Natural Treatments For Sjogren’s Syndrome Part 2
If you read part 1, you know that its time we start talking about some of the root causes associated with Sjogren’s syndrome. There are 4 to 5 major areas that I associate with Sjogren’s syndrome in nearly all cases. If you have tried these things it doesn’t mean all hope is lost, it simply means there is more to be investigated.
Food Triggers & Sjogren’s Syndrome
In all cases of autoimmunity, I always want to find a trigger food. Whether you have had known food intolerances your whole life or you have never had a food intolerance before, I would suggest that there is a trigger food or foods that stimulate the immune system, causing inflammation and that autoimmune process to restart each time you eat it.
If you are new to functional medicine, you may think you don’t react to any foods. While you may not feel discomfort inside your digestive tract. I have found that as long as there are elevated antibodies, there are going to be foods that further exacerbate the reaction.
Infections & Sjogren’s Syndrome
Even WebMD recognizes that a known trigger for the onset of autoimmune disease is a viral or bacterial infection. What they may fail to recognize is that not only can infection initial an autoimmune process, but it can also perpetuate it. For example, many patients contract Epstein-Barre Virus (EBV) which leads them to having mononucleosis (mono). It is pretty well accepted that EBV can resurface or that if you had “mono” before, that you can have a flare up later in life. We also see this same pattern in chicken pox. Chicken pox is often reactivated later in life and reappears as painful shingles.
In the bacteria realm, Lyme disease or borrelia and its co-infections exist within the body indefinitely and can resurface. Chronic fungal infections often persist as well as parasitic infections. Many of these organisms live within our body’s ecosystem and can be balanced by other organisms, but when the quantity, location or balance is disrupted they can either completely shut down one are of the immune system while stimulating another.
Addressing these various organisms should be at the very core of treating your Sjogren’s.
Toxic Burden & Sjogren’s Syndrome
More than any other autoimmune condition I see in my office, Sjogren’s specifically is related to toxic burden. I will cover just a few of the possible toxins, but this should be one of the areas you think most thoroughly through in a history. This is one area where I listen closely to patients in order to see if there is something that they have missed.
Before we list toxic influences, lets discuss another elephant in the room…the parotid glands. The parotid glands are the largest of the three major salivary glands and directly associated with your immune system carrying high levels of IgA (antibody cells). This makes Sjogren’s unique as with the elevated levels of antibodies in the parotid glands you can have a very fast falling of health specifically to the parotid glands which should be producing your tissue fluids.
Toxins Related to Sjogren’s Syndrome
Botox – Let me put this one up here first because it is highly associated with immune stimulation and inflammation leading to Sjogren’s Syndrome. Clostridium botulinum neurotoxin A, yes, it is a toxin has been shown to stimulate antibody formation, which leads essentially to “botox autoimmunity”. Essentially your body is treating the injection as if you had the infection, creating a large immune response.
In this research, they demonstrate the link and correlation between autoimmune thyroiditis and botox treatment. There is additional research suggesting that certain fillers also are stimulating to the immune system. In my office I have found a higher correlation with botox injections and Sjogren’s syndrome rather than fillers alone.
Personal Hygiene Products – Makeups, mouthwashes and toothpastes all can contribute directly to local toxicity of the parotid glands as well as systemic toxicity and autoimmunity. Many of these fall under the category of xenobiotic autoimmunity, which we will save for another article. That being said, what we put on the outside of our face can definitely affect saliva quality and quantity given that the parotid glands are directly under the skin.
Medications – I will make a note here that all prescription medications are toxic in one form or another. That doesn’t mean that some patients don’t require them or that they can’t be a decent “Band-Aid” while you search for the root cause, but say for example you are taking one pill for anxiety, a birth control pill, some bio-identical hormones and ibuprofen/NSAIDs for pain, your chances of seeing a quick recovery are decreased significantly. Treating Sjogren’s root causes is difficult enough without complicating the treatment with prescription toxins.
Heavy Metals – Heavy metal accumulation to some degree is present in many individuals. Heavy metals are directly processed through the parotid gland which in turn can create a significant immune response. If you have every had a mercury amalgam, then you likely have some metal toxicity.
Mold/Mycotoxins – Mold and mycotoxin exposure can make the immune system “hypersensitive” to future fungal and mold exposure. This hypersensitivity creates a reaction in individuals any time they eat sugar and increase their internal fungal presence. Often times, patients with mold exposure need to be semi-permanently on an anti-fungal antimicrobial. If you find you have had mold exposure, your journey to wellness will be slower than someone without that exposure as eliminating all mold toxins from the body takes time.
Hormones – Given that the prevalence of Sjogren’s syndrome occurs in women, we know specifically that there is a hormonal association. Women also know that proper hormonal balance is associated with proper lubrication of the vagina. The most common hormone imbalances associated with autoimmunity include high prolactin, high estrogen, high insulin, reduced DHEA, reduced cortisol and low testosterone.
Now everyone’s first thought, including many “natural” doctors, is to say that DHEA and testosterone are low, so adding hormones is what we should do. This is absolutely a bad way to start. Anytime you have elevated estrogen (95% of all females with Sjogren’s), insulin or prolactin, those hormones need to be balance before adding additional hormones. The reason why is because they are pro-inflammatory. As a side note, it has been documented that DHEA supplementation does not improve DHEA levels in most autoimmune cases.
(Please read these 2 articles before you try to balance any of your hormones.)