9 Herbs To Avoid With Autoimmune Disease
We all know that a well-functioning immune system is essential for staying healthy. Many people turn to herbs and natural remedies to help boost their immune system because of all the wonderful benefits they provide. However, some of those same herbs can wreak havoc on your body when you have an autoimmune disease.
An autoimmune disease occurs when the body’s natural defense system becomes confused. It can no longer identify its own cells from foreign cells. The immune system begins to attack healthy cells and cause a worsening of unpleasant symptoms. These attack stages are commonly referred to as flare-ups. Most people with autoimmune conditions fluctuate between flare-ups and periods of remission. Even though there is no known cause or cure for any autoimmune diseases at this time, there is much that can be done to put them into remission.
When you have an autoimmune disease, your body is already under attack. Even though you take these herbs with good intentions, taking immune-stimulating herbs could make the disease progress faster. So let’s go over a list of herbs that is best to avoid when you have an autoimmune disease.
9 Herbs To Avoid With Autoimmune Disease
At this time, there are more than 80 known autoimmune diseases that affect a wide range of body parts, with these listed below as the most prevalent:
- Crohn’s Disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis
- Graves’ disease
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
- Type 1 diabetes
- Addison’s disease
- Sjögren’s syndrome
If you suffer from an autoimmune condition, it’s important to tread lightly and check with your doctor before taking any of these herbs. If you have an autoimmune disease and want to learn more about what to avoid for better health, you can read about the Worst foods for Hashimoto’s.
This pretty flowering plant is one of the most popular herbs worldwide and has been in use for centuries to treat various ailments. Today this well-known over-the-counter herbal medicine is used to help fight the common cold. Echinacea is best known for its ability to boost the immune system, combat infections and viruses, and help you recover faster from illness. This is all great for most people. But if you have an autoimmune condition, it’s best to avoid this herb. Revving up the immune system could lead to an autoimmune flareup and worsening symptoms.
Cat’s Claw is a tropical vine that you can find mainly in the Amazon rainforest and other tropical areas of South and Central America. This herb has been in use for centuries in South America for many conditions, including inflammation, cancer, and infections. Cat’s Claw is believed to reduce symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis, a long-term autoimmune disease that causes swollen, painful joints. Although there have been some studies, the evidence is still weak. But because it is an immune-stimulating herb, anyone with an autoimmune condition should use caution.
Elderberry is one of the most commonly used medicinal plants in the world. Historically it was used to treat influenza, fever, swelling, inflammation, headaches, dental pain, heart pain, and nerve pain, as well as a laxative and diuretic. Today it’s easy to find this immune-supporting berry in over-the-counter cough syrups and lozenges. You can also use the berries to make juice, jams, chutneys, pies, and elderberry wine.
Goldenseal is a perennial plant native to eastern North America. For many years the roots and leaves have been in use within traditional medicine to treat various conditions—especially ones involving infections and inflammation. Today goldenseal comes in teas, herbal extracts, and capsules to treat colds, flu, hay fever, digestive issues, and skin problems. Because Goldenseal is an immune booster, it can cause a worsening of flare-up symptoms.
Olive leaf extract comes from the leaves of an olive plant. Its active ingredient Oleuropein is what gives olive leaf extract its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Some of the biggest reported health benefits of olive leaf extract are improving heart health. Another study found olive leaf extract’s antiviral and antimicrobial factors helped treat herpes. Some studies also show that it is able to help protect the brain against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, lower blood pressure, and support weight management. Even though this plant offers many amazing benefits, it has the potential to exacerbate an autoimmune disorder. So best to play it safe and check with your doctor before using.
St. Johns Wort
St. John’s wort is a flowering plant whose flowers are used to make liquid extracts, pills, and teas. People have been using St. John’s wort for centuries. And still today, people like to use this popular herb to treat forms of depression. However, St. John’s wort has been shown to interfere with many other medications and cause numerous bad side effects. Therefore it’s recommended that anyone taking prescription medications should avoid it.
Zinc is an essential nutrient meaning your body can’t produce it or store it on its own. But you can easily find it in a variety of plant foods. It plays a key role in skin health, immune function, and cell growth. Zinc is required for numerous processes in your body, including immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, and growth and development. One of Zinc’s biggest health benefits is its ability to boost the immune system, and therefore, those with autoimmune conditions avoid over-supplementing with it.
Alfalfa sprouts are full of powerful antioxidants and loaded with vitamin C. You can usually spot these crunchy little sprouts in salads and sandwiches. Alfalfa sprouts are also high in the chemical L-canavanine, which may trigger symptoms in people with lupus. This chemical stimulates the immune system and might increase an abnormal inflammatory response.
Ginseng is an herb that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. For a long time, this gnarled root was thought to be able to treat many problems. There are many varieties of this herb, but the most popular are American ginseng and Asian ginseng. Within Chinese medicine (TCM), ginseng will often combine with other herbs to help treat stress, fatigue, asthma, and cancer. Besides being an antioxidant, studies show ginseng can help improve brain function. Other studies show that it could lower blood sugar levels and help improve erectile dysfunction. Studies also show its ability to boost the immune system. And for this reason, you should check with your doctor before supplementing with it. As ginseng may boost an already overactive immune system, you could have a negative immune response.
There are many amazing herbs and natural remedies you can benefit from.
But the best practice for those of us dealing with autoimmune issues is to first check with our doctor before starting anything new.