The most important thing you can do when treating Sjogren’s syndrome naturally is to understand your condition. In fact, if you don’t fully understand what it means to have Sjogren’s (an autoimmune condition) then you will forever be chasing a new supplement or medication to increase your salivation or lacrimation. When we treat Sjogren’s in our office, we don’t use any supplements to be designed to address dry mouth or dry eyes. Learn why you shouldn’t either!
Lab Tests for Sjogren’s Syndrome
If you know for sure you have all the symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome, then lab testing can be useful to confirm your suspicions. That being said, once you have a positive lab finding, conventional treatment is very limited and in the majority of patients, the treatment begins with immune suppressing medications and ends with a whole slew of medications to address varying symptoms.
Typical labs used in Sjogren’s diagnosis include ANA, CRP, Complement C3/C4, Rheumatoid Factor, Scleroderma Antibodies, ESR, Anti-Smith antibodies, Anti-salivary gland protein, anti-Ro and anti-LA. If you are still working with a conventional medicine doctor, then these are great suggestions to help investigate your symptoms.
I won’t belabor these lab tests with what they mean, but the labs above that I have listed only give you a diagnosis, but they do not give you the “why”. You may have a positive lab test, but if you don’t figure out the “why” as to how your condition started then you will likely be stuck taking medication for symptoms for the rest of your life.
What are lab tests best for? Lab tests are “average” at diagnosis, but what labs are best at in my opinion is watching progression. What do I mean? I mean that if you do a lab test for CRP (an inflammatory marker) and it is high and in the abnormal range, then you can observe that lab number as you work to revers your autoimmune condition and put it in remission. One of the most confusing things that happens to patients is that they come in with a diagnosis and an abnormal lab test, but after a few months, often times the lab markers normalize and there are no longer any abnormal lab results to concern themselves with.
It is common belief that once you have positive antibodies for a condition that you will permanently have that condition. THIS IS NOT TRUE! Elevated antibodies can and should be decreased. In fact, that is the gold standard of treating any autoimmune disease. It is possible and it is necessary to recover fully.
If you notice, many of the tests for Sjogren’s are for antibodies. Antibodies indicate that there is an autoimmune process that is occurring which is where many people get lost. So let’s discuss what that really means.
What Does Autoimmune Really Mean?
An autoimmune process is a process where your body’s own immune system creates antibodies (aka immune cells) in order to help fight off a non-native or atypical “intruder”. These auto-antibodies are usually very beneficial for fighting infections, like when you get a cold, but in the case of autoimmunity, the immune system has decided that an organ or gland or tissue is the “intruder.”
Now what most people reading this and your doctors, immunologists and rheumatologists will tell you is the your body is “attacking” itself. THIS IS A MISNOMER! This misnomer is the cause of more chronic suffering than anything else I have witnessed in my career. The appropriate way to say this is that the immune system is PROTECTING itself. Thank goodness your immune system is protecting you!
If you can wrap your head around the idea that immune stimulation and inflammation (autoimmunity) are ways that the body protects itself, then you stand a good chance of being able to address your health in a natural way that lasts.
If on the other hand you belief that your body is attacking itself, then the future of your health and the odds of beating an autoimmune condition will be dismal at best.
What if You Don’t Address the Root Causes of Sjogren’s?
Its important to know that chronic conditions and autoimmune conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome are not usually self-limiting. This means that if you take no action, it won’t resolve itself.
Even worse, if it continues to progress, you are likely to acquire a few more autoimmune conditions as you age. It has been well documented that once your immune system develops one single autoimmune process, it is likely to develop more as the years pass. So instead of just dry eyes and a cotton mouth, you may develop thyroid disorders, digestive disorders or skin disorders. It is not a question of “if” you need to address your autoimmune condition holistically, but rather “when” are you going to start.
The Elephant In The Room…Estrogen
Sjogren’s is 10x as prevalent in women versus men. This means that it is a hormonally associated condition. But the even more interesting part is that you would never see an endocrinologist treating a patient with Sjogren’s.
Rant Warning: This brings us to our modern dilemma of specialists. While I refer to specialists when necessary, I believe you need a doctor that can integrate multiple body systems and make sense of the whole story. This used to be what an “internist” would do, but given time restrictions from corporations and dwindling insurance reimbursements, the days when a doctor had time to sit down and talk with you for over 7 minutes are gone. (Which is absolutely required if you want to cut off Sjogren’s progression and recover naturally.) So if you think that a $25 or $50 copay is a great deal, you are likely mistaken because the majority of time you will spend more seeing multiple specialists and on expensive medications for the rest of your life than if you didn’t utilize your insurance. There is a time and place for insurance and in some situations its very cost effective, but I wouldn’t go to a plastic surgeon because he was the cheapest one on my insurance if you know what I mean…
The Most Important Part Is the Treatment
When it comes to Sjogren’s, putting together a treatment plan should be very individualized. Even more than some other autoimmune conditions, Sjogren’s has a unique aspect in most cases. That unique factor is TOXICITY. I don’t know where else you will find that information or if there will be emerging evidence in the next few years but in my office it has been consistent that there is some form of toxin or neurotoxin that is stimulating the Sjogren’s autoimmunity.
Natural treatment for Sjogren’s syndrome should be multifactorial including gut treatment, infection treatment, toxin treatment and resetting the immune system. I will cover how to do this is part 2.
Continue to Part 2 in Order To Discover Common Toxins Associated With Sjogren’s Syndrome