first effective treatment that addressed the cause of RA. Doctor Brown worked with Albert Sabin, (developer of the polio vaccine) at the Rockefeller Institute before World War II, and isolated a bacteria-like substance from the joint fluid of a woman with arthritis. Using this knowledge he successfully treated over 10,000 patients who had arthritic diseases, using antibiotics. His success was not well received, and so the treatment did not become widely used. It was only after Doctor Brown’s death that his theory became scientifically verified in the 1990’s. It’s all in the book, but since then, a group of patients have set up a website called The Road Back Foundation which explains everything about this treatment, the scientific evidence, information to take to your doctor, compelling testimonials and a patient forum. It’s a pretty good one-stop-shop.

One lady I spoke to had a daughter with scleroderma who saw the website and thought: “Yeah, sure” and carried on looking, but then came back to it and had her daughter successfully treated. Scleroderma is a life-threatening connective tissue disease, so she is delighted that her daughter is able to lead a normal life now.

Sadly, this relatively safe treatment is not well known or received among the world’s rheumatologists and the most likely treatment RA sufferers receive are medications that have serious side effects – especially when taken long-term.

If you are newly diagnosed, or tired of cortisone and methotrexate, antibiotic therapy might be something worth considering. The book has stories in it of people who were able to stop taking the heavy-duty drugs and maintain well on antibiotic treatment.

As far as I’m concerned, The Road Back Foundation is a real find – the tricky part is finding a doctor who is prepared to use this treatment for you, but there is help for that too.
Nyema