Twenty years ago, the term “autoimmune disease” was virtually unspoken of. It certainly wasn’t something you would see in the big news headlines – like cancer, Alzheimer’s, or heart disease.
Well, the world now knows better… according to the National Institute of Health, “approximately 23.5 million Americans live with autoimmune disease and its prevalence is on the rise.”
It’s a scary statistic, but knowledge is power. The only way to prevent and cure illness is to try and understand it. When we give ourselves a base of knowledge of how the body works, we are then equipped to ask the right questions and be truly proactive about our own healing.
So what is autoimmunity?
Let’s get one thing straight – you don’t have an autoimmune system. You have an immune system that auto-attacks your own cells when there is an imbalance in your body. Johns Hopkins puts it plainly, “Autoimmune disease happens when the body’s natural defense system can’t tell the difference between your own cells and foreign cells.”
Some examples of autoimmune disorders are: rheumatoid arthritis (when the immune cells attack your joints), psoriasis (when they attack your skin), and certain thyroid diseases (when your immune system calls for the over- or underproduction of hormones).
Some common autoimmune symptoms to look out for are: feeling tired and achy all the time, having strange skin issues, perpetual abdominal pain, and getting sick easily.
Nobody knows you like YOU, and if you feel like something is really off, you should take the necessary precautions, including a visit to your physician or trusted source of healthcare.
But, for many (if not all) autoimmune disorders, there are some powerful natural medicines that can make all the difference.
Today, we’re going to dive into 3 medicinal herbs that can work wonders with autoimmune disease.
Ashwagandha is a staple in the ancient Ayurvedic medicine schools of India. The most frequently used part of this healing plant is the root, which is ground into powder and added to an array of tinctures and smoothie ingredients.
Ashwagandha has gained attention in the public eye because it is adaptogenic in nature – meaning that it enhances your body’s resilience to external and internal stressors and brings your system into a state of balance. But Ashwagandha’s primary benefit is in its ability to restore the immune system’s homeostasis.
Ashwagandha is a great ally if you are showing signs of autoimmune dysfunction. It is also an all-around tonic herb that brings down inflammation in the body and helps to balance hormonal activity, as well as other systems throughout the body.
This golden root is a sacred remedy in Ayurveda (and for good reason.) Turmeric is an herb that works its magic on acute symptoms like aches and pains, but it also offers incredible long-term healing.
Turmeric helps to bring balance to the body’s individual systems by bringing down inflammation more quickly than any other herb. Another way that turmeric cultivates opportunity for the body to heal itself is through its detoxifying characteristics. It is an alterative herb — meaning it cleanses the blood of heavy metals and metabolic waste. It strengthens your liver and kidneys so that they can do their job of processing toxins and hormones. This allows your body to find its natural levels again.
These healing constituents all work together to make turmeric an ideal ally for the immune system — because it is not an immune stimulant, but rather an herb that creates the perfect opportunity for the immune system to regulate and heal the rest of the body.
Ashwagandha and turmeric are easy enough to find and make into delicious teas. You can take them in supplement form too, but what’s most important is consistency. Herbal medicine isn’t like allopathic medicine; it takes time for your body to learn how to respond to herbs — and they’re not a one-size-fits-all remedy.
What about mushrooms?
Some of the most powerful natural allies to prevent and treat autoimmune diseases are mushrooms! The one below is my absolute fave!
Reishi has been nicknamed the “mushroom of immortality” and for good reason. It has been a cherished staple of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years because of its ability to bring balance to the body.
Reishi mushrooms are rich in immune-modulating compounds that influence the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis). An imbalance of the HPA axis can be a major root cause of an autoimmune flare-up, as it is the main regulator of inflammation in the body.
So if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms that come along with autoimmune issues, the first thing again is to make sure to see a trusted medical advisor. Then, as part of your treatment protocol, do some research of your own and consider adding one of these safe natural medicines to your daily routine. See how you feel!
Host of Proven: Healing Breakthroughs Backed By Science
& Founder of The Sacred Science
Ashwagandha is a nightshade, and many with autoimmune issues have to avoid nightshades. My body hated that one a lot.
Echinacea is related to ragweed, which many are allergic to, so it’s something to be careful with, just in case.
Autoimmune peeps need to be aware of the families herbs come from so they can test them carefully.
Well said! Herbal medicine is highly precise – some of these herbs may be indicated for a person based on their patterns, or not. Also, there are so many autoimmune diseases, we are discovering ‘new’ ones regularly and also understanding known diseases as having an autoimmune component. From a traditional medicine perspective, polyherbal formulas are always favored over single herbs. So while a single herb may have negative effects, when combined in a formula, these can be neutralized totally. BTW, in herbal medicine, we regularly use ‘toxic’ herbs in formulas with NO toxic effects. This knowledge has been around for over five thousand years …
Good day could it be possible to have the name of the herbls in spanish ? thanks . Your information is very interesting . thanks a lot.
According to online translation tools, these are the same names in Spanish. You may look up their scientific names if you need also.
I am confused and would like to know the truth… I have been wanting to try ashwagandha for months but was told by an herbalist that I should not because of possible autoimmune issues. Also, when I have looked it up online I have found the same information. Could you tell me why you are of a different opinion? And, have you seen it help individuals with autoimmune conditions? Again, I am asking because I really want to try it but am afraid to… I need a little more info. Thank you!
Remember, not all autoimmune disease impact the same tissues and they do not all follow the same pattern. Basically, any herb that ‘stimulates’ the immune system is not suggested for autoimmune disorders by many folks. That would make sense, however, the manifestation of autoimmune is self attacking self – still, this is not the root cause of autoimmune, just it’s expression. In traditional medicine, we seek to identify patterns to treat, we do not treat pathologies. Further, there are myriad autoimmune disease, to say that an herb is not good for autoimmune disease in general is a big statement that is fundamentally not aligned with the nature of natural medicine. Also, herbal medicine favors poly herbal formulas – so while a single herb may be exacerbating to certain conditions, when combined with other herbs – we can actually neutralize any ill effects. Again, you need a skilled herbalist for this.
Hello! I am scared to try but I am skeptical . Right now I am under treatment of Photo Therapy Treatment because I encounter this skin problem Psoriasis that I never had it in my life . They just came out just a sudden. I was thinking about maybe my immune system is gone. Right now I stop for awhile going to my photo therapy treatment for awhile cuz my skin is getting too dark and a bit burn . Today I will see my Dermatologist Doctor what do you think should I asked him about this Herbal medicine?
Your dermatologist may or may not be educated on herbal medicine. I’d suggest seeking a skilled herbalist to work in tandem with your docs. https://www.americanherbalistsguild.com/member-profiles
Hi Nick, Thanks for keeping up with this. I learned years ago from an herbalist that echinacea, in particular, should never be taken by someone with an autoimmune disease, simply because it is so good at helping the body with the immune system that it actually encourages the body to continue to attack itself, and is contra-indicated. Can you respond to this, please?
That would make sense, however, the manifestation of autoimmune is self attacking self – still, this is not the root cause of autoimmune, just it’s expression. In traditional medicine, we seek to identify patterns to treat, we do not treat pathologies. Further, there are myriad autoimmune disease, to say that an herb is not good for autoimmune disease in general is a big statement that is fundamentally not aligned with the nature of natural medicine. Also, herbal medicine favors poly herbal formulas – so while a single herb may be exacerbating to certain conditions, when combined with other herbs – we can actually neutralize any ill effects. Again, you need a skilled herbalist for this.
I can attest that mixing herbals for treatment of autoimmune diseases is the best way to slowly incorporate them into your system. Especially as teas. The great thing about teas is that you can brew them in a concentrated formula and then dilute with water to meet your physical needs.
I have Fibromyalgia, Lymphedema & Osteoarthritis. My tea mixture that works well for me is Dandelion, Hibiscus, Mint, & Bee Pollen.
Now, I will say that I DID my research and made notes of all possible effects on my system and possible interactions with my medication.
Herbal medicine is NOT a quick fix or a cure all! It’s natural medicine and should be taken seriously.
Do your research, talk to your doctor and above all else, learn as much as you can about your health.
Ashwagandha should NOT be recommended for autoimmune conditions. Maybe you can mix it with other herbs, maybe it’s ok for some autoimmune conditions but the overwhelming consensus is that people with autoimmune conditions should NOT take Ashwagandha as it stimulates the immune system. May I suggest that you re-phrase your article to stipulate this? I would hate for anyone to become ill after thinking it is ok. Taking any natural remedies should be undertaken in consultation with a medical professional.
ZMEDCLINIX Functional Medicine Practice.
Thanks for commenting! The truth is there has been insufficient modern research devoted to that topic to effectively reach any conclusions. There has been continued empirical research with this herb denoting its continued safety across the globe. The notion that because an herb has the capacity to stimulate the immune system does not directly translate to being too dangerous for autoimmune conditions. This misconception simplifies and underestimates the actions of the immune system and fundamental herbal energetics, and also does not translate clinically. There are over 100 named autoimmune disorders that impact various tissues, organs, and populations. This particular herb is revered for also impacting multiple systems with multiple targets. Each person tolerates and processes this herb uniquely, we do not all use the same metabolic pathways to process the same herb, food, chemical, etc. For clinicians who successfully treat autoimmune patients, many times herbs that stimulate the immune system are used. Remember that dose matters! Sometimes the only difference between a remedy and a toxin / poison is the dosage. I would suggest that taking natural remedies ought to be used based not the prescription of a trained herbalist or natural medicine practitioner – most conventional medical professionals have no training, education, or clinical knowledge of herbal medicine – let alone food / nutrition, which is still considered alternative to biomedicine.
Just a word of gratitude for all the helpful information you share.
Goodness in a troubled world is always welcome.
I share your blogs with friends and family when it is
of a nature to make their lives easier. I am grateful that
you make this helping kindness a reality.
To the person with Psoriasis, your conventional dermatologist is treating your skin but there are internal issues that are causing the Psoriasis!! For the sake of your health, seek out a functional doc, a naturopath, a homeopath, or at least an integrative doc who will look for the CAUSE!!
Blessings to you!!
Hi Nick! Thanks for your (always) fantastic advice! I am curious if you have any recommended manufacturers of ashwagandha, turmeric, and reishi. I’ve tried them all, and they vary in efficacy and in third party testing, etc. I have been on high-dose turmeric for help in treating inflammation causing uveitis and am on the lookout for a really good one. I appreciate your insight. Thank you!
Yes, i use all these 3 herbs and can say that they do work for autoimmune diseases, i have hashimoto. Also what works for me, fresh ginger tea, vitamins B1, B3, B6, D 5000 daily, C 100 mg daily, E 50 daily, maitake sometimes instead of reishi, triphala before bed, passionflower not every day because if every day it stops working.
Ashwagandha is a life savior for me.
I have been taking all three for a number of years – BUT no noticeable difference!
Great oversight. I have formal training in traditional medicine and have been exploring how the body uses alternative medicine. I have looked at the way the body selectively uses alternative treatments and is a great wellspring for restoring health irrespective of ones age. Homeopathic sulfur will get rid of hand cramps and restore the large intestine meridian. These are so called ailments of age but can easily reverse so called intractable illness. Heart disease can be easily addressed. The subjective assumption of modern medicine is that we are giving you the best treatment available. But the assumptions do not hold up and people loose sight of the incentives of pharmaceutical medicine which favors their embezzlement. Unfortunately the emphasis detracts from the intelligent analysis and integration of alternative medicine. We are now living under the greatest scam perpetuated my greed and misdirection. We are reaping the whirlwinds of our blind obedience to authority. Why must the public pay the ultimate price!
One word of warning on turmeric.If you are on blood thinners DO NOT TAKE.Can cause nosebleeds and internal bleeding.I speak from e experience.
My dr.says i have autoimmune Disease. She said it’s down to one. !y skin is do dry and flaky.I feel tired all the time.dry eyes.I have knots coming up could on my bones.and its not Arthritis rheumatoid.I do stay sick all.the time .What would be the best herbs for mr?Or I read be p parasites
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