A Cheat Sheet for Autoimmune Awareness
Please know the below guide is based on my personal experience and you should always speak with your doctor as every patient's experience is different. All changes made to your current protocol should be under the supervision of your medical team.
Living with autoimmune disease(s) is a lifelong journey. While there are no known cures for the 100+ autoimmune diseases, there are treatments to reduce symptoms.
To celebrate the end of Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month (ADAM), I thought I would create a guide of books, tools, websites, and other resources that I turn to on both good days and bad. I hope this list provides you with some useful resources.
After my diagnosis, I found that the more questions I asked my doctors, the less answers they had. There are virtually no “autoimmune doctors” so having some additional information helped me ask more targeted questions on how to address the many symptoms I was experiencing.
Living Well with Autoimmune Disease by Mary J Shomon
I purchased this book when I was first diagnosed and I still refer to it. It goes beyond conventional treatments and discusses alternative ways to work with your autoimmune issues.
The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook by Mickey Trescott and Angie Alt
Another great handbook written by two autoimmune warriors offering some holistic options for living vibrantly.
The Autoimmune Epidemic by Donna Jackson Nakazawa
Another book I referred to often when I was first diagnosed with RA. This book looks at over 100 autoimmune diseases and the alarming connection between them and environmental triggers we are exposed to.
I’m also a huge fan of Seamus Mullen’s cookbooks (Hero Foods and Real Food Heals). Seamus is a fellow autoimmune warrior (RA) whose diagnosis forced him to “rethink his relations with food”. His health transformation via lifestyle, exercise and food continually inspires me.
American Autoimmune Related Disease Association - Mission: The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) is dedicated to the eradication of autoimmune diseases and the alleviation of suffering and the socioeconomic impact of autoimmunity through fostering and facilitating collaboration in the areas of education, public awareness, research, and patient services in an effective, ethical, and efficient manner.
Chronicon - An online community for those who live with chronic illnesses and their allies.
As with all complementary care, benefits can vary from individual to individual.
Sauna: This is an area I’ve done a tremendous amount of research on. On days when I couldn’t exercise due to my symptoms, I was still looking for ways to sweat - enter infrared saunas. They are a great way to sweat it out. I’ve historically joined gyms just to use their saunas and today a number of day spas offer infrared sauna time on their menus due to the many benefits. I also have a lot of friends who live with autoimmune diseases and this is a common thing AI warriors seek out. Recently more at home solutions are hitting the market like the higher dose sauna blanket. This is a great alternative to going to a sauna, while not inexpensive, it’s probably comparable to the money spent on gym memberships or spa services, and a great option during the pandemic. I absolutely love it.
Massage therapy: Personally, I’ve seen great physical and mental benefits from regular massage and/or reflexology therapy. As with all complementary care tools, benefits can vary from individual to individual. I also realize this can be expensive. Even a 15-30 minute service can show benefit.
Exercise: We all know that moving our body is important. The critical thing to remember is to discuss your exercise plan with your physician and listen to your body. While some exercise is good for you and your body, while overdoing it can lead to a set back. After doing much research here are some great options to discuss with your medical team. Walking, Hiking, Pilates, Yoga, Stretching, Tai Chi, Swimming, Dancing, Rebounding What I love about these forms of exercise is that their intensity level can always be adjusted/modified based on where you are in your journey.
Note: these are not affiliate or promotional links - I’m truly sharing what I love and what I found helps me. To learn more about my personal journey take a look feel free to read my blog post here.