Townsend Letter The Examiner of Alternative Medicine
Alternative Medicine Conference Calendar
Check recent tables of contents


From the Townsend Letter Archives
December 1989

A Treatment for Scleroderma and Lupus Erythematosus
by Anthony di Fabio

Search this site

Lupus Erythematosus and Scleroderma are classified as vascular diseases, along with Polyarteritis Nodosa, and some other diseases, but Lupus and Scleroderma also have one other thing in common – they can be treated in a similar manner with equally good results. Lupus Erythematosus is a chronic, nontuberculous disease of the skin marked by disklike patches with raised reddish edges and depressed centers, and covered with scales or crusts. These fall off, leaving dull-white scars. Scleroderma is a disease of the skin in which thickened, hard, ridged, and pigmented patches occur.
The connective tissue of the skin layer beneath the epidermis (corium) and the subcutaneous structures being increased, a hidebound condition results. The ordinary form begins in middle life and is often incurable.

The above is according to The American Illustrated Medical Dictionary (W.B. Saunders).

The Rheumatoid Disease Foundation is happy to bring to you a wonderfully successful case history of Scleroderma developed by its long-time referral physician, Ronald M. Davis, MD (16932 Highway 3, Park Plaza 2, Webster, Texas 77598; 713-338-1889.) This is a report of a case of severe progressive systemic sclerosis in a 49-year-old woman, who was in good health two years prior to being seen in Dr. Davis' office. In a year-and-a-half, the condition of the patient deteriorated from mild stiffness of the joints and tightness of the skin to complete immobilization, with loss of the use of her extremities and loss of facial characteristics. Kidney involvement was extensive, necessitating peritoneal dialysis, which she was doing at home with her husband's assistance. During the treatment to be described below, she responded immediately and improved continuously. It's now been over a year since her last treatment. She has full use of her kidneys without dialysis and was recently seen walking about Alcatraz Island on vacation. Indeed, her quality-of-life is vastly improved. If she is not cured, then she enjoys an extended remission of all symptoms! Treatments used were two of our recommended Rheumatoid Disease medications, intravenous EDTA Chelation therapy, intravenous DMSO therapy, and as much physical therapy as could be tolerated by the patient. Since Lupus Erythematosus and Scleroderma, like Psoriasis, have been virtually intractable by conventional treatments, this single success story bears repeating.

The Reversal of Scleroderma
(Progressive Systemic Sclerosis)
Initial History and Physical Examination: May 22, 1984

Chief Complaint: Tightness and hardening of the skin of the body, deformities of the hands, arms, legs, and fingers. Inability to walk, progressive kidney failure, nausea, and headache. High blood pressure.

History of Chief Complaint: The patient first began to notice a sensation of swelling and tightness of the skin of the face and extremities about the Spring of 1982. These symptoms rapidly progressed to the point of rendering the patient unable to walk or do daily household work. Evidently her kidneys had become affected early in the disease, as hypertension and headache were early symptoms. Patient had been on antihypertensive medication for over one year, and on peritoneal dialysis for nearly nine months, when we saw her in our office. She was under the care of a rheumatologist in Houston and The Texas Kidney Institute at Hermann Hospital in Houston.

Past History: Usual childhood illnesses without sequelae, no serious adult illnesses, and no surgeries. No history of TB, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or hypertension prior to the onset of this disease. Patient is allergic to Demerol.

Family History: Essentially noncontributory, there being no history of the rheumatoid diseases, TB, CA, diabetes, or cardiovascular problems.

Medications: Compazine – 25 Mg. tabs 1, four times daily as needed for nausea.
Dialome – 2, three times per day
Capoten – 75 Mg. 1, two times daily
Prednisone – 5 Mg., one daily
Catapres – 0.1 Mg., one at bedtime
Peritoneal dialysis with one liter of solution four times daily (prepared by Texas Kidney Institute at Hermann Hospital, Houston.)

Review of Systems:
HEENT: Patient had begun to notice numbness and coldness of tips of fingers, with a sensation of swelling of hands, fingers, toes, arms, and legs about two years ago. The skin of the face, at the same time, became tight and inelastic, making facial expressions and movement very difficult and eventually impossible. No problems with vision or hearing but had noticed difficulty swallowing recently.

Chest & Lungs: In late 1982, the patient was awakened in the middle of the night with a sensation of smothering and chest tightness. She was rushed to a local hospital Emergency Room, where she was found to have a blood pressure in the range of 200/110. She was given anti-hypertensive medication, the blood pressure was reduced, and the symptoms abated. She has had to remain on medication for blood pressure control since.

Gastro-intestinal: Negative except for extreme nausea, which has been present since earliest symptoms began in 1982.

Genito-urinary: Patient is Gravida (was pregnant) 5, Para 5 (had 5 children successfully), abortus 0, stillbirth 0. She has five children living and in good health. She had been on peritoneal dialysis at Texas Institute for past ten months.

Neurological: Negative.

Skin & Extremities: This condition began with a sensation of coldness and pain of the fingertips. The fingers and hands soon became stiff and immobile, as did the legs and feet. Within six months, the patient was unable to walk or do ordinary daily tasks. She also complained of severe fatigue during the course of this illness, as she had for several months before the first symptoms began. The skin and extremities had become slick, shiny, and very hard to the touch within six months after the onset of the first symptoms. The skin of the face was no different.

Physical Examination:
General: The patient is a 49-year-old Caucasian woman of Italian extraction in obvious acute and chronic distress from kidney and musculoskeletal disease. (Blood Pressure 140/90, Pulse 94, Temperature 100, Respiration 20, Height 60", Weight 109#.)

HEENT: Head was normal. Eyes: Sclerae and conjunctivae were clear, EOM's (Extra Ocular Movements) intact bilaterally, pupils were equal and equally reactive to light and accommodation. Optic fundi were not examined. Visual acuity was not done. Ears: skin of ears was slick, shiny, and quite tender to touch. Nose: Same. Throat: Throat was clear.

Chest: Lungs were clear to auscultation and percussion. The breath sounds were diminished due to shallow breathing from restriction of the rib cage. Heart: Normal sinus rhythm, rate 110 and regular, and there were no murmurs.

Abdomen: Thin, symmetrical abdomen, without masses, tenderness, or visceromegaly to palpation, and the bowel sounds were normal. Rectal and pelvic exams were not done. The catheters for peritoneal dialysis were in place; there was no sign of infection or irritation.

Neurological: Examination was limited due to immobility of the extremities and tenderness of the skin, but no gross abnormalities of the neurological system were noted.

Skin & Extremities: The skin was white and glistening and appeared to have been stretched tightly over the bony skeleton. The joints at the elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles were difficult to move. The fingers were fixed in flexion and could not be moved at all. She was the classical Mauskopf face.

Initial Laboratory Data: Hemoglobin 8.4; White Blood Count 7400; Ca++ 9.3; BUN 91; Serum Creatinine 8.3; Glucose 113; Triglycerides 377; Uric Acid 6.6; SGOT 28; SGPT 23; Protein 7.0; Albumin 3.7; Globulins 3.3; LDH 204; Phosphate 4.6; 24 Hr. Creatinine Clearance 7.0; Na+ 140; K+ 5.0; C1-100; CO2 24.

Chest X-ray: Negative; EKG: Sinus Tachycardia, otherwise normal. Urinalysis: Specific Gravity 1.010; pH 5.0; Protein 1+; Glucose 0; Casts: 2+ Red Blood Cell; Bacteria 1+; Red Blood Cell 4-5/high powered field; White Blood Cell 3-4/high powered field.

Impression: 1. Severe Progressive Systemic Sclerosis (Scleroderma).
2. Nephrosclerosis with kidney failure secondary to scleroderma.
3. Severe anemia secondary to 1. and 2.

Treatment Plan: 1. Rheumatoid Disease Foundation therapy.
2. Intravenous DMSO therapy
3. Intravenous Chelation therapy (EDTA)
4. Physical Therapy as tolerated by patient

Clinical Course: On May 22, 1984, the Rheumatoid Disease Foundation therapy was begun in accordance with its protocol, which is as follows: Allopurinol 300 mg. by mouth three times per day for seven days. Metronidazole 500 mg. – Two tablets, AM and PM, two consecutive days a week for six weeks. The patient was told to continue all current medicines. She experienced increased nausea and headache, plus she had rather severe joint pains, as well as increased muscular aches and pains. These symptoms were believed to be due to Herxheimer type reaction, for they were most bothersome following taking the Metronidazole on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Moderate relief of these symptoms was obtained by increasing the Prednisone by one tablet on these days.

5/29/84: Condition unchanged, patient complaining of increased nausea from the medication and dialysis. Blood Pressure 140/70; Temperature 98.6; Weight 107#.

6/19/84: Patient complaining of worse nausea, with retching and more joint stiffness. She doesn't feel that she is "getting any better." Blood pressure 140/70, Temperature 98, Weight 106#, Rx – Take Allopurinol 300 mg. 2 times daily for 1 week, and gradually reduce and discontinue Prednisone over the next 3-4 weeks.

7/23/84: Nausea continues, still feels terrible. (Blood pressure 140/74; Temperature 98; weight 104#; Rx – DMSO 5cc in 500 cc D5W [5% Dextrose Solution] Intravenous over 1 hour.)

7/25/84: Less nausea today, but really not feeling any better. Blood Pressure 142/76; Temperature 99; Weight 103#; Rx – DMSO 5cc infusion #2 no problems encountered.

7/27/84-8/17/84: Patient received 5cc DMSO in 500 cc D5W (5% Dextrose Solution) over a 3 hour time span without adverse effects of any sort. Her vital signs remained the same. These infusions were given 3 times weekly.

8/27/84: This date I talked with Dr. Stanley Jacobs, M.D. of the University of Oregon regarding his treatment of scleroderma and rheumatoid arthritis with DMSO. He uses 0.5-Gm. of DMSO per kilogram of body weight three times weekly. Since this patient had been on only 5 cc DMSO per treatment, it was decided to increase her DMSO by 5-10cc per treatment until her maximum dose of 50 Gm. DMSO in 500cc D5W (5% Dextrose Solution) was reached, and then to continue treatments three times per week at that level. She was given 10cc DMSO today in the infusion, without untoward effects.

9/10/84: Intravenous #19 today with 32-1/2ccDMSO. Blood Pressure 122/70; Weight 105. Patient appears somewhat improved, as the nausea is mild and intermittent. She seems to be improving and gaining strength weekly. She can now wrinkle her forehead, smile, and walk slowly with assistance. Serum Creatinine 3.9; Serum Creatinine Clearance 13. Kidneys are evidently regaining some function.

9/24/84: 45cc DMSO given today in 23rd treatment. Patient is responding well to therapy, skin is softening, joints are mobile, except for fingers, and she is walking almost normally without assistance. BUN 57; Creatinine 4.2; Liver function studies were normal. Hb 8.9; White Blood Count 7300. Patient told to keep taking Fe script for low hemoglobin. I talked with Dr. Thompson at Hermann Hospital. She is pleased with patient's progress and said we should continue the treatments, and that she would be happy to continue to assist in the care of this patient.

9/26/84: 50cc DMSO given intravenous today without side effect except for the garlic-like odor DMSO gives. The patient continues to improve and feel well. Blood Pressure 122/70; Weight 103#.

10/12/84: Continues improving, offers no complaints. Treatment #29 today. Hemoglobin 8.7; Ca 9.4; BUN 48; Creatinine 3.8; Glucose 88; Triglycerides 391; HDL 44.2; Alkaline Phosphatase 46.9; SGOT 16; LDH 90; P 4.8; Cholesterol 314; Uric Acid 3.8; Na+ 156; K+4.7; 24 Hr. Creatinine Clearance 13.1; Urinalysis: Specific Gravity 1.010; pH 6; Rest of Urinalysis negative; Vital Statistics unchanged.

11/27/84: Patient has not had a treatment in one month, so we will go back to 30cc DMSO and go back to 50cc with next infusion. Patient looks great, is walking briskly without any problem, and is free of any discomfort. The skin appears normal and is normal to the touch, having lost its slick, shiny appearance. Hemoglobin 9.6; White Blood Count 6000; Ca 9.2; BUN 51; Creatinine 3.0; Triglycerides 398; Electrolytes and liver tests were normal. Prognosis now looks good.

12/22/84: Dr. Thompson discontinued peritoneal dialysis, but left the catheters in place in the event we have to re-institute dialysis. Patient is improving very well at this time, having a lot of energy, and carries out her normal household duties. Fingers are much more flexible and patient can almost clench fists. She has had 39 DMSO infusions to date. Blood pressure 140/70; Weight 106#; Serum Creatinine 3.0.

1/21/85: Infusion #44, 35cc DMSO. Blood Pressure 160/80; Weight 107#.

1/31/85: Patient complaining of slight headache. Physical exam not remarkable, and I can only explain increase in Blood Pressure by the fact that she hasn't been getting her treatments very regularly. Blood Pressure 160/102; Weight 105#. She was told to increase Capoten from 75 Mg at bedtime, to 50 Mg. a.m. and 75 Mg. at bedtime; Hemoglobin 11.5; White Blood Count 13,900; Normal Differential Urinalysis negative; BUN 57.1; Creatinine 3.0; Na+ 145; K+ 5.0.

2/26/85: Infusion #49, 35cc DMSO. Patient continues to improve, although lab data remain at December 84 levels. We have started adding 2 cc B6 and 15cc (7.5 Gm.) ascorbic acid to each intravenous beginning 2/8/85. No unwanted side effects have been observed.

3/26/85: 30cc DMSO today in treatment #53. Patient is doing very well, offering no complaints. Hemoglobin 10.9; White Blood Count 6000; BUN 68; Creatinine 3.3; Urine output normal; Blood Pressure 130/80 Weight 101#.

4/25/85: Infusion #57, with 50cc DMSO. No problems. Patient seems to continue improving. Blood Pressure 140/84; Weight 102#; BUN 57.2; Serum Creatinine 2.7.

5/30/85: Infusion #65 today. No DMSO, just 1cc EDTA in 500cc D5W, with 2cc B6 and 15cc ascorbic acid given intravenous over 3 hours. No adverse effects noted. Preinfusion Blood Pressure 140/82. Post infusion Blood Pressure 140/80. Hemoglobin 10.6; White Blood Count 5000; 24 Hr. Creatinine Clearance 21.37; Serum Creatinine 2.7.

6/6/85: Infusion #66 with 50cc. DMSO. No Problems. Blood Pressure 140/80; BUN 48; Serum Creatinine 2.8. Skin of face, arms, legs, and hands approaching normal. Patient has lost her Mauskopf appearance, and has normal mobility of the facial skin.

6/10/85: Infusion #67, with 2cc EDTA without problem. Preinfusion Blood Pressure 160/80. Postinfusion Blood Pressure 162/76; Weight 107#. Patient offered no complaints during, or after infusion. BUN 45.8; Creatinine 3.0; 24 Hr. Creatinine Clearance 21.37; Urinalysis Specific Gravity 1.010; pH 5.0; Protein trace; 1-2 White Blood Count/high powered field.

6/20/85: Infusion #68, 50cc DMSO and 2cc EDTA. Patient complained of nausea, and had one episode of vomiting during the infusion, which she felt was due to the DMSO. Will reduce DMSO to 40cc next infusion. Preinfusion Blood Pressure 160/90. Postinfusion Blood Pressure 162/88; Weight 105#.

7/11/85: Treatment #70 continued with 40cc DMSO and 2cc EDTA – no complaints or problems. Preinfusion Blood Pressure 150/92. Postinfusion Blood Pressure 150/90; Hemoglobin 11.2; 24 Hr. Creatinine Clearance 23.71. Patient appears and says she feels normal.

7/22/85: EDTA increased to 3cc, along with 40cc DMSO for infusion #72. Preinfusion Blood Pressure 150/90. Postinfusion Blood Pressure 150/86; Weight 105#. Procedure was tolerated well by patient. BUN 58.7; Creatinine 2.6; Urinalysis; Negative.

7/30/85: For infusion #73, EDTA was increased to 5cc, again with 40cc DMSO. No problems encountered during or after treatment. Pre, and post infusion Blood Pressure 150/86; Weight 106#; BUN 55.4; Creatinine 2.8.

8/19/85: Infusion #74 with 5cc EDTA and 40cc DMSO was well tolerated by the patient, and there were no difficulties during or following the treatment. Preinfusion Blood Pressure 142/90, Postinfusion Blood Pressure 140/90; Weight 105#; BUN 45.7; Creatinine 3.0.

10/18/85: Infusions 74 thru 81 were given with 5cc EDTA only and were without incident. Blood Pressure remained in the 150/84 range, and patient continued to progress very well. Her weight remained the same, but she was having to diet to keep her weight 105# or below. BUN 41; Creatinine 2.7; Creatinine Clearance 21.

11/5/85: Since it had been almost a month from the last treatment, only 20cc DMSO were given in infusion #82. It was without incident. BUN 47.9; Creatinine 2.4; Creatinine Clearance 28.39; Blood Pressure 142/80; Urinalysis; negative; Weight 105#.

12/11/85: Infusion #83 was with 7cc EDTA, 5cc ascorbic acid, and 5cc (1250Mg) Pantothenic Acid all in 50cc D5W (5% Dextrose Solution) intravenous. This was given in 1 hour, there were no adverse effects, lab values and blood pressure readings remained the same.

1/6/86: About middle of December 85, Dr. Thompson removed the peritoneal dialysis catheters, since they had not been used for one year.

7/25/86: Since 2/5/86 patient has received infusions 84-90 on the average of one per month, with no adverse effects. All of these treatments contained EDTA 8cc, ascorbic acid 15cc, in 50cc D5W (5% Dextrose Solution), given in one hour. BUN 48; Creatinine 1.6, Creatinine Clearance 38.66. Infusion #91 was given this date. Blood Pressure 150/90; Weight 110#. Patient has felt well and has led a normal life for the past six months.

The patient has not been seen at the Kidney Institute at Hermann Hospital since January 1986, although Dr. Thompson has followed her progress by phone, through my office, and with the patient.

Dr. Ronald Davis expresses his heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Katy Thompson of the Texas Kidney Institute at Hermann Hospital, Houston, Texas and to Dr. Stanley Jacobs of the University of Oregon for their kind and able assistance and cooperation in the treatment of this patient.

Supplement to The Art of Getting Well
by Anthony di Fabio
Copyright 1989 / All rights reserved by The Rheumatoid Disease Foundation, 7111 Sweetgum Drive SW, Suite A, Fairview, Tennessee 37062 USA

Publications from The Rheumatoid Disease Foundation
1. The Art of Getting Well, by Anthony di Fabio: Intended for Rheumatoid Disease victims, but can also be used by the family physician. Includes recommended primary treatments plus important complementary treatments. All arthritics must read and understand this book! ($25 or more donation).

2. Intraneural Injections for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis and The Control of Pain in Arthritis of the Knee, by Dr. Paul K. Pybus. A new concept on treating the pain of arthritis. Partly written for physicians and partly for layfolks, but all arthritics should read and understand this book! ($11.00 or more donation).

3. Fight Back Against Arthritis, by Robert Bingham, M.D.: Intended for Arthritic victims. Includes variety of conventional and non-conventional treatments and practical information that arthritics should know. ($25 donation or more).

4. Rheumatoid Diseases Cured At Last, by Anthony di Fabio: Intended for rheumatoid disease and osteoarthritis victims. This book covers the original "amoebae theory," the hypothesis that serendipitously developed the presently successful medical treatment. ($15 donation or more).

5. Supplement to The Art of Getting Well, by Anthony di Fabio: Additional chapters to The Art of Getting Well published as they are prepared and mailed to all donor/members without charge.

Mail check or money order to:
The Rheumatoid Disease Foundation
7111 Sweetgum Drive SW, Suite A
Fairview, Tennessee 37062 USA.

The Rheumatoid Disease Foundation is a project of The Roger Wyburn-Mason and Jack M. Blount Foundation for The Eradication of Rheumatoid Disease, Inc.


Consult your doctor before using any of the treatments found within this site.

Subscriptions are available for Townsend Letter, the Examiner of Alternative Medicine magazine, which is published 10 times each year.

Search our pre-2001 archives for further information. Older issues of the printed magazine are also indexed for your convenience.
1983-2001 indices ; recent indices

Once you find the magazines you'd like to order, please use our convenient form, e-mail, or call 360.385.6021 (PST).


Who are we? | New articles | Featured topics |
Tables of contents
| Subscriptions | Contact us | Links | Classifieds | Advertise | Alternative Medicine Conference Calendar | Search site | Archives |
EDTA Chelation Therapy | Home


© 1983-2008 Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients
All rights reserved.
Website by Sandy Hershelman Designs
May 20, 2010

Order back issues
Advertise with TLDP!

Visit our pre-2001 archives