Q I have seen cures for arthritis mentioned (I don't think I have it, but I do have clicky joints). What do you think of CMO? It seems to be a genuine discovery, and the claims are amazing. - PD, Bristol
A CMO, or cetyl myristoleate, widely touted on the Internet as a 'designer fat' or 'super lubricant', is basically an oil. An essential fatty acid found in fish oils and butter, CMO is a component of the unsaturated fatty acid cis-9-tetra-decanoic acid (myristoleic acid). It is present in sebum, the oily secretion of our skin.
Dr Len Sands was Director of the International Immunological Center of the San Diego Clinic and died, aged 74, in 2001. He had conducted a series of CMO trials at the Clinic in the 1990s and created an oral version of CMO. He appears to have been a highly respected medical researcher in the field of alternative healthcare.
CMO was first discovered by Dr Harry W. Diehl, a scientist at the US National Institutes of Health who'd embarked on a crusade to find a cure for arthritis. He is best known for synthesising a type of sugar used to prepare the oral polio vaccine.
After years of what he termed 'chemical sleuthing', Dr Diehl isolated CMO. This substance, which had never been identified before, is abundant in the blood of mice and was the factor, he postulated, that protected them against arthritis.
One basic concern we have about the CMO craze is that no one has any real idea of how it works. Clearly, more research is needed into this potentially useful substance.