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Unique Treatment for Sarcoidosis

Q. Back in 2005 I had a horrible persistent cough. After a CT scan I was told it looked like lymphoma and referred to a specialist to evaluate the swollen lymph nodes and multiple nodules in my lungs.

The specialist did a biopsy and diagnosed sarcoidosis. We knew nothing about this disease and immediately began online research. The doctor wanted to start me on corticosteroids, but I am already overweight and have mild high blood pressure and feared the steroids would make that worse.

My wife, Pam, came across some reports of sarcoidosis being treated effectively with low doses of antibiotics. At my next visit, she gave the doctor printouts of her research. He looked it over and described it as “quackery.”

Pam is quite persuasive, however. She convinced the doctor just to try the treatment. He prescribed minocycline, a drug commonly used for acne.

Within six weeks my cough was gone. X-rays showed no lymph node swelling and NO nodules! The doctor is now using the treatment on other patients with sarcoidosis.

A. Sarcoidosis is a systemic autoimmune disease in which small clumps of inflammatory cells lodge in various tissues. The lungs and the lymph nodes are most frequently affected, but these granuloma clumps can appear anywhere. Successful treatment of some sarcoidosis patients with doxycycline or minocycline has been attributed to the immune modulating effects of these drugs (Clinical Rheumatology, Sept. 2008).

Your story suggests that patients can indeed learn valuable information from Internet searching. Your wife’s persuasive research allowed for a positive outcome. It is hard for physicians to stay up on the latest research in every field. Sarcoidosis is relatively rare, so it is hardly surprising that your physician initially consider antibiotic treatment “quackery.” We’re glad that he was willing to give it a go and that you responded favorably.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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