Thursday, 27 April 2017

Best weaponry for fighting Sjogren's Syndrome - Division Human Shield - Part 1 of 3

Sjogren's syndrome is, in simple terms, an autoimmune disease where the person's immune system attacks glands that secrete fluid, be it saliva, tears, etc. Known by many as the sicca syndrome or dry syndrome (since dry eye and mouth are the simplest of the symptoms one can associate to Sjogren's) this syndrome can reveal itself a complicated 'disease' to bear due to its arthritic profile. On the other hand, this syndrome increases in 5% the chances of a person to develop Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system that does not involve the Reed-Sternberg cells).

Among a vast list of complications that can go from glandular manifestations (parotitis, mouth dryness [xerostomia] and eye dryness [xerophtalmya], cornea abrasion, infection or inflammation [keratoconjunctivitis sicca], gum disease, difficulty swallowing, accelerated tooth decay, etc) to extraglandular manifestations (fatigue, tiredness, joint pain, arthritis [joint inflammation], lung inflammation, heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease, etc etc etc). The list is extensive even in regards to other associated complications, such as Lupus (also an autoimmune disease where the body attacks different tissue parts of the same) or the Hashimoto's thyroiditis (in which the immune system attacks specifically the thyroid resulting in low levels of thyroid hormones [hypothyroidism]). 

This is a syndrome - some even challenge the definition and actually call it a disease - that usually affects women in between their 40s to 60s. Well, I'm a man, last time I checked, that at the age of 36 was diagnosed with it, but I honestly believe that I've been dealing with it from my early 20s, however the most severe signs started back in 2008.

I 'postulated' (not so arrogantly as the word implies) in this blog several ideas of what I believe is behind the 'uprising' of Sjogren's, to a certain extent, obviously. One of many valid ideas that start emerging since doctor's don't know a lot about the etiology of this syndrome, or even how to cure it, let alone tackle it efficiently (regardless of what they might say this is an irrefutable fact as we speak). Based on an extensive literature review I was able to generate changes in my lifestyle that increased tremendously my quality of life and assured me to counteract efficiently the chronic progression of a health issue that I very much want to erase from my life. Bear in mind that when I looked for help with specialists from the UK and Germany no one offered me a proper diagnosis or even a mild solution. I was the one that in 2015 researched intensively and told the doctor with an open heart and 'humility' in my voice "Doctor, I believe I have Sjogren's". After a sialographic analysis (a radiographic examination of my parotid gland) the typical lesions were confirmed. However, no one told me what to do, what to take, what to think, or even where to go. They just did the best possible to assure that it wasn't progressing to something more serious. This does not intend to say doctors are dumb. This just attests of their limitations as any other human being confronted with the novel, with the unknown.

Like any other autoimmune disease, Sjogren's comes with a panoply of metabolic disorders. Some so immediate and severe that changed my whole life style, and I was already a vegetarian when I was diagnosed. I am taking no pharmaceuticals if not very occasionally when nothing else (not even prevention) works. And this weaponry I am sharing with you today is what in my personal case made the whole difference. It might work for you but not for your neighbor, so don't make it a gospel. However, it is based on scientific facts that I want to share with you.

Welcome to the Dos and Don'ts of my human shield against Sjogren's Syndrome and the reason why this is working 'so well' thus far. Bear in mind that I still think my case is mild as there are people with a lot worse signs and symptoms. Having said that, do not avoid a visit to your doctor before anything else. What might be good for one could very easily trigger something bad in another person:

Turmeric (curcumin)

[Image from Authority Nutrition]

What? The powder of grind Turmeric (Curcuma longa), an anti-inflammatory botanical spice part of the ginger family. 
Why? It addresses the underlying cause of inflammation so much better than them non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that simply counteract the symptom. Contrarily to drugs, curcumin (the active ingredient) have minimal side effects and proven results against leukemia, colon, melanoma and breast cancer cell lines [1]. It triggers mechanisms that produce a decreased expression of pro-inflammatory cell signals (NF-kappaB, prostaglandins, etc) [2].
How? A teaspoon.
When? Every single morning and evening mixed in with my smokin' green tea.

Green Tea 
(Camellia sinensis L. leaves)

[Image from Nutrition-Group]

What? The leaves of the smoke-scented Camellia sinensis L. shrub available at any supermarket these days under the commercial name of 'Green Tea'. 
Why? Its flavonoids content is reportedly associated to antioxidant properties [3], but above all also correlated to anti-inflammatory processes, showing antimicrobial effects (read my posts on the link between H. pylori and Sjogren's to better understand why it's so important), and preventive of tooth decay [4] (anti-xerostomia? Sign me in!!!!). So many ticks in the Sjogren's symptom's list that we should grow the tree ourselves.
How? 3 large warm cups every day.
When? Morning to night.


[Image from Insight Himachal]

What? Walnuts, what else to say. They just taste great!
Why? Because I'm a vegetarian I'm not the richest of the guys in what concerns the fatty acid omega-3 that fishes give you. I have to resort to nuts but don't fool yourself, it is scarce the presence of omega-3 in traditional nuts like almonds, cashews, hazels, pistachios, therefore walnuts gain an enormous relevance. Omega-3 fatty acids need to be consumed within a reasonable ratio to become effective in terms of its anti-inflammatory role and aid against symptoms of dry eye and dry mouth. The omega-3 fatty acids help prevent arthritis and indirectly act in the lacrimal gland to prevent the death of secretory epithelial cells [5]. In addition, the immunomodulatory activity of this polyunsaturated fatty acid is incredibly important for tackling rheumatoid arthritis [6]. 
How? At least 30 g every single day.
When? Any time of the day.

And there is a lot more to tell you, so stay tuned because next posts will bring a lot more DOs and also a lot of NO NOs. As usual, if you'd like to contribute with your personal experience, by all means, just let me know by commenting on this post.

[1] Ramsewak, R. S., DeWitt, D. L., Nair, M. G. (2000). "Citotoxicity, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of Curcumins I-III from Curcuma longa". Phytomedicine, 7(4), pp.303-308.

[2] Daniel, J. W. (2005). "The Sjogren's Book". Oxford University Press. The Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation. 4th Edition.

[3] Sharangi, A. B. (2009). "Medicinal and Therapeutic Potentialities of tea (Camellia sinensis L.) - A review". Food Research International, 42 (5-6), pp. 529-535.

[4] Chattopadhyay, P., Besra, S. E., Gomes, A., Das, M., Sur, P., Mitra, S., Vedasiromoni, J. R. (2004). "Anti-nflammatory activity of tea (Camellia sinensis) root extract". Life Sciences, 74(15), pp. 1839-1849.

[5] Roncone, M., Bartlett, H., Eperjesi, F. (2010). "Essential fatty acids for dry eye: A review". Contact lens and anterior eye, 33(2), pp. 49-54.

[6] Simopoulos, P. A. (2002). "Omega-3 fatty acids in inflammation  and autoimmune diseases". Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 21(6), pp. 495-505.

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