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Rheumatoid Arthritis (January 2004) by David W. Gregg, Ph.D.
This Paper Is For Information Only. It Represents The Observations, Views And Opinions Of The Author, But Is Not A Recommendation For Treatment. Anyone Reading It Should Consult His/Her Physician Before Considering Treatment.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) affects mainly the joints of the hands and feet, although it can extend to other tissues. Of all the forms of arthritis, RA is most likely to lead to crippling disabilities. It is the most common “autoimmune” disease, affecting three times more women than men. It is characterized by inflammation and destruction of cartilage in the joints, often causing deformities in the fingers. Despite continued research, the cause of RA is unknown. Some researchers believe that an infectious microbe (mycoplasma or virus) is the cause and others believe it is simply the immune system has started to recognize the normal cells as foreign and attacks them (“Microbiology, Principles and Explorations” 5th Edition, by Jacquelyn G. Black, 2002, pg. 495.) In either case, it is recognized that the inflammatory immune response causes the bulk of the damage. In general, the drugs that treat the disease are anti-inflammatories. Since an inflammation response is an immune response, such anti-inflammatories can be viewed as immune suppressants. Some of my friends with the disease have told me that some of the drugs are reasonably effective at keeping their RA in control. However, there are others where the drugs have failed to control the disease. My view is that they may be helpful for many, but are limited in effectiveness because they do not address the root, viral cause.
I have long believed that most if not all autoimmune diseases, where the immune system attacks and damages normal cells, have an infectious agent as the root cause. The immune system is attacking the infectious agent with its usual inflammatory response, which is not very specific to the infectious agent. In doing so, it also damages surrounding normal cells as collateral damage. From the statements from the book referenced above, it appears that I am not alone in this suspicion. The big question is: What is the infectious agent?
For a long time I have been suspicious that it might be a herpes virus. As discussed in the above referenced book, there are a wide variety of herpes viruses that can be responsible for a number of different health issues. I won’t attempt to list them here. In general, herpes viruses have the characteristic of infecting nerve cells. Once in the cell, they create a “provirus” that takes up permanent residence in the body of the nerve cell, where the immune system will not attack it. It then serves as a template to produce active viruses. It can be dormant for long periods of time and when triggered, by an unknown cause, it will start to produce active viruses. These viruses will move along the axons of the nerve cells and exit at the terminal synaptic contacts. At this exit point the viruses can damage cells, creating the well recognized lesion which is called a “Cole sore” or fever blister” in the case of herpes simplex. The damage can be due to the virus or due to the inflammation response. In other types of herpes infections the herpes damage can be internal and not visible on the skin. Six variations of the herpes virus have been identified so far and that is certainly not the end. The infection usually cycles from dormant to active and back to dormant again.
Upon a closer look, it can be seen how this mechanism of virus production and dispersal serves to protect the source, provirus, in the body of the nerve cell. The immune system’s inflammation response will attack the active viruses that are exiting at the synaptic contacts, which are spatially removed from the nerve body. Thus the nerve body, which is the host for the source provirus, is protected from the immune system’s inflammation response. Since nerve cells have a long life, a herpes infection does also, essentially the life of the person.
If this is a cause of RA, then there must be infected nerve cells that have axons with terminal synaptic contacts in the joints where the inflammation is observed.
Historically, the common treatment for a herpes virus is the amino acid L-lysine. It appears that the mechanism of the lysine is to encourage the provirus to become dormant again stopping the production of more viruses. There are also drugs designed specifically to attack the herpes virus, which appear to be effective. If it is the cause, I reasoned that L-lysine as well as the drugs targeting the herpes virus should be effective in treating RA.
At this point in my thinking, I was reading the journal: The Scientist, Nov. 17, 2003, V. 17, No 22, pg.8. The article is titled “Natural Is Not Necessarily Better”. It is primarily focused on breast milk sometimes transmitting viruses to the infant. As part of the discussion it also states that “A study conducted on patients with rheumatoid arthritis showed that the prevalence of HTLV-1 Tax positivity is at least three times higher in such patients than in healthy individuals.” It also concludes that the virus was acquired transplacentally or by breast milk. HTLV-1 is a retrovirus discussed in the above referenced book on pg. 262. Could this be the cause of RA and not the herpes virus? Because it is a retrovirus, it is similar to the HIV virus responsible for AIDS. If that is the case, lysine and herpes drugs may be ineffective. There is no clear evidence that they are effective for retroviruses. Retroviruses are very different than herpes viruses. They are RNA viruses while herpes viruses are DNA viruses so one would not expect them to respond the same to the same treatments.
I then happened to read the book: “The Virus Within, A Coming Epidemic” by Nicholas Regush, 2000. This book mainly addresses HIV and AIDS. As part of this, it was found that, in the case of AIDS, there appeared to always be a co-infection with the herpes virus, Human Herpes Virus No. 6 (HHV-6). The evidence also indicated that HHV-6, not HIV, was the primary cause of cell damage and thus death. It occurred to me that if there was a HTLV-1 infection in RA, similar to HIV, there might also be a herpes co-infection. Similar to HIV, the herpes virus might be the primary cause of cell damage. If this was the case, then herpes treatments might be effective in treating RA.
Some time afterwards I got involved with Bill McLaughlin with ongoing discussions in a mutual area of interest, how nutritional approaches could be effective in helping with many illnesses. Our primary focus was cancer. In one of our discussions he happened to mention that his wife had a serious case of Rheumatoid Arthritis that drugs were not controlling. I then proceeded to tell him my thoughts about the disease, which concluded that Lysine might be very helpful. I also told him that I thought this had never been tried before. If his wife tried it she would probably be the first one to attempt to treat RA with L-lysine. He discussed this with his wife and they decided to explore that possibility. He asked what the right dosage might be and I told him I did not know. He should probably start with whatever was on the bottle, obtained at his health food store. That was two grams/day.
I did not hear from him again for a couple of months. He told me that he did not want to tell me anything until after he was certain of the results. That was because the results were dramatically favorable. After describing them to me on the phone, I asked him to send me an email describing them in detail so I could post them on my web page. They had the possibility of helping many others. He agreed and here it is:
Email from: “Bill McLaughlin”<firstname.lastname@example.org>, Date: Wed Dec 31. 2003, To: <email@example.com>
Subject: Bill & Linda McL
An update on my 69 year-old wife’s rheumatism we spoke about in August 03. At that time, her fingers were painful, knuckles enlarged and fingers starting to gnarl. Had to have her rings re-sized from an 8 to a 9 1/2 to go over her knuckles. Also had to jam toothpicks in the door latches in the house so she could open the doors without twisting the knobs.
You suggested L-Lysine might help her. We purchased a bottle from the Vitamin Shoppe (300 capsules, 500 mg/ea. for about $12.00). Taking 4 per day, two in the am and two in pm, they last about 2 1/2 months, which comes to a little more than $4.00 per month. WHAT A BLESSING !
In about three weeks to a month, things went back to normal. No more pain, got the rings back to a size 8 (they kept falling off) and removed the toothpicks from the door latches. We ran out of the capsules and she didn’t take them for two weeks. The pain started to return and knuckles started to enlarge. Four days after resuming the Lysine capsules, everything is fine again.
After seeing so many doctors that never helped at all except offering pain medication this is truly a welcome discovery.
Bill and Lydia McL
In my phone conversations with Bill, he mentioned some other points:
His wife was also taking a broad range of vitamins, including two grams of vitamin C per day, which she continued. She discontinued taking any medications prescribed for her RA early in the process reverting to taking only the L-lysine, which has been profoundly effective up to this writing without any reduction in potency.
He also said that the bio-marker that was being used to follow the progression of her RA did not change. I wondered why. Clearly the most important bio-marker is the inflammation, which changed dramatically. Possibly the bio-marker was measuring something associated with a HTLV-1 virus, still present but not contributing to the inflammation. If this was the case, the lysine would not affect that virus and the bio-marker would not change. The significance of this is unknown. Possibly, in time, the biomarker and its cause will gradually diminish.
Diet: Herpes is suppressed by Lysine and aggravated by Arginine. I would suggest that a person visit my lysine page. There is a link to a table that gives a list of foods and gives their relative concentrations of lysine and arginine. This will provide a starting guide as to which foods to eat and which to avoid.
Comment: I realize these are very early results but they are so strikingly beneficial with no negative side effects I thought they needed to be reported as soon as possible. So may people are suffering from this horrible disease it would be immoral not to. If others choose to try it I hope they will email me the results. I personally have confidence that we are not looking at a unique case. It may not work for all with RA but it would be very surprising if it didn’t work for a significant fraction. The results are just too rapid, absolute and sustained to believe they are not valid. The approach was also predicted in advance based on a virus theory that I believe has considerable technical merit. It is based on supportable science, which gives the results even more credibility. It is not the result of extensive testing of may possibilities. It is the only RA treatment I have predicted and it worked profoundly well the first time it was tried. Lets hope it continues to do so.
This also identifies at least one root cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis, which, according to the book referenced above, has not been done before.
Emails from: “Mike McGuire” <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: November 30, 2006 12:07:28 PM PST
To: “David W. Gregg, Ph.D.” <email@example.com>
Subject: rheumatoid arthritis
Dear Mr. Gregg,
Your research on L-lysene and rheumatoid arthritis has just about performed a miracle in my life, what else can I call it?
I was diagnosed about a year ago with rheumatoid arthritis in my hands. I was already taking 200 mg of Celebrex a day, and my doctor didn’t want to increase that, so told me to supplement it with acetaminofen. Other than suggestions to take it easy and apply heat as needed, he had no more to say.
Thank God I read the information on your website. I started a daily regimen of 2gr of L-lysene. As you suggest, every few days I increased the amount till I am now at 6 gr a day and almost sympton free. Before I couldn’t peel a half dozen potatoes without inducing excrutiating pain and stiffness. I then couldn’t hold a fork to eat dinner, and it took 24 hours for my hands to recover enough to get any more work done. I’d awake in the morning, my hands aching and so stiff I couldn’t close my fist to grab the bedcovers– I’d have to use my hands and arms like a seal’s flippers to do it.
The first few days at 2 gr a day, I did’nt get complete instant relief, but I did have enough improvement to realize that there is something to the information you posted. So, as I said, I gradually increased the amount. Now, I’d say my pain and stiffness are 95% reduced! In the morning now, there is so little pain and stiffness that just washing my hands in warm water clears it up! When I am working with my hands, I can work for hours– half a day, often– before I need to give my hands a rest. Washing in warm water and eating lunch is enough. Hoping to see if I can be 100% symptom free, I just added another gr to my daily regimen, and will write back if I get even more relief.
My doctor looked up L-lysene in a reference he has, and said it didn’t interfere with anything I’m taking and there were no side affects.
This is practically a miracle! I can work all day again. And I sleep all night– the pain doesn’t wake me up any more. I am so grateful that I not only want you to know so that you keep up your research, but I want people visiting your website to know my story and hope it encourages them to seek the relief that I have found. So please feel free to post all or any part of what I have written you, or pass on my email address. I could elaborate on what I’ve said for anyone who writes me. I’d feel priveledged to be a part of this work in any small way.
From: david gregg To: Mike McGuire Sent: Saturday, December 02, 2006 7:34 PM
Subject: Re: rheumatoid arthritis
Thanks. I have one question, are you still taking Celebrex or acetaminofen? If so, what dose? If you are still taking them, have you tried lowering the dose? The first person to try it said she got full benefit without taking any other medications.
From: “Mike McGuire” <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: December 3, 2006 9:47:40 PM PST
To: “david gregg” <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: rheumatoid arthritis
I have stopped taking the Celebrex altogether and only take acetaminofen occassionaly for other pains. It’s been so long, I can’t even remember when I last took it for my hands.
I really need to tell you about another success I’ve had from the research you posted on your website. This has had even more far-reaching affects than the relief of my rheumatoid arthritis.
I read your information on chronic fatigue and tried the ideas about dissolving vitamin B12 in DMSO and applying it to the skin. This one thing alone has had as much affect on overcoming my fatigue as anything my doctor or the specialists provided.
About a year and a half ago I started falling asleep at stop lights. I realized too that I had been driving the kids around with the windows down even if they were cold and the radio volume up so that I’d keep awake. This was scary and I told my doctor. He didn’t seem to like the term “chronic fatigue syndrome” but sent me for tests. He rule out narcolepsy but found that I have sleep apnoea and hadn’t had a single good night’s sleep in a long time, probably years. This thing had crept up on me and I didn’t realize there was anything wrong till I was falling asleep at the stop lights. He also found that my worsening asthma was sapping my energy. So we addressed the asthma more vigorously. I then got a CPAP (constant pressure air pump) machine that delivers compressed air to a mask I wear while I sleep, thereby increasing the oxygen and letting me fall into deep restful REM sleep. The improvement was such an incredible change that it was easy for me to see that I had had a serious condition that had come on gradually over a period of years.
That was summer of 2005. This summer (2006) I discovered your website, and, spurred on by the success I found with the L-lysene for my arthritis, I began the B12 regimen for chronic fatigue. Another incredible difference! Every bit as much of an incredible change as I had found with the CPAP machine. I actually started cleaning the garage that showed a decade of neglect, the garage that was the embarassment of the neighborhood! When I had been in the depth of my fatigue, the very thought of cleaning the long neglected garage was simply ovehwelming. As a matter of fact, just getting the kids to and from school and keeping them fed, doing the dishes, and occassionally washing some clothes was all I could manage. I was exhausted all the time. In the afternoon, I could easily fall asleep and sleep through picking up the kids. Oddly enough, I’d sit up late at night. I think now that I was resisting the idea of tossing and turning all night long only to drag myself out in the morning even more tired than the night before. Then, as I said, I got a CPAP machine and finally started getting some good sleep. I go to bed earlier and look forward to a good night’s sleep.
When I tried the B12, however, it made just as much difference, and I have returned to the world of the living.
Now I start in on a chore and don’t even think it might be overwhelming. I am no longer afraid I’ll only get halfway done and be so exhausted I’ll have to drag myself through the rest by sheer will alone and in a mental fog. Instead I look forward to how much I might get done, and how quickly I can get it done. I wake up in the morning now looking forward to what I can accomplish during the day.
More recently we found I’ve got Epstein Barr. Why I wasn’t tested initially for it I don’t know. However, I’m in the first stages of recovery, so there is nothing more my doctor can do for that (?!!). What I’m wondering is could the B12 regimen have anything to do with starting up my recovery? I’ve been taking the B12 since July, and wasn’t tested for Epstein Barr till about the first of November, about ninety days later. At the same time they also found I had already begun to recover from it.
I told my doctor about the B12 and how much better I felt, and asked if I had had a significant deficit. He said he’d add it to the order for my next blood test. Again, why wasn’t this done when I first complained of fatigue? And won’t testing after I’ve begun supplementing it show a normal level? I suppose I could go off the supplement for a month or so to get accurate test results, but I don’t want to go back to that low level of activity and foggy thinking, even for proof, if that’s what I’d get.
Now here’s the best news– we bought our first house! The market’s right and all that, but I know if I were still feeling the way I was before the B12, it would have been too overwhelming an idea. The thought alone of all that paper work would have put me off it, let alone the gargantuan task of moving (especially after a decade of neglected closets and the garage, which I had just started cleaning). We not only did it, but I did most of the work myself! This would have been impossible without the vitamin B12. Your work has not only shown me how I might overcome my rheumatoid arthritis but my chronic fatigue as well. I can work a full day again. And my family is in our first home of our own! Your work has changed their lives, too. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
P.S. If any of your readers would want me to elaborate, they are free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.