Corticosteroids, whether injected, inhaled, or taken orally, are now a pharmaceutical agent that is widely used and recommended by conventional medicine. But what are they really and how do they work? Corticosteroids are used for any condition of excess inflammation or immune response, such as asthma, allergies, irritable bowel disease/Chron's/Ulcerative Colitis, arthirits, and many more. They are a class of chemicals that closely resemble the stress hormone cortisol in the body. Cortisol is released from the adrenal glands and suppresses inflammatory and healing responses in the body. Whenever you give the body hormones or hormone-like substances, you end up throwing off the entire endocrine (hormonal) balance of the body, as the body already has a system in place to balance hormones. This comes with a slew of side effects, many listed below. One major side effect is that while corticosteroids may or may not alleviate inflammation, they suppress the entire immune system, leaving you susceptible to other illness or injury in the body. Injected corticosteroids, usually administered to relieve joint inflammation, suppress the healing response to the joint, in turn leaving it even more susceptible to injury down the road. *According to Dr. Court Vreeland-one single 10mg dose of hydrocortisone can have negative effects on verbal episodic memory (Alzherimer's and Dementia). Find below more side effects of corticosteroids.
So the question remains- what is the alternative to corticosteroid therapy? This depends on the patient. If there is a condition of excess systemic inflammation, one may need to begin an anti-inflammatory diet, including no wheat, dairy, corn, soy, or sugar. They may also need adrenal gland support as many of us experience adrenal fatigue, which can lead to ligament damage. A person may need thymus gland extracts or other options to balance the immune response. If a issue involves inflammation of a specific joint, the person can supplement with a variety of different Standard Process supplements including Glucosamine Synergy or Boswelia, which both reduce over-inflammation and cause an effective healing reaction, rather than suppress it! If the joint inflammation is related to ligament strength being too low, which allows the joint to wear down and damage the cartilage, supplements like Ligaplex 1 or Ligaplex 2 are also good option.
Simply balancing the body and bringing support to whatever organ system needs it, should drastically improve conditions of inflammation. This support can be given via chiropractic treatments, balancing muscle function around the body neurologically, whole food nutritional supplements and herbal therapy, homeopathic therapy, acupuncture therapy, stress relief techniques, and more. There are so many options out there that should be employed before resorting to corticosteroids, which almost always result in some sort of side effect as listed above. Natural therapies result in minimal or NO side effects and should be tried first before jumping to the option of cortizone injections.
Hope this leaves our patients, family, and friends with a better understanding of steroid therapy, and the knowledge that there are many other effective options out there! Please let us know if you have any more questions!