12 Supportive Herbs For Autoimmune Conditions

Globally,  autoimmune diseases are one of the largest growing disease categories; behind cancer and heart disease. Autoimmune conditions arise when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues, which can lead to chronic inflammation and various health complications. 

Some common autoimmune conditions are:
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Graves disease
  • Lyme disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia 
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Psoriasis
  • Lupus
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis 

What is autoimmunity?

Autoimmunity occurs when the immune system, which normally protects the body from infections and foreign invaders, mistakenly targets its own cells, tissues, or organs. This abnormal immune response can lead to inflammation, tissue damage, and chronic health issues.

The prevalence of autoimmune conditions is higher in women than men. This is potentially due to hormonal fluctuations, genes and environmental factors. Oestrogen and its metabolites have been shown to increase the risk of certain conditions, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Studies have shown that with the occurrence of both puberty and menopause (where there is a drastic change in hormones), the likelihood of autoimmune conditions can increase. 

Common signs and symptoms associated with autoimmune conditions

  • Inflammation
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Intermittent low grade fever
  • Extreme sensitivity to cold
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Swelling in joints
  • Neuralgia 
  • Skin issues
  • Weight changes
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Irritability, anxiety and low mood
  • Hormonal issues
  • Vertigo
  • Chronic pain

Supportive herbs for autoimmune conditions

Managing symptoms often requires long-term treatment with medications, lifestyle changes, and sometimes surgery. All of which can carry significant side effects or risks. There is no definitive cure for autoimmune conditions and it can have a profound effect on people’s lives. 

Given the challenges and complexities of autoimmune diseases, many people are turning to other approaches to help support their health and well-being. Plants are one component of this approach. 

Certain plants are believed to have anti-inflammatory, immune-modulating, or adaptogenic properties, making them potentially beneficial in managing autoimmune symptoms and promoting balance within the body.

However, it's crucial to consult with healthcare professionals or herbalists when considering herbal therapies, as they can interact with medications or be inappropriate for some individuals or conditions. Also of note is that some well-known immune-supporting plants can be inappropriate for those with autoimmunity, so it is wise to check before self-selecting.

1. Turmeric

Turmeric, is well known for its anti-inflammatory actions which makes it one of our favourite herbs for autoimmune conditions. Turmeric contains a potent anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin. Curcumin has been studied for its ability to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, making it a promising herb for autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. 

Turmeric has also been found to regulate inflammatory cytokines, reducing inflammation and pain. Turmeric in its raw form is not very bioavailable, so it is important to find a good form of turmeric or one that is paired with pepper to help with absorption and bioavailability (like our Anti-Flam).


2. Ginger

Ginger has been used for centuries to treat various ailments such as stomach upsets, circulation issues as well as motion sickness. Ginger contains the active constituent gingerol, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Studies suggest ginger may help reduce pain and stiffness in autoimmune conditions like osteoarthritis as well as support digestive issues that can occur. 


3. Boswellia

Boswellia, also known as Indian frankincense, is a resin from the Boswellia serrata tree. It has been used traditionally to help with arthritis, asthma as well as inflammatory bowel disease. It contains boswellic acids that have been found to inhibit inflammation. The boswellic acids can help prevent the formation of molecules called leukotrienes that can cause inflammation.


4. Ashwagahanda

Ashwagandha is a well-known plant known for its stress-reducing properties. It can also modulate the immune system and has anti-inflammatory effects (making it an adaptogen). It’s ability to help in a variety of different ways makes it a great plant to help with managing autoimmune-related stress and inflammation.

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5. Green tea

Green tea is a great supportive herb for autoimmune conditions as it contains catechins, notably epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), with strong anti-inflammatory properties. Studies suggest green tea may help reduce inflammation and improve immune function, potentially benefiting autoimmune diseases. Green tea is also high in antioxidants, which can be helpful in reducing free radical damage that can occur with inflammation and stress. 



6. Licorice

Licorice root is another herb for support autoimmune conditions. It contains an active constituent called glycyrrhizin, which works as an anti-inflammatory and can also help with modulating the immune response. It is also recommended to help support nervous systems that are overworked or stressed. Licorice is often used to help manage symptoms of autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. 


7.  Reishi mushroom

Reishi mushroom has become a popular adaptogen and immune-modulator. It has been found to reduce inflammation and support a healthy immune system, making it a supportive herb for autoimmune conditions. You can have reishi as a tea or a powder that you can add to coffee, smoothies or baking. 


8. Cat's claw

Cat's claw is known for its anti-inflammatory and immune-regulating effects. Studies suggest it can be beneficial in helping to manage symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases. Cat’s claw has shown it’s ability to protect cells against oxidative stress and reduce inflammation in many in vitro studies. 

 9. St John's wort

As some autoimmune conditions start with a viral infection, St John’s wort has been shown to be useful for those that started as an enveloped virus - such as herpes, Epstein Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, as well as hepatitis B and C. The anti-viral activity, as well as the hyperforin content in St John’s wort helps to block the inflammatory cytokines as well as providing support for the nervous system with its antidepressant and nervine activities.


10. Burdock root

Burdock root contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. It has been traditionally used to purify the blood and reduce inflammation, offering potential benefits for autoimmune conditions. Burdock can help by supporting liver detoxification and more efficient digestion. 


11. Milk thistle

Milk thistle contains silymarin, which has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties making it one of the herbs for autoimmune conditions we suggest. It is often used to support liver health and can help with digestive issues such as constipation and reflux. 

milk thistle

12. Globe artichoke

Cynarin, one of the compounds in globe artichoke, has been shown to be supportive for those with autoimmune conditions. Globe artichoke is traditionally used to support the liver and digestive system, but its bioactive phenolic acids can also help regulate the immune response as well as provide anti-inflammatory activity. 



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