Sunday, March 18, 2012

Antioxidants and Autoimmune Disease

Although I said last year that I was not going to post here anymore, I recently uncovered another piece of the puzzle that is so important that I need to share it.

It seems clear now that a significant contributor to my bipolar symptoms has been Hashimoto's Disease, which is an autoimmune disease of the thyroid.  In the past year, although my mood has been almost uniformly excellent, my allergies have been getting worse and worse and worse.  Last summer I couldn't go outside, because I had developed all kinds of new reactions to various plants that never bothered me before.  Recently I began to think that my autoimmune disease and my allergies were all related.

It seemed like my immune system was working way too hard, and overreacting to the slightest thing.  So I went on the internet to see what I could find on the subject.  What I found is new research that suggests that free radicals (ROS) can actually reduce the autoimmune response, and that excessive use of antioxidants can overstimulate the immune system.  I can't find the exact article I read, but this one is on the same track.

For over a year now I've been adding the powerful antioxidant supplements resveratrol and green tea extract to my daily routine.  I don't always eat the healthiest diet, so it seemed like a good idea.  Apparently not!  After I read the article about antioxidants online, I discontinued them both.  I actually went through withdrawal!  But now, I am feeling way better, and best of all, my allergies are greatly reduced (although not completely eliminated).

For me, the final proof happened a few days ago, when I made myself a berry smoothie for the first time this spring.  My recipe is just one cup of frozen mixed berries, half a cup of plain yogurt, a dash of honey and some filtered water, well pureed.  Tastes amazing!  But the next day I felt completely wrecked, which is a feeling I now recognize as a super slow thyroid.  Given that I had made no other changes in the past couple days, I realized that the antioxidants in the smoothie had "juiced up" my immune system, which slowed down my thyroid.  Fortunately, it was just temporary!  Lesson learned.

Truehope Support suggests adding a quercetin supplement, another strong antioxidant, to help with your allergies.  I now think that if your situation involves an autoimmune response, this is bad advice.  The best advice is still to listen to your own body, and find for yourself what feels best to you.