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Is Borax the wonder drug it claims to be?

Q) I know a lady with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis who extols the virtues of borax in reducing pain and joint deformities in her hands. Her GP does not seem to know anything about it. I looked it up on the internet. Is it the wonder chemical it claims to be? Is the claim that there is not much research on borax because it is a cheap product whose use would not benefit drug companies true? Do you know if it helps with arthritis pain, whether there is any evidence of its efficacy and why I have heard nothing about it?
Judy Wilson, Chester (Summer 2014)

A) Boron, the active element in borax, has been the topic of Questions and Answers previously. I have a file on boron in which I reviewed the evidence for its effectiveness in rheumatoid arthritis. The bottom line is: the evidence for boron deficiency as a cause of rheumatoid arthritis is poor and the evidence for boron as a treatment, not surprisingly, is equally poor. So I cannot support those statements that can be found on the internet in support of borax. The internet is, as you are probably aware, a dangerous and poorly regulated place where all sorts of misinformation can be obtained. Medical students sometimes come to me with ‘literature reviews’ culled almost entirely from Google! I suppose it is easier than going to the library but, nonetheless, I find it disturbing that so much trust can be placed on statements obtained in this way.

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