Some years ago I saw a 52 years old gentleman with joints pain and swelling. Labs showed he has rheumatoid arthritis and we advised starting DMARDs (Disease Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs), but he wanted to try a “traditional” remedy from his home country first. We advised him against it since this type of “traditional medicines” has been shown in scientific studies to contains toxic levels of arsenic, lead and mercury, all of which are harmful, but he said he will not take anything orally, and will undergo only massage with these “therapeutic oils”, and we thought that should be OK.
He flies home for a full month of this “oil massage treatment”, when he comes back he was still the same without improvement, but when we checked his labs his liver enzymes were elevated. He insisted he did not take any medicines orally, so I asked my colleagues from his country about it, and they confirmed that the concentration of the toxic material in the oil is so high it gets absorbed through the skin and causes the damage in some patients. What was very unusual is that his liver enzymes stayed elevated for full year following that, which was really puzzling, since even when we get some liver tests elevation with our “allopathic” medicines, they go back to normal within couple of weeks after stopping or reducing the medicine, but in this case it took a full year!!!!
He is now on proper “allopathic” medicines and doing very well, but he learned the hard way that many of these “safe” traditional medicines are not so safe after all.
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