Complementary medicine, also referred to as “alternative” medicine or therapy, offers expanded treatment options for people with Sjögren’s. Complementary therapies are best classified according to their approach (see list below). Functional medicine is a broad group of treatment modalities focusing on achieving optimal health with therapies such as dietary intervention, nutritional supplementation (e.g. vitamins, minerals, amino acids, botanicals), detoxification, and intravenous therapies to influence physiological functions of the body. Mind-body medicine includes therapies of meditation, guided imagery, and counseling to address the association between mental state and physical health. Energetic-based therapies include traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and homeopathy. Finally, body movement includes therapies such as exercise, physical therapy, yoga, Tai Chi, and other movement arts.
When choosing to use complementary medicine, many patient feel they are faced with an “either/or” choice of working with their conventional medical doctor or choosing an alternative practitioner. This is unfortunate since complementary medicine should not limit the care available but rather provide additional options for the patient. Ideally, patients should be actively involved in their care and seek out conventional and alternative practitioners open to working with each other.
Types of Complementary Therapies
- Ortho-molecular supplementation
- Environmental medicine
- Guided imaging
- Craniosacral therapy
- Pulse electric stimulation
- Therapeutic touch
- Acupuncture/traditional Chinese medicine
- Tai Chi
- Postural re-education
- Movement/exercise therapy-focused and general
Complementary and alternative medicine therapies provide additional options for Sjögren’s patient that can be added to conventional treatments. Anti-inflammatory diets and dietary supplementation with vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, other nutrients, probiotics, and botanicals all help enhance the body’s own natural healing process. Regular exercise to improve conditioning and strength not only alleviates fatigue but also provides numerous other health benefits.
The reader should be cautioned that none of the modalities/supplements listed above have been subject to a controlled trial in Sjögren’s patients. They are generally harmless, and many patients report subjective improvement with them. However, until evidence-based protocols document statistically significant improvement in a clinical study, Sjögren’s patients should employ these approaches at their discretion in consultation with their physician.
*Excerpt from “The Sjögren’s Book”, Wallace DJ. 2012 pp.260-261