Boron: Major Cause and Cure for Arthritis
Forty years ago, I developed arthritis that made walking difficult, so I went to the local doctor who gave me medicine that did not help. So I realized that there must be a reason for my arthritis and went looking for it. At the time, I had recently moved from a home on good clay soil to a home on sandy soil, and I was teaching chemistry, soil science and agricultural botany at Fremantle Technical College, Australia. The clay soil had grown good quality fruit and vegetables, and the sandy soil gave a good crop in the first year, but after this everything showed mineral deficiencies, as is common on many sandy soils. So I looked into the properties of all these minerals to see if there was anything to do with bone or joints in man or animal.
Nothing relevant was found, but one of the deficient minerals was boron and this was written off as not needed by man or animal, yet I knew that, in the green plant, boron was needed for proper usage of calcium. Bone contains a lot of calcium, so I wondered if boron could have anything to do with the calcium in bone. The most common compound of boron was borax, so I looked into the properties of borax. It had about the same toxicity as common salt or sodium chloride – about 50 grams was a lethal dose.
Borax is often labelled as 'poison', but salt is not. Nevertheless, I took 30 mg (less than one thousandth of a dangerous dose of borax) twice a day; that is the amount that would stick to a wet finger tip. In ten days the pain was less, in two weeks the swelling was going down and in three weeks all the pain, swelling and stiffness had gone. So I stopped taking the borax, but a year later it all returned, so I took some more borax and soon all the pain, swelling and stiffness had gone again. I took more doses from time to time. Plants will not grow unless there is some boron in the soil, so by eating fruit and vegetables we all get some boron.
I told other people who had arthritis and they were getting well, but it meant buying a packet of borax which was labelled 'poison, for killing cockroaches and ants'. That put people off so they asked me to have borax made up into a tablet that was not labelled 'poison'. So I did this and had 1000 bottles of tablets made. It took me two years to sell these, then I had 2000 bottles made and these went in six months, then 5000 went in six months, then another 5000, which went in four months, then another 5000, which went in two months. I then did a foolish thing and went to a drug company in Melbourne to see if they would make and sell these tablets. At first they seemed interested and they paid for a double blind clinical trial at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Then they realized that borax could not be patented, so they lost interest, and even made the Australian government declare that boron should be made a legal poison. That made me a criminal and I was fined for selling a poison. I gave up teaching and studied to become a naturopath and nutritionist. I then went to New Zealand, South Africa, Britain and America where boron was not a legal poison. The double blind clinical trial lasted five years and was a success – 80% of those who used boron got better and those who used a placebo did not get better.
I then travelled to places where there was more or less than the normal amount of arthritis, and to places where there was more or less than the normal 1.5 parts per million [ppm] boron in the soil or water. This entailed nine trips around the world. Some of the highlights of this research were seen early, as in New Zealand there were spas where arthritic people used to go and bathe in the water for some weeks, so as to get rid of their arthritis. One of these spas was at Ngawha, where there was 300 ppm of boron in the water. People had left their crutches and wheelchairs behind when they got better at Ngawha. Other spas had 30 or 50 ppm boron and people were getting better when they bathed in all of these. At Carnarvon in Northwest Australia there was 2.5 ppm boron in the soil and water and people used to go there to enjoy the good climate and to get rid of their arthritis, but it was really the good food that helped, as the food grown there had more boron than is usual. There were 67 people who had arthritis in the population of 6000, and that is 1%, far less than usual. Inland from Carnarvon were cattle stations where there was 7.5 ppm boron in the water and there was no arthritis at all in man or animal.
In South Africa the Xhosa people had 2% with arthritis when in their native area of Transkei, but when the same people went to the big cities they soon developed 20% with arthritis. These people ate corn or maize for over 90% of their diet and, in Transkei, the corn had ten times as much boron as the commercially grown corn used in the big cities. Jamaica was another very interesting place; 70% of people had arthritis. I looked into the records of the agriculture department to find that, since the mid-1800s, a great deal of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer had been poured on to the land to produce sugar. The boron content of the soil had fallen from 1.5 ppm to less than 0.5 ppm and even less in some places. Other sugar producing places such as Mauritius had similar low boron levels in soil and water; 50% of people had arthritis, and the amount of juvenile arthritis was increasing greatly.
Fiji is another sugar producing island, but it has two distinct areas and types of people. Indians grew the sugar in the west and farmed their land with great quantities of artificial fertilizers. They had 40% with arthritis, while the native Fijians in the east used little or no fertilizer to grow their native food, and had only 5% with arthritis. The sugar producing lands were worn out and low in all the trace minerals, particularly boron, while land used for farming for centuries, where composts and wastes were returned to the soil, had 1.5 ppm boron or more. Israel is interesting because the water under the coastal plain had 2.5 ppm boron and this water was used for irrigation and production of local food crops. The medical authorities showed that only 2% of people had arthritis.
In Britain and America the soils are becoming less productive because of the continued use of artificial fertilizers containing only nitrogen and phosphorus. These two will help to produce big crops but their quality is poor and only truly organically produced foods have enough of the trace minerals, including boron. Table 1 shows the relative amounts of arthritis and of boron in soil and water in these different places.
In summary, where there is plenty of boron in soil, water and food there is little or no arthritis, but in places where there is little boron in soil, water and food there is much arthritis. It has also been seen that boron will harden and strengthen bone and so prevent osteoporosis. Elderly women are particularly liable to osteoporosis, but a daily supplement of boron will prevent it because the bones are hard and strong. One elderly woman of 87 recently fell all the way down a flight of stairs, but no bones were broken, due to the fact that she had one or two boron tablets every day.
There are other people who claim a number of causes for arthritis, such as cold weather, too much weight, eating plants in the nightshade family and food allergy, such as that caused by wheat, oats, eggs, chicken, coffee, tea, beef and pork. Some people have used exclusion diets and have corrected their arthritis by these means. It is likely that some factors in these allergy causing foods do affect certain joints or other parts of the body. Many different methods have been used to help these people, such as the use of zinc supplements, copper supplements, nicotinamide, evening primrose oil and others. All these can help some pain but none of them seems to help the great majority of joint pains or arthritis in the same way as a boron supplement, which helps 98% of all arthritic pains.
Osteoporosis is not arthritis, but it often follows on after a person has had arthritis for some years. It is more serious than is arthritis because it can lead to broken bones when a person falls. Yet recently there have been a number of very old ladies who have fallen badly, such as down a flight of stairs or on to a stone wall, but they did not suffer any fractures because they had been using Osteo-Trace, the common boron supplement, for some years and their bones were in good, strong condition. Because boron will help to strengthen bones so preventing osteoporosis, then it is only logical to realize that when bones are strong and in good condition there will be less arthritis.
A recent move has been to start the Arthritis and Rheumatism Natural Therapy Research Association [ARNTRA], and for this a quarterly newsletter has been written and sent out to members every three months. Membership costs £15 a year and new members are also given the book Arthritis Without Drugs. The secretary of ARNTRA is Professor Ken Wright, 12 Clive Road, West Dulwich, London. SE21 8BY.