Now that we have covered many of the major root causes that can trigger, exacerbate or perpetuate Sjogren’s syndrome, the question that comes to us next is, “What do I do about it?”
Why Have Your Efforts Failed?
I would suggest that many patients that have tried functional medicine or natural medicine without much success fell to the common error of “missed treatment.” The “missed treatment” phenomenon is that you have the right target (aka diagnosis), the right labs and the right assessments, but when you shot your treatment plan at that target, you missed the target.
It doesn’t mean that your previous treatment wasn’t good. I mean after all, eating healthy, probiotics, fish oil, Vitamin D and a good multi-vitamin are pretty good shotgun approach to improving health and will rarely make someone ill or worse. But what it means is that you didn’t take the right approach for your body.
In the supplementation world, commonly you may have even chosen the perfect supplements for your Sjogren’s, but the quality of the products was poor and so you can get minimal results or the dosage was too low and so you don’t respond like you should. This can be both confusing and frustrating as a patient. (Can you relate?)
In my office I’m a little obsessive about results being very individualized. Just because your best friend went gluten-free and was cured from their Sjogren’s, doesn’t mean you are going to get the same results from the same diet. This is why I encourage patients to pay close attention to their symptoms and triggers in order to know what is working best for them.
That being said, for those that never come to my office or work with me, I want to offer a few common “Sjogren’s Remedies” that might be a good place to start. (As a note, I do offer affordable phone consultations if you click on the scheduling link above.”
Remember from Part 2, that this is one of the main unique aspect to most Sjogren’s cases vs other autoimmune cases. For toxicity, I recommend 3 major detoxification aids. The first is to eat way more animal fat. Yes, animal, not coconut oil or olive oil or avocado oil or grapeseed oil, etc. My favorite animal fat is duck fat! (I like this one from Epic.)
The second product I use is activated Bamboo Charcoal by AMG. Bamboo charcoal is great at binding toxins both from the internal environment and the external environment. Most people are aware of activated charcoal and coconut charcoal, but we find bamboo to be the best charcoal with the most traditional use in Japan for detoxification for centuries.
The last product I use often for Sjogren’s syndrome detoxification is Artichoke Extract by AMG. The reason I use artichoke is because it acts in three distinct ways that I feel is critical for most female patients. The first is that Artichoke Extract helps to balance blood sugar in the body. Insulin resistance and blood sugar imbalances contribute highly to inflammatory processes as well as adrenal stress which leads to decreased DHEA.
The second is that it is a powerful detoxifier of estrogen. Estrogen is the #1 associated hormone with Sjogren’s syndrome. Artichoke is the most powerful natural detoxifier of estrogen that I have found so far. (And I have tried hundreds of products.)
Lastly, Artichoke Extract contains a specific chemical called glucuronic acid. This chemical aids the liver in detoxification of harmful environmental toxins such as medications and xenobiotics. I often like to call Artichoke Extract the second liver. In most chronic illness, the liver is overburdened with toxins and needs help. In Sjogren’s by upregulating the Liver, it can take some stress off of the parotid glands, allowing more lubrication.
I have written before on stealth infections here. In autoimmune disease there is almost always a trigger organism or active infection that continues to aggravate the immune system. Whether it is a low grade viral infection or a little candida due to a higher carbohydrate diet, these infections stimulate the immune system and put you into a hypervigilant state.
My favorite 3 antimicrobials that cover bacteria, virus, parasite and fungus are Chinese Coptis by AMG, Morinda by AMG and A.D.P. by Biotics Research. These will help you address many of the acute and chronic infections that may be present. In general, my belief is that antimicrobial products should be used continuously throughout your recovery from Sjogren’s. This piece is critical to recovery and the most frequently missed.
AUTOIMMUNE OUT OF CONTROL
This section is for once you have identified dietary triggers, toxic triggers and you have treated infection as I noted above. If you try anti-inflammatories or immune supports prior to addressing toxins and infections, your results will be poor and even if it works, it will return as soon as you stop the supplement.
One of the things that happens when an autoimmune condition develops is you end up having more PRO-inflammatory immune cells than ANTI-inflammatory or regulatory immune cells. I use a few different products in order to combat the overactive immune system as well as support it in recovering from the stress. (Yes, think of your immune system as stressed as it fights its hardest to save you.)
I like Biotics Research AE-Mulsion Forte to support calming of immune inflammation. Vitamin A has been shown to suppress autoimmune lupus as well as working as effectively as prednisone to reduce overall immune stimulation. Low vitamin A is associated with more severe cases of Sjogren’s syndrome as well as it acts to maintain the integrity of the gut and throat lining. (Here is another article I wrote on Vitamin A.)
My second favorite immune supporting herb is Andrographis Immune by AMG. This is one herb that is often misunderstood with regards to the immune system. I like to consider it an immune-adaptogen, which is to say that it supports the immune system in whichever direction it needs, but doesn’t specifically stimulate it as many people fear. As I mentioned above, the immune system is “stressed” by having to work so hard to maintain high inflammation levels. Clinically I observe decreased reactivity to toxins and foods as well as increased energy in patients with Sjogren’s.
Lastly, I often recommend Resveratrol as a good option to decrease autoimmune reactivity. Resveratrol has been shown to help in many different autoimmune conditions. There has been research demonstrating that resveratrol increases salivary secretion specifically in Sjogren’s. I like to use Thorne Research Resveracel.
While by no means can this article act as a standalone treatment for Sjogren’s syndrome, these are some of my most common recommendations for the natural treatment of Sjogren’s syndrome. Each case of Sjogren’s will be unique, but finding your current triggers and addressing the information I have written about in Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 will give you head start when looking to address your condition. Most people have the ability to recover significantly from Sjogren’s syndrome and in general can get back to living their happy and healthy life. Just remember to be patient as the immune system can be slow to calm down and toxins take time to eradicate.