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Scleroderma and Alternative Therapies

Author: Shelley Ensz. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer
Natural Improvements
Reduce Stress
Diet and Systemic Scleroderma
Food Guide for Autoimmune Disease
Food Safety
Supplement Guide for Scleroderma
Know Your Symptoms
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Alternative Medicine Links

Scleroderma: Natural Improvements

There are many healthy, natural things you can do for systemic scleroderma.
1. The single most natural and healthy thing you can do is to avoid attacks of Raynaud's as much as possible.
Action Item Learn many ways to prevent Raynaud's and to restore circulation. Then respond to every attack of Raynaud's as if it were a medical emergency, because even one prolonged attack can lead to gangrene, and possibly even amputation.
2. The second most natural and healthy thing you can do, which will give you the greatest odds of living longer with systemic scleroderma, is to monitor your blood pressure at home every day or two .
One of the life-threatening yet treatable complications of systemic scleroderma (including CREST) is sudden kidney failure. If your blood pressure is elevated over a certain point (to be determined by your doctor)you should call your doctor immediately. You should also ask your doctor to take your blood pressure on every office visit.
Action Item Print this page, and make a doctor's appointment to discuss blood pressure monitoring. Then follow through by making blood pressure monitoring a part of your daily routine. Odds are, your kidneys may never fail—but if they do, this simple measure may save your life and get you on the road to recovery quickly.

3. Learn the difference between good science and bad advice on our Internet Health Fraud page. Don't be a guinea pig for an unproven remedy that may jeopardize your health and finances. If you want to "experiment", ask your doctor about enrolling in scleroderma clinical trials.

More Than a Pill: Complementary Medicine Can Help with Chronic Pain. University of Missouri's study says various methods can complement, not compete with conventional medicine. University of Missouri-Columbia. 10/08/07. (Also see: Pain)

Reduce Stress

Stress can play havoc with your immune system, as well as trigger and worsen attacks of Raynaud's. Alternative therapies that help you deal more effectively with stress, such as biofeedback and yoga, may improve your symptoms.
Strive for moderation in everything—just enough but not too much exercise, good sleep every night with sufficient rest breaks during the day, and well-balanced, regular meals.
Stress Management. How to Reduce, prevent, and Cope with Stress. Managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. HelpGuide.org.
Stress Relievers. 25 Ways to Reduce Stress. About.com.

Diet and Systemic Scleroderma

Diet and Systemic Scleroderma. Systemic scleroderma patients should always consult their doctor(s), especially their rheumatologist, before using any vitamin or herbal remedies or making any significant changes in their diet. ISN.
Overview of Diet and Systemic Scleroderma
Malnutrition in Systemic Scleroderma
Food Guide for Systemic Scleroderma
Supplement Guide for Systemic Scleroderma
Diet and Scleroderma
Anti-inflammatory Diet
Gluten-free Diet
Mediterranean Diet

Supplement Guide for Scleroderma

Supplement Guide for Scleroderma. Many herbs and over-the-counter medications can interact with prescription medications, and many of them make scleroderma symptoms worse. Even simple over-the-counter cold remedies often have ingredients that can trigger Raynaud's or heartburn in systemic scleroderma patients. ISN.
Overview of Scleroderma and Supplements
Herbal Supplements
Arachidonic and DHA Acids
Calcium Supplements
Cod Liver Oil
Curcumin (Turmeric)
Fish Oil (Omega-3)
Lipoic Acid
Probiotics (Acidophilus, Microbes, Yogurt)
Vitamins and Minerals

Know Your Symptoms

Look up each of your symptoms on the main Scleroderma Symptoms page to find many other ideas for natural and conventional treatments.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Herb May Offer Hope for Autoimmune Diseases. A compound derived from hydrangea root, an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine, halted the progression of an autoimmune disorder in laboratory mice and human cells, new research shows. ABC News. 06/05/09.
Chinese Treatments for Scleroderma Treatments include preparations of dried earthworms, beetles, scorpions and centipedes. TCM Hospital for Chronic and Difficult Diseases - Hunan Province, China.
Also see: ISN: Simplified Chinese Version by Jie Jackson
Hypnosis in the treatment of anxiety- and stress-related disorders.Self-hypnosis training represents a rapid, cost-effective, nonaddictive and safe alternative to medication for the treatment of anxiety-related conditions. Hammond DC. (PubMed) Expert Rev Neurother, 2010 Feb;10(2):263-73.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) for chronic pain conditions: variation in treatment outcomes and role of home meditation practice. MBSR treatment effects on pain, health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and psychological well-being vary as a function of chronic pain condition and compliance with home meditation practice. Rosenzweig S. (PubMed) J Psychosom Res, 2010 Jan;68(1):29-36. (Also see: Managing Pain)
Alternative medicine a big business in U.S.: report. Complementary and alternative medicine such as acupuncture, herbal supplements and meditation are big business in the USA, totaling nearly $34 billion in out-of-pocket spending, according to a government report released on Thursday. With so many Americans using and spending money on (complementary and alternative) therapies, it is extremely important to know whether the products and practices they use are safe and effective. Reuters. Jul 30, 2009.
Mindfulness meditation alleviates depressive symptoms in women with fibromyalgia: Results of a randomized clinical trial. Depressive symptoms improved significantly in treatment versus control participants over the 3 assessments. This meditation-based intervention alleviated depressive symptoms among patients with fibromyalgia. Wlley: Arthritis Care & Research Volume 57, Issue 1, Pages 77-85. (Also see: Fibromyalgia)
A Positive Approach to Scleroderma by Dr. Andrew Weil. This is a respected source for information on alternative therapies. Dr. Weil.
Acupunture Acupuncture is not without risks. There have been some reports of lung and bladder punctures, some broken needles, and some allergic reactions to needles containing substances other than surgical steel. Acupuncture may be harmful to the fetus in early pregnancy since it may stimulate the production of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and oxytocin, which affect labor. There is always the possibility of infection from unsterilized needles. And some patients will suffer simply because they avoided a known effective treatment of modern medicine. The Skeptics Dictionary.
Alternative therapies for musculoskeletal conditions. The use of complementary and alternative medicine is complex and nuanced. Patterns of use of complementary and alternative medicine differ among racially and ethnically different groups. PubMed, Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2008 Jun;22(3):499-522.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Scleroderma. Excellent information on herbs, vitamins, acupuncture, massage therapy, and biofeedback. Aetna InteliHealth.
Scleroderma Symptoms and Treatments Look up each of your scleroderma symptoms here to find other ideas for conventional and natural ways to deal with them. ISN.
Twenty-Five Ways to Spot Quacks and Vitamin Pushers How can food quacks and other vitamin pushers be recognized? Here are 25 signs that should arouse suspicion. QuackWatch.
Go to Medical Tests for Scleroderma

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