Inflammation can wreak havoc on the body. Vasculitis is no exception. But what is vasculitis? Symptoms of vasculitis can range from mild to life-threatening. Vasculitis requires medical treatment and early detection can help prevent permanent damage, but is there a natural treatment for vasculitis that may help?
What is Vasculitis?
Vasculitis is a term used to describe conditions that cause inflammation of the blood vessels. People develop these conditions when their immune systems mistakenly attack their blood vessels.
Vasculitis primarily affects the:
- Veins: The vessels that move blood back to your heart.
- Arteries: The vessels that move blood from your heart to your organs.
- Capillaries: The vessels that connect your arteries and veins.
When blood vessels become inflamed, a number of things can be affected. Some of these effects are mild while others can be life-threatening.
Inflammation can cause blood vessels to:
- Stretch, which can cause bulging (also known as an aneurysm). If it bursts, it can cause serious or deadly internal bleeding.
- Narrow, which makes it more difficult for blood to flow.
- Close, preventing any blood to move through.
Types of Vasculitis
There are many different types of vasculitis all of which can affect different vessels in the body. Such as:
- Kawasaki disease
- Polyarteritis nodosa
- Giant cell arteritis
- Takayasu’s arteritis
- Isolated arteritis
- Behcet’s disease
- IgA vasculitis
- Anti-GBM disease
These are just a few of the types of vasculitis.
Signs and Symptoms of Vasculitis
Vasculitis can cause a variety of symptoms, but some of the most common include:
- Malaise (general feeling of being unwell)
- Aches and pains
Some symptoms are specific to the area affected by vasculitis:
- Ears: Hearing loss, dizziness, or tinnitus.
- Digestive system: Ulcers or pain after eating.
- Eyes: Double vision or blindness.
- Skin: Red spots (indications of bleeding under the skin), open sores, or lumps.
- Lungs: Shortness of breath and severe coughing.
- Hands and feet: Weakness or numbness in the hands or feet. Swelling may also occur.
What Causes Vasculitis?
Doctors still don’t know what causes vasculitis. Genetics may play a role. Other potential causes may include:
- Blood cancer
- An infection
- A side effect of a medication
- Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or scleroderma
Vasculitis can affect anyone, but there are some factors that can increase your risk of developing this condition:
- Lifestyle: Tobacco and cocaine use can increase your risk of vasculitis.
- Age: While this condition can affect anyone, it’s more common in older individuals.
- Prescription drugs: Some medications, such as allopurinol, hydralazine, propylthiouracil, and minocycline may cause vasculitis.
- Genetics: Some forms of vasculitis run in the family, such as Kawasaki disease and Behcet’s disease.
What are the Complications of Vasculitis?
Depending on the type and severity, vasculitis can cause serious complications. In some cases, complications are due to the side effects of medications used to treat the condition.
Complications may include:
- Vision problems: Blindness or other vision problems. can be caused by giant cell arteritis, a form of vasculitis.
- Organ damage: Some severe forms of vasculitis can damage your organs. In some cases, the damage can be permanent.
- Aneurysms or blood clots: In rare cases, vasculitis can cause an aneurysm. Blood clots can also form, which can restrict blood flow.
- Infections: Certain medications used to treat vasculitis can affect the immune system and make you more vulnerable to infections.
Vasculitis is a serious condition that requires medical treatment. Conventional treatments include:
One of the most common treatments used for vasculitis is glucocorticoids, better known as steroids. The dose and length of treatment will depend on the type of vasculitis and the severity of the condition.
Glucocorticoids can help ease inflammation, but they can cause long-lasting side effects in some cases.
Some doctors will prescribe immune-suppressing drugs instead of steroids, especially when the condition threatens vital organs. In rare cases, vasculitis requires surgery.
In some cases, vasculitis can be a short-term condition. In other cases, it may be lifelong. The goal is to prevent long-term damage to organs, disability, or death.
Some patients struggle with chronic fatigue, sinus problems, arthritis, and other issues. The good news is that new treatments are available, and the outlook is generally good for patients with vasculitis.
Natural Therapies to Help with Vasculitis
Those who have vasculitis require medical treatment. Some natural therapies can help or be used in conjunction with conventional treatment (if approved by your doctor).
The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil may help ease inflammation associated with vasculitis. Omega-3s may help reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines by boosting the body’s production of prostaglandins, which are anti-inflammatories.
There is anecdotal evidence that omega-3 fatty acids may help with vasculitis.
Hemp-derived CBD is now readily available in the form of tinctures, oils, and creams. It is often combined with other anti-inflammatory ingredients such as DMSO; which is an anti-inflammatory itself but can also amplify the effects of CBD.
Ginger and Turmeric
Herbs like turmeric and ginger have anti-inflammatory effects that may help with certain types of vasculitis. Ginger contains the phenolic compound gingerol, which is believed to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Turmeric, which contains the compound curcumin, is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
While these natural treatments may help with vasculitis, it’s important to talk to your doctor before using any herbal supplement.
Vasculitis can be a serious condition, and it requires conventional medical treatment. However, your lifestyle choices, diet, and supplements may help with symptoms and outcomes.