ms: supplement the immune system?

22Dec13

Yea or nay?

There are all sorts of supplements that you can buy to aid your immune system–echincacea was one of the first herbal supplements. Elderberry extract is now a commonly-used supplement to “support” or “boost” the immune system. (With the lack of FDA regulation for dietary supplements, combined with patent issues for natural products, the effects of many of these products aren’t as well understood as actual drugs.)

Those of us with autoimmune disease, though, have overactive immune systems, in a way. They attack more than they should. They attack things in our own body that they’re not supposed to attack.

Which raises the question: should I/we be taking an immune-supporting supplement that “boosts” the effect of my immune system? Most folks in the autoimmune community say no… and this comes from both the western medical community and the less-traditional medical communities.

It’s a tricky balance, though, because many of us end up on medications (such as Rebif) that knock out our immune systems nonspecifically, and the immune cells that prevent us from getting a cold or flu also get affected by the drug that slows the progression of our autoimmune disease. Ack! All because of the lack of specificity of our MS (or other autoimmune) drug, and the lack of specificity of the “immune supporting” supplement.

Which further supports the need for a cure… to get ourselves out of this conundrum.

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