A Look at AutoImmune Dis-Ease Through a Holistic Lens: Which Herbs Can Help
When diagnosed with an autoimmune problem like Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Endometriosis, Chron’s, Grave’s and even, one could argue, Cancer, and others, the prescribed solutions rarely address the root of the problem. In fact, the question of WHY this condition occurs in the first place is rarely addressed.
There’s a (controversial) theory circulating in natural healing groups that the underlying cause of most types of AiD (autoimmune dis-ease) are covert, or hidden, pathogens.
Pathogens, including things like viruses, protozoa, helminths (worms), bacteria, fungi, and mycoplasmas are really smart little creatures. They can hide in your body, hide from your immune system, for years.
New scientific research has found that Ebola, for example, can survive for years in eyeballs and also in testes!
The influenza virus can enter the body virtually undetected by our immune systems because of a protein coat surrounding its DNA structure (similar to the Nodavirus, image below).
Herpes virus has a way to eliminate the receptors that attach to its surface that would normally tell your body to seek and destroy it.
Tuberculosis bacterium releases a protein that triggers a response within a macrophage so that instead of engulfing and destroying the bacterium, it allows the bacterium to live and replicate inside of the macrophage.
The trigger for Lyme disease, Borrelia Bacterium, is like a super-villain. It's flagella speeds it through your body, through structures that would stop most invaders, like thick mucous. Then, it can change shape. Borrelia can alter its unique cell wall protein structure. So when your body is looking for something, it changes into something that looks totally different. H Pylori can do this too.
The problem with covert pathogens is that they're tricking your immune system. They each have a unique method of hiding (HIV has one of the worst, as it actually attaches to your own immune cell’s DNA!) Then they wreck havoc on your immune system.
The pathogens cause an increase of TH1, TH2, and TH17 cells in your body so you can fight against the invaders. Then, your TReg cells, which moderate the immune response, are decreased. When T1, T2, and TH17 increases, TReg is decreased. So you’re left with massive inflammation, and if your immune cells can’t find the invaders, it just doesn’t go away on its own.
Other factors play into AiD as well, such as your daily toxic load.
Toxic substances (like cigarette smoke) also increase the amount of TH17 cells in your body.
TH17 cells help your body fight off all types of foreign substances (toxins and pathogens) and are thought to be at the root of most AiD conditions such as RA, IBD, asthma, and even MS. Everyone has TH17 cells, but they have to stay in balance with the TReg cells for optimal immune health. If the TH17 cells are relatively higher, you are in a state of inflammation.
Another factor in immune health is your gut.
Dysbiosis, or an imbalance of intestinal flora, doesn’t always show up as digestive problems. You may see a skin rash, have sinus congestion or have trouble thinking clearly. You will most likely be fatigued due to a lack of nutrient absorption.
Certain foods will cause more disruption in your intestinal health than others. If you’re fighting off an AiD, we highly recommend you abstain completely from wheat/gluten. Most dairy products are also off the menu because most dairy that you find at the store is not in its natural raw state and is not digested well. Low sugar is recommended as most fungi and bacteria use sugar for food and it will cause them to have an orgy in your gut causing their population to boom.
The good news is that herbal medicines can provide some answers
There are herbal protocols that can root out pathogens from your blood and body tissues. Certain herbs, like *artemisia, which we’ve used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years, have been proven to be more effective than a prescription isolate of the herb against viruses.
*Myrrh is another herb used in ancient Chinese medicine and even the Bible that has proven to be effective against parasites that dive deep into the body, even Liver and Bladder parasites. Clinical trials show great results using Myrrh against fascioliasis, schistosomiasis, lanceolate fluke, tapeworms, and vaginal trichomoniasis.
*Licorice is an antiviral herb that can treat both naked and enveloped viruses.
*Saint John’s Wort can treat viruses like herpes as well as depression, so if you’re depressed about having herpes, here’s the herb for you.
*Oregano is one of my favorites for treating candidiasis. Note: it burns if applied topically, but that being said, it’s great for treating topical fungus. Please dilute it with coconut oil or put it in a bath. Never put it in your eyes. You can take capsules internally as well. Take for 4 days, then 3 days off. Repeat up to 3 months.
*Phellodendron, one of my favorites from the Chinese medicine pharmacopeia, is a natural antibiotic. It also works against fungi and protozoa.
*NOTE: most of these herbs can form biofilms on body surfaces. Biofilms are a proliferation of immune cells on the intestinal wall. That being said, take a high tannic tea such as peppermint or green tea, or take raw garlic, every day while on these herbs to help reduce biofilm. Also, it’s best to “pulse dose” them. Which is, for example, taking the herbs for 4 days, and then not taking them for 3 days.
An herbal protocol for healing AiD includes “seek and destroy” techniques, as well as immune-regulating herbs.
Immune-regulating herbs such as Echinacea, Licorice, and Huang Qi (Astragalus), are recommended on the days that you do not take the pathogen-killing herbs.
For certain conditions, we also would want to use herbs that can address adrenal fatigue (Eleuthero, Ginseng, Rhodiola, Ashwagandha), mitochondrial support (Garlic, Ginkgo, Grape Seed, Green Tea), cytoprotection (Turmeric), nerve protection (Ginkgo, Saffron, Rosemary), Endocrine support (Gymnema) or Liver support (Silymarin).
Self-prescribing herbs is tricky! I don’t recommend it unless you have a degree in herbology. I have a degree in herbology and over 20 years of clinical experience. So please, have a licensed herbalist (like me!) help you with the right herbal protocol for your health.
Auto-immune conditions are tricky. Ask for help.
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