Understanding Medical Problems

An Integrative Medicine Approach To Combat Autoimmune Diseases

There are a wide range of autoimmune diseases that can affect organs, joints, mucous membranes and tear ducts, and the thyroid. Integrative medicine is a way to bring autoimmune diseases under control without medication.


One of the first approaches used in integrative medicine is to assess your diet and make changes. Many types of food can have an inflammatory effect and increase damage. Some changes your doctor may make include eliminating gluten and dairy from your diet. Taking a gluten-free approach can be challenging since many foods contain gluten. Some foods you will want to avoid include many "white" foods such as bread, pasta, and other baked goods unless they are specifically made to be gluten-free. White foods that do not contain gluten include different variations of rice and potatoes. The caveat to gluten-free foods is some vegetables belong in the nightshade family, which can contribute to inflammation. White potatoes, eggplant, and tomatoes are among many nightshades you might want to avoid if they are bothersome. Other foods you should eliminate from your diet are any processed foods and red meats.

Herbs And Supplements

Among the most common herbs and spices that are used to reduce inflammation are garlic, turmeric when combined with black pepper, and capsaicin. Not only can these anti-inflammatory herbs and spices be incorporated into food, but they can also be taken in supplement form. Some people find making turmeric milk and drinking it several times per day is a good way to combat inflammation. Use hot dairy-free milk of your choice and add a teaspoon or two of high-quality turmeric. You must also add a pinch of black pepper — freshly ground is preferred. Ginger and cinnamon are other options you may want to include. White willow bark and Boswellia are among supplements that can act much like OTC NSAIDs and may be safer on the digestive system. If you choose these supplements to reduce inflammation, it is important to not combine them with traditional NSAIDs to avoid damage to your digestive system and kidneys.

Eastern Medicine

Some aspects of Eastern medicine, such as acupuncture, are frequently used to combat autoimmune diseases. One of the advantages of acupuncture versus traditional medicine is it is customized to the individual, meaning their diagnosis and specific symptoms. Acupuncture uses fine needles placed in areas of disrupted Qi to improve energy forces. The benefits of acupuncture for autoimmune diseases include helping reprogram the immune system to perform as intended and to reduce chronic pain. Gentle exercises, such as Tai Chi, may also be prescribed by your doctor to not only improve health but improve joint and muscle function for those whose autoimmune diseases affect these areas. Tai Chi involves slow, controlled movements that are gentle on the body. Other forms of exercise that include a combination of mind, body, and spirit components also reduce inflammation by practicing mindfulness and reducing the stress that often exacerbates autoimmune diseases.

Integrative medicine for autoimmune diseases is an excellent tool for people who don't want to take conventional treatments or for those whose current treatments have not worked enough. The ultimate goal of integrative medicine is to use a combination of approaches that focus on mental and physical aspects that can trigger or exacerbate autoimmune diseases.