WD-40 for Arthritis?
© 2005 Katherine Poehlmann, Ph.D.
A popular myth has grown around the use of WD-40 as a joint lubricant and pain reliever for arthritis. The liquid is sprayed on the painful joint much as one would fix a squeaky mechanical hinge. To be used by the body, the substance must be absorbed through the skin. The thinner the skin, the more is absorbed.
To date, no credible scientific studies have shown any benefit from the use of WD-40 for arthritis. In fact, there may be cumulative harmful effects. The manufacturer's warning indicates that contact with skin and vapors should be avoided. WD-40 contains petroleum distillates, as do gasoline and oil. Problems ranging from mild skin rash to severe allergic reactions have been reported. Prolonged exposure can cause cancer and other serious health problems.
WD-40 has a documented dangerous synergism with insecticides, notably pyrethrin, the active ingredient in head lice medication and some dandruff shampoos. Pyrethrin is made from dried, concentrated powder of flowers from the chrysanthemum family. Both the natural pyrethrin and synthetic pyrethroid insecticides mimic the hormone estrogen, which causes cell proliferation. Misuse of these insecticides can result in proliferation of breast cancer cells as well as endocrine disruption, kidney problems, and nerve damage.
Proponents of WD-40 may be experiencing a placebo effect or may realize some benefit from increased blood circulation in the affected area as the substance is massaged into the skin. Breathing the vapor may have a temporary pain-killing effect, but delicate linings in the nose, throat, mouth, and lungs may be damaged.
Dr. Poehlmann is the author of Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Infection Connection, available at Amazon.com and major bookstores, or click here to order now.