Early Symptoms of Scleroderma


How can holistic healing help me rid myself of scleroderma? I have had it about five months. Thank you, June

Dr. Leia’s Answer:

Dear June, Scleroderma is a chronic disorder that affects the skin, including hardened or tight skin, with swelling and thickening. Early symptoms of scleroderma involve just the surface of the skin or the ends of the fingers or hands and upper body.

Scleroderma PicturesCutaneous scleroderma can be can be classified as either limited or diffuse, meaning that it can become more widespread involving not only the skin, but also other joints, internal organs, and the blood vessels. It seems to affect women more than men, and usually appears between the ages of 30 to 65 years of age. The prevalence of scleroderma in the United States can be as high as 400 cases out of one million people.

The causes, even though not known, may be related to exposure to silica, solvent chemicals such as vinyl chloride, epoxy resins, benzene, trichloroethylene, and carbon tetrachloride, or radiation exposure. Viruses such as the human cytomegalovirus and the herpes virus 5 have been implicated also, but this is not confirmed. Sometimes scleroderma is present in combination with other autoimmune disorders. Usually, there has been, or is, some type of cellular injury or cellular reproductive trauma involved.

It is important to avoid Vitamin C in large doses, usually greater than 1000 mg. because Vitamin C stimulates the production of collagen, which is abnormally deposited under the skin and in other parts of the body in this disorder. So taking more vitamins and minerals may not be the solution to this problem, but may exacerbate the scleroderma. Because scleroderma may be an autoimmune disease, it is probably best to stay away from immune enhancing herbs and drugs which may only accelerate the disorder.

acupuncture treatment for sclerodermaAlso important is to keep the body temperature warm to prevent or minimize the development of Raynaud’s Syndrome (RS), which is the presence of abnormal sensitivity to cold in the extremities, and which may occur concurrently with scleroderma. It is important to maintain daily physical activity so that complete range of motion is maintained and joints do not become stiff or decrease in their mobility. Keeping active is very important in order to prevent progression of this disorder.

As far as holistic treatments, you might seek out a licensed homeopathic practitioner and/or an acupuncture treatment for scleroderma in your area. Both of these modalities may be able to help with this disorder and to keep the scleroderma from spreading or progressing. If the scleroderma is indeed caused by toxic chemicals, it would be a good idea to have a holistic practitioner do a toxic scan of your body to ascertain if there are any chemical toxins present in your body. There exist special tests which can measure petrochemicals, organotoxins, and other toxics. They should also check for heavy metals, which can be determined by performing a hair mineral analysis. Simple conventional laboratory testing can check for cytomegalovirus and herpes virus. If any toxins are then found, your practitioner can then instruct you in a detoxification protocol depending upon the toxins found.

Good luck in your healing program.

Follow-up Question

Dear Dr. Leia Melead,

I am a South African and have a 37 year old sister who has been diagnosed with scleroderma. The condition is worsening as her whole body including her face is hardening. She complains of pain especially on her thighs and hands (one of her hands cannot stretch anymore) and is forever scratching her skin due to itchiness; heartburn is also one of her problems.

Any tips in respect to the type of medication to be taken to ease the pain, dry skin, and itchiness?

Kind regards,
Thembi Tsibogo

Dr. Leia’s Answer

Dear Thembi Tsibogo,

Schleroderma is a rare progressive autoimmune disease which is difficult to treat. It is important that she stretches and keeps active, otherwise the skin will become tight and harden. However, I realize that it is difficult to keep active and stretch because of the pain. It is a double-edged sword. In order to continue exercising, one must be pain-free, and when one feels pain, she will not want to exercise.

I have been treating one patient with acupuncture and she says that it does help her somewhat, so you might seek out an Acupuncturist who could help her. Acupuncture gives pain relief for many problems, and hopefully, it will help your sister.

It might be possible that toxins are implicated in this disorder, so you might want to have her checked for the different toxins which I mention in my first answer above. Stay away from natural substances that increase the collagen production, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, and even large amounts of vitamin C. Because scleroderma is an autoimmune disorder, the body begins to attack itself and does not recognize its own tissues and cells as its own. This makes it difficult to treat properly. However, if there is some toxic substance found in her body, then this substance can be removed or chelated out from her body under the supervision of a natural doctor who could help her with a special detoxification process, but the toxic substance must first be identified. Undergoing a detoxification process can be difficult and cause many symptoms as she goes through the process, so it is important that she have medical supervision during this time.

For her itching, it might be good to make sure that she has enough essential fatty acids or oils (flax oil and seeds are a good source) in her diet and as an added supplement. Essential fatty acids are good for lubricating the skin, and can be taken both orally and applied topically to the skin. As far as the pain that she is experiencing, she could try some natural anti-inflammatory products such as Omega 3 fish oil tablets which contain both EPA and DHA. Other good anti-inflammatory products could include a bromelain-quercetin complex.

One new product which I am considering for autoimmune problems and toxic substances is called Orenda Immune. I usually do not recommend Immune products for autoimmune disorders; however, Orenda Immune appears to be different and contains substances that help to detoxify the body rather than build up the immune system. The ingredients are listed plainly on the site, so you may be able to get some of these ingredients individually in your country. Sorry that I cannot offer any more help in this regards.

Good luck to you and your sister.

Update: The video above this post aims to share more details regarding scleroderma symptoms, research and treatment options.