Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Tuning in to Toxicity?

On "Larry King Live" recently you discussed the drugs Methotrexate and/or Enbrel and their complications. Could you elaborate?

Answer (Published 5/14/2003)

I was asked about these drugs by a woman whose husband was being treated for psoriatic arthritis, a type of arthritis that usually occurs among people who have the skin disease psoriasis. The caller said her husband had been treated with methotrexate, a powerful immunosuppressive drug, and had been switched to Enbrel, a much newer, equally powerful immunosuppressive that works in a different way.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for Arthritis - Whether you have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, a healthy lifestyle, diet and prudent supplement routine may help bring relief. Start your 14-day free trial of Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging for information, recipes, eating guides and more.

I told about a patient of mine with rheumatoid arthritis, who was put on Enbrel. Her symptoms vanished as if by magic, but within six months she developed uterine and breast cancer, both probably influenced by the drug. Enbrel blocks some functions of the immune system, increasing susceptibility to serious infections, anemia and malignancies. Because of these possible and very serious adverse reactions, I recommend using Enbrel only as a last resort for autoimmune diseases that do not respond to other measures.

Both psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis result from the immune system attacking the body's own tissues. These reactions may be triggered by infection, tissue injury, or emotional trauma in people with a genetic predisposition to them.

I am not opposed to using prednisone, methotrexate, and other immunosuppressive drugs for the short-term management of severe cases, but I advise experimenting with more natural methods of long term control. These include:

  • Following a low-protein, high carbohydrate diet; minimizing consumption of foods of animal origin.
  • Experimenting with fasting and with elimination diets; rheumatoid arthritis especially, often responds to these changes.
  • Eliminating milk and milk products including commercial foods made with milk.
  • Avoiding all polyunsaturated vegetable oils, margarine, vegetable shortening and products made with partially hydrogenated oils of any kind. Use olive oil as your main fat.
  • Increasing intake of omega-3 fatty acids by eating more cold water fish, walnuts or fresh ground flax seeds. Or taking a fish oil supplement.
  • Eliminating or reducing intake of coffee and tobacco; both have been linked to an increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Getting regular aerobic exercise (swimming is best for those with arthritis).
  • Practicing relaxation techniques; visualization can help moderate auto immune responses; psychotherapy can help change emotional states that keep the immune system off balance and hypnotherapy and guided imagery are also useful.
  • Avoiding health care practitioners who make you feel pessimistic about your condition.
  • Trying other medical systems such as traditional Chinese medicine or Ayurveda, which often do well with autoimmune conditions. 

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here