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Boron: Major Cause and Cure for Arthritis

by Rex E Newnham(more info)

listed in nutrition, originally published in issue 92 - September 2003

The Research

Forty years ago, I developed arthritis that made walking difficult, so I went to the local doctor who gave me medicine that did not help. So I realized that there must be a reason for my arthritis and went looking for it. At the time, I had recently moved from a home on good clay soil to a home on sandy soil, and I was teaching chemistry, soil science and agricultural botany at Fremantle Technical College, Australia. The clay soil had grown good quality fruit and vegetables, and the sandy soil gave a good crop in the first year, but after this everything showed mineral deficiencies, as is common on many sandy soils. So I looked into the properties of all these minerals to see if there was anything to do with bone or joints in man or animal.


Nothing relevant was found, but one of the deficient minerals was boron and this was written off as not needed by man or animal, yet I knew that, in the green plant, boron was needed for proper usage of calcium. Bone contains a lot of calcium, so I wondered if boron could have anything to do with the calcium in bone. The most common compound of boron was borax, so I looked into the properties of borax. It had about the same toxicity as common salt or sodium chloride – about 50 grams was a lethal dose.

Borax is often labelled as 'poison', but salt is not. Nevertheless, I took 30 mg (less than one thousandth of a dangerous dose of borax) twice a day; that is the amount that would stick to a wet finger tip. In ten days the pain was less, in two weeks the swelling was going down and in three weeks all the pain, swelling and stiffness had gone. So I stopped taking the borax, but a year later it all returned, so I took some more borax and soon all the pain, swelling and stiffness had gone again. I took more doses from time to time. Plants will not grow unless there is some boron in the soil, so by eating fruit and vegetables we all get some boron.

I told other people who had arthritis and they were getting well, but it meant buying a packet of borax which was labelled 'poison, for killing cockroaches and ants'. That put people off so they asked me to have borax made up into a tablet that was not labelled 'poison'. So I did this and had 1000 bottles of tablets made. It took me two years to sell these, then I had 2000 bottles made and these went in six months, then 5000 went in six months, then another 5000, which went in four months, then another 5000, which went in two months. I then did a foolish thing and went to a drug company in Melbourne to see if they would make and sell these tablets. At first they seemed interested and they paid for a double blind clinical trial at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Then they realized that borax could not be patented, so they lost interest, and even made the Australian government declare that boron should be made a legal poison. That made me a criminal and I was fined for selling a poison. I gave up teaching and studied to become a naturopath and nutritionist. I then went to New Zealand, South Africa, Britain and America where boron was not a legal poison. The double blind clinical trial lasted five years and was a success – 80% of those who used boron got better and those who used a placebo did not get better.

I then travelled to places where there was more or less than the normal amount of arthritis, and to places where there was more or less than the normal 1.5 parts per million [ppm] boron in the soil or water. This entailed nine trips around the world. Some of the highlights of this research were seen early, as in New Zealand there were spas where arthritic people used to go and bathe in the water for some weeks, so as to get rid of their arthritis. One of these spas was at Ngawha, where there was 300 ppm of boron in the water. People had left their crutches and wheelchairs behind when they got better at Ngawha. Other spas had 30 or 50 ppm boron and people were getting better when they bathed in all of these. At Carnarvon in Northwest Australia there was 2.5 ppm boron in the soil and water and people used to go there to enjoy the good climate and to get rid of their arthritis, but it was really the good food that helped, as the food grown there had more boron than is usual. There were 67 people who had arthritis in the population of 6000, and that is 1%, far less than usual. Inland from Carnarvon were cattle stations where there was 7.5 ppm boron in the water and there was no arthritis at all in man or animal.

In South Africa the Xhosa people had 2% with arthritis when in their native area of Transkei, but when the same people went to the big cities they soon developed 20% with arthritis. These people ate corn or maize for over 90% of their diet and, in Transkei, the corn had ten times as much boron as the commercially grown corn used in the big cities. Jamaica was another very interesting place; 70% of people had arthritis. I looked into the records of the agriculture department to find that, since the mid-1800s, a great deal of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer had been poured on to the land to produce sugar. The boron content of the soil had fallen from 1.5 ppm to less than 0.5 ppm and even less in some places. Other sugar producing places such as Mauritius had similar low boron levels in soil and water; 50% of people had arthritis, and the amount of juvenile arthritis was increasing greatly.

Fiji is another sugar producing island, but it has two distinct areas and types of people. Indians grew the sugar in the west and farmed their land with great quantities of artificial fertilizers. They had 40% with arthritis, while the native Fijians in the east used little or no fertilizer to grow their native food, and had only 5% with arthritis. The sugar producing lands were worn out and low in all the trace minerals, particularly boron, while land used for farming for centuries, where composts and wastes were returned to the soil, had 1.5 ppm boron or more. Israel is interesting because the water under the coastal plain had 2.5 ppm boron and this water was used for irrigation and production of local food crops. The medical authorities showed that only 2% of people had arthritis.

In Britain and America the soils are becoming less productive because of the continued use of artificial fertilizers containing only nitrogen and phosphorus. These two will help to produce big crops but their quality is poor and only truly organically produced foods have enough of the trace minerals, including boron. Table 1 shows the relative amounts of arthritis and of boron in soil and water in these different places.

In summary, where there is plenty of boron in soil, water and food there is little or no arthritis, but in places where there is little boron in soil, water and food there is much arthritis. It has also been seen that boron will harden and strengthen bone and so prevent osteoporosis. Elderly women are particularly liable to osteoporosis, but a daily supplement of boron will prevent it because the bones are hard and strong. One elderly woman of 87 recently fell all the way down a flight of stairs, but no bones were broken, due to the fact that she had one or two boron tablets every day.

There are other people who claim a number of causes for arthritis, such as cold weather, too much weight, eating plants in the nightshade family and food allergy, such as that caused by wheat, oats, eggs, chicken, coffee, tea, beef and pork. Some people have used exclusion diets and have corrected their arthritis by these means. It is likely that some factors in these allergy causing foods do affect certain joints or other parts of the body. Many different methods have been used to help these people, such as the use of zinc supplements, copper supplements, nicotinamide, evening primrose oil and others. All these can help some pain but none of them seems to help the great majority of joint pains or arthritis in the same way as a boron supplement, which helps 98% of all arthritic pains.

Osteoporosis is not arthritis, but it often follows on after a person has had arthritis for some years. It is more serious than is arthritis because it can lead to broken bones when a person falls. Yet recently there have been a number of very old ladies who have fallen badly, such as down a flight of stairs or on to a stone wall, but they did not suffer any fractures because they had been using Osteo-Trace, the common boron supplement, for some years and their bones were in good, strong condition. Because boron will help to strengthen bones so preventing osteoporosis, then it is only logical to realize that when bones are strong and in good condition there will be less arthritis.

Further Information

A recent move has been to start the Arthritis and Rheumatism Natural Therapy Research Association [ARNTRA], and for this a quarterly newsletter has been written and sent out to members every three months. Membership costs £15 a year and new members are also given the book Arthritis Without Drugs. The secretary of ARNTRA is Professor Ken Wright, 12 Clive Road, West Dulwich, London. SE21 8BY.


  1. JoAnne Volta said..

    Thank you for your analysis and comparisons of boron percentages in the soil and the correlation between the lower boron levels and higher percentage of arthritis sufferers. I am going to try a boron supplement as I am developing knots in my fingers around the joints in the top of the fingers and I play guitar so I need to stop and or slow down this progressive disease.

  2. habib said..

    very good information. I will buy boron suppliment for my wife athritis. will give feedback here.

    Ijust want to know how I can buy those borax tablet which was made by Mr. Newham?

  3. mhikl said..

    My elderly Corgi Pem and I have been taking Borax for a while and both our arthritic/osteoporosis hips improved. I became lazy and wasn't as vigilant and the pain returned. It took three or so days to overcome the pain again and now I will be using the Borax for the rest of my life. Imagine, being pain free after thirty years of misery. Prior to this I had eliminated wheat from my diet and that had helped significantly, probably saving me from a hip replacement which in 1999 a doctor who thought I had bone cancer said would be necessary in five years.

    I read about your good work in Walter Last's article on Borax/Boron. Your journey underlines the fact that even our governments are undermining the health of the people whom they are supposed to represent. What a strange world we have but thankfully we have the internet and Allopathy is coming down. I understand that even in the US a threshold is approaching of people who now rely upon naturopaths and natural health remedies.

  4. maggie troy said..

    Thank you for the information. A very interesting website. I am in the process of trying Borax. Will let you know how I get on.

  5. Garry said..

    how much borax should or can be taken daily ? how should it be measured ?

  6. mary ferran said..

    Thank you for your article/research. Extremelly interesting and caring. I live in Argentina but I have access to purchase in the USA, Please if you could advice what brand of Boron to buy. I looked up Osteo-TRace but could not find it. Can I take the regular 20 Mule team borax on a finger tip? Can Boron supplements could or should be taken at the same time? I suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis and doctors here only medicate with toxic drugs. I rather go the natural way .Thank you.

  7. Carol said..

    I take a liquid boron ...put in my shake or smoothie, along with liquid calcium, copper, manganese, magnesium & strontium and drink it all up!

  8. om parkash said..

    Recently I took Osteo Trace tablets having 3 mg boron for 3months. It has given me asignificant improvement &relief.Now as recommended maintenance dose of 1 tablet daily is being taken.Thanks for the details provided in the article.

  9. helen hughes said..

    HELLO ...I have an Uncle who put me onto Boran ... i went and just bought it in the laundry section at Supermarket sold as Borax laundry deoderisor/ cleaner .ive been taking it for 2 months morning and night wet tip of finger .fatigue has gone i wake up fresher more rested and not exuasted with muscle weakness and bone and brain fog ...also i havnt had a flare up or swollen painful joints for a while nowvim going back to buy more ..nonside effects seems to Be working well

  10. Jannette Naiken said..

    Today I have started on 5mg Borax to 1 litre of water mixed and will drink two glasses each day for the next three months. I have chronic arthritis to my hands wrust and upper back. It will be interestig to see how my hands will improve over the coming months. At 62 years of age my hands look really ugly like an eighty year old plus hands and have difficulty each day getting them to mive freely with limitations. I also believe one needs to deal with anger issues to assist and support healing. That forgiveness of self and other is a must. Being Chrustian helps to deal with all sorts of issues. After all Gid gave us Boron in our soils Midern appriaches leached it all and niw we are a sick world in many respects. I have been using organic foods off and on for a long time and this has helped baring in mind the area I live in a very sandy therefore less boron in the soil. I will keep you posted. Jan

  11. maggie troy said..

    Question for Janette Nakin. Am I getting the right dosage here. I made up the same amount of Borax as you 5mg to 1 litre of water. In Walter Lasts instructions as I understand it, it says to take 1 standard dose three times a dayu which equates to one teaspoon. I may be misunderstanding these instructions and not taking enough. Co9uld you please enlighten me? Thanks

  12. Jannette Naiken said..

    Day three of taking Borax and although only using a level teaspoon to 1 litre of water and of that I drink only two glasses a day. So far there has been a little less pain , my eyes less foggy and sleeping far better. I guess when one can sleep better that all the other issues will improve. I do prefer to take things slowly and will continue to give updates at least once a week. Jan

  13. Roger said..

    I am a little confused about the dose,Borax or Sodium Borate is only 22% boron the balance being Oxygen and Sodium is the dose rate Borax or Boran it would be great to sorted out.Roger Tombleson

  14. Neuza Maria Onofrio said..

    I am with the same question as Mary Feran: can I take 20 Mule team borax on a finger tip? I mean: a finger tip in a cup? Or in a liter? Please let me know asap, because I can't take the pain anymore!

  15. maggie Troy said..

    Jannette thank you for your explanation about the two glasses of standard Borax you drink each day. I would like to ask how big are the glasses. Are they small or are they tumblers. I have been taking three teaspoons if the Standard dose each day but I have had no result so far. I wonder if I too drank two glasses it may be better for me.

    Thank you

  16. Linda said..

    Please explain which dose is correct. If Rex Newnhman was taking 30 mg of borax twice a day, I think it is a lot. Walter Last recommends much less - 5 mg to dissolve in 1l of water and to drink I teaspoon with a glass of water 2-3 times a day. I have rheumatoid arthritis. Please advise.

  17. crispin zalinko said..

    I started taking 9 milligrams of boron a day 8 weeks ago after about 3 weeks my hands started to feel a lot better and i started sleeping almost all night with no pain, now on week 8 I find I am sleeping all night I am not taking my usual 600 mills of ibuprofen in the morning and I have started cutting back on my prednisone for the last 2 weeks with out any problem. My doctor has been trying to get me to cut back on prednisone for three years but I could not live or work without it until now. the brand I use is New Roots 3mg capsules got it at the health food store. I see my specialist in 2 weeks, I am going to ask him why he poisened me with enbrel,actemra, humira, methotrexate and numerous other drugs which has not really helped, except now I am going to a liver specialist to figure out what is wrong with my liver. It seems to me that someone with a lot of schooling just picks a drug out of a book and says lets try this, it might kill you but there is a small chance that it might work for your arthritis or her lupus or his skin rash, or someone elses problem because the doctor seems to give these medications to anyone who has a medical problem that they don't know how to fix. Any ways I am not a doctor but I do suffer from rumatoid arthritis and I can tell you try the boron. From what I can figure they say 10 mill. a day to start and then when better take 3 mill. a day to keep the right amount in your system. Good Luck and be prepared to be surprised

  18. Susan Di Santo said..

    I would really appreciate clarification from anyone!

    The dosing is confusing and the difference between taking boron supplements or borax... which is the most effective?
    (I've tried 6mgs boron daily, upping dose to 9 mgs for 2 months my osteosthritis pain seems to be intermittent and affected by cold, windy weather and sleep/general immunity factors)

    1. is a boron supplement the better?
    (One comment says borax is only 20% boron and elsewhere I've read it contains sodium).

    2. Re. the dosing, when you say 'fingertip' does this mean the extreme tip or a dip up to the end of a fingernail? (Quite a difference in daily quantity. I wouldn't want to over or underdose. I eat a lot of nuts veg fruit and dried fruit not grown in UK)

    3. Is the starting, or recommended standard dose protocol, 5mg ( or a level teaspoon), in 1 litre of water.... AND from this 1 litre take 1 teaspoon 3×day in a glass water?
    Comments are very confusing.

    I have osreoathritis. I want to try this remedy, but I also want it to be effective.

    Secondly, I am wary of believing in alternative cure-alls (like MMR which I tried 10 years back and made me throw up. As a lay person I found the science and logic convincing at the outset, but my own unpleasant experiences,..... followed later by observation of how the promoter of various evolving protocols became more eccentric and dodgy, makes me more circumspect. There is a lot of positive things published on the internet about this 'miracle' - if you are anti-pharma you want to believe in alternatives.... My personal conclusion, MMR maybe the only thing in desperate 3rd world countries and a standby for making drinking water safe in the jungle, but I would not recommend it in less severe circumstances.)

    Has anyone experienced nausea or vomited from drinking 30mgs borax a day?

  19. Mary said..

    Does this mean I'm keeping my minerals and if I amI started taking borax a few days ago now I noticed that I am getting Charlie horses when I stretch Upon waking up. Does this mean that my minerals are getting deplated and if it does how do I fix this.

  20. Mycroft Jones said..

    1 gram of borax per day is much less than a teaspoon, and it is giving me 113mg of boron. No ill effects. You can buy a weigh scale for $15 that weighs things to a tenth of a gram, so it is easy to weigh out the borax.

    I suggest taking the borax together with magnesium, they are complementary. I am taking 600mg of magnesium per day in the form of magnesium bicarbonate. It has really reset my body clock and lifted the brain fog.

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About Rex E Newnham

About the Author Rex E Newnham PhD DO ND BANT is an international nutritional consultant, specializing in trace minerals and nutrition. Originally from Australia, Dr Newnham has spent the past 40 years researching the role of trace minerals such as boron in conditions such as arthritis. He is now semi retired yet still sees patients. He can be contacted on

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