In this Part 2 in our series on autoimmune diseases, we talk about how no drug or treatment will cure an autoimmune disease, however, they are often used to try to control an overactive immune response and bring down inflammation. If one medicine does not work for you, do not get discouraged. There are other medications you can try and, the good news is that there are always advances being made in ways to treat an autoimmune disease.

Over the Counter Drugs

There several OTC remedies that people try.

Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen may help keep the inflammation and swelling down, but in extremely rare instances this type of drug can do damage to your liver. As with taking most drugs, make sure you have your bloodwork taken regularly.

Natural herbs may help to alleviate the symptoms of an autoimmune disease. Sarsaparilla and yarrow work to purify the blood which can help reduce inflammation in your muscles and/or joints. In addition to purifying your blood, milk thistle or silymarin will increase bile flow to the liver. Yucca reduces stiffness and pain in your muscles. Plant sterols and sterolin have been proven to help build up a weak immune system and also helps to calm down an overactive immune system. They help to reduce stress, pain, and inflammation.

Antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin E, green tea extract, beta-carotene, rose-hip powder, and grape seed extract work to reduce inflammation in your body. Zinc, fish oil and vitamin D also help to calm your immune response naturally.

Prescription Medicine

There are a number of different immunosuppressant medications you can take for an autoimmune disease. Because your immune is attacking your body’s own tissue, these drugs are used to weaken the immune system so as to suppress this attack.

These treatments come in pills, capsules, injections or infusions, and are prescribed based on your specific disorder. If one does not help, your doctor may switch you to another medicine. There is also the possibility that you will take a combination of medications. The goal is to find the best treatment plan that will suppress your immune system while having the least side effects.

These medications often have more serious side effects than taking something like ibuprofen. Since their job is to suppress your immune system, you will be more prone to getting infections, and if you come down with an illness it will take longer for you to get well.

Other Treatments

Treatments are available to relieve symptoms such as pain, swelling, fatigue, and rashes. Some people respond positively to massage therapy and will often go several times a week when they have a flare-up. One study showed that people with rheumatoid arthritis react well to acupuncture, saying that the needles trigger your body to produce hormones which can help to decrease pain and inflammation.

Be sure to talk to your doctor about all the non-prescription drugs, herbs, or other treatments you are taking. In order for your doctor to make the best decisions for your treatment, she must know everything.