After months of dry mouth and dry eyes, unexplained chronic fatigue, swollen parotid glands, occasional arthralgia and random obnoxious headaches, I finally went through a series of blood tests that revealed I have Sjogren’s Syndrome.
Clueless and worried, I took to researching this autoimmune disease. I studied website after website, book after book and frequented many forums to gather information on personal experiences as well as the medical community’s limited knowledge of what was happening in my body.
I was determined to live right, stay off medication and lower my chances of cancer, so through my research, I started implementing very doable and convenient lifestyle changes in order to manage my symptoms and improve my overall quality of life. Here I share with you my personal experiences in making these changes and how they have made me almost completely symptom-free.
(Please note that the following information is solely based on my own experience and may not work for everyone. This article is not intended to replace professional medical advice. Please consult with your primary physician or rheumatologist before making any lifestyle changes.)
One of the simplest techniques is to start your day with a cup of warm water and fresh squeezed lemon juice. Warm lemon water hydrates the body to prevent adrenal fatigue as it stimulates the adrenal glands and flushes them of toxins. It also regulates our body’s water levels helping us stay hydrated. Because Sjogren’s can slow production in our glands, this can lead to gland blockages which are annoying and painful. Lemon’s ability to flush our glands not only aids in preventing this but can also cure some mild blockages.
Cod Liver Oil
After you finish your cup of lemon water, reach for a dose of cod liver oil. Taken through a simple pill form, adding this routine to your day can contribute to your glandular system’s balance due to its high levels of fat soluble vitamins. On top of being one of the best sources for these vitamins, cod liver oil is also believed to aid heavily in the prevention of tooth decay (a common problem among Sjogren’s sufferers). Since the glands can become dry and depleted, “your body can use the hormones in the [cod’s] glands to replenish your own glands.” (Ramiel Nagel, Cure Tooth Decay)
Much like cod liver oil, bone broth is filled with the fat soluble vitamins so desperately needed for our immunoregulatory processes. By drinking a cup a day, you reap the rewards of all this super food has to offer while also increasing your daily fluid intake. You can also add bone broth to many dishes you enjoy regularly (like casseroles or vegetable dishes) or shoot to have soup at least once or twice a week.
Flax seed is a great way to take care of your dry eyes. Easily purchasable at most grocery stores and essentially flavorless, flax seed can be added to almost any meal or incorporated in all of your baking. “The oil glands in your eyelids use essential fatty acids to manufacture the oil layer of the tear film.” (Thera Tears) By adding flax seed (which is naturally filled with these fatty acids) to your diet, it will replenish the moisture to your eyes and rid them of that sandpaper-like feeling. If you would like, you can also purchase flax seed oil pills which are much like cod liver oil to ensure the ease of using this technique.
Because of the increase in fat soluble vitamins (mostly vitamins A and D) from the cod liver oil, bone broth and flax seed, our body needs the appropriate amount of magnesium and manganese in order to efficiently process and utilize these vitamins. A strong source is molasses. By taking a spoonful of molasses by mouth daily, you easily increase the levels of manganese in your body ensuring you get the best from your new daily regimens. You can also go a step further and use molasses in place of sugar in many dishes and baked goods. For the coffee lovers out there, I recommend adding a little to your morning cup for a rich and bold taste loaded with nutrients.
As you can see, each of these steps can be easily incorporated into your day, requiring very little lifestyle changes while packing a huge punch in battling your Sjogren’s symptoms. While there is still no known cure for autoimmune diseases, with a few small steps we can definitely increase our overall health and aid in our body’s battle against this disease.