Reposted on 13/10/16, updated on 9/12/17.
Can alternative or nutritional therapies be used to treat or cure Sweet’s syndrome?
No. There is 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 psychological or physical good health and well-being.
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 consensus of the medical community is that there is no alternative or nutritional therapy that can be used to treat or cure Sweet’s syndrome. However, some people are being lied to, and 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 being done so that we’ll be forced to buy and use the medications that ‘Big Pharma’ produce and sell, which will continue to make them very rich. There is no evidence to support this theory, but it is not unusual for those selling bogus treatments to resort to the ‘Big Pharma’ conspiracy simply to try and back up their false claims. 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 probably 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 can 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 by the treatment, i.e. the skin being punctured by the needles, may trigger the development of new skin lesions, and this is referred to as pathergy. However, not all Sweet’s syndrome patients demonstrate pathergy. Read more here.
Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).
Baking soda is being advocated as a treatment for Sweet’s syndrome, myelodysplastic syndromes and leukaemia, and other cancers – in 15-20% of patients, Sweet’s syndrome develops secondary to some form of 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 extreme caution. Read more here.
Change of diet or elimination of dietary toxins.
There is 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 hypersensitivity reaction, cytokine dysregulation and genetic susceptibility. Special diets, e.g. alkaline, anti-inflammatory, detox, gluten-free, Palaeolithic, dairy-free and vegan, are not treatments for Sweet’s syndrome, and could increase the risk of nutritional deficiency in some people.
If possible, try to avoid a dairy-free diet, particularly a vegan diet, if you have been taking systemic steroid medication for more than 3 months. This kind of diet may be lower in calcium, and if you are taking steroids, it is very important that you meet your daily calcium requirements (Clarys et al, 2014: 1319, 1321, 1324, 1327). This is because you will be at increased risk of developing steroid-induced osteoporosis.
You may also need to be careful about nutritional deficiency if you have other types of health condition, are pregnant, or on a low income. In regards to the latter, you might not have that much money to spend on food and may struggle to meet your nutritional needs as a result.
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. ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, or Sjögren’s syndrome. However, there is 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 (Baxter, 2017; NHS Choices, 2014; NHS Choices, 2015b). This is because joint manipulation could make symptoms worse.
In people with osteoporosis or ankylosing spondylitis where the joints are fused, joint manipulation can lead to fracture (Baxter, 2017).
In those with rheumatoid arthritis who have upper neck instability, joint manipulation can be very dangerous due to the increased risk of spinal cord compression.
Physiotherapy, which is not the same as osteopathy or chiropracty, is completely safe.
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 is absolutely no medical evidence to show that they work. In the United States (US), the importation of EAV devices has been banned. If you are in the US and someone offers you, or refers you for EAV testing, please report them to the relevant authorities.
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.
Homeopathy is being advocated as a treatment for Sweet’s syndrome by some alternative therapists. This is a pseudoscientific claim, and there is no evidence to support this claim. In fact, 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 Choices, 2015a). Please take this into consideration before choosing to try homeopathy. However, if you do choose to try it, then it is probably safe.
Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN).
Naltrexone is normally prescribed for drug (opioid) or alcohol dependence, but in low doses is being advocated as a treatment for a large number of conditions. The LDN Research Trust has listed LDN as a treatment for eye problems in people with Sweet’s syndrome, despite the fact that they have produced no evidence to support this claim. It has been proposed that LDN reduces inflammation, but on the Low Dose Naltrexone website it also states that ‘LDN boosts the immune system, activating the body’s own natural defenses’. Boosting or increasing immune system activity isn’t going to treat Sweet’s syndrome, as the symptoms of this condition are caused by an overactive innate immune system, not an underactive or weakened one. When the immune system is overactive, this then causes inflammation in the body. There is a possibility that LDN might even make Sweet’s syndrome worse, particularly if it’s developed secondary to an autoimmune condition. Read more here (click link and see ‘Additional notes’). As there’s no evidence to show that LDN is effective or safe in the treatment of Sweet’s syndrome, if you do choose to try it, then please use with caution.
There is no evidence to show that probiotics can be used to directly treat Sweet’s syndrome, but they are generally very 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 Choices, 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. However, at present, there is a lack of evidence to prove conclusively that probiotics can be useful in the management of Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis without pouchitis.
Red root (blood root, bloodwort).
Red root is being advocated as a treatment for Sweet’s syndrome by some alternative therapists in the US. There is no evidence to support this claim, and it should be avoided or used with caution as it may not always be safe to use. Red root is a debriding agent (removes skin tissue) which means it should never be applied to the skin lesions of patients with Sweet’s syndrome, as there is an increased likelihood that it will trigger the development of new lesions. It should also be completely avoided by those with certain health conditions or taking medication. Read more here.
Some other herbs and supplements to be used with caution.
There is 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 and could make the symptoms of autoimmune conditions, and possibly Sweet’s syndrome worse, particularly if the Sweet’s syndrome has developed secondary to an autoimmune condition. Alfalfa, astragalus, echinacea, and oral zinc should also be used with caution. Read more here.
Arthritis Research UK (2017) Complementary and Alternative Medicines (online). Accessed 25/04/17.
Arthritis Research UK (2017) Diet and Nutritional Supplements (online). Accessed 25/04/17.
A warning about Polly Heil-Mealey! Sweet’s syndrome cannot be cured with herbs or homeopathic remedies.
Can vaccination trigger Sweet’s syndrome?
What is the treatment for Sweet’s syndrome?
Baxter, S. (2017) Healing with Chiropractic Medicine. Arthritis Foundation (online). Accessed 16/06/17.
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 (online).
NHS Choices (2014) Chiropractic (online). Reviewed 20/08/15, and accessed 30/03/17.
NHS Choices (2015a) Homeopathy (online). Reviewed 15/02/15, and accessed 30/03/17.
NHS Choices (2015b) Osteopathy (online). Reviewed 10/06/15, and accessed 30/03/17.
NHS Choices (2016) Probiotics (online). Reviewed on 28/01/16, and accessed 16/06/17.
Sweet’s Syndrome UK does not promote the use of alternative or nutritional therapies. This is because there is no evidence to show that these therapies are effective, or sometimes even safe to use in those with 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.
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