What ways can we reduce brain and body inflammation to help the immune system recover faster from PANDAS/PANS?
- Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Testing your child for food sensitivities is a beneficial way to identify foods that could be contributing to chronic inflammation in your child. Another option is to adopt an anti-inflammatory diet such as GF/CF or GAPS Diet. Eliminating pro-inflammatory foods from the diet can help to reduce PANDAS/PANS symptoms, in conjunction with treating the underlying infection.
- Omega 3 Oils: These polyunsaturated fats have well documented anti-inflammatory activity and they protect against neurodegenerative disease. The use of NSAIDS (such as Ibuprofen) can be substituted with high dose Omega 3 fats with comparable anti-inflammatory benefits. Choose a supplement with high levels of EPA and DHA.
- Curcumin (Turmeric): Curcumin, an extract from Turmeric (a spice) is a potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. Using a bio-available and fast acting form, such as Curcumin Active (made by AOR) can help manage a PANDAS/PANS symptom flare by reducing inflammation in the brain.
- Plant Sterols and Sterolins: These fats extracted from medicinal plants are instrumental in re-balancing immune system dysregulation. I use sterols/sterolins especially in the case of autoimmune conditions, including PANDAS/PANS, due to the imbalance between T-helper 1 and T-helper 2 cells. I wrote a blog post about Th-2 dominance ages ago, and you can check it out here to learn more about how it affects immune system function (although the post is not PANDAS specific). Plant sterols/sterolins enhance the immune system’s ability to fight off infection, while simultaneously down-regulating overactive antibody production. For PANDAS/PANS, this means that the Strep/Mycoplasma/Lyme/etc can be killed off more effectively, but auto-antibody activity in the basal ganglia reduces. Confusing, but very interesting!
- Ibuprofen/NSAIDs: Pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories can be used with caution under certain circumstances. Usually I would recommend a short course of Ibuprofen, dosed every 6-8 hours according to the child’s weight, in the advent of a symptom flare. These anti-inflammatories are not a cure and are not beneficial for long-term use, however they can be instrumental in controlling inflammation in the short term if the child is really struggling.