Arthritis is a disease of epidemic proportions,
but it has been around for so many centuries that it is considered by most
people as a part of growing old or a consequence of physical injury. Arthritis
is in fact a far more complex disease than is generally known. For instance,
Dorland's Medical Dictionary describes 27 different types of arthritis,
and that does not include such diverse conditions as systemic lupus erythematosus,
scleroderma, fibromyalgia, and numerous other conditions which some authorities
consider to be types of arthritis. One authority states that there are
approximately 100 causes for arthritis.
Cetyl myristoleate was discovered and isolated by
one person, working alone, on a quest to find a cure for arthritis. Harry
W. Diehl, while employed by the National Institute of Arthritis, Metabolism,
and Digestive Diseases, specialized in sugar chemistry. Diehl's interest
in discovering a way to help victims of arthritis began over 40 years ago
when his friend and next door neighbor, a carpenter, developed severe rheumatoid
arthritis. His condition deteriorated over time until he became disabled.
The neighbor had a family to support, but his arthritis made that impossible.
Diehl is a deeply religious man whose feelings overwhelmed him as his friend's
condition worsened. Harry thought, "Here I am working at the National Institutes
of Health, and I have never seen anything that was good for curing arthritis."
decided to establish a laboratory in his home and embark on a search for
something to relieve the pain and disability of his neighbor and the millions
of people who suffer from arthritis. Unfortunately, he was too late to
help the neighbor, but Diehl's research did lead to the discovery of cetyl
myristoleate, which may someday be hailed as one of the significant nutritional
discoveries of the 20th century.
As a researcher, Diehl knew that finding a cure
for arthritis first meant inducing the disease experimentally in research
animals. He started with mice, and quickly realized that he was unable
to induce arthritis in them. Diehl said he tried every way he could to
give those mice arthritis, but they just would not get it. Then, he contacted
a researcher in California who wrote to him, "If you or anyone else can
give mice arthritis, I want to know about it, because mice are 100% immune
to arthritis." At that moment, Diehl's research instincts told him that
what he wanted was already somewhere in those mice.
It was a long, tedious job, working on his own in
his spare time, but Diehl finally found the factor - cetyl myristoleate
- that protected mice from arthritis. As Diehl said, "It didn't come on
a silver platter to me, but after years of chemical sleuthing and just
old-fashioned chemical cooking, I found it!" On thin layer chromatography
of methylene chloride extract from macerated mice, Diehl noticed a mysterious
compound, which was subsequently identified as cetyl myristoleate. As Diehl
was to prove, cetyl myristoleate circulates in the blood of mice and makes
them immune to arthritis.
Cetyl myristoleate is now known to exist in sperm
whale oil and in a small gland in the male beaver. At this time no other
sources in nature are known to contain cetyl myristoleate. While the first
amounts of cetyl myristoleate for experimentation were extracted from mice,
Diehl quickly developed a method for making cetyl myristoleate in the lab
by the esterification of myristoleic acid.
Cetyl myristoleate, an oil, is the hexadecyl ester
of the unsaturated fatty acid cis-9-tetradecenoic acid. The common name
for the acid is myristoleic acid. Myristoleic acid is found commonly in
fish oils, whale oils, dairy butter, and kombo butter. The chemical formula
for cetyl myristoleate is (Z)-ROCO(CH2)7CH=CH(CH2)3CH3. Cetyl myristoleate
was unrecorded in chemical literature until Diehl's discovery was reported.
To test his theory that mice are immune to arthritis
because of cetyl myristoleate, Diehl began to experiment on laboratory
rats. This research was reported in an article written in conjunction with
one of his colleagues at NIH in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
In summary, this paper reports that ten normal mice were injected in the
tail with Freund's Adjuvant (heat-killed desiccated Mycobacterium butyricum)
to which rats and certain other rodents are susceptible. In a period of
10-20 days, no noticeable swelling developed in the legs or paws. Mice
in a second group were injected in the left hind paw. Again, after 10-20
days, no swelling was detected as determined by comparison of the measurements
of paws at the time of injection.
Then, a group of rats was injected with cetyl myristoleate,
and 48 hours later, they were given the arthritis-inducing Freund's adjuvant.
A control group of rats was given Freund's adjuvant only. Both groups of
rats were observed for a total of 58 days with respect to weight change,
hind and front leg swelling, and general well-being. All rats receiving
only Freund's adjuvant developed severe swelling of the front and hind
legs, lagged in weight gain, and were lethargic and morbid. Those receiving
cetyl myristoleate before receiving Freund's adjuvant grew an average of
5.7 times as much as the control group and had little if any evidence of
swelling or other symptoms of polyarthritis.
The authors concluded that it was apparent that cetyl
myristoleate gave virtually complete protection against adjuvant-induced
arthritis in rats. Furthermore, a 1:1 mixture of cetyl myristoleate and
a homologue, cetyl oleate, gave results not significantly different from
administering cetyl myristoleate alone.
Diehl patented his discovery in 1977, receiving
a use patent for rheumatoid arthritis. He then sought pharmaceutical companies
to conduct human trials with cetyl myristoleate, but none were interested
in his discovery. Perhaps the lack of interest was because cetyl myristoleate
was a natural substance and could not be granted a product patent, or maybe
because drug companies know they will have to run through 25,000 to 35,000
substances before they find one that makes it to market. Diehl had made
a major nutritional discovery, and no one was interested! Being a scientist,
not a marketing expert, Diehl let his discovery lay dormant for about 15
Cetyl Myristoleate Cures
As Diehl got older, he began to experience some
osteoarthritis in his hands, his knees, and his heels. His family physician
tried the usual regimen of cortisone and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory
drugs without much effect on the course of the disease. Finally his physician
told Harry he could not have any more cortisone. "So," Diehl said, "I thought
about my discovery, and I decided to make a batch and use it on myself."
He did, and successfully cured himself of his osteoarthritis.
Many of his family members and friends became aware
of the relief Diehl got from his discovery, and they wanted to try it too.
Time after time, people with both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis received
astounding relief with cetyl myristoleate. Before long, family members
and friends grew into customers, and cetyl myristoleate appeared on the
market as a dietary supplement in 1991.
Clinical Observations and Usage
In common with many other natural substances and
drugs, the exact mechanism of cetyl myristoleate's physiologic activity
is unclear. As a fatty acid ester, it appears to have the same characteristics
as the essential fatty acids, linoleic and alpha linolenic acids, except
stronger and longer lasting. These fatty acids are referred to as "essential
fatty acids" because the human body cannot make them and we must ingest
them in our diets. These EFA's truly are essential to normal cell structure
and body function and function as components of nerve cells, cell membranes,
and hormone-like substances known as prostaglandins. Many of the beneficial
effects of a diet rich in plant foods is a result of the low levels of
saturated fat and the relatively higher levels of EFA's. While a diet high
in saturated fat has been linked to many chronic diseases, a diet low in
saturated fat but high in EFA's prevents these very same diseases.7
The use of EFA's over an extended period of time has been shown to decrease
the pain, inflammation, and limitation of motion of arthritis.
The difference between the activity of EFA's and
cetyl myristoleate is that the quantity required and the period of time
over which EFA's are taken are markedly longer. Cetyl myristoleate is taken
in a one month course of about 13 grams, while EFA's must be taken over
extended periods, sometimes many years, and intake varies widely from hundreds
to thousands of grams. Cetyl myristoleate seems to have properties in common
with EFA's, but it acts faster and lasts longer.
Because EFA's are necessary for normal functioning
of all tissue, it is not surprising that the list of symptoms of EFA deficiency
is a long one. In chronic inflammatory processes, the supply of EFA's is
depleted. Cetyl myristoleate appears to have the ability to correct the
imbalance created by chronic inflammation. Like EFA's, maybe cetyl myristoleate
turns off the fires of chronic inflammation by serving as a mediator of
prostaglandin formation and metabolism.
Venous blood from the gastrointestinal tract is carried
to the liver via the portal vein. With the exception of intestinal chylomicrons
that enter the lymphatics, all absorbed products pass initially through
the liver, and in most instances are extracted or modified before passage
into systemic circulation.9 Since all fatty
acids enter systemic circulation through the liver, an oil like cetyl myristoleate
would begin its systemic circulation from the liver also. It is speculated
that cetyl myristoleate stimulates the production of immunoglobulins and
series 1 and 3 prostaglandins, which could be one explanation for why cetyl
myristoleate has such potent effect in auto-immune and inflammatory conditions.
Here are some cases involving the use of cetyl myristoleate from the
Leona - She is a 64 year old mother of five who has been developing
degenerative changes in her fingers over the last 15 years. She plays the
piano frequently and had to reduce the amount of playing time as a result
of the arthritis pain in her fingers. ANA titers have been mildly elevated
over the years and rheumatoid disease has been diagnosed in several of
her ancestors and one sibling. Leona's other medical problems are mild
hypertension and chronic sacro-lumbar pain which appears to be attributable
both to sciatic damage sustained in a water skiing accident 24 years ago
and Shunerman's disease as teenager. Demonstrating both rheumatoid and
osteoarthritis changes in her fingers, she has a mild nodular deformity
at the terminal joints of the 3rd and 4th fingers on the left hand and
fusiform swelling in the medial and distal joints of most of her fingers.
Her thumbs were intermittently painful and swollen. She first took cetyl
myristoleate in mid-January, 1997. There is now increased range of motion
in all of the finger joints and visible reduction of the rheumatoid-like
swelling. The nodular deformities have not changed noticeably. Her back
problems demonstrated no improvement. Her sedimentation rate has run from
15 to 35, and is currently 16, with her ANA <1:360. Leona is now able
to play the piano all she wants to without pain or swelling of her fingers.
Joyce - She is a 42 year old mother of three and a court reporter in
good general health, suffering only from moderate hayfever in the spring.
Recently Joyce developed a generalized stiffness and soreness in her fingers,
which was worse on her right hand. The condition became so bad over a couple
of weeks that she began making numerous mistakes in her court reporting
and her speed was significantly reduced. She was diagnosed with tenosynovitis.
Joyce shows no deformities of her hands associated with arthritis. She
began a course of cetyl myristoleate during the last week of February and
finished the last week of March, 1997. She reports complete restoration
of her dexterity with return of her normal accuracy and speed, along with
elimination of the associated pain.
Bob - He is a 67 year-old retired politician who suffered lumbar and
pelvic fractures in WWII when his jeep struck a land mine. Over the years,
these injuries produced increasing pain, which seriously affected routine
daily activities like getting out of bed in the morning and his ability
to play golf. X-rays demonstrate degenerative arthritic changes in the
lumbar articulations and the right sacroiliac joint. At 6 feet tall and
185 pounds, he is otherwise in good health. Bob has been using anti-inflammatory
drugs for over 20 years, including Voltaren, ibuprofen, Tylenol, and aspirin.
He took a one-half course of 7.6 grams of cetyl myristoleate in September,
1996. He experienced moderately severe inflammation (breakthrough pain)
on day two which lasted for three days. On the 4th day, the pain began
to subside and was completely gone by the 5th day. He has been virtually
pain-free since and is very happy with the increased comfort with which
he can begin each day. He can now comfortably walk the golf course whereas
before he was limited to a golf cart. In February, 1997, he perceived a
slight return of his low back pain and decided to take another one-half
course. He experienced no breakthrough pain this time and is currently
pain-free. He has not taken any other medication for his back pain since
taking cetyl myristoleate initially.
Virginia - She is an 85 year-old lady who still works part-time at the
family-owned business and cares for her husband who has cancer. Virginia
was diagnosed ten years ago with diabetes, and elevated triglycerides and
cholesterol. Overweight all her life, she is now stable at 265 pounds.
She suffers from long-standing osteoarthritis in her knees and ankles,
for which she was placed on cetyl myristoleate. No other agents have been
used by her for arthritis except for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs,
both OTC and prescription. After about 7.6 grams of cetyl myristoleate,
she was able to walk without limping or experiencing significant pain.
About three months following the initial course, some pain returned, but
she has retained what she estimates to be 50% improvement. She also has
gallstones and a recurrent problem with gout, both of which have been symptomless
since her cetyl myristoleate course. She evidently did not receive enough
cetyl myristoleate for her body weight and will be given another course
of 13.25 grams.
Rose - Rose is a 46 year old mother of four who works as a legal secretary.
She was diagnosed five years ago as having an atypical form of multiple
sclerosis. She had MRI exams of the skull and spinal cord, which demonstrated
several areas of non-specific degenerative changes in the brain with several
"bright spots" in the cervical spinal cord. She had periodic visual aberrations
as well as constant fatigue and fibromyalgia-like pains focused in her
trapezius (bilaterally), and in her upper arms and legs below the knees.
She also complained of burning sensations in her hands and feet. All of
the symptoms worsened with elevated stress. There was no sign of pernicious
anemia or diabetes. She was receiving chiropractic therapy. Joyce was started
on numerous naturopathic therapies in March, 1996 without significant benefit
over an eight month period. In November, 1996, she started on cetyl myristoleate
and indicated that she felt more fatigued for the first three days but
that the pain in her upper back and extremities was completely gone. She
further reported that the tingling/burning sensation in her feet and hands
was also gone. Rose felt this was the most striking aspect of the treatment
as those areas were the ones most constantly affected. This improvement
lasted until she had to travel out of state to tend to her mother who was
diagnosed with a rapidly advancing malignancy. Over the next three weeks,
her symptoms began to reappear. After the death of her mother, she returned
home in as bad shape as before first taking cetyl myristoleate. She decided
that she wanted to take another half course of cetyl myristoleate, which
completely duplicated the relief from the initial dosage with the exception
that she feels slightly less relief from her tendencies to fatigue than
she did after the first course. Rose will be taking another half course
to see if she can improve her stamina.
J.P. - He is a 60 year old male who has been a farmer his entire life.
Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis 15 years ago, he has been on various
pharmacologic protocols during that time. The most recent includes Plaquenil,
methotrexate, and prednisone, with daily non-steroidal anti-inflammatory
drug dosing. J.P. has fusiform swelling involving most of the joints of
his fingers and moderate ulnar deviation of both hands. He suffered severe
pain most of the time which limited the labor he could perform. He began
cetyl myristoleate during the last week of February, 1997, at which time
he terminated his methotrexate and Plaquenil (not recommended except in
consultation with a qualified physician). He has also reduced his prednisone
from 15 milligrams per day to 5 mg, but he still maintains his NSAID dosing
on a daily basis. J.P. experienced a mild increase in pain during the first
four days of taking cetyl myristoleate, but since then he has been pain
free and the swelling in his hands is reducing. J.P. will be monitored
over the next month to determine his stability, with checking of his serum
parameters by an MD. If he continues to remain symptom-free, his steroid
and NSAID therapies will be terminated. J.P. does not smoke, eat chocolate,
nor drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages. He was advised at the onset
of his cetyl myristoleate dosage to avoid sugar. He is also taking Glucosaplex
(a mix of glucosamines) and Lyprinol (fatty acid extract of green lipped
mussel) as an additional natural anti-inflammatory agent.
Optimizing the Effects of Cetyl Myristoleate
Since the days of Paracelsus, physicians have been
combining therapeutic agents for synergistic effects, or to achieve potentiation
of several compounds. As powerful a nutrient as it is, the effects of cetyl
myristoleate can be helped by combining it with other natural substances.
Two or three grams daily of omega-3 fish oil or two tablespoonfulls of
flaxseed oil during the month-long course of cetyl myristoleate can help
its effects. This should be accompanied by 300-500 mg of Vitamin E daily.
A minimum of 1,500 mg of glucosamine sulfate should be taken daily for
at least three months to assist in rebuilding cartilage damaged by degenerative
arthritis. In severe cases, three to six grams of glucosamine daily for
one month and reduced to 1,500 mg daily for three months has been found
to be very effective. Afterwards, a daily maintenance of 500 mg of glucosamine
should be used for healthy cartilage. If stomach upset occurs, glucosamine
should be taken with meals.
Clinical experience has shown that glucosamine sulfate
is far superior when compared to cartilage extracts, such as sea cucumber,
hydrolyzed bovine cartilage, and shark cartilage. This is due to the increased
absorption and utilization of glucosamine sulfate compared to these sources
of chrondroitin sulfates, which are very large molecules and difficult
to digest. Animal and human studies have shown up to 98% absorption of
glucosamine, compared to only 8% absorption of chrondroitin sulfate.
One of the reasons that glucosamine sulfate is more
effective in rebuilding cartilage when compared to other sources of glucosamine,
including the N-acetyl and hydrochloride forms, is that it provides bioavailable
dietary sulfur. Sulfur helps provide the protein links necessary for cartilage
matrix repair. Another source of sulfur is methylsulfonylmethane (MSM),
which has been used historically to treat a wide variety of conditions
including allergies, emphysema, arthritis, gastrointestinal upset, and
some vascular conditions. MSM is a metabolite of dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO)
and provides many similar good effects. MSM is found in most natural unprocessed
foods. Because of its volatility, MSM is lost when fresh food is cooked,
processed, or stored. The richest source of MSM is mother's milk; consequently,
very few nursing infants are deficient in dietary sulfur.
As with any oil, cetyl myristoleate requires lipase
to be digested. Lipases are pancreatic enzymes that play a key role in
the digestion of fats and fat soluble vitamins. If lipase is absent or
deficient, cetyl myristoleate will be poorly absorbed, if at all. As many
arthritis patients are of the age when lipase production decreases, approximately
100 mg of lipase enzyme should be taken with each cetyl myristoleate capsule.
In addition to taking lipase, cholecystectomy patients will need lecithin
or ox bile extract to assure absorption.
Diet can play a role in optimizing the benefits of
cetyl myristoleate. Carbonated cola beverages and citrus juices may block
the absorption of cetyl myristoleate and should be avoided on the days
cetyl myristoleate is taken. Sugar intake should be minimized when taking
cetyl myristoleate, and adding refined sugar to liquids like coffee and
tea should be avoided altogether. Alcohol and caffeine intake should be
very limited or eliminated altogether while combating arthritis and chronic
Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis sufferers
report striking improvement with cetyl myristoleate. Numerous private correspondence
describes decreased stiffness and pain, and increased flexibility and range
of motion with cetyl myristoleate. Swelling and redness is reduced in rheumatoid
arthritis. Writers describe other health benefits, including positive effect
of cetyl myristoleate on emphysema, hepatitis, hypertension, diabetes,
eczema, psoriasis, colds, allergies, low back pain, and headaches. These
reported improvements in general health status are not surprising since
each of these conditions could be associated with deficiency in the balance
Like everything else, cetyl myristoleate does not
work 100% of the time. Failure to work can be associated with failure to
follow the dietary recommendations; failure to use lipase in conjunction
with each capsule of cetyl myristoleate; failure to take a sufficient amount
of cetyl myristoleate; failure of the liver to uptake and respond to the
cetyl myristoleate; and, misdiagnosis in which the condition is not really
an arthritis-type condition.
Cetyl myristoleate is taken in a one month course.
A total dose of 12 to 15 grams appears to be indicated. This is usually
enough for most people, but for osteoarthritis sufferers, the dose appears
to be related to the number of sites in which cartilage has worn away.
For example, a patient with osteoarthritis of the knees could expect 10
to 15 grams to be sufficient in most cases, while a patient with osteoarthritis
of 5 or 6 spinal discs, both hips, and both knees may require an additional
5 to 10 grams, or even a full second course. Some of the patients treated
by the author would likely have benefited even more from their cetyl myristoleate
usage with the larger doses now recommended.
Contraindications and Toxicity
With the tens of thousands of people who have taken
cetyl myristoleate there have been no confirmed reports of adverse side
effects. In common with fish oils, it may produce some mild burping in
some people which passes within an hour. There have been no reported interactions
with other medications or natural substances, and other substances (except
those mentioned above as diet considerations) do not interfere with cetyl
While teratogenicity of cetyl myristoleate is probably
the same as for EFA's, as a safety matter cetyl myristoleate should not
be used by pregnant or lactating women until studies of cetyl myristoleate's
effects on fetuses and infants have been done. As with any substance being
added to the diet of anyone with asthma or a history of severe allergic
reactions, caution is advised and cetyl myristoleate should be used in
these cases under the direct supervision of a health care professional.
Toxicity studies have been performed on cetyl myristoleate
and the lack of toxicity is evident. Test results deemed cetyl myristoleate
a non-toxic material in accordance with Federal regulations. Mega-doses
were given to test animals with no ill effects. Necropsy of test animals
showed no ill effects on their internal organs. The LD50 of cetyl myristoleate
was not established, but it can be presumed to far exceed 10 grams per
kilogram of body weight.
Dr. Charles L. Cochran
226 Lake Court
Aptos, California 95003 USA
Dr. Raymond Dent
RR 1, Box 169
Limmerick, Maine 04048 USA
1. Dorland's Medical Dictionary, 25th Ed.
2. Shils, Olson, and Shike. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. Lea
& Febigen, 1994. Philadelphia, PA. p. 1480
3. Diehl, H. W. and Fletcher, H. G., A Simplified Preparation of 2-Deoxy-D-ribose
Based on Treatment of a-D- Glucose Monohydrate with Solid Calcium Hydroxide,
Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Vol. 78, No. 2, Dec. 1958
4. Wright, M.D., J., and Gaby, M.D., A, Nutrition and Healing, August,
1996, Vol.3, Issue 8, paraphrase from page 5.
5. Private correspondence to H. W. Diehl, Rockville, Md. from Dr. Fay Wood,
Univ. of Cal., Berkeley, 1969
6. Diehl, H. W. and May, E. L., Cetyl Myristoleate Isolated from Swiss
Albino Mice: An Apparent Protective Agent against Adjuvant Arthritis in
Rats. Jour. of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Vol. 83, No. 3, Mar, 94 pp296-299.
7. Murray, M. T. Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements, Prima Publishing,
Rocklin, CA 1996 p. 237
8. Sobel, D. and Klein, A. C.. Arthritis: What Works. St. Martins Press,
New York, NY. pp. 221-225
9. Shils, Olson, and Shike. Ibid. pg. 550.
10. Setnikar, I., et al., Pharmacokinetics of glucosamine in man. Arztneim
Forsch 43 (10), 1109-1113, 1993
11. Setnikar, I., et al., Pharmacokinetics of glucosamine in the dog and
man. Arztneim Forsch 36(4), 729-735, 1986.
12. Morrison, M., Therapeutic applications of chrondroitin-4-sulfate, appraisal
of biologic properties. Folia Angiol 25, 225-232, 1977.
13. Leberco Testing, Inc., Jan. 22, 1996, private correspondence to EHP