Sunday, October 30, 2011

Antibiotic therapy for rheumatic diseases

Antibiotic therapy for rheumatic disease has been studied and used for decades with success for thousands of sufferers.  Why is it not more well known and why are there so many rheumies that do not have this information or use this for treatment?  Antibiotics are low cost, low side effect, easy tolerated, and easily found drugs.  They are so much less damaging to the body than other gold standard forms of treatment such as methotrexate, Imuran, Cellcept and many other harmful drugs.  Why is it not on lupus websites?  This is not a conspiracy theory type of treatment, it does not have a negative effect on the medical community or on drug companies, so I am not sure why not all doctors treating these diseases are not using antibiotics.  I first researched this on my own via google and found articles proving the effectiveness of antibiotics in inflammatory diseases (rheumatic diseases) and I was surprised that this was not on any websites (mayo clinic, LFA, SLE, etc.) that list treatments for lupus.  I researched this form of treatment because I was on Cipro for a bladder infection and was surprised at how much better I felt, with the only difference being that I was treated with antibiotics.  I knew that this was not just in my head I had no thoughts that Cipro would do anything helpful or other wise for my disease.  I was pleasantly surprised that my rheumy knew about this treatment and was just as happy about me starting it as I was, I was very fortunate, because there are many in this field that do not know about antibiotic use for lupus.  I have been on Doxycycline for a month in a half or two months (sorry, lupus brain fog) my husband and I can definitely see a difference.  For example, I can get out of bed in the morning before my prednisone and pain meds kick in, I used to have to wait an hour or so after I took my medications to get out of bed.  I can exercise more often, I can walk stairs a little better, I can go out for longer periods of time.  Keep in mind that I have failed a prednisone taper that I was on for about two weeks, so this is no miracle cure. I still felt very awful during my taper and my fever got too high to continue.  I do believe it is helping quite a bit, it is worth a try, and I have had NO bad side effects.  Here are some links for information documenting some studies of the usefulness of antibiotic therapy for rheumatic diseases, i.e lupus, RA, etc.  I hope this can help many more patients sick like me and together we can find our strength and healing.  Best wishes and gentle hugs.

Antibiotic therapy is based on the theory that inflammatory rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, lupus, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, polymyositis, ankylosing spondylitis, etc. have an infectious cause such as mycoplasma and other bacterial L forms. Significant evidence supporting this theory has been published in medical literature for decades. The use of low dose antibiotics, particularly from the tetracycline or macrolide families, attack the disease process at its source, namely the infectious agent. In contrast to the treatment of ordinary, acute bacterial infections with faster growing bacteria, the bacterial forms which trigger the chronic infectious disease processes are much slower growing organisms; thus, the antibiotic protocols prescribed for treating the rheumatoid diseases are based on the use of long-term, low-dose antibiotics, usually given only three days per week - sometimes more frequently.
This therapy is equally effective in patients with severe and/or long-standing disease as it is in those with mild to moderate disease. Thomas McPherson Brown, M.D. (1906-1989), a well known rheumatologist who practiced in the Washington, D.C. area, pioneered this treatment over fifty years ago and successfully used it to treat over ten thousand patients during his lifetime.
In contrast, however, the toxic medications used by rheumatologists today in conventional therapy are prescribed to try and control or suppress symptoms rather than to eradicate the underlying bacterial infection, which is the root cause of the disease process. These more toxic drugs may or may not be effective. If they do work, it is only a matter of time before they either lose their effectiveness or the patient develops side effects, forcing him/her to discontinue usage of them. The patients often are left worse than before they ever started the medication.
The ultimate decision about whether this antibiotic therapy is appropriate for you should be made with advice from your physician. Treatment must be tailored to the individual patient. While this therapy is effective for the vast majority of rheumatoid patients, it does not always work for everyone. If treatment failure occurs, then other misdiagnosed medical problems must be investigated carefully, always keeping in mind that one can have more than one disease process as well as more than one diagnosis going on in one's body at the same time.


  1. Here is more info on the use of antibiotics for RA.

  2. I am truly very happy that you are having improvement with the antibiotic treatment. I saw a special 1 or 2 years ago on Probiotics which is now being advertised everywhere. I remember her saying that make sure the product is alive and has all bacterial L forms are included. I am going to do more research into use of Probiotics and pick a product. I totally agree with you about the gold standard forms of treatment. My nephew who just turned 30 has had Lupus for over 5 years. He has been on methotrexate for a while. He just told me he was having issues last week as well and slowly over time he is flaring more and more. He had to go back on the steroid pack. I know at such a young age that he has cholesterol and triglyceride issues. For me, I have tried plaquenil 3X which my system kept rejecting. Prednisone, pain meds, aspirin are what keeps me going. Now, based on what happened with me last week, my family Dr of 23 years wants me to go to another rheumatoidgist. I will ask their opinion about antibiotic therapy. I be sure to post the result. Unfortunately, it will probably take 3 months to get an appointment. I will also as my family doctor. I believe in sharing information with others.

  3. Rhonda, thank you for commenting on my post. I am not sure if me feeling a little better is a fluke or not but I know it is documented to help. I am still sick, in pain, tired and on lots of medications so I am not trying to give false hope. It is worth a try with little side effects. Good luck with your next rheumy I know how hard it is to find a good one close by. I went to the University of Pittsburgh's lupus center of excellence which is 4 hours away for a true diagnosis. My rheumy here I love but the first rheumy here was a woman and was AWFUL!! Please keep me posted on how you are and feel free to friend me on face book if you are on.

  4. The good thing is that you were able to find some kind of relief or improvement and you are taking the time to share your research with others. If your improvement is not permanent, maybe someone else will try it and be helped.

    I have had the fatigue, constant fevers & pain that only a fellow lupie would understand since September 2008. My Dr sent me to the first Rheumy for a second opinion. He thought I that I had Psoriatic Arthritis. He did not mention Lupus. I went to the appointment and the Rheumy said Lupus and it floored me. On that day, the malar rash present. I had seen what my nephew was going through. Well, the appointment continued and when asked about pain meds, I told the truth.
    At the follow up, the Rheumy said that it was just Fibromyalgia and just continue with my Dr.

    Between, the way that I was treated and what my nephew was going through, I decided I did not want to go through the Lupus treatment that they are currently offering. I have tried natural things when possible. Unfortunately, Tuesday morning, when I woke up for work, I could barely walk and went to the Dr when able. He said that it is time the try another Rheumy. I will do my best to go there with an open mind. But, to load up on a bunch of drugs to make me worst later is not for me. I think that I have had Lupus for a long time will minimal symptoms. Three years of major stress from my job was my trigger for my constant flare with no real relief.

    Have you tried Adderall for the fatigue? It has helped me keep working. Thanks

  5. Rhonda,

    I am so sorry, but I must say us lupies stories sound so much alike. With misdiagnosis and pain, fevers, fatigue etc. The last 3 years have been hell that seems to never end, one problems after another and I don't have severe lupus, so my heart goes out to those that have organ involvement. I am on plaquenil (helps a ton and helps to keep lupus out of organs)this is the easiest tolerated drug for us. Prednisone which can work miracles but you know the side effects are bad, but it had me walking with in hours after 5 months of not be able to walk. Then all of the stomach, pain, etc meds. I listed them in another post. I would recommend plaquenil if you can tolerate it, the side effects usually go away within a few weeks time, always take it with dinner. I do believe that we must take a lot of medications prescribed by rheumies and some of them like mine (who is not alternative in anyway) will prescribe low dose antibiotics. Kudos to you for holding down a job, you are a strong woman much stronger than me, most days I have to be in and out of bed to rest and lay on my heating pad to deal with the pain. I keep thinking one day I will wake up and my lupus nightmare will be over but it never has. You are not alone and we are in this together. Thanks for continuing to comment. Best wishes and gentle hugs!

  6. I am having a lot of stomach pain with the Plaquenil. I also have the worst taste in my mouth and also very very dry. I hate this Plaquenil but my Rheumatologist says to take it since it is the least toxic medicine for Lupus. But if I could take low dosage antibiotics maybe that would help me more. I feel worse now than I did before I took the Plaquenil.

  7. Hello Ellen,

    I would try to take the Plaquenil at night with a snack before bed, that way you will sleep through all of the side effects. I would never tell anyone to give up their normal lupus medication, I am still on my 400mg of plaquenil and 4mg of prednisone. It would just be in addition to your other medications to maybe help you feel better. I am sorry you are having annoying side effects, how long have you been on plaquenil? It can take a few months for the side effects to go away and up to a year to completely feel the benefits. I feel much better on Plaquenil than off and it has worked much better than the antibiotics. We really need better medications and hopefully a cure. Best wishes and gentle hugs.

  8. Marissa,,thank you for your blog, and comments. I appreciate that antibiotics are vindicated by your comments as at least useful. All lupus cases seem much like fingerprints, in that no two cases are alike. Some are more debilitating than others likely due to the various complicated autoimmune antibodies responses that differ in many. Some have more autoimmune antibody problems than others, and it seems those with positive testing for autoimmune rheumatoid arthritis specifically, may benefit perhaps more than our daughter who had no positive reaction of rheumatoid arthritis, but she is very sick with too many other positive autoimmune reactions, and has antiphospholipid antibodies and had several TIA's making her very subject to possible strokes. We were told 16 years ago she will not live to be very old. Her mother is devastated and very affected by Class III treatment resistant Depression and Dysautonomia now I'm convinced as a result of the severe stress from our daughter's poor prognosis. I wish you well, as Lupus gets very poor coverage by the national media making it one of the worst imaginable of diseases with a huge amount of ignorance by the general public about just how horrid Lupus can be. I appreciate your active role in combatting this very serious life-altering disease.

  9. Manofsan,

    I am so sorry to hear of your daughters struggles with lupus, it breaks my heart to hear of the ruins the wolf has caused her and your family. I am sorry that antibiotic therapy will no be a good match for your daughter. I have hope for a cure and I am praying for your daughter and family and sending love and strength. I know that this disease can be so devastating and I cannot imagine what you and your wife must go through watching your dear daughter suffer so much. I think it is harder to watch your child suffer than to suffer your self. You are not alone so many of us are touched by lupus, just remember to keep searching for help for your daughter and if you want to message me more info about her I will research as much as my fingers will allow me. You can find me via the link on facebook and send me a private message with more on her story. Best wishes and gentle hugs. xo

  10. Your blog is very informative. It is very interesting and i have enjoyed reading it. Thank you for sharing your ideas. I'm happy i found what i am searching for. provigil

  11. Sewi, Your welcome, I hope you continue to read and get a lot of helpful information and support.

  12. Hi Marissa, I wonder if you're still active on this blog? Did you stick with the antibiotic therapy, and did it work for you? I've recently begun it for Rheumatoid arthritis. I haven't noticed any improvement yet, but I do hear it takes quite awhile for most people. I hope you're feeling better.