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New Herbal approaches for autoimmune disorders

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If you have an autoimmune disease or other chronic inflammatory condition, you may have noticed it can be tough to tame the inflammation. This is because the body can get stuck in vicious inflammatory cycles that may be difficult to stop. Luckily, researchers have pinpointed what feeds these cycles and developed ways to bring a halt to them. This involves using natural compounds that act on two immune messengers: nitric oxide and IL-17.

When the immune system triggers inflammation, it releases an immune messenger compound called IL-17. IL-17 triggers damage to body tissue, such as the thyroid gland in the case of autoimmune Hashimoto's hypothyroidism or joint tissue in rheumatoid arthritis. IL-17 isn't all bad—in a healthy immune system, it also prevents infections—but chronic inflammation (or an autoimmune disease) creates too much IL-17.

IL-17 damages body tissues by activating a compound called "inducible nitric oxide." The body has three forms of nitric oxide, which is a gas that activates various processes. Two forms of nitric oxide are beneficial and tame inflammation: endothelial nitric oxide and neuronal nitric oxide. However, IL-17 triggers the pro-inflammatory inducible nitric oxide, which is the compound that actually damages body tissue under the orders of IL-17.

One of the goals when it comes to taming chronic inflammation or autoimmune flare-ups is to dampen IL-17 and, thereby, inducible nitric oxide. Some people take arginine to boost nitric oxide. Although this may boost the anti-inflammatory endothelial nitric oxide, it also may increase the inflammatory inducible nitric oxide.

In the quest to break the vicious cycle of inflammation, it is safer to go with nutritional compounds that researchers have found boost endothelial nitric oxide. These include:
• Adenosine
• Huperzine A
• Vinpocetine
• Alpha GPC
• Xanthinol niacinate
• L-acetylcarnitine

Taken together in an emulsified liquid formula, these compounds can boost the production of the anti-inflammatory endothelial nitric oxide. Endothelial nitric oxide aids in tissue repair and regeneration, enhances blood flow, dissolves plaques, and dilates blood vessels. Exercise is another excellent way to boost endothelial nitric oxide. These compounds may also boost the activity of neuronal nitric oxide, which enhances the health of the brain and nervous system.

Supporting beneficial nitric oxide is just one of many tools we can use to tame chronic inflammation. Others include therapeutic doses of vitamin D3, omega 3 fatty acids, and glutathione to regulate an imbalanced, overzealous immune system that promotes autoimmune disease and inflammation. Although glutathione taken orally is ineffective, there are other delivery methods and, additionally, nutritional compounds that the body can use as precursors to maintain healthy glutathione levels. Glutathione is vital to dampening inflammation, repairing damaged tissues, maintaining a healthy gut (which houses most of the immune system), and buffering the body from the many chemical, dietary, and psychological stressors we face.

Another tool proven effective in unwinding chronic inflammation is high doses of emulsified resveratrol and curcumin. Taken together, these two compounds have been shown to dampen the activation of IL-17, regulate the immune system, and quench inflammation associated with autoimmune diseases and chronic inflammatory disorders.

Of course, lifestyle and diet changes are also necessary when it comes to taming inflammation. These changes include eliminating pro-inflammatory foods (especially gluten) with an autoimmune diet, getting enough sleep, not overtraining, minimizing exposure to toxic chemicals, and more.

For help taming your chronic inflammation, ask my office for advice.

Meet the Author

Dr. Boyle D.A.C.M., LAc., DiplOM.

Dr. Boyle D.A.C.M., LAc., DiplOM. is the founder of the Holistic Wellness Center of the Carolinas where he is the Director of Functional Medicine. He holds a Diplomate in Oriental Medicine and is acupuncture physician and primary care physician in the state of Florida. His post-graduate focus has been in the fields of functional neurology, functional immunology, and functional endocrinology.

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