There are so many opinions on the topic of natural remedies and their effectiveness on flares and inflammation when it comes to autoimmune disorders. Read this post and let me know if you have ever tried the remedies listed and what your opinion is and what were the results of your “self” study.
I personally don’t take any medication for my autoimmune disorders. I would rather learn about what will work for me in my situation. The doctors that I have had in the past and even my current general practitioner never have had a problem with me using this approach. They usually tell me to go for it and let them know how things go.
So let’s start with Sjogren’s Syndrome. I drink lots of water, use the toothpaste and mouthwash for my dental hygiene, many lotions and creams for my skin and I take vitamins. My vitamins include: Vitamin B12, Magnesium, Fish Oil, Vitamin D, and Evening Primrose Oil. I drink a lot of green tea throughout the day.
One thing I have personally believed for many years is that since everything is dry and the moisture decreased all over my body, that I probably didn’t have as much stomach acid as everyone else. I thought that may be the reason it is harder for me to lose weight and keep it off. So, I’ve been reading “The Autoimmune Fix” by Dr. Tom O’Bryan and he talks about needing to balance our digestive system and incorporating digestive enzymes into our diet. I started using a multi-enzyme for digesting protein, carbs and fat.
The results have been pretty good. I feel better about an hour after I eat and have taken the enzymes. I don’t feel bloated or “puffy” any more. If this next benefit is because of the enzyme then I will never stop taking it. Almost all the pain in my hips has dissipated. The enzyme is the only thing I have changed in my diet in the last two weeks and my hips feel great!
So let’s see what the experts have to say about natural remedies for Sjogren’s Syndrome.
Dr. Weil’s recommendations are the same as those he suggests for other autoimmune disorders:
- Follow a low-protein, high carbohydrate diet. Minimize consumption of animal products and eliminate milk and milk products
- Avoid polyunsaturated oils (vegetable oils) and hydrogenated fats (margarine, vegetable shortening).
- Get regular aerobic exercise (swimming is best if you have joint problems).
- Practice progressive relaxation and other mind-body techniques; visualization, hypnosis, and guided imagery can be very effective for moderating autoimmune responses like Sjögren’s Syndrome.
- To reduce inflammation, increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids by eating more Alaskan salmon, herring, sardines, walnuts, purslane and other leafy greens as well as freshly ground flaxseeds.
- Include ginger and turmeric in meals for their natural anti-inflammatory effects.
Natural Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Heat and Cold
- Cold curbs joint swelling and inflammation. You can apply an ice pack to the affected joint during an RARA flare-up, for instance. Apply the cold compress for 15 minutes at a time with at least a 30-minute break in between treatments.
- Heat relaxes your muscles and spurs blood. You can use a moist heating pad or a warm, damp towel. Many people like using microwaveable hot packs.
- You can also use heat therapy in the shower.
- A hot tub is a good way to relax stiff muscles. Just don’t use hot tubs or spas if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or are pregnant.
- Deep Breathing: Take slow breaths from your belly. It can calm you and pull you back from stress.
- Progressive muscle relaxation:To do this, tighten and then relax the muscles in different parts of your body. You can work your way down the body, starting with your face muscles, followed by your neck, arms, chest, back, belly, legs, and feet. Or work your way up from your feet. Breathe in as you contract your muscles. Breathe out when you let go.
- Visualization: Beathe deeply, and picture yourself in a quiet, peaceful place.
- Meditation: This technique can be as simple as focusing on your breathing and just noticing each inhale and exhale. It doesn’t require any spiritual beliefs, and it’s not about being super-calm.
- Tai chi: This slow, gentle martial art is easy on your joints. It can help with flexibility and strength, too.
- Acupuncture:This traditional form of Chinese medicine uses super-fine needles to stimulate energy pathways called “meridians” in the body to correct imbalances of energy, or “qi.” There’s not a lot of research specific to RA. But studies do show that helps with pain, especially back pain. It may also help with osteoarthritis.
- Biofeedback: This technique helps you learn to control automatic responses such as heart rate and blood pressure. You do this with sensors on your body, which send information to a monitor. A therapist teaches you how to control your reaction to stresses. There isn’t enough research to know if it works to curb RA pain, but it may be something to try.
Keep in mind that supplements can affect other medications. Tell your doctor about anything you take, even if it’s natural, so he can check that it’s safe for you.
The most promising supplements include:
Fish Oil: Several studies have shown that fish oil may help reduce morning stiffness with RA. Omega-3s curb inflammation> and help protect against heart disease. That’s good for people with RA, who are more likely than other people to get heart disease. Fish oil appears to be safe when used appropriately. Don’t get more than 3 grams per day because of the risk of bleeding.
Thunder God Vine: A few studies have shown a drop in inflammation and tender joints in people with RA who take this supplement. A large government-funded study that compared this root with a traditional drug used to treat RA, found that symptoms improved more with the use of thunder god vine. Side effects may include stomach upset, headache, hair loss, upper respiratory tract infections, and sterility in men. Pregnant women and women at risk of getting osteoporosis should not take it.
Keep in mind that it’s hard to get safe and high-quality thunder god vine made in the U.S. The safety and effectiveness of thunder god vine from outside the U.S., for example from China, can’t be verified according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Natural Remedies for Fibromyalgia
What natural fibromyalgia treatment does Dr. Weil recommend?
The following lifestyle changes:
- Regular exercise has proven one of the best treatments. Although muscle pain may worsen during exercise, the pain usually dissipates within 30 minutes. Stretching and low-impact aerobic activity (swimming, walking, yoga, or using cardiovascular machines like stationary bikes or elliptical trainers) are often the most effective.
- Regular sleeping habits. This is critical for reducing pain and improving energy and mood.
- Relaxation techniques. Meditation, yoga or breath work can help counteract stress.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy. To learn how to cope better with symptoms and stress.
- Acupuncture or massage. Both are often helpful in relief of whole-body systemic conditions.
- The Feldenkrais Method. The Feldenkrais Method® is a form of somatic education that uses gentle movement and directed attention to improve movement and enhance human functioning. Through this Method, you can increase your ease and range of motion, improve your flexibility and coordination, and rediscover your innate capacity for graceful, efficient movement. These improvements will often generalize to enhance functioning in other aspects of your life. To correct poor posture or habits of movement that may contribute to pain.
Nutrition and Supplements
- A diet rich in organic fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can fortify your body’s natural defenses and healing system.
- Eliminate polyunsaturated vegetable oils, margarine, vegetable shortening, all partially hydrogenated oils, and all foods (such as deep-fried foods) that might contain trans-fatty acids. Use extra-virgin olive oil as your principal fat.
- Increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Eat ginger and turmeric regularly for their anti-inflammatory effects.
- In addition to a daily antioxidant regimen, take 250 mg of magnesium and 500-700 mg of calcium daily to help relax and maintain nerves and muscles. (However, Dr. Weil does not recommend calcium supplements for men.
- Boswellia (a genus of trees in the order Sapindales, known for their fragrant resin which has many pharmacological uses, particularly as anti-inflammatories.) and malic acid may also be beneficial.
Webmd.com recommends these additional supplements.
- 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan).This is a building block for the brain chemical serotonin. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression, so it’s believed that raising serotonin levels can lead to a better mood. One study found that 5-HTP supplements may also help ease anxiety, insomnia, fibromyalgia pain, and morning stiffness. In the 1980s, 5-HTP supplements were associated with a serious illness called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS). However, it’s believed that a contaminant in some products caused those EMS episodes.
- SAMe (S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine). This amino acid derivative may boost levels of serotonin and dopamine, another brain Limited research suggests SAMe may improve mood and sleep.
- Low levels of this element may be linked to fibromyalgia. However, research has not turned up solid evidence that taking magnesium supplements improves symptoms.
- This hormone is often used in supplements to improve sleep. It may also ease fibromyalgia pain.
- John’s wort. Though this herb is sometimes used to treat certain fibromyalgia symptoms, there’s no solid evidence that it works. A few studies suggest it may help with mild depression. But it can also limit the effectiveness of some medications.