Ayurveda for Autoimmune Conditions
Our immune system is what defends us from pathogens that might cause harm to our cellular biology. However, for some, this mechanism can be faulty and lead to ‘friendly fire.’ This happens when we improperly identify our bodies contents as harmful and try to destroy them. This is not ideal, at all.
Autoimmune conditions can affect various organ systems of the body and manifest in many different ways. These conditions are some of the most misdiagnosed conditions in the country, especially among women. Some of the most common symptoms associated with autoimmune disease are: fatigue, muscle aches, weight instability, and inflammation.
“One of the most powerful fundamental principles of Ayurveda is its emphasis on self-healing. The body has a tremendous ability to heal, often more rapidly and completely then one can expect – and that is something that you should never forget.” Dr. Akil on ‘Combining Paleo AND Ayurveda To Heal Autoimmune Diseases’
Ayurveda identifies disease before it is even considered ‘disease’; this is because there is a cellular process that takes place prior to disease/illness/symptom. According to Ayurveda, symptoms, as we see them, are in fact a latent manifestation of pathogenesis.
5 STEPS TO RELIEVING AUTOIMMUNE SYMPTOMS:
#1. START WITH THE GUT: whether experiencing digestive unrest or not, this is your first step. This will involve eating a specific diet that aligns with your Ayurvedic Constitution.
VATA: most Vata dysfunction is due to excess dryness, coldness, and anxiety within the body.
Increase: dense, warm, moist, and oily foods. Feature Brassicaceae vegetables (Broccoli, Cauliflower, Collard greens, Brussel sprouts, Cabbage), and protein.
Increase: warming spices, such as cinnamon, clove, allspice, ginger, ground mustard, paprika, etc.
PITTA: Pitta Dosha experiences aggravation with the onset of excess heat/inflammation, oiliness, and dryness.
Increase: cool, light, and mildly oiled foods. Feature dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, eggs, sweet potatoes, and oats.
Increase: cooling spices: cardamom, dill, cilantro, mint, coriander, fennel, and lime.
KAPHA: Kapha Dosha is moist and unctuous in nature, therefore when there is excess moisture and mucous within the body, kapha is aggravated.
Increase: dry, warm, light, and spicy foods. Feature dark leafy greens, soup, citrus, Alliaceae Family (garlic, chives, onion, leeks), Cucurbitaceae Family (Cucumber, Zucchini, Honeydew, Watermelon, Cantaloupe).
Increase: heating spices like cayenne, mustard, ginger, paprika, chili powder, and black pepper.
#2. CUT OUT FOOD SENSITIVITIES: This is where I get the most push-back. However, breaking these habits and establishing a new routine is absolutely necessary in relieving autoimmune severity.
Think of it like this, our digestive organs are indeed muscles. They require tonification just like any other muscle in the body to stay strong & efficient. If you are experiencing food sensitivities, there is a chance it could be attributed to leaky gut. Your mission is to strengthen your digestive tissue before you re-integrate some of your sensitivities back into your diet.
#3. CONSIDER INTERMITTENT FASTING / TIME RESTRICTED EATING: There is a lot of research supporting the benefits of intermittent fasting on autoimmune conditions.
This can be done in a couple of different ways. In order for humans to receive the regeneration of white blood cells and re-set of enzymatic profile in the gut, fasting needs to happen for at least 48 hours. My absolute favorite resource on this topic is Dr. Rhonda Patrick.
#4. ESTABLISH NEW ROUTINES: This includes starting each morning with 16oz of water, 30-min of daily exercise, daily meditation and pranayama, and self-care (restore the nervous system)
Establish your new normal? Want to feel like the most exceptional version of yourself? THIS IS POSSIBLE but it won’t happen without commitment. It takes 7 days to start a new habit and 21 days to break an old one. I one month, you’ll wish you had started today.
Do you strive in a group setting? Join my Group Ayurveda Lifestyle Program: 4 months, 2 workshops, 3 One-on-one visits, 5 Group sessions.
#5. HERBAL SUPPORT: Feature herbal integration to support the healing processes of the body.
I strongly support the use of adaptogenic herbs when addressing autoimmunity.
Adaptogens are a powerful classification of herbs, identified by the following set of characteristics:
Non-toxic: safe for minors, during pregnancy, elderly, non-threatening in macro doses. and no contraindication with known medications.
Long-term acting tonic: herb can be taken for extended periods of time without diminishing use and/or stressful to any specific organ system.
Endocrine support: proven research has shown supportive functioning for one or more of the following glands/organs: brain, thyroid, pituitary gland, adrenals, pancreas, thymus, testicles, and ovaries.
Relieves acute symptoms: proper herbal dosage will sub-set present symptoms.
Inherently balancing/harmonizing (not heating/cooling) to all 11 systems of the body: supports #2 from above. Herb does not tax any specific system of the body and can be taken long-term for support.
One of the most notable adaptogenic influences is that of endocrine support (i.e. hormonal + stress support). In our current society, most of us operate in a consistent state of mild-stress. Consequently, stress triggers our sympathetic nervous system (aka, our Fight or Flight response), leading to high-level secretions of Cortisol. Cortisol is extremely important, allowing our adrenaline and energy to spike in times of emergency. However, a constant state of cortisol release ultimately leads to chronic inflammation, which further contributes to a whole host of modern day health ailments.
Read my article for my 5 Favorite Adaptogenic Herbs & how to use them.
*This information is for educational purposes only. Please consult a healthcare practitioner before administering use, especially if pregnant, nursing, on medication. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not to be used for diagnoses, treatment, or prevention of disease.