Recently, tennis champion Venus Williams was diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that affects roughly 4 million people worldwide. As anyone suffering from mystery symptoms knows, autoimmune disease is difficult to diagnose. Venus Williams suffered for years before she got her diagnosis. Learn more about Sjögren’s syndrome and how you can use diet and supplements to heal.
What is Sjögren’s Syndrome?
Sjögren’s syndrome (pronounced “show grins”) is an autoimmune disease whereby the body’s white blood cells attack the body’s moisture-producing glands.
Common symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome are:
• Dry, Gritty Eyes
• Dry Mouth (Hard to Swallow)
• Swollen Salivary Glands
• Tooth Decay
• Vaginal Dryness
• Dry Nose and Frequent Nose Bleeds
• Brain Fog
• Numbness and Tingling in Hands and Feet
• Skin Rashes
• Pneumonia or Lung Disease
• Extreme Fatigue
• Joint Pain
How is Sjögren’s Syndrome Diagnosed?
Unfortunately, as with most autoimmune diseases, there is no official test for Sjögren’s syndrome. Doctors often do something called an ANA blood test, which checks for anti-nuclear bodies. It is estimated that 70% of Sjögren’s sufferers show a positive ANA test.
What Causes Sjögren’s Syndrome?
The cause of Sjögren’s syndrome is unknown. However, experts believe that genetics play a role. Some people are genetically predisposed to the condition and an environmental factor such as a bacterial infection can trigger the disease.
Natural Treatments for Sjögren’s Syndrome
Other than symptom relief, there are no real conventional treatments for Sjögren’s syndrome. Thankfully, there are some natural treatments for this autoimmune condition.
Diet plays a HUGE role in the treatment of any autoimmune disease. Take a look at what you’re eating now. If it’s mostly fast food and processed food, you’re only making your symptoms that much worse.
The best diet for Sjögren’s syndrome is the caveman diet. When you eat this way, you’re basically traveling back in time and eating like a cave man. When you follow this diet, you’ll eat:
• Meat, Poultry, Fish and Eggs
• Vegetables (With the exception of peas, green beans, corn, and root vegetables)
• Nuts and Seeds
• Plant Oils (Olive Oil, Nut Oil)
• Water, Tea, Limited Fruit Juice
You can modify the Paleo diet by adding beans and legumes for more protein options, if they don’t bother you. Do not purchase canned beans, however. Buy them in a bag and cook them at home.
Dairy is another no-no in the Paleo diet, but if you don’t want to follow it exactly, consume only small amounts of unprocessed dairy to see how it affects you.
The purpose of this diet is based on the understanding that grains can make autoimmune disease symptoms much worse. Gluten and corn especially are to be avoided for at least one month to see if symptoms improve.
Research has shown that green tea is an effective natural treatment for Sjögren’s syndrome. It seems to prevent the body from attacking itself and increases tear and saliva production.
Since the moisture in your body is literally being stripped from you, you need to offset it by staying hydrated. Drink as much pure water between meals as you can each day.
- Vitamin D
The most common vitamin deficiency in America is vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is essential for proper immune system function. Taking 1,000 – 4,000 IUs (international units) per day can significantly boost your immune system.
- Krill Oil
Unlike fish oil, krill oil is much more potent and has a longer shelf life. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and helps lubricate the tear ducts and mucus membranes.
- Chelated Magnesium
Magnesium is responsible for proper nervous system and immune system function. Those with magnesium deficiency often develop autoimmune disease. Taking a chelated magnesium supplement each day can boost your immune system and help you get better sleep.
- Vitamin B-12
According to the Oxford Journal of Rheumatology, malabsorption of cobalamin from food can trigger a vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 boosts energy and speeds up metabolism. The therapeutic amount is 1,000 micrograms per day. The most effective form is sublingual (under the tongue) dots or lozenges as it absorbs directly into the bloodstream without having to pass through the digestive system.
Sleep is underrated. The average person needs 7-9 hours of sleep per night in order to function optimally. A person suffering with an autoimmune disease is going to need more than that. If you’re having trouble sleeping, chelated magnesium may be able to help. Your body and mind needs as much rest as it can get in order to heal and repair itself.
If you’ve never tried natural supplements before, start slowly. Remember, just because they’re natural doesn’t mean they can’t produce any side effects. If you’re on any prescription medication, be sure to consult a trusted healthcare provider to see if it’s safe to take them together.
Photo by Edwin Martinez (Flickr: US Open 2011 Opening Day 204) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Sjögren’s syndrome doesn’t have to run your life. These natural treatments can help you heal your immune system and get back to living.
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