Calvina suffered from a severe itch and black bumps which covered her body for seven years because a doctor wasn’t able to diagnose her correctly. In a desperate attempt for relief, she had become accustomed to using a razor to shed parts of her bumps. Eventually, she went on the show The Doctors, where they found out that Calvina was suffering from not one, but two autoimmune diseases.
This is her story of a long-awaited recovery.
After being bitten by a mysterious bug, Calvina noticed a strange reaction on her skin of bumps and wheals. Rather than subsiding, the skin lesions spread and became even more irritated and pronounced. She spent years looking for a treatment, but as she entered her seventh year of her embarrassing and painful condition, Calvina says that she was “feeling hopeless for the longest time, [she] tried everything and everybody.”
She decided to reach out to the show The Doctors to find some answers. This is what they found:
Dr. Batra explains that Calvina has two autoimmune diseases, hypothyroidism, and urticarial vasculitis. Hypothyroidism affects every cell in your body by depriving it of thyroid hormones, while urticarial vasculitis, causes “inflammation of the blood vessels.” Dr. Batra says that Calvina had been taking the wrong medication to treat this disease, making it impossible to get rid of her itch.
Dr. Batra explains one way of treating this condition:
As Dr. Travis Stork explains, addressing the underlying thyroid issue and urticarial vasculitis will help stop the bumps so they can subside.
Understanding Calvina’s Autoimmune Disease
Autoimmune diseases occur when the body attacks organs and tissues to destroy a new foreign invader.[i] As the body tries to get rid of the problem, it starts to damage other parts of the body like the thyroid.
This is the result of an underactive thyroid which means not enough hormones are being produced and this causes a chemical imbalance leading to a whole set of issues like dry and itchy skin, but also:[ii]
- Weight Gain
- Impaired Memory
Generally, this issue is resolved by a synthetic thyroid hormone “levothyroxine” but will need to be used for the rest of your life. This is simply a Band-Aid solution and it is important to work with a Naturopath or Functional Medicine Practitioner to understand the root cause of your hypothyroidism. There are many possible reasons for your problem such as a deficiency in nutrients, adrenal fatigue, food sensitivities, leaky gut and more.
If your practitioner deems it appropriate, there are some alternative medicines like glandular extracts or vegetarian thyroid supplements which could stimulate the production of hormones without synthetic drugs. Glandular extracts are the tissues of animals such as thyroid tissues which help stimulate the endocrine system.[iii] [iv]
Other popular remedies include: [v]
- B Vitamins
- Herbs like Bayberry, Black Cohosh, and Golden Seal
- Swedish bitters
Vasculitis is a disease in which the immune system attacks and damages the blood vessels, affecting any organ.[vi] Urticarial Vasculitis is a version of the disease where bumps and wheals form because of swelling blood vessels.
The most common symptoms are:[vii]
- Red-rimmed skin patches with white centers
It can also cause damage to the gut, lungs, and kidneys.
Often drugs are necessary to treat the more severe cases of this through corticosteroids, hydroxychloroquine, colchicine, dapsone, and chemotherapies and treatment can take several years.
However, there are some home remedies you can use to deal with the symptoms:[x]
- Cold compress to deal with itchy or dry skin
- Aloe Vera to reduce inflammation as well as producing a cooling effect
- Drinking fluids to flush out the allergen, if one is causing the issue
- Using oatmeal on your skin
- Proper diet to avoid aggravating the problem
Autoimmune Disease – What Can Be Done?
Calvina just had two of many autoimmune diseases that millions of people suffer from every day. Other more common autoimmune conditions include: [viii]
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Systemic Lupus
- Hashimoto’s disease: inflammation of the thyroid gland
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Addison’s disease: adrenal hormone insufficiency
- Sjögren’s syndrome, where the glands in the eyes and the mouth stop producing tears and causing them to dry out
- Psoriasis an irritating skin condition
- Graves’ disease, the result of an overactive thyroid gland
These are just a few of the ways bodies overreact and attack themselves, sometimes causing severe damage. There are a variety of natural approaches to dealing with and treating autoimmune conditions:[ix]
- Learn the underlying causes of autoimmune disease so you know what you’re dealing with
- Heal your gut and optimize your diet by eating whole foods, cutting out wheat, sugar and dairy, practicing intermittent fasting, if appropriate for you, trying a paleo autoimmune diet
- Get rid of infections, as viruses are thought to be connected to autoimmune diseases
- Exercise and take anti-inflammatory herbs such as turmeric, ginger and bromelain to manage symptoms
- Lessen your toxic burden by eating organic, avoiding plastics, filtering your water, and non-toxic body products
- Relieve stress, especially chronic stress which leads to adrenal fatigue and creates a ripple effect on other organ systems throughout the body.
Last but not least, the most important step is to work with a health care practitioner as soon as possible to understand the root cause and the appropriate course of action to manage and reverse the symptoms.
[i] Roddick J. Autoimmune Disease. Healthline. 2015. Available at: http://www.healthline.com/health/autoimmune-disorders?m=0#overview1. Accessed April 20, 2017.
[ii] Mayo Clinic Staff. Overview – Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothyroidism/home/ovc-20155291. Accessed April 20, 2017.
[iv] Balch P. Prescription For Nutritional Healing. 1st ed. London: Penguin; 2011.
[vi] Autoimmune Diseases. WebMD. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/autoimmune-diseases. Accessed April 20, 2017.
[vii] Matteson E. Vasculitis Foundation » Urticarial Vasculitis. Vasculitisfoundationorg. 2012. Available at: http://www.vasculitisfoundation.org/education/forms/urticarial-vasculitis/. Accessed April 20, 2017.
[viii] Roddick J. Autoimmune Disease. Healthline. 2015. Available at: http://www.healthline.com/health/autoimmune-disorders?m=0#overview1. Accessed April 20, 2017.
[ix] Myers A. 5 Things You Can Do to Help Reverse Your Autoimmune Disease That Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You. The Huffington Post. 2017. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-myers-md-/5-things-you-can-do-to-re_b_9515902.html. Accessed April 20, 2017.
[x] Home Remedies for Urticaria, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Diet. Home-remedies-for-youcom. Available at: http://www.home-remedies-for-you.com/remedy/Urticaria.html. Accessed April 21, 2017.
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