Autoimmune flares are the worst. Tackling your flares with a solid anti-inflammatory diet and a low-key lifestyle can do wonders for your body. But did you know that there are certain supplements that can help? Taking a few extra immune-boosting supplements can help calm down the inflammation in your body and may even help reverse flares faster. Here are my top supplements to use during a flare.
Oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction are prevalent in autoimmune diseases specifically those that are helper T cell-mediated. This category of diseases includes lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, type one diabetes, and multiple sclerosis (MS). Fighting oxidative stress is really important. One of the ways that we do this is by making sure we have enough circulating antioxidants in our bodies.
Glutathione is one of those potent antioxidants. It is actually the most potent antioxidant in your body. This antioxidant is highly effective at scavenging free radicals that cause damage to our tissues and cells. Glutathione is composed of glycine, cysteine, and glutamic acid. One of the ways you can increase your glutathione is to simply take glutathione. However, it doesn’t taste very good, and sometimes it’s not absorbed well. Another way to do this is by supplementing with n-acetyl-cysteine or NAC. NAC is needed for glutathione production so increasing your NAC can help your body produce more glutathione in your liver.
There was a really interesting study in 2021 that found that taking glycine and a NAC supplement reduced inflammation and oxidative stress. It also improved insulin resistance and improved mitochondrial dysfunction. Also, for those of you who are living with MS, glutathione is a common deficiency seen with this autoimmune disease. I would definitely get that checked out if you have MS and you’re concerned about your glutathione levels.
Fish Oil and Omega 3’s
The second category of supplements is fish oil and omega 3 fatty acids. Fish oils containing omega 3’s are particularly effective in lowering inflammation. If you are experiencing a flare and do not already supplement with fish oil, I would add this in. When you’re looking for fish oil or an Omega 3 supplement, you want to make sure it’s tested for metals and toxins. Also, make sure it is third-party verified. The form of omega 3 fatty acids is also very important. The form that’s best absorbed is triglycerides. If possible, you really want to avoid ethyl esters. Be sure to read the supplement label when you are buying these supplements for all of the above information.
SPM ( specialized pro-resolving mediators)
Another really interesting fish oil derivative supplement is called SPM active and it is a supplement by Metagenics. This is made from fractionated fish oils to create what are called specialized pro-resolving mediators or SPM. Your body naturally produces SPM to help heal damaged tissues, clear pathogens, and clear other debris left over from an inflammatory reaction. SPMs also helped relieve noninfectious tissue injury and inflammation which if not removed, can contribute to the development of chronic diseases. Taking SPM allows your body to have these without having to make them differentiate between the two forms of these fish oils. You would want to take regular omega 3’s for maintenance or increase the dose for periods of inflammation.
SPMs are great for resolving flares but I would not take them on an ongoing basis. The correct dosage really depends on your diet, up to three grams of fish oil or omega 3’s is safe. You want to make sure that you’re looking at how much fish you eat too, just so you don’t exceed that three grams. So just be aware of how much you eat and how much you supplement and you can always estimate that when necessary.
Boswellia is one of my favorite and fast-acting supplements for joint pain. It’s also known as Indian frankincense. This herb comes from a tree and has been used for centuries to treat chronic illnesses and health conditions. It’s been very useful for treating inflammation and arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and even cancer. I think of Boswellia as a natural form of Tylenol. I take it when I’m feeling acute pain, especially in my joints, and then I stopped taking it when the pain is gone. Generally, the dosage recommended is around 300 to 500 milligrams two to three times per day.
Today we focused on my favorite three supplements for managing flares Glutathione and NAC, SPM active in fish oil, and Boswellia. As always, many supplements can interact with medications so always want to ask your health care provider before starting any new supplements. Need supplement recommendations? Just click here to see my favorite brands in my Fullscript dispensary and get 10% off!
For those of you who would like more help managing your autoimmune disease or digestive issues or just need help reducing inflammation, I would love to chat with you! Please contact me for a free discovery call. You can also follow me on Instagram at @the.autoimmune.dietitian or Facebook at @annierubinnutrition or my website.