by Dr. Craig A. Maxwell
When you’re living with an autoimmune disease, treating it naturally can become expensive. After all, if you’re insured, a month’s supply of prescription steroids and pain killers will likely cost you no more than $5-$20. Natural, organic supplements, on the other hand, can cost four times this amount. Thankfully, there are shortcuts to treating autoimmune disease in a more inexpensive way.
Save Money on a Healing, Organic Food
The first and most important step to healing autoimmune disease and chronic pain is weaning off junk food and eating a whole-food, organic diet. At first glance, it may seem impossible to stretch an already-tight grocery budget to accommodate these changes, but it can be done.
Eat healthy on a budget with these tips:
- Shop at a Local Farm
Farms in your area will offer grass-fed beef, poultry, eggs, and produce at prices significantly lower than chain grocery stores. You would be amazed at how many farmers don’t use pesticides on their produce but cannot bill themselves as organic because they cannot afford to be certified. This produce will be just as healthy but much cheaper than what is offered at your supermarket.
Visit: http://www.localharvest.org/ to find a farm near you.
- Eat Frozen Organic Produce
Frozen organic produce offers much of the same nutrients as fresh and is often discounted. Stock up during sales.
- Invest in Money-Saving Appliances
Throwing away your spoiled organic food is a huge waste of money. One of the two best investments you can make to ensure minimal food wastage is a vacuum-sealing appliance and a small freezer. When organic food items go on sale, you can vacuum-seal and freeze them for use at a later date.
- Plan Your Meals
Before you shop, plan your meals for the week. What ingredients do you have on hand and what can you add to them? Which items are on sale that can stretch into a few different meals? Planning ahead of time helps maximize your budget.
- Lighten Up on the Meat
Eating more organic beans in place of meat, poultry, and fish can cut down your grocery bill significantly without sacrificing nutrition.
- Buy Organic Produce by the Bag
Organic produce sold by the bag is often one or two dollars cheaper than loose produce.
- Buy the Whole Bird
Organic cut chicken costs quite a bit more than the whole bird. If the thought of cooking the entire chicken is intimidating to you, ask the butcher to cut it up before you get to the check-out line.
- Shop Close-Out Stores
Close-out stores aren’t only for mismatched shoes and scuffed furniture. Stores like Big Lots and Ocean State Job Lot offer spices, gluten free items, and organic canned food that can help you save a good bit of cash. You can also find canisters for bulk food storage sold at a deep discount.
- Purchase Food Online
Amazon.com offers bulk organic food items and ships free for orders over $35.00.
Although anti-inflammatory supplements are quite effective at healing autoimmune disease and chronic pain, their expense puts them out of reach for many. The good news is you can use common kitchen spices to treat chronic pain at a fraction of that cost.
I recommend the following:
Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound that has been shown to influence more than 700 genes. It has been shown to inhibit the activity and the synthesis of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) and 5-lipooxygenase (5-LOX), as well as other enzymes that contribute to chronic inflammation. Sprinkle it on food or mix one teaspoon of the spice into a four-ounce glass of warm water and drink twice per day.
Ginger has been shown to have an inhibitory effect on enzymes that cause inflammation to go awry – cyclooxygenase (COX) and 5-lipoxygenase (LOX). Purchase a hunk of organic ginger and, using a vegetable peeler, remove the outer skin of the amount you want to use and grate it onto food, into tea or in a glass of water.
The active ingredient in cayenne pepper is capsaicin, a powerful pain reliever that has been shown to reduce the amount of a chemical called ‘substance P’. This inhibition prevents pain signals from reaching your brain, which provides relief. Cayenne pepper can be sprinkled onto food or, alternatively, you can measure half a teaspoon into a four-ounce glass of tepid water or tomato juice and drink once or twice per day.
Garlic is a powerful natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that helps improve your circulation and detoxify your body. Chopped organic garlic is best. Use it in food or mix it into organic honey and swallow twice per day.
Onions have been shown to effectively treat arthritis because of their high quercetin content. They help inhibit inflammation-causing leukotrienes, prostaglandins, and histamines in osteoarthritis (OA). For best results, use organic shallots, yellow onions, and red onions and consume them raw.
Tart cherries contain anthocyanins, which have been shown to have similar anti-inflammatory properties as aspirin.
- Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides and lauric acid, which offer powerful antimicrobial properties that kill disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It is one of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory foods available. Take a tablespoon of raw, organic coconut oil twice a day for its healing benefits.
You can also use coconut oil to do something called oil pulling. In oil pulling, you place the coconut oil into your mouth, allow it to warm, swish it vigorously for 20 minutes, spit into a plastic bag, tie it up, and throw it into the trash. (Avoid spitting into the sink or toilet as the oil could clog up your pipes).
This practice has been shown to help clear toxins from the body, treat allergies and sinus problems, reduce gingivitis, and improve overall health and vitality.
Choose Your Professional-Grade Supplements Wisely
If you’re on a tight budget, it can be difficult to afford the best natural supplements on the market. This is why, out of all the supplements available for autoimmune disease, I often recommend my Diamond Nutritional’s Vitamin D3. Millions of patients are severely deficient in this essential nutrient and lack of it has been linked to the exacerbation of autoimmune and chronic inflammatory conditions.
Adding a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement to your diet can help keep your immune system stable, boost your mood, improve your sleep, and decrease the severity of your chronic pain.
Get a Discount on Alternative Therapies
Alternative therapies are often not covered under insurance, which can put them out of reach for those on a budget. However, a bit of research can help you get the help you need without breaking the bank.
- Discount Massage
Massage helps treat your chronic pain by stabilizing your immune system, improve your circulation, and relaxing your body. Find a massage school near you and work with students who are looking to log credit hours. An hour-long massage should cost you no more than $25.
- Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic medicine has been shown to modulate your immune system and decrease the production of stress hormones in your body. Adjustments do more than just healing back pain and headaches, they help strengthen the connection between your brain and body, which makes it easier for your body to heal itself. Visit www.thejoint.com to find a licensed chiropractor to perform an adjustment starting at just $19.
Acupuncture has been shown to modulate your immune system, activate cell proliferation, and heal traumatized cells through the use of hollow-pointed needles placed in specific areas of the body. Do an Internet search for “affordable acupuncture” and you’ll find plenty of local practitioners that offer their services on a sliding scale of $20-$40 per session.
These inexpensive ways to treat autoimmune disease can help you manage your symptoms effectively and pare down your need for prescription drugs. If you are on blood thinners however, talk with your healthcare provider before using the spices mentioned above as they may increase bleeding time.
Also, it is advisable to pick one or two of these spices rather than using all of them at once to prevent gastrointestinal distress.
Furthermore, if you are currently taking a prescription medication, never stop taking it suddenly as this could be dangerous. Instead, discuss your supplements with your doctor to make sure they are compatible. As you improve on you natural supplements, you may be able reduce or discontinue your prescription medication with your doctor’s approval.