Adding Chinese herb to methotrexate may ease active RA

Which ancient Chinese herb might be better than methotrexate?

Adding Chinese herb to methotrexate may help ease active RA

Lorraine Janeczco writing for Reuters reported patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may benefit from treatment with Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F (TwHF) and methotrexate (MTX), new research from China suggests.

In fact, the researchers say, TwHF monotherapy works as well as MTX plus TwHF, and better than MTX monotherapy, for controlling active disease.

“While TwHF, a traditional Chinese herb, is still in the FDA Poisonous Plant Database, the extract of TwHF has been widely used for more than 30 years by Chinese rheumatologists, and many patients have been continuously treated with it and followed for years,” wrote principal investigator Dr. Xuan Zhang of Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, in Beijing, China, in an email to Reuters Health.

“The major toxicities observed in China are gastrointestinal symptoms and reversible amenorrhea, especially in perimenopausal women,” Dr. Zhang added.

“TwHF could be a promising approach to the treatment of active rheumatoid arthritis, particularly as not all patients respond to DMARDs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs) and modern biologic treatments, and because these drugs are expensive,” he suggested.

Comment: This is exciting because of the relatively low cost of this herb.

Do you need to see a physical therapist after a joint replacement…. Maybe not

Home exercise effective after knee replacement

Hugo Wilcken writing in Rheumatology Update reported a monitored home exercise program in the first six weeks after knee replacement surgery has similar outcomes to standard rehabilitation, Sydney researchers report.

Their study looked at nearly 400 knee-replacement patients who were randomized to either a six-week monitored home exercise program or usual care, which generally involved clinic-based outpatient physiotherapy.

There were no significant differences between the two interventions in pain scores, physical function, knee flexion, knee extension or walk time, found the researchers from the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney.

Comment: Good news because doing it yourself certainly is more convenient.


Blueberries… they’re not just for breakfast… next

Researcher to Study Link Between Blueberries, Bone Health.

The Associated Press reported, “A Purdue University researcher has won a federal grant to study the connection between blueberries and bone health in post-menopausal women.” Earlier this week, “the university announced…that Connie Weaver will receive $3.7 million from the National Institutes of Health to conduct five years of research.” Prior research has “found that nutrients found in blueberries can help reduce bone loss that occurs naturally over time.”


Comment: We know blueberries are beneficial for a number of conditions.  And here’s another one.

Considering a hip replacement… make sure you know about this new potential hazard.


Cobalt toxicity becoming more prevalent with hip replacement surgery


Kimberly Retzlaff writing for Rheumatology News reported Dr. Robert Bunning from the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, DC presented findings that patients who undergo either metal on metal or metal on polyethylene implants are at risk for cobalt poisoning.


High risk patients include women, patients who are overweight or who are physically very active, bilateral implants, high doses of steroids, patients with borderline kidney function, and patients with a suppressed immune system. Major complications include cardiomyopathy- a severe heart condition, and hypothyroidism.


Comment: Another potential problem related to joint replacement surgery.

Sleep matters. Here’s why…

Treating insomnia in elderly reduces inflammation, lowers risk for chronic diseases

Mark Wheeler writing for Medical Xpress reported lack of sleep can make you sick. And while everybody has the occasional restless night, for those who suffer from chronic insomnia—some 15 percent of older adults in the United States—that sleep loss can increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, hypertension, weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and even lead to an earlier death.

The reason for the increased risk of health problems is thought to be an association between insomnia and an increase in inflammation throughout the body that becomes chronic. Though inflammation can be a good thing, chronic inflammation can damage and kill healthy cells, leading to disease.

UCLA researchers demonstrated that reducing insomnia can indeed lead to decreases in inflammation, and second, that a form of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy proved superior to other forms of treatment.

The study appears in the journal Sleep.

The results were obtained from a randomized clinical trial of 123 adults older than 55, and showed that treating insomnia led to decreases in a known marker of inflammation called C-reactive protein (CRP). The protein is found in blood plasma, and its levels rise in response to an acute inflammatory stimulus. The CRP levels were measured at the beginning of the study, again after treatment, and again in a follow-up 16 months later.

Comment: Moral of the story: Get your ZZZZsss.

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