An estimated 40 million Americans have some form of arthritis or other rheumatic condition. That number is expected to climb to 59.4 million, or 18.2 percent of the population, by the year 2020.
In a recent issue of Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, doctors found that people with rheumatoid arthritis have lower levels of common antioxidants in their blood in the years before the disorder is diagnosed. A new study suggests that the same may be true for another autoimmune disease, systemic lupus erythematosus. It is not certain if the lower level of antioxidants is a cause or the effect of the diseases, or indirectly related to the disorders.
According to Dr. George Comstock, of the Training Center for Public Health Research in Hagerstown, Maryland, antioxidants in the blood are possibly being used to mop up damaging free radicals, byproducts of inflammation related to the diseases. "Or perhaps low antioxidant status, whether because of decreased intake, absorption, or transport, increases the potential for oxidative damage," he wrote.
Humic extracts, especially fulvic acids, when administered both topically and orally are proven to regulate the immune system as powerful immunomodulators, and to work as potent antioxidants and antiinflammatory agents.
In studies with hospital patients with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder, humic extract bath therapy treatment had a 92% success rate. Several hundred similar studies have been performed in China showing that fulvic acid and humic extracts are proven highly successful.
Yuan, Shenyuan; Fulvic Acid, 4 1988; in Application of Fulvic acid and its derivatives in the fields of agriculture and medicine; First Edition: June 1993
Ghosal, Shibnath. Chemistry of shilajit, an immunomodularory Ayurvedic rasayan. Pure & Appl. Chem., vol. 62, 1990, No. 7, pp. 1285-1288.
Rheumatoid arthritis is more prevalent in women than in men and generally strikes between the ages of 20 to 40. It is believed to be caused by an abnormal immune reaction in which the lining of the joints are attacked and destroyed, leading to pain, inflammation, swelling, and eventually deformity of the joints and disability.
Approximately 1 percent of U.S. adults have definite rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease occurs more frequently in women than in men. The prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis is approximately 2.1 million people: 600,000 men and 1.5 million women.
The estimated U.S. prevalence of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), which occurs in children ages 16 and younger, is between 30,000 and 50,000.
For the new study, Dr. Comstock and colleagues looked at thousands of blood samples donated in 1974, and specifically tested those from 21 people who were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis 2 to 15 years after giving blood. They also identified another six people who developed systemic lupus erythematosus 3 to 13 years after giving blood.
Lupus is also thought to be due to an abnormal immune reaction in which the body attacks connective tissue and numerous organs. The disease is 10 times as common in women as men, and most often occurs between ages 13 and 45. Comstock mentioned in the article that the trend does match that of an earlier small study which suggests that low concentrations of antioxidants may in some way be related to the development of rheumatoid arthritis, either directly or as associates of another disease-causing factor. "Although the number of cases is too small to allow definitive statements about the association of serum antioxidants with systemic lupus erythematosus, it is hoped that this report will stimulate others to see if our results can be replicated," he wrote.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus) is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body harms its own tissues and can lead to inflammation and damage to joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and the brain. Reports estimate SLE to affect at least 239,000 Americans: 4,000 white males, 41,000 white females, 31,000 black males, and 163,000 black females.
The autoimmune disorder, Fibromyalgia, affects an estimated 3.7 million Americans age 18 and older. Prevalence is much lower in men than in women. A chronic condition, fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread pain, greater sensitivity to pain, sleep disturbances, fatigue, and multiple tender points.
Johns Hopkins News Services; A report published as a collaborative effort between the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Arthritis Foundation, and the American College of Rheumatology; May, 1998.
Annals of Rheumatic Diseases (1997;56:323-325).