I have a client with Sjogens Disease, which I am told is a condition that reduces the immune system. It also dries out the joints. Have you heard of it, and if so, what do you suggest I should do or more importantly avoid? I do try to increase her warm-up length in an attempt to release more sinovial fluid. Also, she recently had a bursa on her hip and has been advised to avoid cycling (stationary bikes, etc..).
Sjogren's syndrome classically features a combination of dry eyes, dry mouth and another disease of the connective tissues, most commonly rheumatoid arthritis. It is an autoimmune disease, characterized by the abnormal production of extra antibodies in the blood that are directed against various tissues of the body. This particular autoimmune illness is caused by inflammation in the glands of the body. Inflammation of the glands that produce tears (lacrimal glands) leads to decreased water production for tears and eye dryness. Inflammation of the glands that produce the saliva in the mouth (salivary glands, including the parotid glands) leads to mouth dryness.
Sjogren's syndrome that involves the gland inflammation (resulting in dryness of the eyes and mouth, etc.), but not associated with a connective tissue disease, is referred to as primary Sjogren's syndrome. Secondary Sjogren's syndrome involves not only gland inflammation, but it is associated with a connective tissue disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus or scleroderma.
Wow, so what do you do with a big one like this? Well, it is pretty simple. You are not here to cure but to assist with the healing process. You are not here to tell your clients what to do but to teach them and educate them on “how to do.” Keep that in mind when beginning this wonderful journey with - not for - your client.
My first recommendation would be to start simple and then work to complex, kind of like peeling an onion away one layer at a time. If you go for the center right from the get go, you can’t handle it and you will tear up. Educate your client that this will be a lifestyle change and a process over the next year in order to get her closer to homeostasis. Once you have established this base, then you can begin with some basic nutrition and lifestyle principles.
When someone has an autoimmune disease, it is almost as if “self is fighting self.” This has been going on for some time now, but the person has been so numb to themselves and reality that they just did not recognize the signs. That’s why this is a year-long process. Anytime there is inflammation, there is excess heat in the body that can cause inhibition of organ function and muscular function (visceral-visceral, visceral-somatic, somatic-visceral, somatic-somatic). This can cause many other problems within the body and can be dealt with down the line with some more advanced tools (CHEK NLC 3, Naturopath, Healers, Acupuncturist, etc). When you have inflammation in the body, there is a sympathetic (stress) response that occurs. Certain stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) are released, and other hormones are inhibited. We are meant to handle stress but not 24 hours a day from 20 different directions. When this becomes too much for the body to handle, dysfunctions and diseases start to occur. In the long run, we have an autoimmune response secondary to the overload secondary to the body seeing everything as its enemy.
These hormones are catabolic, or they break down tissue. With a client like this, the goal is to get her more into a Parasympathetic (relaxed) state internally and externally in order to assist with the five alarm fire that is going off inside. Getting her more into a Parasympathetic state will assist with repair and regeneration. There are many ways to do this and many tools you can use. I will give you some recommendations you can try, but at the same time, if you are in doubt, refer out!
The goal here is stress reduction, and stress can come from many different directions. If you read some of my other Research Corner Q&As, you can learn more about stress.
- The first thing you would want to do is assess her. At this time, exercise is not and will not be the answer. So doing a lengthy and comprehensive assessment at this time in order to develop a high performance conditioning program will just make things worse. You want to assess her nutrition and lifestyle principles such as:
- water intake
- food diary (is she eating organic, for her MT, staying away from processed foods, etc)
- what is her digestion like?
- what organs are working overtime and which ones are deficient?
- what are her signs and symptoms, when does she feel the best/worst?
- is she on any meds?
- what are her daily stressors of the past, present and future?
- If you don’t have the forms or ability to do this, find a CHEK NLC Practitioner in your area and refer your client to him/her.
- Make sure she is eating enough fat and taking some form of Omega-3 supplement. These can do many things for the nervous system and endocrine system and help produce hormones that are essential for immune system development/support.
- Perform a toxic home and office checklist to find out where other stressors are coming from (hygiene products, cleaning products, computer, soap, etc).
- Is she on the pill? This can have a profound effect on the body’s hormones, and it can do much more to someone with an autoimmune disease. I would educate yourself on that topic and then educate her so she can come to her own conclusions.
- Have her purchase the book How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy by Paul Chek to learn more on the above. As well, visit www.mercola.com to use his search engine to learn more about anything and everything.
There is not one specific silver bullet approach when working with someone with this type of syndrome. Assess your client, find the most important areas that need to be established in her life and prioritize them. The main goal is to reduce her sympathetic overload. If done correctly, all the above will do just that.
Another way you can educate her is by using aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine. I use visceral massage, cupping and Qi Gong with clients that are willing in order to assist with the healing process. This syndrome is one that effects most of the fluids in the body (tears, glands, blood, etc), which are the carriers for Qi or “life force.” So if you have fluid or blood issues, Qi will have a hard time reaching organ systems within the body, so they become deficient in life force.
The fluids in the body are regulated by the Kidney/Bladder complex. Not to get to technical here, but if you follow the TCM Elemental System of Creation, you can work on the prior organ complex to speed up a deficient one. So with this syndrome, the Kidney/Bladder complex is deficient. You would work on the Lung/Large Intestine complex to provide more energy to the Kidney/Bladder complex, since it is the element that precedes it (refer to Chinese Traditional Herbal Medicine Vol 1 for more info and a simple explanation of the elements/organs). Somewhat of a jumpstart to them. This can be done with nutrition, lifestyle principles, herbs, as well as Qi Gong. There are certain movements, sounds, colors, etc. that go along with the Lung/Large Intestine complex. Below are a couple of pics to demonstrate the movements. I would also check out www.pacifichealingarts.com and purchase some of the Qi Gong DVDs by Lee Holden. Exercise takes up energy and causes sympathetic stress, where Qi Gong cultivates energy, Qi or life force, which your client lacks. Good luck and feel free to email with any other questions.