Will a squirt of WD-40 cure your creaking joints?

Dear Cecil:

I have some leg problems and some workmen in my building told me to give my creaking joints a squirt of WD-40. He said they all swore by it and that it had been written up in a medical journal but he was unable to be more specific. Is there any basis to this?

Cecil replies:

Dear Jeanne:

What do these guys figure you are, the Tin Woodsman? WD-40, a petroleum distillate, is for mechanical joints, not human ones. The WD-40 folks say that while they’ve heard of this folk remedy (it was on the cover of a supermarket tabloid a couple years ago, next to a story about the Human Bigfoot from Outer Space), they’ve done no studies on it and "we do not recommend it." An arthritis specialist was equally unencouraging.

When we broached this subject on a radio talk show recently (hey, anything for a laugh) we did turn up one guy who’d tried it and said it helped. But he freely admitted he might have been imagining things.

Got an earful about some other home remedies, too: Putting cayenne (hot) pepper in your boots will keep your feet warm. There may actually be something to this, because a mild local irritant like pepper (or liniment, for that matter) will bring warmth to the skin surface. Interestingly, there’s a cream on the market called Zostrix containing capsaicin, the active ingredient of pepper, which in addition to being an irritant apparently inhibits a neurotransmitter that conveys pain. Zostrix is used for shingles and arthritis, so perhaps you should heave the WD-40 and sprinkle hot pepper on your extremities instead. Maybe a little A-1 sauce, too. It might not cure what ails you but you’ll leave a good-tasting corpse. Touching your earlobe with a burned finger will ease the pain and prevent blisters. I got this from a woman named Bonnie, who says a heating repair guy she told about it laughed at first but now swears by it. Bonnie also reported that a friend burned her palm on a hot plate. Figuring this was too much dermal acreage for the ear lobe trick, the friend applied said palm to her stomach. Same miraculous results. Hey, if people believe in psychoanalysis, why not this?

Send questions to Cecil via cecil@straightdope.com.

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