This amazing post was written by Jenn Ryan, a freelance writer, and editor who’s passionate about natural health, fitness, gluten-free, and animals. You can read more of her work at thegreenwritingdesk.com.
Nearly everyone has heard of prednisone, a manmade form of your body’s natural corticosteroids.
Corticosteroids work by helping the body to reduce inflammation, but in the version of prednisone, they actually suppress your body’s immune system in order to stop inflammation (1). What this means is that prednisone stops your immune system from responding to whatever it is that’s aggravating your system. When there’s no response from the immune system, there’s no inflammation.
Prednisone is widely used for many conditions worldwide. It’s used for autoimmune disorders and even eczema and muscle sprains. This is a pretty nasty drug with some damaging side effects (2).
Let’s take a closer look at prednisone as well as how it affects the body.
How Prednisone Affects Your Body
Prednisone affects your whole body. If you’ve been using this drug for years, you could run the risk of developing the following long-term side effects: (3)
- Infections that your suppressed immune system can’t fight off
- Cataracts or other eye damage
- High blood sugar
- Weak bones or increased susceptibility to fractures
- Inhibited hormone production by your adrenal glands
Why would you ever hurt your body in such a way when there are natural—and more effective—alternatives to doing so?
Confessions of a Former Prednisone Taker
I speak from experience. I was on and off of prednisone for almost five years after I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called dermatomyositis.
The side effects were terrible. Prednisone raises your blood sugar levels, which in turns makes you have to pee all the time. It took years to retrain my bladder to stop signaling to my brain that I had to pee every five minutes. I never had acne prior to my illness—but prednisone made my face break out so badly I still have acne scars.
Prednisone makes you emotional and hyper, so between crying in public and not being able to sleep at night, I was a mess. Prednisone makes your face turn red and round, earning me the nickname “moon baby” from my brother.
One of prednisone’s infamous side effects is that it makes you gain weight because you’re starving all the time. I was completely ravenous 24/7—it was hunger I’d never known. I gained almost 50 pounds. As a petite woman, this was a lot of weight.
All this while trying to deal with the emotional and other physical effects of my autoimmune disorder. It was a truly awful medication that I hope to never have to take again.
So how did I get off that crazy drug?
Top 6 Ways to Reduce Inflammation without Prednisone
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You ready to kick that nasty pill? Here are six things you can do to ensure an inflammation-free body, without drugs.
Stop Eating Grains
That autoimmune disorder that had me on chemo and prednisone for almost five years – it was just a gluten intolerance. A herbalist suggested that I go gluten-free because gluten may have been causing my dermatomyositis symptoms. Within a week, all of my symptoms were gone. Five years later, I’m still drug-free and totally fine.
Grains can cause inflammation in the body, especially gluten. (4) And you don’t have to have celiac disease to experience this inflammation—anyone can be sensitive to gluten. Try removing gluten to see how your body responds. And remember—the gluten-free diet doesn’t work unless you remove 100% of gluten. So don’t be a wimp, just do it. You might just be amazed at the results.
Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that are natural anti-inflammatories for your body. (5) Often, we get too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3, so this balance is crucial. Getting enough omega-3s into your diet helps your body promote healthy nerve function and can support a healthy brain and skin. You can get omega-3s from fish, nuts, seeds, grass-fed meats, and oils such as coconut oil.
Take Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and a huge healer for your body. (6) This is especially true if you’re suffering from any type of chronic ailment—vitamin C can help. Experts recommend doses of 500 milligrams a day and upwards, but always consult your natural healthcare practitioner before supplementing with doses this high. (7) You can also get vitamin C from foods such as peppers, watermelon, and citrus fruits.
Season Your Meals with Turmeric
Turmeric is a bright yellow-orange spice that comes from a root that has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. (8) You can get turmeric through golden milk or just season your meals with it. Experts recommend about a ½ teaspoon of turmeric every day for some excellent anti-inflammatory action! You can also pair this spice with ginger—ginger is another anti-inflammatory herb that works great, and can even help menstrual cramps!
Stop Eating Crap
I love sugar just as much as the next person, but sugar promotes inflammation—so does all that processed food you eat. (9) It can be hard to alter your diet, but an anti-inflammatory diet might be the most important thing to help your body get off prednisone. By anti-inflammatory, I mean lots of healthy fats, minimal or no grains (definitely no gluten, but you may still choose to eat rice or quinoa), grass-fed meats only, and tons of vegetables. When you stop eating crap, you stop feeling like crap.
Eat Pineapple—But Not Too Much
Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, which can help with allergies as well as inflammatory responses. It can even help heal wounds and kill bacteria. It’s important to not consume too much bromelain and always talk with your healthcare coach about what amounts are safe to eat. Plus, pineapple is delicious and high in vitamin C! (10)
It’s easy to trust doctors that prednisone is a safe drug for us to use. The fact is, this drug is toxic to our bodies and has side effects that can be even more dangerous than the ones our original illness conjured up. It’s also essential to not stop taking prednisone abruptly—talk with your doctor about weaning off the medication. In the meantime, try these anti-inflammatory remedies!
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.
(1) Myasthenia Gravis, Inc. (n.d.). Prednisone. Retrieved April 28, 2017, from http://www.myasthenia.org/portals/0/docs/Prednisone.pdf
(2) Drugs.com. (2017, January). Prednisone – FDA prescribing information, side effects and uses. Retrieved from https://www.drugs.com/pro/prednisone.html
(3) Prednisone and other corticosteroids: Balance the risks and benefits. (2015, November 26). Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/steroids/art-20045692?pg=2
(4) Rath, L. (2015, July). The Connection Between Gluten And Arthritis. Retrieved from http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/arthritis-diet/anti-inflammatory/gluten-free-diet.php
(5) University of Maryland Medical Center. (2015, August 5). Omega-3 fatty acids. Retrieved from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/omega3-fatty-acids
(6) Kodama, M., Kodama, T., & Murakami, M. (1994, March/April). Autoimmune disease and allergy are controlled by vitamin C treatment. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7919130
(7) Weil, A., M.D. (2009, March 16). Overloading on Vitamin C? Retrieved from http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA400536/Overloading-on-Vitamin-C.html
(8) University of Maryland Medical Center. (2014, June 26). Turmeric. Retrieved from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric
(9)Harvard Health Publications. (2007, February). Simple changes in diet can protect you against friendly fire. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/simple-changes-in-diet-can-protect-you-against-friendly-fire
(10) University of Maryland Medical Center. (2014, June 26). Bromelain. Retrieved from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/bromelain
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