Arthritis and Niacinamide

The arthritis miracle 60 years in the making-and how you can help prove-once again-that it works!

During my years at the University of Michigan Medical School, 1965-1969, we heard scarcely a word about nutrition, vitamins, and disease treatment. And even though Dr. William Kaufman was a 1938 graduate of that same medical school, we heard nothing about his landmark work on niacinamide and arthritis.

But since learning about it, I’ve followed his lead with niacinamide therapy for over 30 years at the Tahoma Clinic. In that time, my colleagues and I have seen very significant improvements in individuals with joint pain and decreased joint mobility secondary to osteoarthritis. So much so that-thanks to a research grant from the Knowledge Medical Foundation-we’re conducting a study to investigate once again niacinamide’s ability to relieve pain and improve joint mobility.

I’ll tell you more about the study-and how you can be a part of it in just a moment. But first, let me fill you in a bit more on the man who developed this promising therapy, and how he discovered it.

Why niacin “enriched” bread isn’t good enough

Dr. Kaufman pioneered the use of niacinamide for osteoarthritis in the 1940s and reported on his results in the groundbreaking 1949 book, The Common Form of Joint Dysfunction: Its Incidence and Treatment.

Years ago, I had the chance to talk with Dr. Kaufman about his niacinamide work. One of the first things I asked him was why he thought his own alma mater (and mine as well) didn’t offer its medical students any information about his breakthrough research.

As Dr. Kaufman put it, “in my medical school years, we were drilled in great detail about vitamin deficiency disorders during our lectures in internal medicine, pediatrics, public health, neurology, psychiatry, and pathology. But after synthetic vitamins became available to treat florid deficiency diseases, not teaching about nutrition and vitamins became a national trend.”

Dr. Kaufman’s first observations were made in the days before bread and other white flour products were “enriched” with niacin, but the “enrichment” used only a few B-vitamins, and not B6 or folic acid or chromium or many of the other things milled out of flour. So, as he explained, he “really got a chance to observe the difference that niacinamide could make, starting from a position of real deficiency or semi-deficiency.”

He started with niacin. He had read an article in the AMA Journal which said that niacin was safe, so he told me that he took some-and “got very sick.” “After that,” Dr. Kaufman told me, “I decided to concentrate on niacinamide, and looked around without success for a local supply. I couldn’t find any at first, but ultimately, I was shipped two boxes containing 100,000 tablets of niacinamide, 50 milligrams each, so I had plenty of material.”

Dr. Kaufman noticed early on that joints were one of the most frequently improved areas among patients with a niacin-deficiency syndrome he discovered and called aniacinamidosis. When compulsory “enrichment” of flour occurred in 1943, many of the more obvious symptoms of aniacinamidosis disappeared from the general population, but the same joint problems persisted. So, looking for objective data, he designed a way to measure and evaluate 20 joints or joint groups in as little as 5 minutes.

He performed these measurements on all new patients instead of just those with obvious arthritis, and it quickly became apparent that limitation of joint movement was exceedingly common-even in people without joint complaints or obvious arthritis. And the vast majority of them responded to treatment with niacinamide.

With that sort of remarkable success, you might think that Dr. Kaufman’s therapy would have become common practice, but as I mentioned earlier, we never heard so much as a peep about it in medical school. But, as Dr. Kaufman remarked to me during our conversation, “I’m not surprised they didn’t refer to my books. The reviews of my 1943 book were dismissive, because the ‘experts’ couldn’t believe that the larger amounts of niacinamide I used in therapy improved joint mobility, muscle strength, maximal muscle working capacity, and mental functioning.”

But as dismissive as the mainstream may have been, the effects of Dr. Kaufman’s therapy are hard to deny-at least for the people experiencing them…

Relief in as little as 2 ½ minutes

During our talk, Dr. Kaufman told me that within just 2 ½ to 5 minutes, intensely deficient individuals (a situation that hasn’t occurred since 1943) taking niacinamide begin showing signs of physical and mental relaxation-previously tense muscles become more relaxed, drawn facial expressions turn calm, and some patients even smile with relief. Without being asked, patients often start to sit, walk, and stand up straighter.

Dr. Kaufman also noted that many times with the first 10 minutes, an intensely niacinamide-deficient person’s hands and feet changed from a sallow yellow complexion to a healthy pink color and actually felt warmer, both to the person him or herself and to the examining clinician.

Dr. Kaufman detailed his observations of niacinamide therapy in individuals with both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. He found that most experienced significant improvement, and, as he told me, “as long as niacinamide is continued, the improvement ‘holds’…Of course, joint mobility wasn’t the only improvement, just the one we could precisely measure. Nearly everyone got at least some pain relief and reduction of swelling. It takes 1 to 3 months for maximum effect, but nearly everyone needed less pain medication, and a significant number needed none.”

By now, you’re probably wondering how niacinamide works to help joints. When I asked him that same question, Dr. Kaufman explained that “niacinamide has the special capacity of “wringing out” excess fluid from cartilage and connective tissue. [It] is also anti-inflammatory.”

Dr. Kaufman’s treatment calls for relatively large doses of niacinamide. But as he explained to me, “timing is just as important: 250 milligrams of niacinamide taken every three hours for six doses is about twice as effective as 500 milligrams taken three times daily.”

Following Dr. Kaufman’s protocol, my Tahoma Clinic colleagues and I have found that while some joints respond better than others, Dr. Kaufman’s observation is true: “They all respond to a degree. The best are knees, shoulders, and the neck and then wrists and fingers.”

Since Dr. Kaufman’s 1940s publication, there’s been only one published study about the effects of niacinamide on osteoarthritis. It was conducted by Dr. Wayne Jonas, who in the past has also has been Director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. His team reported a significant improvement in joint mobility and significant lessening in pain in individuals with osteoarthritis who took niacinamide as compared with those who took placebo.1

And that brings us to the research we’re conducting at the Tahoma Clinic.

A new study on an old standby

The study is being conducted by Dr. John Sherman, who has been practicing medicine for 30 years, along with Dr. David Zeoli, who has been in practice for over a decade. I will be consulting and supervising the research, which will be investigating the effects of 3,000 milligrams of niacinamide per day (divided into three 1,000 mg doses).

Now-back to how you can help. If you have osteoarthritis, live in the Pacific Northwest, and are able to visit the Tahoma Clinic four times in six months, you may be eligible to participate in this study at no cost to you. To volunteer or for more information, please go to or call (425)264-0059.