Twenty years ago, the term “autoimmune disease” was virtually unspoken of. It certainly wasn’t something you would see in the big news headlines – like cancer, AIDs or heart disease.
Well, the world now knows better… according to the National Institute of Health, “approximately 23.5 million Americans live with autoimmune disease and its prevalence is on the rise.”
I have even had my own journey with an autoimmune condition and thanks to functional medicine it’s in remission now. It’s a scary statistic, but knowledge is power. The only way to prevent and cure illness is to try and understand it. When we give ourselves a base of knowledge of how the body works, we are then equipped to ask the right questions and be truly proactive about our own healing.
So what is autoimmunity?
Let’s get one thing straight – you don’t have an autoimmune system. You have an immune system that auto-attacks your own cells when there is an imbalance in your body. Johns Hopkins puts it plainly, “Autoimmune disease happens when the body’s natural defense system can’t tell the difference between your own cells and foreign cells.”
Some examples of autoimmune disorders are:
- rheumatoid arthritis (when the immune cells attack your joints)
- psoriasis (when they attack your skin)
- certain thyroid diseases (when your immune system calls for the over- or underproduction of hormones)
Some common autoimmune symptoms to look out for are:
- feeling tired and achy all the time
- having strange skin issues
- perpetual abdominal pain
- getting sick easily
Nobody knows you like YOU, and if you feel like something is really off, you should take the necessary precautions, including a visit to your physician or trusted source of healthcare.
But, for many (if not all) autoimmune disorders, there are some powerful natural medicines that can make all the difference.
Today, we’re going to dive into 3 medicinal herbs that can work wonders with autoimmune disease.
There is a class of herbs called immunomodulators that strengthen your immune system’s ability to “read” what is a friend and what is foe. Two examples of these are ashwagandha and echinacea.
Ashwagandha is a staple in the ancient Ayurvedic medicine schools of India. The most frequently used part of this healing plant is the root, which is ground into a powder and added to an array of tinctures and smoothie ingredients.
Ashwagandha has gained attention in the public eye because it is adaptogenic in nature – meaning that it enhances your body’s resilience to external and internal stressors and brings your system into a state of balance. But Ashwagandha’s primary benefit is in its ability to restore the immune system’s homeostasis.
Ashwagandha is a great ally if you are showing signs of autoimmune dysfunction. It is also an all-around tonic herb that brings down inflammation in the body and helps to balance hormonal activity as well as other systems throughout the body.
Echinacea is another staunch ally. Lots of people use echinacea primarily for cold and flu prevention — and for good reason. Echinacea, both leaf and root, fights bacterial and viral infection more effectively than practically any other plant on earth! But echinacea’s biggest gift is its ability to modulate the immune system.
This herb may be too stimulating for very delicate cases, so be sure to check with your doctor if you feel it’s necessary.
Ashwagandha and echinacea are easy enough to find and make into delicious teas that you can drink every day. You can take them in supplement form too, but what’s most important is consistency. Herbal medicine isn’t like allopathic medicine; it takes time for your body to learn how to respond to herbs, and they’re not a one-size-fits-all remedy.
What about mushrooms?
Some of the most powerful plant allies for immunomodulation to prevent and treat autoimmune diseases are mushrooms! The one below is my absolute fave!
Reishi has been nicknamed the “mushroom of immortality” and for good reason. It has been a cherished staple of Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years because of its ability to bring balance to the body.
Reishi mushroom is rich in immune-modulating compounds that influence the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis). An imbalance of the HPA axis can be a major root cause of an immune flare-up as it is the main regulator of inflammation in the body.
So if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms that come along with autoimmune issues, the first thing again is to make sure to see an experienced practitioner with autoimmune conditions. Those that get treatment and support functionally have much better outcomes than those who try the DYI approach using “dr google.’
Call us today to get your herbal treatment underway!