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The Borax Conspiracy and Rheumatoid Arthritis (Huh?)

My wife has rheumatoid arthritis. It began slowly over a year ago but it came on really strong after a bought of Covid last fall. Her blood test markers for it were quite high. We learned that there’s a family history of it too. It sucks. The joint pain and inflammation has often been quite crippling for her. She’s only 52 years old.

She began the usual treatment that Western medicine recommends which is methotrexate (MTX) with other potential add-ons. In her case, she was also prescribed sulfasalazine. Methotrexate is an anti-metabolite that is frequently used in both chemotherapy and auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It has unpleasant side effects for a lot of patients, and my wife has experienced the nausea that is common. It’s also unfortunate that if can make you more susceptible to other illness since it intentionally suppresses the immune response in order to lessen the painful inflammation of RA.

We have researched and pursued dietary changes that can help. The mediterranean diet is a frequent recommendation. We have found that for her, certain foods can make her symptoms worse. That can include processed foods, sugars, dairy, and possibly gluten and/or some wheat based products. Unfortunately, even with an improved diet and the cocktail of meds from her rheumatologist, she continues to be in pain. But we can say she’s better than she was 6 months ago!

Here’s where shit gets weird.

We have both been fans of TikTok. There’s a lot of shitty advice and stupid stuff on TikTok, but we have also learned things that we were never exposed to from other mediums. Cooking tips. Cleaning advice. Life hacks, etc.

A month ago, I started to see a rash of TikTok videos from a variety of users about taking a very small amount of Borax as a supplement for arthritic pain. A specific product called 20 Mule Team Borax was mentioned. The comment threads on these TikTok posts from others were typically positive. Still, this is crazy!

What we do know is that Borax has been around for a very long time (since 1891), and most people are familiar with it as a laundry detergent booster, an odor control agent, and/or as a multi-purpose cleaner. So the thought of ingesting even a tiny amount of that white powder sounds absolutely insane!

In fact, there are warnings on the box to not ingest it!

The Borax Conspiracy by Walter Last: How the Arthritis Cure has been Stopped

People who jump on the Borax bandwagon will reference an article by Walter Last called The Borax Conspiracy. You can find the original article here. I won’t repeat it but one of the highlights regards an Australian doctor by the name of Rex Newnham who developed arthritis in the 1960’s. His paper entitled “Essentiality of Boron for Healthy Bones and Joints” can be found here. He was a soil and plant scientist who discovered there were mineral deficiencies in the plants and vegetables of his area. With his understanding that boron aids calcium metabolism in plants, he began ingesting a small amount of boron supplement every day, and in three weeks all pain, swelling and stiffness had disappeared.

Sounds to good to be true, right?

What’s the Conspiracy with Borax?

The thought is that the pharmaceutical companies have zero interest in promoting or using Borax as a disease remedy because there’s little to no profit for them. Arthritis and its close relative osteoporosis, affect a significant percentage of the elderly population in developed countries. Osteoporosis is responsible for long term hospital care which can include hip fractures. The conspiratorial thought is that this is a huge source of income for the medical-pharmaceutical system. Thus, if the boron-magnesium cure for these diseases should become widely known, this vital income stream would dry up. And since the pharmaceutical industry is one of the biggest and most profitable industries in the world, they are actively working to suppress and/or kill this information. That’s the conspiracy in a nutshell.

I am very much NOT a conspiracy theorist. But even I can see how that sounds like a compelling argument.

The Borax Bandwagon Train of Thought

I think the following is one of the common thought processes. And after reading the article from Walter Last, I was initially willing to think it had merit.

  • Corporate greed is profound and significant.
  • Pharmaceuticals actively strive to produce products that they can patent because it protects their profits. They will also intentionally add components to existing medicines when an older patent expires so that they can once again patent the new version of medicine for ongoing shareholder profits. They do so even when the added components increase negative side effects.
  • Negative side effects from one medicine are often treated with additional prescriptions, which increases pharmaceutical profits..
  • The soil in most industrialized countries has been so over-used that it has become horribly deficient in important minerals. Soil that is devoid of minerals means crops are devoid of minerals.
  • Borax is a natural substance that consists of boron and sodium along with crystallized water. So how harmful could it be?

But here’s the rub.

We have to look at who is promoting this. On TikTok, the promoters are nearly all women, with no medical credentials or advanced medical degrees. And some of the promoters are also selling other “natural” supplements.

We need to keep in mind that 20 Mule Team Borax is not mined or processed with food grade precautions in effect. While the box claims 99% purity, there will almost certainly be trace elements from mining and processing. Second, it’s a proven cleaner and odor control agent. So why the hell would anyone want to consume it?

Third, there’s a lack of any modern study around boron supplements, and borax specifically. Even in Walter Last’s article, he recognizes that consuming borax will result in boric acid in the stomach, and boric acid is commonly used to kill insects by targeting their nervous systems!

Fourth, there are known health risks regarding the ingestion of borax which includes: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and kidney failure if consumed in large amounts. It’s known to cause skin irritation and it can hurt your nose, throat and lungs if breathed in. You can read more about the health risks here on WebMD.

And lastly, if 20 Mule Team was truly sitting on a wonder drug that could change the world, they would stand to make a fortune! Instead, they have warnings to not ingest it. In fact, they state:

Do not take internally. If ingested rinse mouth with a large full glass of milk or water. Do not induce vomiting. Call a physician immediately.

So I hope this is one TikTok trend that gets quickly dispelled before people are harmed.

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