Autoimmune diseases can be brought on by many factors, including infections and vaccinations. Due to increased cases these days, many people are turning to natural remedies to get relief from debilitating and painful autoimmune disorder symptoms. This article includes information about 8 powerful natural remedies that treat autoimmune diseases, such as Guillain-Barré Syndrome, Bell’s Palsy, Lupus, Crohn’s Disease, MS and others.
It seems like every time we look at the news these days, more dramatic and life-threatening syndromes and diseases are becoming commonplace. In an ideal world, that would not be the case.
Unfortunately, we’ve all learned over the past two years or so, that this is far from an ideal world, particularly when it comes to health.
Dwelling on the negative is never productive, so when disheartening health news is prevailing, I get inspired once again to look into the abundant herbal and natural remedy arsenal that is my powerful and welcome support system. Then, I search for natural remedies that have been proven over centuries, if not millenia, to provide relief for some of the most inscrutable ailments known to humankind.
With often intense and painful symptoms, autoimmune diseases can be overwhelming… especially because nearly every medical journal and article tells us that there is no “cure” for these disorders.
But if one wants to help the body to heal itself naturally, plus get relief from the dreadful symptoms, there are some powerful natural remedies that treat autoimmune diseases. After the remedies list, I also include some important lifestyle tips that can help as well. 😊
What Are Autoimmune Diseases and What Causes Them?
Autoimmune diseases can take numerous forms, but in most cases, a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks organs, or nerves and nerve roots, damaging the insulating fatty layer around the nerves known as the myelin sheath.
In some autoimmune diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), the immune system attacks nerves located in the brain and spinal cord. In rapid onset inflammatory poly-neuropathic diseases, such as Guillain-Barré (GBS), the immune system attacks only those peripheral nerves and nerve roots located outside of the brain and spinal cord. Some autoimmune diseases, such as Lupus, have similar symptoms to MS, but organs are affected, rather than nerve myelin sheaths.
Autoimmune diseases can be brought on by other diseases, by environmental toxins, infections and vaccinations. In the case of MS, or Lupus, the disease manifests more chronically over the lifetime. For GBS and Bells’s Palsy, (a partial paralysis of facial nerves, also known as cranial neuritis) the symptoms come on more quickly and also tend to resolve sooner. The symptoms of GBS range from mild tingling and numbness of fingers, legs and toes to more severe paralysis and difficulty in moving the eyes or chewing.
But for some people who suffer from these disorders, it can take much more time for symptoms to diminish, or the symptoms might never really resolve. There is often a high degree of pain and disability of movement during the process of rehabilitation.
Whether suffering from a chronic autoimmune disease or a more temporary poly-neuropathic autoimmune disease, the key to controlling the majority of symptoms is to control inflammation. So let’s look at a list of natural remedies that control inflammation and relieve painful symptoms.
Natural Remedies That Treat Autoimmune Diseases and Symptoms
There are so many wonderful herbs in the world that most everyone can add to their daily diets and enjoy greater health benefits.
It is also important to note that there are hundreds of very powerful medicinal herbs that work to resolve a wide variety of illnesses. But when it comes to treating specific diseases and disorders, not all herbs will work for every disease, or for every person. It depends on the nature of the disease and the herb and personal sensitivities.
Autoimmune diseases result from an aggressive “mis-firing” autoimmune response. Therefore, we want to make sure to take natural herbs and remedies that are immunomodulators, rather than immunostimulants.
That means, we want to take herbs that balance our immune response (immunomodulator) rather than an immunostimulant, that will increase our immune response.
I’ll say that again just to be clear – GBS and similar autoimmune disorders (such as MS and Bell’s Palsy) will be offset by immunomodulating (balancing) herbs, NOT by immunostimulants.
Here is a list of some of the best immunomodulating natural remedies that hail from traditional medicinal systems around the world. (not listed in order of effectiveness or preference)
NOTE: If you are currently under the care of a physician for any treatment, we strongly suggest consulting a naturopathic practitioner to guide you in your choice of herbal remedies that may help your condition. This should be done with the knowledge of your primary care physician, if you are currently taking prescription medication for any other health condition.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), also known as Winter Cherry, is truly a wonder herb when it comes to treating autoimmune diseases. This roots of this well known adaptogenic Ayurvedic herb have numerous additional healing qualities. They are anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, antiseptic and antibiotic.
Ashwagandha has a proven history in effectively in treating autoimmune diseases. It is considered immunomodulatory, as it counteracts an overactive immune system and regulates immune activity. It’s naturally rejuvenating qualities also promote mental health, and counteract weakness, fatigue and stress.
Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is another well known adaptogenic herb that shines when used for autoimmune diseases. Prized for centuries in Northeast Asia, eleuthero has been used in China (in Traditional Chinese Medicine – TCM) and Russia to boost the immune system.
Eleuthero contains a special group of compounds known as eleutherosides, which aid in cellular protection and nerve regeneration. Eleuthero also counteracts fatigue and helps the body to resist adverse health conditions, such as stress. It provides protection against colds and flu, while increasing energy and aiding in mental clarity.
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Note: Eleuthero was also known as Siberian Ginseng for some time, but became confused with ginseng from the Panax family, so the name was changed in common use. Eleuthero is not the same herb as ginseng. Ginseng is not recommended for autoimmune diseases.
3. Medicinal Mushrooms – Lion’s Mane, Reishi, Cordyceps, Turkey Tail
Medicinal mushrooms are so fantastic for health, with a wide range of benefits for those suffering from autoimmune disorders. Especially powerful for treating chronic pain and inflammation, they are considered natural remedies, because these mushrooms are not culinary mushrooms; they are taken as medicinal supplements only.
- Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) –This beautifully wild-looking mushroom is a popular remedy in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) due to it’s anti-inflammatory properties and its neuro-protective abilities. In addition to stimulating nerve regeneration (myelination), lion’s mane also aids in memory boosting and mental clarity.
- Reishi (Ganoderma Lucidum) – Reishi is an immunomodulating mushroom that has powerful anti-inflammatory actions. This is important, because inflammation is an underlying cause of many diseases, including autoimmune diseases. Usually referred to as a ‘tonic’ herb, reishi can be taken daily, over time, for best results. Reishi is known to be effective for respiratory disorders, as well as in relieving pain and inhibiting cancer cell growth.
- Cordyceps (Cordyceps militaris) – This mushroom combats fatigue while boosting energy and providing anti-inflammatory actions. Cordyceps regulates cytokines, counteracting the “haywire” actions of the immune system against itself that manifests as GBS and other autoimmune diseases. By protecting against nerve degeneration, cordyceps helps to limit further neuronal death.
- Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) – With an unusually high percentage of natural anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, turkey tail mushrooms are very effective for those suffering from most conditions that have their basis in inflammation. The immunomodulating polysaccharides in turkey tail also protect cells from further destruction by strengthening a weakened immune system.
Medicinal mushrooms are so amazing for those suffering from painful, difficult-to-treat ailments! I wrote an entire article about the numerous medicinal mushrooms available and how they treat inflammation and pain, if you’re interested.
It’s important to note that the healing properties of medicinal mushrooms can be found most prominently in the fruiting bodies of mushrooms (the part that grows above ground) and not in the mycelium (the part that grows below ground).
Tulsi, (Ocimum tenuiflorum) or Holy Basil, is a well acclaimed Ayurvedic herb that is commonly used in India and around the world for its immunomodulating effects. Tulsi is so widely effective that it is also known in India as the “Queen of Herbs” or as “The Uncomparable One.”
Tulsi’s list of healing qualities is long! Of utmost importance for treating autoimmune diseases, Tulsi is neuro-protective. Tulsi’s various phytochemicals (plant nutrients) tone down nerve responses and nerve inflammation and reduce stress. It is also anti-oxidant, anti-carcinogenic and heart healthy.
Tulsi is also excellent in treating respiratory conditions and aiding breathing.
And, bonus! Tulsi is easy to take! It has a sweet, lightly spicy flavor and makes a delightful tea that can be taken daily, without any side effects. Tulsi can also be taken in tablet form or in extract form.
5. Ursolic Acid (naturally occurring in: rosemary, aronia berries, prunes, bilberries, apples, cranberries, thyme, peppermint, lavender, oregano among others)
Ursolic acid is important in neuro-regeneration and is found in many fruits and herbs. With its anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, ursolic acid protects nerve endings and restores nerve myelin sheaths. This natural substance is excellent for providing cellular repair, and those foods that contain it should be added to the diet whenever possible.
However, in order to get maximum benefit from ursolic acid, it should be taken as a supplement because… how many prunes can one reasonably eat in a day? Or how much rosemary and thyme?
One of the easiest ways to get a substantial amount of ursolic acid is to take ursolic acid in capsule form. Aronia berries, one of the foods that are highest in natural ursolic acid, can also be taken in powder form or in capsules.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is my absolute favorite all-round herb, and it’s no wonder that turmeric is also specifically on this list of herbs that treat autoimmune diseases.
Due to its huge range of health benefits, turmeric is one of the most widely researched herbs, and its super-benefits include nerve regeneration and functional recovery. Turmeric is a perfect choice for encouraging cellular repair due to its anti-inflammatory and pain relief actions. Turmeric also treats brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, stroke and depression and is a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial herb.
Turmeric is excellent for taking every day, without any side effects. Turmeric also combines well and can be taken with any of the other herbs on this list.
You can take turmeric by adding it in your cooking daily (just a pinch doesn’t really change the flavor of any dish) and it is often used in Indian curries. You can drink turmeric lattes anytime, and they are especially effective when taken right before bedtime. (read more about turmeric and get a recipe for turmeric latte in this article all about turmeric)
But to get the most benefit from turmeric when suffering from acute symptoms of autoimmune disease, you will need to take more turmeric than what can easily be added to your diet. Turmeric can be purchased in bulk and/or taken in capsules.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) root is one best amorphetic, or balancing, immunomodulatory herbs. Licorice root has been popular for centuries, particularly in Ayurveda due to its immune modulating and anti-inflammatory benefits. Licorice is a safe choice for anyone suffering from autoimmune disorders. It has also proven effective as an antiviral herb, and has been proven effective in counteracting symptoms of the Sars-Corona viruses.
Licorice has anti-allergic properties and provides cellular protection for those suffering from autoimmune issues, while aiding in reduction of excessive immune response.
Fortunately, licorice root has a pleasant and sweet flavor that makes it easy to take in the form of tea, although licorice should also be taken as an extract or in capsule form for additional benefit to counteract more acute symptoms.
Note: If you suffer from high blood pressure and/or are on blood pressure medication, please consult a naturopath before adding licorice to your health regimen.
The native Chinese herb codonopsis (Codonopsis pilosula), known in Chinese medicine as dang shen, has a long history in treating autoimmune diseases. The roots of the codonopsis plant are used medicinally to treat a variety of inflammatory issues, including general weakness that results from an overactive immune response.
With its soothing actions, codonopsis has a tonic action that is excellent for immunomodulation.
Note: If you suffer from liver problems, please consult a naturopath before taking codonopsis if you are already taking licorice.
Codonopsis Blend with other Immune Boosting herbs ✓
Lifestyle Tips to Speed Healing of Autoimmune Disease
In addition to herbs that treat the debilitating symptoms, there are also some actions you can take to minimize your painful experience of autoimmune disease and to speed recovery.
There are a few lifestyle tips that can help, when faced with nerve pain and action-limiting muscular dysfunction due to an autoimmune disease. Here is a short list of actions that you can begin to incorporate into your daily routine to help you back to good health.
1. Get lots of quality sleep-time
It is very important to allow your body lots of time for self-healing, and that is made much easier if you get a good night’s sleep. I’ve mentioned it before in other articles, but one of the easiest ways to get good quality sleep is to be mindful of circadian rhythms, which are the 24 hour time cycles that note physical, mental, and behavioral changes. These natural workings largely respond to light and dark, and influence most living matter.
That means we should try getting to bed before midnight, to take advantage of the natural sleep cycles that allow for the deepest rest.
2. Reduce exposure to toxins – focus first on your diet
While in the process of healing your debilitated nerve roots and mylein sheaths, you’ll want to limit the amount of toxins that you willingly insert into your body… when the average person is feeling fine, they might not think so much about the quality of the food that they are putting into the body. Oftentimes people are more mindful of the oil or gasoline they put into their cars than they are about the food that goes into their own bodies!
So. One thing you can do is avoid unnecessary chemical additives that are nearly ubiquitous these days. You may be thinking that you never wanted to become one of “those people” who read product labels before putting something in your shopping cart… but if you are really suffering from pain and limited mobility due to an autoimmune disease, you can consider avoiding these two ingredients:
This artificial sweetener is not only known to cause cancer, but it is also toxic to the nervous system, causing seizures, headaches and chronic body pain, among other symptoms. Aspartame is contained in almost every “diet” labeled product, such as diet sodas, diet candy, diet cookies, diet ice cream, and diet coffee drinks. It is also in many “sugar-free” products. Aspartame may appear on product labels as:
Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
MSG is a synthetically created emulation of a naturally occurring amino acid, glutamate. It is used in processed foods as a flavor enhancer, and is present in fast food, snack items (like “flavored” chips) and processed meats, instant soup flavor packets (like ramen noodles) and seasoning blends. It is most famous as an ingredient used in almost every Chinese restaurant around the world. (you can try asking them to leave it out of your order and, due to customer complaints, some restaurants advertise that they do not use it)
Unfortunately, MSG is notorious for its harmful effects. It has been noted as a “neurotoxin” due to its tendency to overstimulate cells, even to the point of causing cellular destruction. Negative side effects of MSG consumption include headaches, muscular pain, fibromyalgia, obesity, diabetes, upset stomach and other allergic type reactions.
Due to its history as a neuro-stimulant, MSG is not something to willingly put into your body if you are already suffering from an immune system over-reaction.
Processed foods often contain low quality ingredients and most have little nutritional value. So, their flavors are certainly enhanced by the synthetic chemical boost they get from added MSG. There’s a real chemical reason why once you dip into a bag or packet of “junk food” it’s very hard to stop! And the companies that sell these products don’t mind at all that you keep coming back for more of their products, even when the products are not good for your health.
MSG can appear on food labels as:
- Monosodium Glutamate
- Yeast Extract
- Any word that has “Glutamate” in it
- Any word that has “Hydrolized” in it
- Flavor Enhancer
- Added Flavor, or simply “Flavor”
3. Add plenty of ginger and Ceylon cinnamon to your diet
Ginger (dried and fresh) and Ceylon cinnamon (more healing than regular cinnamon!) are two of the best anti-inflammatory foods that we can eat on a regular basis, with absolutely no negative side effects! Add either or both to your cooked dishes and/or drink as teas as often as possible.
4. Increase healthy fats in your diet
- Take additional Omega-3 fatty acids by including a good quality fish oil to your diet.
- Try replacing your usual vegetable oil with olive oil (high in Omega-9 fatty acids) and coconut oil.
- Consume more avocados and raw nuts
- Consume raw organic dairy, including butter
- If you consume meat, switch to grass-fed beef
- Switch to organic eggs
5. Take time to decompress from the stress of daily life
Include time for meditation, contemplation, prayer, nature/fresh air and appreciation of life. Be sure to get enough exercise and enough Vitamin D from the sun. Listen to soothing music or create some art and spend time with people you love. And don’t forget that laughter is a powerful natural medicine, too!
These excellent natural remedies have a long history of treating autoimmune diseases. Regardless of your diagnosis, symptoms and treatment choices, they can help you on your journey to recovery.
One last point – it is mentioned by the medical community that blood clotting is a possible side effect of some autoimmune diseases. Prescription drugs may be prescribed to prevent that occurrence. If you are interested in a natural alternative, please read about how pine needles can prevent blood clotting.
This is one of my longer articles that includes numerous links to other articles on our site. When it comes to healing serious diseases, there is so much valuable information! I want to share as much of it as possible with you, so you can make the most informed decisions possible for your health.
I hope that you will try some of the remedies mentioned above, and that your health improves! As I mentioned before, everyone is different and what may work for one person may not work for another, depending on the individual health condition. When in doubt, always consult with a naturopath who will understand your desire to heal yourself naturally and will support you in your quest.
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