Interesting phone call. My patient rang, sheepish and quite upset. I haven’t seen her for a few months.
Her psoriasis, spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis were reasonably controlled on a biologic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) as well as Methotrexate with intermittent use of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID).
She was not in remission and still had to put up with a certain amount of pain and stiffness.
Someone told her about a herbal medicine that was really very effective for them. It apparently could really make a difference and she might be able to stop all her other medication.
My patient is an intelligent lady who actually understands a lot about her disease and yet, the temptation was too great. The promise for an all “natural” solution was just too enticing.
She took the herbal medicine.
And felt great.
So she stopped all her other medication.
And still felt great.
Over the weeks, she noted that her weight was climbing steadily and she was gaining fat in various parts of her body.
She went overseas over the Xmas break and in that country, she sourced a service that would analyse the constituents in the herbal medicine.
The results just became available. High dose of cortisone. Steroids.
I don’t yet have the full details but this would explain a lot. Corticosteroids (read more about this here) are very useful medications but due to their side effect profile, we do really want to limit the doses use and the length of time they are used, if at all possible.
Do you really know what’s in that herbal medicine you are taking?