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Sarcoidosis

Immune | December 10, 2017 | Author: Naturopath

autoimmune

Sarcoidosis

Sarcoidosis is a condition distinguished by abnormal nodules, called sarcoid granulomas. These nodules typically appear in the lungs and lymph nodes—however, many other tissues may become involved including the eyes, skin, liver, muscles, spleen, joints and more. Sarcoidosis can develop at any age, but mostly affects people in their late 20’s to early 40’s. The majority of people get better within one to three years and in Australia complications are rare.

Symptoms of sarcoidosis

The symptoms can vary depending on what body parts are affected. Most people are unaware that they have the condition and it can be detected by chance during a medical test for unrelated health problems.

When symptoms do occur, they can include:

  • General symptoms—fatigue, fever, swollen lymph nodes and weight loss
  • Lung symptoms –dry cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pain or discomfort
  • Skin signs—painful red bumps on the ankles or shins, disfiguring sores on the face and growths under the skin (nodules)
  • Eye symptoms—blurred vision, eye pain, severe redness and sensitivity to light
  • Cardiovascular symptoms—chest pain, irregular heartbeat, palpitations, swelling caused by excess fluid and fainting

Causes of sarcoidosis

An infectious aetiology has been proposed in sarcoidosis. It is believed that in genetically predisposed people there is a trigger such as bacteria, viruses, mould, dust or chemicals. This prompts an overreaction of the immune system to collect in granuloma formation at the disease site.

Risk factors of sarcoidosis

Risk factor sof sarcoidosisSarcoidosis has been associated with coeliac disease and is more common in people with familial and/or personal history of autoimmunity.

When the onset is acute and includes enlargement of lymph nodes in the lungs, nodes under the skin, fever, and joint symptoms, it is termed Lofgren's syndrome. This syndrome is found more frequently in persons of Scandinavian, Irish, and Puerto Rican descent and generally is self-limiting.

Sarcoidosis often occurs between the ages of 20 and 40 and women are slightly more likely to develop the disease.

What can help?

Eat well

As a significant percentage of the immune system exists around the digestive tract, and it makes sense that diet and digestion have a massive impact on immune balance. Excessive animal protein, simple sugars, gluten, casein in dairy products, and food additives/chemicals have been shown to alter the inflammatory potential of the entire system and to dysregulate immunity. A diet designed for chronic disease prevention based on natural unprocessed foods, with adequate protein and essential fatty acids helps to regulate digestive and immune function –ultimately reducing inflammation.
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Fish oil

Omega-3 essential fatty acids are shown to offer systemic protection from inflammation. These are safe in the long term, making them suitable for managing the inflammation of sarcoidosis. A concentrated form from a reputable company, either in liquid or capsule form can be taken daily for stronger results. Eating fresh, wild-caught fish 2-3 times per week is a great way to obtain natural sources of essential fatty acids and other important nutrients.
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Turmeric

Although no studies have been done on turmeric in sarcoidosis, what we do know it that it can reduce inflammatory mediators that are associated with sarcoidosis. 

sarcoidosisTurmeric is also an antioxidant—helping to reduce free radical damage and providing liver support. 

The best form of turmeric is one that contains the active ingredient curcumin so that it has a stronger effect on reducing inflammation and pain levels. Supplementation may be necessary to achieve the best results. 
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Quercetin

Quercetin is a natural antioxidant compound that is found in a range of foods— including onions, blueberries, leafy greens and tomatoes.

In sarcoidosis, oral quercetin supplementation resulted in increased total plasma antioxidant capacity, and reduced markers of oxidative stress and inflammation according to one study. Quercetin could be combined with bromelain to further reduce inflammation and swelling.

Probiotics

Probiotics are important to create balance in the digestive and immune system by decreasing unhealthy microbes, reducing inflammation, increasing absorption of nutrients and so much more. Two probiotic strains which help restore immune control and moderate over-active immune responses include: 

  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG and Lactobacillus paracasei LP- 33. These strains assist immune regulation by supporting Treg cell function and increasing anti-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-10.
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG has proven efficacy in reducing airflow inflammation in allergic airway diseases such as asthma and may be helpful in sarcoidosis.

Other ways to naturally improve the gut microbiome is by eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kim chi, kefir and pickled vegetables.

Detoxification nutrients

Detoxification nutrientsIf environmental toxicity is at play for some individuals, gentle detoxification protocols may be helpful.

This involves nutrients and herbs to support liver, kidney and gut health such as B vitamins, chlorella, St Mary’s thistle, coriander, turmeric and licorice.

It is important to seek the advice of a naturopath to see if this process is appropriate for you.

Resolving chronic infection

One underlying mechanism involved in sarcoidosis is chronic infection. Herbs which help to boost the function of and modulate the immune system include:

  • echinacea
  • andrographis
  • astragalas
  • cat’s claw
  • Siberian ginseng.
  • Medicinal mushrooms such as reishi, turkey tail, cordyceps and shiitake provide a wide-range of therapeutic actions that benefit chronic diseases, inflammation and infections.

Zinc and vitamin C are amongst the most critical nutrients in healthy immunity, as both are involved in wound healing, immune balance and boosting resistance to infection. They are also antioxidants and help to reduce damage to organs and tissues in the body.

Other suggestions include:

  • avoid pollution and lung irritants such as chemicals and dust Click Here for further reading
  • get regular exercise and maintain a healthy weight
  • quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke Click Here for further reading
  • reduce stress levels by practicing meditation, yoga and having enough rest time
  • avoid calcium and vitamin D supplements

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References

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/sarcoidosis

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sarcoidosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20350358

Strookappe B, et al. Benefits of physical training in sarcoidosis. Lung. 2015 Oct;193(5):701-8

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26286208/

Boots AW, et al. Quercetin reduces markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in sarcoidosis. Clin Nutr. 2001 Aug;30(4):506-12

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21324570/

Hewlings SJ, Kalman DS. Curcumin: A review of its effects on human health. Foods. 2017 Oct 22;6(10)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29065496/

Muszynska B, et al. Anti-inflammatory properties of edible mushrooms: A review. Food Chem. 2018 Mar 15;243:373-381

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29146352/

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