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National Scleroderma Awareness Month: Home Remedies For Scleroderma

Every year in June, Scleroderma Awareness Month is observed. The month is meant to raise awareness and educate people about this autoimmune disease that has no exact cause and no specific cure.

Scleroderma is a rare disease that affects the connective tissues, skin and internal organs of the body. It is characterised by hardening, tightening, inflammation and scarring of several body parts.

There are certain home remedies or natural treatments that may help in preventing scleroderma or manage their conditions. Many of them are not backed by scientific evidence, but some anecdotal evidence suggests them to be helpful up to certain levels. Take a look at these home remedies or natural treatments for scleroderma.

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1. Ginger

The anti-inflammatory property of ginger is well-known to everyone. [1] Gingerol, a phenolic compound in ginger possess anti-inflammatory activity that may help in reducing inflammation of the skin.

What to do: Prepare ginger tea by boiling the roots in water or add it to most of your meals.

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2. Eggs And Meat

Foods such as eggs, meat and fish naturally contain para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA). The anti-fibrosis effect of PABA improves the consumption of oxygen by the tissues thus, may help prevent scleroderma up to a certain extent. [2]

What to do: Try to include eggs and meat 2-3 times a week in your diet. Avoid their overconsumption.

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3. Onion

The presence of phenolic compounds such as flavonols and thiosulfinates in onion have anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds may help in alleviating the symptoms of scleroderma such as swelling or inflammation. [3]

What to do: Either rub onion in the affected area and then wash them or try to include larger amount of onion in your diet.

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4. Flaxseed Oil

Scleroderma may cause Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), a condition characterised by numbness, swelling, tingling or inability of the hands to move. A study talks about anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antioxidant properties of flaxseed oil that helps to improve blood supply, reduce inflammation and increase energy level at the cellular level. [4]

What to do: A teaspoon of flaxseed oil is recommended twice a day.

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5. Turmeric

A study finds that curcumin, the active compound in turmeric cause programmed cell death in scleroderma lung fibroblasts (thickening of the lung tissues), probably reducing symptoms of scleroderma in the lungs. [5]

What to do: Either make a paste of turmeric and water and apply in the affected skin areas or consume turmeric milk once every day.

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6. Garlic

Garlic helps in improving the functionality of the immune system and reduce inflammation. As scleroderma is an autoimmune condition, consumption of garlic may help in reducing its symptoms.

What to do: Eat a clove of garlic with a glass of water every morning to boost the immune system. You can also add raw or crushed garlic to your salads or soups.

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7. Fish Oil

Fish oil is packed with omega-3 fatty acids. They help in reducing the oxidative stress in the body and boost the immune power. A study suggests that fish oil also improves cold tolerance and vasospasm (narrowing of the arteries due to build-up of fibrosis) in patients with primary Raynaud's phenomenon, a common symptom of scleroderma. [6]

What to do: Add foods in your diet which are naturally rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as tuna, salmon and mackerel. Apply fish oil on the skin affected by the condition.

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8. Evening Primrose Oil

Primrose oil contains a large amount of gamma-linolenic acid. This essential compound may help to increase capillary blood flow, pain in the hands and feet and skin texture caused due to Raynaud's phenomenon associated with scleroderma. [7]

What to do: Either consume primrose supplements or apply its oil in the affected areas.

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9. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant and amazing for dermatological purposes. It helps in reducing oxidative injury and prevent multiple skin disorders, including scleroderma. It also has an immunosuppressive activity that helps to prevent the formation of autoimmune antibodies, the reason why scleroderma is an autoimmune disease. [8]

What to do: Include as much as vitamin E in your diets such as sunflower seeds, green veggies and dried fruits.

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10. Vitamin D

The deficiency of vitamin D is highly recognised in scleroderma patients. A study says that vitamin D is a potent nutrient against autoimmune diseases. It acts as a steroid hormone at cellular levels and controls immune response and inflammation in the body. [9]

What to do: Include vitamin D rich foods such as cheese, fatty fish and eggs in your diet plan. Sunlight is also a great source of vitamin D.

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11. Pineapple

Bromelain in pineapple has anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and fibrinolytic effects. These properties may help in improving the symptoms of scleroderma and reduce them to some extent. [10]

What to do: Include pineapple in your diet plan by adding it to salads or fruit bowl.

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Common FAQs

1. Can Scleroderma be reversed?

Scleroderma is a life-long condition similar to diabetes or hypertension. It cannot be cured totally, but its symptoms can be managed. Some of the treatment methods include physical therapy, medications and self-care.

2. What should I avoid with scleroderma?

As scleroderma is an autoimmune condition, people should avoid all such things that may trigger the immune response. It can either be foods such as spicy foods or environmental factors such as viruses or medications. Scleroderma is also genetic.