Reposted on 13/10/16, updated on 18/11/18.
Can alternative or nutritional therapies be used to treat or cure Sweet’s syndrome?
There’s absolutely no evidence to show that Sweet’s syndrome can be successfully treated or cured with alternative or nutritional therapies. However, some of these therapies may be useful in the management of other conditions, or helpful in promoting overall good health.
Are you sure that alternative or nutritional therapies can’t be used to treat or cure Sweet’s syndrome, or is this simply a lie that ‘Big Pharma’ wants us to believe?
Yes, at present, the general medical consensus is that there’s no alternative or nutritional therapy that can be used to treat or cure Sweet’s syndrome. However, some people are being told that there are natural and alternative cures for Sweet’s syndrome, but that ‘Big Pharma’ doesn’t want them to know about it.
Who or what is ‘Big Pharma’?
‘Big Pharma’ is a term that’s used to refer to the pharmaceutical industry. Some conspiracy theorists believe that doctors, the pharmaceutical industry and the government, are trying to keep us sick and prevent or discourage us from accessing alternative miracle cures. This is supposedly happening so we’ll be forced to buy and use the medications that ‘Big Pharma’ produce and sell, continuing to make them very rich. There’s no evidence to support this theory, but it’s not unusual for those selling bogus treatments to mention it. This is done to try and convince you that their treatments really do work, but that ‘Big Pharma’ never wants you to discover this secret truth as it will negatively affect their profits. If someone does resort to the ‘Big Pharma’ conspiracy to back up their claims, then it’s a red flag and a strong indication that they can’t be trusted.
Are alternative and nutritional therapies always safe to use?
Alternative and nutritional therapies are sometimes safe to use, but not always. Some of these therapies are potentially harmful or could make Sweet’s syndrome worse. Herbal supplements in particular, can cause lots of problems. One real concern is that they can interact with medications or reduce their effectiveness, and sometimes, any interactions that do occur will be dangerous. Before trying an alternative or nutritional therapy, please check with your doctor.
Alternative and nutritional therapies that don’t work, should be used with caution, or completely avoided in patients with Sweet’s syndrome.
This is list of alternative and nutritional therapies that don’t work, should be used with caution, or completely avoided. Despite this fact, they are still being advocated or sold as treatments or cures for Sweet’s syndrome by alternative therapists, other individuals and businesses. These treatments include:
No evidence to show that acupuncture works and should be used with caution. This is because the skin damage caused, i.e. the skin being punctured by needles, may trigger the development of new skin lesions. This is referred to as pathergy and is similar to another response called Koebner phenomenon. Read more here.
Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).
In approximately 20% of Sweet’s syndrome patients, their condition develops secondary to some form of cancer, myelodysplastic syndromes being one of the commonest. Baking soda is being advocated as a treatment for both Sweet’s syndrome and cancer, particularly cancer. This is an incredibly dangerous pseudoscientific claim, i.e. a false or made-up claim that appears to be scientifically-based, but is not. Anyone who makes such claims should not be believed and treated with caution. Read more here.
Change of diet or elimination of dietary toxins.
No evidence to show that Sweet’s syndrome is caused by diet or dietary ‘toxins’, or that a change in diet can directly improve or cure it. Sweet’s syndrome is caused by errors in the innate immune system and involves factors such as cytokine dysregulation, hypersensitivity reaction and genetic susceptibility. Special diets – alkaline, anti-inflammatory, ‘clean’, dairy-free, detox, gluten-free, Palaeolithic, ketogenic, and vegan – are not treatments for Sweet’s syndrome, and could increase the risk of nutritional deficiency in some people.
Be careful when following a vegan diet, particularly if you’ve been taking systemic steroid medication for more than 3 months. This kind of diet can be lower in calcium, and if you’re taking steroids, it’s very important to meet both your daily calcium and vitamin D requirements (Clarys et al, 2014). This is because you’ll be at increased risk of developing steroid-induced osteoporosis.
Chiropracty and osteopathy.
Sweet’s syndrome frequently causes joint pain (arthralgia) or joint pain and swelling (arthritis), and can sometimes develop secondary to autoimmune conditions that affect the joints, e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, or Sjögren’s syndrome. There’s no evidence to show that chiropracty or osteopathy can be used to treat or cure Sweet’s syndrome, and if the joints are painful and swollen, osteopathy and chiropracty should be avoided, at least, until the swelling has reduced and been brought under control (NHS, 2018b; Sayre, 2018).
Osteopathy often needs to be avoided in certain conditions – osteoporosis, fractures, inflammatory arthritis, infection, blood clotting disorders, cancer, and multiple sclerosis – due to an increased risk of damage to the spine or other bones, ligaments, joints or nerves (NHS, 2018b).
In chiropracty and osteopathy, on rare occasions, spinal manipulation can result in stroke as a result of tearing of an artery wall (NHS, 2017; NHS, 2018b)
EAV or bioenergetics.
EAV or bioenergetics are tests that involve using electrodiagnostic devices to supposedly determine the cause of a disease by detecting the ‘energy imbalance’ causing the problem, or even cure a condition by correcting this imbalance. These tests and treatments are a scam, and there’s absolutely no medical evidence to show that they work. In the United States (US), the importation of EAV devices has been banned, and if someone offers you, or refers you for EAV testing, please treat them with caution.
No evidence to show that essential oils work, and should be used with caution when applied to the skin. This is because of potential skin irritation and pathergy response. Read more here.
Be careful of the multi-level marketing/direct selling company, ‘doTerra’. This is a company that sells essential oils, and some individual sellers are making false health claims in order to sell their products – just do an internet or social media search using terms such as ‘doTerra and autoimmune’ to find examples of this.
Homeopathy is being advocated as a treatment for Sweet’s syndrome, but this is a pseudoscientific claim, and there’s no evidence to support it. In 2010, the ‘House of Commons Science and Technology on Homeopathy’ made it clear that homeopathic remedies perform no better than placebos, and that the principles on which homeopathy is based are ‘scientifically implausible’ (NHS, 2018a). Please take this into consideration before choosing to try homeopathy.
Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN).
In the UK, naltrexone is a prescription-only medication, and isn’t licensed to treat Sweet’s syndrome. It’s normally prescribed for drug (opioid) or alcohol dependence, and works by binding to opioid receptors in the cells. These receptors are designed to respond to your endorphins – natural chemicals in the body that make you ‘feel good’. The naltrexone temporarily blocks endorphin and opioid receptors, tricking the body into thinking it needs to make more endorphins, and so it does.
Claims have been made that in low doses naltrexone can affect and improve immune function, help you to sleep, and relieve pain. It’s currently being advocated as a treatment for a large number of conditions, including eye problems in Sweet’s syndrome, but there’s often very little or no evidence to support these claims.
Clinical neurologist, Dr. Steven Novella, has expressed concerns over the contradictory claims that LDN has the ability to treat not only conditions where the immune system is overactive and needs to be suppressed (autoimmune), but also conditions where the immune system is weakened and needs to be ‘boosted’ (AIDS) (Novella, 2010). This is because ‘boosting’ the immune system would make an autoimmune condition worse, and suppressing it would worsen AIDS.
LDN may be useful in the management of certain conditions, e.g. fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis, but there are problems with the information available – very few studies; only studies of short duration; problems with methodology; low quality documentation (Ringerike et al, 2015). Further research is required into LDN’s effectiveness as a glial cell modulator – a medication that can limit the activation of glial cells which play a role in inflammation of the central nervous system (neuroinflammation) and chronic pain (Younger et al, 2014).
There’s no evidence to show that probiotics can be used to directly treat Sweet’s syndrome, but they’re generally safe to use. Research into probiotics is limited, but they can be useful in preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, treating infectious diarrhoea, protecting premature babies from gut disease, irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance, and pouchitis in people with the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ulcerative colitis (NHS, 2016). Sometimes, Sweet’s syndrome can develop secondary to the IBDs, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, and if the IBD flares up then the Sweet’s syndrome often will too. At present, there’s a lack of evidence to prove conclusively that probiotics can be useful in the management of ulcerative colitis without pouchitis.
Red root (blood root, bloodwort).
No evidence to show that red root works, and should be avoided or used with caution as it’s not always safe to use. Red root is a debriding agent (removes skin tissue) which means it should never be applied to the skin lesions due to a potential pathergy response. It should also be completely avoided by those with certain health conditions or taking certain medications. Read more here.
Some other herbs and supplements to be used with caution.
No evidence to show that the following supplements can be used to treat Sweet’s syndrome. The algae, chlorella, is not suitable for those taking certain medications; could potentially make an autoimmune condition worse; possibly make Sweet’s syndrome worse, particularly if it’s developed secondary to an autoimmune condition. Alfalfa, astragalus, echinacea, and oral zinc should also be used with caution. Read more here.
‘Detox’ products that remove vaccine ‘toxins’; alkaline water, water or juice with ‘miracle’ properties; peiec healing.
Pahwa, R. and Jialal, I. (2018) Chronic Inflammation. StatPearls [Internet]. General information on managing inflammation, including diet.
Versus Arthritis (2018) Complementary and Alternative Medicines (online). Accessed 18/11/18.
Versus Arthritis (2018) Diet and Nutritional Supplements (online). Accessed 18/11/18.
Clarys, P., Deliens, T., Huybrechts, I., Deriemaeker, P., Vanaelst, B., De Keyzer, W., Hebbelinck, M. and Mullie, P. (2014) Comparison of nutritional quality of the vegan, vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian and omnivorous diet. Nutrients, Mar 24;6(3):1318-32 (PMC).
NHS (2017) Chiropractic (online). Accessed 18/11/18.
NHS (2018a) Homeopathy (online). Accessed 18/11/18.
NHS (2018b) Osteopathy: Safety and Regulation (online). Accessed 18/11/18.
NHS (2016) Probiotics (online). Accessed 18/11/18.
Ringerike, T., Pike, E., Nevjar, J. and Klemp, M. (2015) The Use of Naltrexone in Low Doses Beyond the Approved Indication: Report from Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services (NOKC) No. 8-2015. Knowledge Centre for the Health Services at The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH): NIPH Systematic Reviews: Executive Summaries [Internet].
Sweet’s Syndrome UK does not promote the use of alternative or nutritional therapies. This is because there’s no evidence to show that these therapies are effective, or sometimes even safe to use in Sweet’s syndrome. If anyone does have information that proves that alternative or nutritional therapies can be used to treat Sweet’s syndrome, I will be more than happy to read it. However, only peer-reviewed medical articles and case-studies will be accepted as evidence. The following will not be accepted as evidence: anecdotal evidence and personal stories; testimonials; YouTube videos; information on blogs or websites where there are no references or links to peer-reviewed medical articles or case-studies, or where the author is not willing to provide this information; blogs or websites where someone tries to pass off their feelings or instincts, beliefs or opinions as facts or evidence – Michelle Holder, Sweet’s Syndrome UK.
2012-present, Sweet’s Syndrome UK