Saturday, March 20, 2010

Battle and War; Herbs and Autoimmunity

A year ago, before a client's dentist delivered the diagnosis, I'd never heard of Lichen Planus.

Itchy, scaly, irritated and raised, the white patches on the insides of her cheeks and gums were reminiscent of thrush. An autoimmune disease, the dentist said it could be set off by her dental work (she has tons). Or an allergy to her own saliva, or to chewing gum, or to toothpaste -- there were many theories. Thankfully the Lichen Planus was limited to the mouth, as it can also occur on the scalp, nails, and genitals. Oral Lichen Planus affects women twice as often as men. And like most autoimmune conditions, it is exacerbated by stress.

The dentist, reluctant to refer his patient for treatment with steroids, was open to monitoring the condition while she used herbs.

At it's itchiest, she used a Chlorella/Marshmallow tea to hold in her mouth, maximizing contact with the lesions before spitting it out (imagine the smell!).

Early on, the tincture formula included lymphatic herbs (Poke root, Prickly Ash bark) along with an alterative (Sarsaparilla root), a nourishing detoxifier (Kelp leaf) and what I like to call a "liver spur" -- herbs that wake up your sleeping liver -- in this case we used Dandelion root.

As time passed, she monitored what would make it better (a weekend at her son's home), what would cause a flair up (a trip to the ER with her 90 year old mother). The emotional component was there, no doubt, and she used a Valerian/Passionflower/Crampbark tincture to cope.

So here we are, 13 months later, and the dentist says, "I'd have trouble making a diagnosis of Lichen Planus today. Your mouth shows no signs of lesions or irritations." Good thing he took those photographs!

Her maintenance regimen is as follows:

Capsules--Turmeric root/Bromelain/Chlorella

Tincture--Burdock root/Sarsaparilla root/Nettles leaf and seed

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