In this section , I will be adding specific information on herbs and herbal treatments used in autoimmune diseases. Check back frequently to see what’s new!
Cayenne – Also known as chile pepper, cayenne is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It contains capsaicin, a compound that is the active ingredient in many pain relief gels, creams & ointments that are sold today for muscle aches & pains. It is also used in treating nerve pain in diabetes and for arthritis. Studies have shown it to be an anticarcinogen. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study showing that diabetics need less insulin after a meal that contains liberal amounts of chile pepper. According to research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology topical applications are effective in the treatment of pruritic psoriasis. But do be cautious – Drink plenty of water when taking cayenne capsules and wash your hands very thoroughly when handling the peppers.
Cherries – Again, anthocyanins play a role here in preventing uric acid from building up and forming crystals possibly leading to gout, which is actually a form of rheumatoid arthritis. In 2012, Arthritis and Rheumatism published a report showing patient’s risks for gout decreased by 35% after consuming tart cherries for only 2 (TWO!) days High uric acid levels (hyperuricema) have been linked to diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Cherries help with muscle soreness after a workout. Studies at the University of Michigan Health System found the cardiological benefit of tart cherries to be equal to some cardiac medications. Great results in reducing risk factors for diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure were also reported. Tart cherry juice can also help with insomnia.
Coltsfoot – Coltsfoot is demulcent and an expectorant and is known as one of the best herbs for the respiratory system. It is great for colds, asthma and bronchitis. While it helps suppress coughs, it soothes the throat and helps expel mucous. Coltsfoot, along with horehound and marshmallow, is part of a very popular cough remedy.
Elecampane – This anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-tussive, expectorant, relaxing, sedative and warming herb soothes bronchial tube linings and cleanses the lungs. Elecampane has been used since ancient times and was even once listed in the U.S. Pharmacopeia. It has been used in lozenges and cough drops. Because it is such an excellent expectorant, it is very useful for asthma, bronchitis, COPD, coughs and is also helpful for indigestion, heartburn and conditions of low stomach acidity. At one time, elecampane was used to treat TB.
Grindelia – This Native American plant has expectorant, sedative, anti-spasmodic and hypotensive properties. It has been used for cystitis and bladder infections but its main use is for bronchial congestion, asthma and whooping cough. Its anti-spasmodic qualities make it good for helping relieve heart palpitations and it can lower blood pressure as it relaxes the heart muscles. Native Americans used it for many skin conditions; especially for dermatitis such as poison ivy. Grindelia was introduced into the Pharmacopocia of the United States in 1882.
Horehound – A very useful herb; horehound is an expectorant, anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, diuretic and diaphoretic. It is great for all digestive problems such as indigestion, gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite and for problems with the liver and gall bladder. It is an excellent herb for anything related to the lungs like bronchitis, asthma, whooping cough and TB. It is often made into horehound candy and into cough syrups and lozenges. An infusion of horehound can be used to dress wounds. Its anti-spasmodic qualities make it good for helping to normalize cardiac arrythmia and it helps to induce sweating in the case of fever.
Licorice – Ever had licorice candy? Licorice’s history goes back as far as Ancient Egypt. King Tut had licorice buried in his tomb with him, as did all Kings of that time. Licorice is demulcent, pectoral, emollient and an expectorant. It’s in almost all popular cough medicines due to its soothing emollient properties as well as being expectorant.