Q and A: Healing Sarcoidosis and Managing Migraines

Our herbal experts answer your questions on sarcoidosis and migraines

| July/August 2004

  • Licorice is an anti-inflammatory herb that may help people who suffer from sarcoidosis.
  • Licorice is an anti-inflammatory herb that may help people who suffer from sarcoidosis.
  • Licorice is an anti-inflammatory herb that may help people who suffer from sarcoidosis.

Suffering from Sarcoidosis

Q: My husband has sarcoidosis. He has had it for several years. The drug of choice is Prednisone. He is pre-diabetic and, of course, his blood sugar has gone up with this drug. We would like to try a holistic plan but have not had any luck finding much information. Can you help us?
                                                                                            - C.C.
                                                                                            Kansas City, Missouri

A: Stansbury responds: This is a tough one. Although the underlying cause remains elusive, sarcoidosis typically involves granuloma (a lesion caused by chronic inflammation) formation throughout the body. The granulomas might disappear or become fibrotic, leading to extensive scarring of vital organs that can reduce respiratory capacity, impair liver function and cause other problems. Ideally, practitioners aim to treat the cause, not the symptoms, but since we don’t know what causes the condition, we are forced to treat the symptoms and guess about the underlying cause.

In cases such as this, it is best for an experienced clinician to get a very detailed health history that might provide clues to make a more educated guess. Is there a history of allergies or immune difficulties? Is your husband experiencing joint pain and fevers? Are there problems with kidney function, elevated calcium or uric acid, or a tendency toward kidney stones? I would aim to fine-tune any treatment to be as specific as possible. Following are some general ideas that might be a place to start.

Consider herbs thought to reduce scarring and promote wound healing. There is some research on gotu kola (Centella asiatica) for reducing fibrosis, helping to reduce scarring and organ damage. As this plant is very nutritious and nontoxic, it can be used safely long term.

Because so many people with sarcoidosis experience joint pain, fever and lymph node enlargement — suggesting immune-driven inflammatory responses — immune modulators might be helpful. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a liver protectant and an anti-inflammatory. Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is anti-inflammatory, immune-modulating and helps the adrenal glands recover from long-term use of steroids (such as Prednisone).

Because your husband has elevated blood sugar, it would be wise for him to avoid grains and favor a diet consisting of mostly fresh fruits and vegetables and high-quality proteins, such as legumes and raw nuts and seeds. Furthermore, as research on many autoimmune diseases is revealing, some cases of misdirected inflammatory and immune responses may be triggered as the body reacts to toxins, such as heavy metals in the tissues. Your husband should eat a clean, pesticide- and chemical-free organic diet.

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