Call us now


Visit our office

250 Mathis Ferry Road, Suite 101
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

Holistic Medicine for Autoimmune Disease

Holistic Medicine for Autoimmune Disease

By Dr. Patrick Lovegrove Medically Reviewed by Lindsay Langley, BSN, RN, CHT
Posted Sunday, August 20th, 2023
Holistic Medicine for Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmune diseases are a group of conditions in which the body’s immune system fights healthy cells and tissues instead of harmful ones. The immune system’s job is to keep dangerous things like bacteria and viruses from entering the body. But in autoimmune diseases, the immune system works too hard. It attacks its cells, causing inflammation and damage to the tissues.

Common Types of Autoimmune Diseases

There are more than 80 kinds of autoimmune diseases, each affecting a different organ or body system. Some of the most common autoimmune diseases include:

1. Rheumatoid Arthritis: A chronic inflammatory disorder that primarily affects the joints, causing pain, stiffness, and swelling.

2. Lupus: A systemic autoimmune disease that can affect multiple organs, including the skin, joints, kidneys, heart, and brain. It can cause many symptoms, such as fatigue, joint pain, rash, and fever.

3. Multiple Sclerosis (MS): A chronic disease that affects the central nervous system, disrupting communication between the brain and other body parts. It can cause symptoms like fatigue, muscle weakness, balance problems, and difficulty with coordination.

4. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: An autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid gland and causes hypothyroidism (when the thyroid doesn’t work well enough). Some signs are tiredness, weight gain, sadness, and sensitivity to cold.

5. Celiac Disease: Gluten is a protein that can cause allergic disease. It is found in wheat, barley, and rye. It causes damage to the small intestine and can lead to digestive symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, and weight loss.

It’s important to note that autoimmune diseases can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender. They often have a genetic component, but environmental factors and lifestyle choices can also affect their development.

As with any health problem, it’s important to talk to a doctor to get an exact diagnosis and the right treatment plan.

Conventional medications are available to manage symptoms and slow disease progression. Still, some individuals may also seek alternative treatments, such as holistic medicine, to complement their conventional care.

Holistic medicine takes a whole-body approach to healing, addressing a person’s physical, mental, and emotional health. It aims to support the body’s natural healing processes and restore balance.

Holistic Approach to Autoimmune Diseases

What is holistic medicine?

Holistic medicine is a way of helping people who look at their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being as a whole. It considers the individual’s lifestyle, environment, and relationships, aiming to address the root causes of disease rather than just treating the symptoms.

People who suffer from autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are affected by this condition; lupus and multiple sclerosis can use natural medicine to treat their symptoms, improve their quality of life, and improve their overall health.

Advantages of holistic medicine for autoimmune diseases

Using a holistic approach for treating autoimmune diseases has several advantages, such as::

  1. Patient-centered care: Holistic medicine focuses on individuals, considering their unique needs, goals, and preferences. The treatment plan is tailored to the individual, ensuring a personalized and comprehensive approach to their care.
  2. Multi-modal approach: Holistic medicine combines various treatment modalities, including conventional medicine, complementary therapies, and lifestyle modifications. This integrative approach can address various symptoms and promote overall well-being.
  3. Root cause identification: Instead of merely suppressing symptoms, holistic medicine aims to identify and address the underlying causes of autoimmune diseases. It may involve identifying triggers, such as stress, dietary factors, or environmental toxins, and making necessary changes to reduce inflammation and promote healing.
  4. Promotes self-care: Holistic medicine empowers individuals to take an active role in their healthcare. It encourages self-care practices, such as stress management techniques, healthy eating habits, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep, which can help manage symptoms and promote overall wellness.
  5. Reduces side effects: Conventional treatments for autoimmune diseases, such as immunosuppressant medications, can often have significant side effects. Holistic approaches minimize the reliance on these medications and, in some cases, offer natural alternatives with fewer side effects.

By considering the whole person and addressing all aspects of their well-being, holistic medicine can provide a comprehensive and integrated approach to managing autoimmune diseases. It acknowledges that each individual is unique and may require a combination of treatments and lifestyle changes to achieve optimal health and wellness.

It is important to note that while holistic medicine can offer many benefits, consulting with qualified healthcare professionals and specialists in the field is essential to developing a personalized treatment plan. Experts can offer guidance to ensure the best approach for managing autoimmune diseases. Their expertise will help achieve the most effective results.

Diet and Nutrition for Autoimmune Disease

Impact of diet on autoimmune diseases

The impact of diet on autoimmune diseases cannot be overstated. While diet alone cannot cure autoimmune diseases, it can significantly manage symptoms, reduce inflammation, and support overall health. Certain foods can trigger autoimmune responses and worsen symptoms, while others can help strengthen the immune system and promote healing.

Best foods for managing autoimmune diseases

Here are some of the best foods to incorporate into your diet when managing autoimmune diseases:

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Also, good sources are walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds. These foods can help lower inflammation and support a healthy immune system. These fatty acids can help people with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus feel better.

2. Antioxidant-Rich Fruits and Vegetables: Colorful fruits and vegetables like berries, spinach, broccoli, and sweet potatoes are packed with antioxidants to help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. These nutrients can also support the immune system and protect against further damage caused by autoimmune diseases.

3. Turmeric: Curcumin, the main ingredient in turmeric, is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Incorporating turmeric into your diet, either through cooking or as a supplement, can help reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms associated with autoimmune diseases.

4. Probiotic-Rich Foods: Gut health plays a crucial role in autoimmune diseases, as imbalances in gut bacteria can contribute to inflammation and immune dysfunction. Consuming probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi can help promote a healthy gut microbiome and support immune function.

5. Gluten-Free Grains: For individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, avoiding gluten-containing grains like wheat, barley, and rye is crucial. Opt for gluten-free alternatives like quinoa, rice, amaranth, and buckwheat, which are less likely to trigger autoimmune responses.

6. Healthy Fats: Healthy fats are good for your overall health and can help with some inflammatory diseases. Healthy fats can be found in avocados and olive oil. These fats help regulate inflammation and support the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

It’s important to note that while these foods may be beneficial for managing autoimmune diseases, individual dietary needs may vary. Talking to a registered dietitian or other health care worker can help you make a diet plan that fits your needs.

Adding these nutrient-dense foods to your diet can help your body heal itself, lower inflammation, and control the symptoms of autoimmune diseases. Before making big changes to your diet, you should talk to a healthcare provider.

Herbal Remedies for Autoimmune Diseases

Popular herbs for autoimmune diseases

Many people turn to herbal remedies when managing autoimmune diseases as a complementary approach to traditional medicine. These herbs have been used for centuries in various traditional healing practices. They are believed to have properties that can help support the body’s immune system and reduce inflammation. Here are some popular herbs that have shown promise in managing autoimmune diseases:

  • Turmeric: Turmeric is a spice that is often used in Indian food. It is known for reducing inflammation. Turmeric’s major element, curcumin, has been found to modify immune system function and reduce inflammation. It can be added to food or taken by itself as a nutrient.
  • Ginger: Ginger is another herb that has anti-inflammatory properties. It can help people with autoimmune diseases feel less pain and inflammation. Ginger can be consumed fresh, as a tea, or added to meals for its culinary and healing benefits.
  • Green tea: Green tea is rich in antioxidants called catechins, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effects. If you drink green tea every day, you can cut down on swelling and make your defense system stronger.
  • Echinacea: Echinacea is a well-known immune-boosting plant. It may help the body’s immune system function better and minimize inflammation. Teas, tinctures, and supplements containing echinacea are all readily accessible.

How herbs can help in managing symptoms

Herbal remedies can help manage autoimmune disease symptoms in several ways:

  1. Reducing inflammation: Many herbs have anti-inflammatory properties that help alleviate pain, swelling, and joint stiffness associated with autoimmune diseases.
  2. Supporting the immune system: Herbs like echinacea and astragalus can help strengthen the immune system, often compromised in autoimmune diseases.
  3. Promoting relaxation: Herbal teas like chamomile and lavender can help promote relaxation and reduce stress, which can positively impact autoimmune disease symptoms.
  4. Providing antioxidant support: Herbs like turmeric and green tea have antioxidants that can help protect cells from damage done by free radicals and lower inflammation.

It’s important to note that while herbs can be beneficial in managing autoimmune disease symptoms, they should not replace traditional medical treatment. Always consult a healthcare professional before starting any herbal remedies, as some herbs may interact with medications or have side effects.

In conclusion, incorporating herbal remedies into a holistic approach to managing autoimmune diseases may help reduce inflammation, support the immune system, and enhance overall well-being. However, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting herbal supplements to ensure they are safe and suitable for individual needs.

Mind-Body Techniques for Autoimmune Disease

Living with an inflammatory disease can be hard because you often have to deal with pain, inflammation, and other symptoms that don’t go away. While medical treatments are essential, incorporating mind-body techniques into your holistic approach can provide additional support and relief. Here are two effective mind-body techniques for autoimmune disease:

Stress management for autoimmune diseases

Stress is known to make autoimmune disease signs worse by causing stress hormones to be released and making inflammation worse. People with autoimmune diseases must learn to deal with stress to stay healthy and happy. Some effective stress management methods include:

  • Exercise: Regular physical exercise can help you feel less stressed and release natural painkillers called endorphins.
  • Breathing exercises: Deep breathing techniques, like diaphragmatic breathing, can help relax and calm the nervous system.
  • Journaling: Keeping a book can help reduce stress by giving you a place to write down your feelings and thoughts.
  • Social support: Having a network of helpful friends and family can help you feel less stressed and more like you belong.

Meditation and mindfulness for symptom relief

Meditation and mindfulness practices have been shown to help individuals with autoimmune diseases manage pain, reduce inflammation, and promote overall well-being. These techniques involve being fully present at the moment, focusing on breathing, and observing thoughts and sensations without judgment. Some benefits of meditation and mindfulness include the following:

  • Pain reduction: Research has shown that meditation can help decrease pain intensity and improve pain tolerance in individuals with autoimmune diseases.
  • Inflammation reduction: Regular meditation has been linked to decreased inflammation markers in the body, which may help manage autoimmune disease symptoms.
  • Improved emotional well-being: Meditation and mindfulness can reduce anxiety, depression, and stress.
  • Better sleep: Practicing meditation before bedtime can promote relaxation and improve sleep quality, which is crucial for managing autoimmune diseases.

Incorporating mind-body techniques like stress management, meditation, and mindfulness into your daily routine can positively impact your overall well-being while living with an autoimmune disease. However, it’s important to remember that these techniques should not replace medical treatment but rather complement it. Consult your healthcare provider to determine the best approach to managing your autoimmune disease.

About the author

Dr. Patrick Lovegrove