Autoimmune Disorders

What are Autoimmune Disorders?

Your body's defense network, the immune system, is designed to protect you from infection by the viruses, bacteria, and fungi in the world around you, from your own body's cells that have gone haywire and could develop into cancers, and from all things that are not a part of you. Your immune system's defenders and killer cells can normally tell the difference between what is you—the self—which they will ignore or leave alone, from what is not you—the nonself—which they will attack and destroy. The defenders recognize the self by protein markers (sort of like "name tags") on the surface of every cell that is yours. Foreign cells or particles don't have these markers on their surfaces, and the immune fighters go after them. That's how it should work, at least, but sometimes the surface markers change, and the immune system becomes confused. Without the ability to recognize the self, the defenders will attack their own body's tissues as if they were foreign. When this happens, an autoimmune (meaning the body's turning on itself) disorder develops. There are a number of these kinds of disorders of the immune system: lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, Raynaud's syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, various myopathies, and various nerve- and muscle-degenerating disorders. We have included a brief description of each of these in the A to Z, but because the vitamin and mineral therapies for them are very similar, we have included only one listing here for them all.

What helps Autoimmune Disorders?

• Essential fatty acids play a more significant role in alleviating the symptoms of autoimmune disorders than perhaps any other nutrient. We refer you to the discussion of the eicosinoid messengers for details about how essential fats reduce inflammation and pain. Nutritional help for your symptoms begins here. Recommendation: Begin with the proper basic dietary framework to pave the way for best results. To that sound base, add 240 mg of gamma-linoleic acid to 960 mg of EPA fish oil—a ratio of 1/4 (GLA:EPA) 2 to 6 times daily. The EicoPro essential fatty acid product manufactured by Eicotec, Inc. of Marblehead, Massachusetts, contains ultrapure sources of linoleic acid and fish oils already combined in the proper ratio. If you cannot get that product, you can purchase linoleic acid in a product called evening primrose oil at most health and nutrition stores, and EPA fish oil as well. Because it is not as pure a form, the milligram dosing will be different. You can make a reasonable substitute by combining evening primrose oil capsules with fish oil capsules plus vitamin E. Take 500 mg of evening primrose oil (a source of linoleic acid in capsule form), plus 1000 mg EPA fish oil, plus 200 IU vitamin E 1 to 3 times a day. (Warning to diabetics: EPA fish oil can cause blood sugar fluctuations in some diabetics. Carefully monitor your blood sugar if you use this supplemental oil and discontinue its use if your blood sugar becomes difficult to control.)

• Although the medical research is sketchier, there is some evidence to suggest that vitamin C may slow the progression of autoimmune disorders and so may help. On the other hand, this vitamin plays a key role in the production of collagen, the chief structural protein in the body, which may already be produced in excess in many of the autoimmune disorders (especially scleroderma). Could increasing vitamin C be counterproductive? In that light, possibly so, but we could find no hard science to confirm that theory. We would still recommend that you add some extra vitamin C in your diet for its many other benefits to your health. Recommendation: Unless some other condition arises for which a higher dose of vitamin C would be of value, keep your intake at no more than 500 mg to 1000 mg per day.

•  Vitamin E has proven beneficial in patients suffering from autoimmune disorders. Notable improvement in symptoms usually occurs in 4 to 6 weeks in those who respond. Recommendation: Begin with 100 IU daily, increasing weekly to 200 IU, 400 IU, then 800 IU of vitamin E (as d-alpha-tocopherol succinate) daily. Some people require doses of 1200 IU to 1600 IU per day, but these higher doses can cause elevation of blood pressure in some people. Be certain, if relief of your symptoms requires a dose in this range, to check that your blood pressure is in the normal range (no higher than 140/90). There is no value in increasing your dose beyond 1600 IU if you have not responded by 4 to 6 weeks.

• Adding selenium in a small amount to your daily vitamin E dose will allow you to take a smaller dose of E if your blood pressure increases. Again, allow 4 to 6 weeks to judge your response. Recommendation: Take 140 micrograms of selenium (as sodium selenite or selenium aspartate) along with 100 IU vitamin E (as D-alpha-tocopherol succinate) daily.

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Autoimmune Disorders
Autoimmune Disorders natural remedies

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