Our body’s immune/defense system is trained to tell what is not a part of our body and to attack it. Unfortunately, with over 80,000 chemicals now being added to the environment without any significant safety testing, our body's defense systems are being overwhelmed and confused. When this happens, it can mistake a part of our body for an outside invader and attack it. This is what autoimmune illness is.
In Sjogren's, tear and salivary glands, along with bowel function, are especially affected.
Treatment [With a focus on Lupus and Sjogren's]
Although there are many autoimmune illnesses, with Lupus (SLE) being a common "prototype," and there are many natural treatments for these different processes, a discussion of all of these is beyond the scope of this application (it is a book in itself). The following are a few key points, however, that may be dramatically helpful — especially for Lupus and Sjogren's.
There is usually a significant inflammatory component to these illnesses. Inflammation and the symptoms can be decreased by:
1) Fish oil: 1 tbsp/day until better (or 2 months) then a teaspoon a day. Alternatively, eat salmon or tuna at least 4x a week.
2) Boswellia plus willow bark
Herbals can significantly inhibit inflammation. A mix of Boswellia and willow bark are particularly effective. Supplement daily for 6 weeks to see the effect, and then the dose can be lowered. If pain is a problem, I would use a different mix that is amazing for pain called Curamin. Supplement daily for 6 weeks to see the effect, and then the dose can be lowered.
3) Cortef: Your doctor may give you steroids (prednisone) to suppress inflammation. Because doses of prednisone over 5 mg a day are toxic, your doctor will try to wean you off of it. As the prednisone suppressed your own adrenal cortisol production, your illness may flare when they do this. Instead of lowering you below 5 mg of prednisone, ask them to switch you from the 5 mg prednisone to 15-20 mg each morning of Cortef (prescription, bio-identical natural cortisone; 20 mg is like 4-5 mg of prednisone, but safer). Research has shown this dose to be safe for long-term use and my research showed it does not suppress the adrenal glands.
4) DHEA (for Lupus) Several studies have shown that Lupus patients do better on DHEA 200 mg a day. This high dose can cause acne or darkening of facial hair, so it should be used under the guidance of a holistic physician. It may also lower the toxicity of the prednisone and allow a lower dose to be used. Use GNC, Enzymatic Therapy or compounded DHEA as there is a major quality control problem with some other brands.
Other Therapies & Advice
Very Important! Many autoimmune problems trigger a secondary fibromyalgia, which may cause many of the symptoms that could be mistakenly blamed on your autoimmune illness. Your physician might then load you with high dose prednisone or other powerful drugs which do not help fibromyalgia (though very low dose cortisol does). If you have insomnia along with widespread pain, you likely also have fibromyalgia caused by the autoimmune disease — which is very treatable (see my book From Fatigued to Fantastic!).
In Sjogren's, magnesium (to decrease bowel spasm) and the use of the antibiotic Doxycycline as needed to settle bowel infections can be helpful along with probiotic pearls. In addition, see the article on Dry Eyes and mouth—Sicca Syndrome
The Autoimmune Epidemic
An excellent resource on understanding autoimmunity is the book "The Autoimmune Epidemic" by Donna Jackson Nakazawa.