Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that causes a thickening, and hardening, of skin and connective tissues. The disorder is the result of the body producing an overabundance of collagen.
There are two basic types of scleroderma, localized and systemic:
- Localized scleroderma most typically affects the skin of the hands, feet, and face, causing dry patches which become progressively thicker and harder.
- Systemic scleroderma is a more serious condition, and typically affects the blood vessels, heart, lungs and gastrointestinal tract.
Left unchecked, localized scleroderma can lead to pain, disfigurement and a loss of dexterity. Systemic scleroderma, untreated, can often have life threatening consequences.
What Causes Scleroderma?
Scleroderma can be difficult to diagnose, and it is often mistaken for other connective tissue disorders. Particularly in the early stages, scleroderma can be mistaken for rheumatoid arthritis, or for the early onset of lupus. Like many autoimmune disorders, the exact cause of scleroderma remains unclear. Doctors have long believed that there is a genetic component to the occurrence of scleroderma in otherwise healthy individuals. More recently, studies have pointed to environmental factors that seem to be linked to the disease. Certain environmental hazards, such as silica dust, plastics and some pharmaceutical chemicals have been linked to the rising number of patients with scleroderma.
Conventional Treatments for Scleroderma
While there is no accepted cure for scleroderma, conventional medicine treats the symptoms with a wide range of corticosteroids, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and immunosuppressent drugs. In extreme cases, surgery will be used to remove infected fingers or toes, or to repair affected organs. Some patients with systemic scleroderma have undergone kidney, heart or lung transplants in an effort to halt the advance of the disease. These treatments are not only highly invasive; they further compromise the total health of the patient’s body.
Individuals suffering with localized, or systemic, scleroderma are beginning to look for alternative treatments for their condition. Fortunately, there are therapies based wholly on natural ingredients and holistic methods that offer scleroderma patients new hope.
Alternative Therapies for Scleroderma
Scleroderma is an autoimmune disorder, and the best therapy for sufferers begins with the natural support of the body itself. Diet, lifestyle and nutrition play a large part in supplying the body with the materials it needs to achieve, and maintain, total health. Switching to a vegan diet, rich in organic fruits and vegetables, has proven to be effective in relieving the symptoms of scleroderma, and in slowing the advance of the disease. Meat, dairy, and other animal byproducts, are full of hormones, chemicals and antibiotics which force an otherwise healthy system out of balance. By eliminating exposure to these toxins, patients can restore their body’s ability to absorb and process the life giving nutrients needed to maintain its overall health. The resulting nutritional balance strengthens the body’s immune system, which can lead to a reduction in the occurrence of scleroderma symptoms.
Nutritional supplements also play a vital role in the natural treatment of scleroderma. Herbs such as Cleavers and Red Clover help to cleanse toxins from the lymphatic system and to purify the blood, allowing much needed nutrients to reach the skin and tissues. Mineral supplements can also be taken to support the health of both the skin and connective tissues of the body. These minerals help to hydrate the epidermis, and help to oxygenate the cells and tissues of the body so that they can repair themselves naturally.
Hope for Scleroderma Sufferers
Only those suffering with scleroderma truly know the pain, anxiety, and depression that can accompany the disease. Many patients feel helpless, as their bodies seem to turn against them. Anxiety and depression only exacerbate the symptoms, as vital energy is directed away from the self-healing process. Meditation on the word of God and prayer helps patients to redirect that energy, putting it to work returning their bodies to a harmonious balance. Many scleroderma patients find that a spiritual contemplation and meditation on the word of God, not only helps them deal more effectively with the symptoms of their disorder, but also allows their bodies to direct its energies to the attainment of total health.