Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues, leading to inflammation and damage. These diseases can affect various parts of the body, including the skin, joints, and organs.
Understanding Autoimmune Disease
The immune system is designed to protect the body from harmful invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. However, in autoimmune diseases, the immune system mistakenly identifies the body’s own cells and tissues as foreign invaders and attacks them. This can lead to inflammation, pain, and damage to the affected cells, tissues and organs. With over 80 different types of autoimmune diseases, and some people may have more than one.
Common autoimmune diseases are:
- Connective tissue; rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosus and Scleroderma, Sjogren’s, and psoriasis.
- Endocrine: Hashimotos Thyroiditis, Graves’ disease, Type 1 Diabetes
- Digestive: Inflammatory Bowel disease Crohn’s, Celiac and
- Neuromuscular: multiple sclerosis and Myasthenia gravis.
While conventional medicine often relies on immune-suppressing medications to manage these conditions, many people are turning to alternative medicine such as herbal medicine, for a more natural approach to treating autoimmune diseases.
The Role of Herbs in Autoimmune Disease
Herbal medicine has been used for centuries to treat a variety of health conditions, including autoimmune diseases. Certain herbs have been found to have anti-inflammatory activity, immune modulating effects, and other properties that may be beneficial in treating autoimmune diseases.
Chinese Herbs for Autoimmune Diseases
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a long history, over 2,000 years, of using herbs to treat various health conditions, including autoimmune diseases. Some commonly used Chinese herbs for autoimmune diseases include:
- Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus): This herb is commonly used in TCM to strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation. It has been found to have immune modulating effects and may be beneficial in treating autoimmune diseases such as lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Rehmannia (Rehmannia glutinosa): This herb is commonly used in TCM to nourish the blood and yin, and it has been found to have anti-inflammatory activity. It may be beneficial in treating autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus erythematosus.
- Chinese Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis): This herb is commonly used in TCM to clear heat and dampness from the body. It has been found to have anti-inflammatory activity and may be beneficial in treating autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Randomized Controlled Trials and Double-Blind Studies
While there have been some randomized controlled trials and double-blind studies on the use of herbs for autoimmune diseases, more research is needed to fully understand their safety and effectiveness. However, many people with autoimmune diseases have found relief from their symptoms using herbal medicine, and it can be a useful complement to conventional treatment.
Safe and Effective Use of Herbs
While herbs can be a helpful addition to a treatment plan for autoimmune diseases, it is important to use them safely and effectively. Here are some tips for using herbs for autoimmune disease:
- Consult a qualified healthcare professional: It is important to consult a healthcare professional who is knowledgeable about herbal medicine before starting any new treatment.
- Start with a low dose: It is always best to start with a low dose of an herb and gradually increase it to the recommended dose.
- Be aware of potential interactions: Some herbs can interact with medications or other supplements, so it is important to be aware of potential interactions.
- Monitor your symptoms: It is important to monitor your symptoms and adjust your treatment plan as needed.
Herbal medicine can be a helpful addition to a treatment plan for autoimmune diseases. While more research is needed to fully understand their safety and effectiveness, many people with autoimmune diseases have found relief from their symptoms using herbal medicine. If you are considering using herbs for autoimmune disease, it is important to consult a qualified healthcare professional, a naturopathic doctor or a functional doctor who is trained using Chinese herbs for autoimmune disease and use them safely and effectively.
Medicinal mushrooms have been used for centuries, particularly in traditional Chinese medicine, to combat a variety of ailments, including autoimmune diseases. There are many herbal and mushroom tinctures and supplements that work synergistically. Again, working with a trained professional is key when starting any new treatment. Its not advised to treat yourself with herbs or medicinal mushrooms. Please consult a professional when using herbs Here’s how some of the most commonly used medicinal mushrooms can help with autoimmune conditions:
- Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum): This mushroom is known as the “mushroom of immortality” in Chinese medicine. It has immune-modulating properties, meaning it can help balance an overactive or underactive immune system. This is particularly beneficial for autoimmune conditions where the immune system is attacking the body’s own tissues. Reishi also has anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce symptoms associated with autoimmune diseases.
- Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis): This fungus is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It also has immune-modulating effects and can help improve energy levels, which can be particularly beneficial for people with autoimmune diseases who often experience fatigue.
- Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor): This mushroom contains polysaccharides, specifically polysaccharide-K (PSK) and polysaccharide-P (PSP), which have been shown to have immune-modulating effects. PSK has been approved as a treatment for cancer in Japan because of its ability to stimulate the immune system.
- Chaga (Inonotus obliquus): This mushroom has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting properties. It can help balance the immune system and has been used to treat autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
- Maitake (Grifola frondosa): This mushroom contains beta-glucans, which are known for their immune-modulating properties. Maitake has been shown to stimulate the immune system while also suppressing autoimmune responses.
It is important to note that while medicinal mushrooms can be a helpful adjunct in managing autoimmune diseases, it is always advisable to consult with a healthcare practitioner before starting any new supplement regimen, particularly for individuals with autoimmune diseases, as there can be interactions with other medications or potential for allergic reactions.
Use herbs for autoimmune disease while cooking!
Here are a few well known culinary herbs for their anti-inflammatory properties that can be helpful in managing autoimmune conditions:
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa): This spice contains curcumin, a compound with potent anti-inflammatory properties. It has been shown to be as effective as some anti-inflammatory drugs in reducing inflammation.
- Ginger (Zingiber officinale): Ginger contains gingerols, compounds that have anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-relieving) properties.
- Green Tea (Camellia sinensis): This tea contains polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): This herb contains rosmarinic acid, a compound with anti-inflammatory properties.
- Boswellia (Boswellia serrata): This is a resin extracted from the Boswellia tree and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries for its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum): This spice contains cinnamaldehyde, a compound with anti-inflammatory properties.
- Oregano (Origanum vulgare): Oregano contains carvacrol, a compound with anti-inflammatory properties.
- Cloves (Syzygium aromaticum): Cloves contain eugenol, a compound with anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.
- Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra): This root contains glycyrrhizin, a compound with anti-inflammatory properties. However, it should be used with caution as it can cause high blood pressure and lower potassium levels.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: While not an herb or spice, omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseeds, chia seeds, and fatty fish like salmon, have potent anti-inflammatory properties and are often recommended for individuals with autoimmune conditions.
Remember, while these herbs and spices can be helpful in managing inflammation, it is important to use them as part of a comprehensive approach to managing autoimmune conditions, which may include dietary changes, stress management, regular exercise, and other medical treatments as necessary. It is always advisable to consult with a healthcare practitioner before starting any new supplement regimen, particularly for individuals with autoimmune diseases.
Are there herbs people should not take for autoimmune disease?
Yes, there are certain herbs that people with autoimmune diseases should be cautious about and should only take under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional:
- Echinacea: This herb is known to boost the immune system, which can be problematic for people with autoimmune diseases as their immune system is already overactive.
- Astragalus: Similar to Echinacea, this herb is also known for boosting the immune system and should be avoided by people with autoimmune diseases unless advised otherwise by a healthcare professional.
- Ginseng: This herb has immune-boosting properties and can interact with medications commonly used by people with autoimmune diseases.
- Immune Stimulants: Any herb that is classified as an immune stimulant should be used with caution in individuals with autoimmune diseases as it can potentially worsen their symptoms.
- Autoimmune Triggering Herbs: Certain herbs can trigger autoimmune reactions in susceptible individuals. For example, the nightshade family of plants (which includes tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplants) can trigger autoimmune reactions in some individuals.
It is important to remember that autoimmune diseases are complex and can manifest differently in each individual. What may be helpful for one person may be harmful to another. Therefore, it is always best to consult with a qualified healthcare professional or a functional medical doctor who will use alternative treatments known to help heal or put autoimmune into remission. Its always important to check with your doctor before starting any new supplement program, particularly for individuals with autoimmune diseases. This will help ensure that the treatment plan is tailored to the individual’s specific needs and does not inadvertently worsen their condition.
Frequently Asked Questions: Herbs for autoimmune disease
How do you treat autoimmune disease naturally?
Dr. Mark Hyman suggests there are a few ways to help calm immune responses from autoimmune disease naturally:
- get checked for hidden infections
- get check for food allergens or intolerances. Get tested for Celiac’s disease
- get checked for heavy metals or a high chemical load due to environmental toxins in your body
- heal your gut
- supplement with essential nutrients: C, D, fish oils with EFA’s, probiotic
- Exercise and lifestyle activities such as yoga, meditation, breathwork to calm stress overload
What supplements calm autoimmune disease?
- Glutathione. Glutathione is your body’s most potent antioxidant and master detoxifer. Its very helpful to have your doctor
- Vitamin D.
What is the Chinese herb for autoimmune disease?
Celastrol, a Chinese herbal compound, controls autoimmune inflammation by altering the balance of pathogenic and regulatory T cells in the target organ.
How I healed myself and my family’s autoimmune disease?
Food was our hero in healing our family’s autoimmune for gluten intolerance. After 17 years trying to figure out my daughters Megan chronic inflammation, illnesses and chronic ear infections since birth, it was a long, but worthwhile rode to our answer. Once we changed our food, diet and lifestyle, our body’s healed. We all healed from each of our debilitating chronic symptoms: severe panic disorder, chronic migraines, behavioral and mood disorders, chronic sickness, ear infections, vomiting IBS, brain fog and more. Our family’s healing story is why I wrote Damn Good Gluten Free a lifestyle recipe cookbook, the roadmap to helping all people who’ve been diagnosed with autoimmune disease. Meg’s story on her healing journey.
Are there any side effects of using herbs for autoimmune disease?
Herbs are generally considered to be safe and well-tolerated, but they can cause side effects in some people. Common side effects of herbs include gastrointestinal upset, allergic reactions, and headache. It is important to start with a low dose of an herb and gradually increase it to the recommended dose to minimize the risk of side effects. Its important to be under the care of a trained Chinese medicine or functional medical doctor when taking herbs for autoimmune.
Can I use herbs for autoimmune disease in addition to my conventional medication?
Herbs can be a helpful addition to a treatment plan for autoimmune diseases, but it is important to consult a healthcare professional before starting any new treatment. Some herbs can interact with medications or other supplements, so it is important to be aware of potential interactions.
How long does it take for herbs to work for autoimmune disease?
The length of time it takes for herbs to work for autoimmune disease can vary depending on the individual and the severity of their symptoms. Some people may notice an improvement in their symptoms within a few days of starting herbal treatment, while others may need to take the herbs for several weeks or months before they notice a significant improvement.
Megan and I created Curry Girls Kitchen to help people with chronic conditions, learn how to use food as medicine and discover the healing practice of cooking whole, fresh minimally processed food. It healed our family, hundreds of families and clients using our methods, programs and practices. We are here to support you. We’d love to connect with you! We have many ways to support your healing journey: coaching, cooking, video courses and healing cleansing with food Resets.
Pegs and Megs