All The Natural Remedies I Use To Manage AS
I'm a big fan of the holistic lifestyle, which means I aim to tackle my health from spiritual, emotional, physical, and psychological angles. I meditate, journal, eat well, and move daily — in addition to using medication. I know that modern medicine is key — and I know I’ll be using medication forever, but that doesn’t mean I can’t also try to support my health in myriad other ways. When I’m nourishing my body in every way, I can feel it in the way I experience ankylosing spondylitis.
Here are some of the natural remedies I use to help support my health.
CBD for inflammation and anxiety
I have been using a full-spectrum CBD oil (no, this isn't marijuana!) for about four months, and it’s made a drastic difference in my pain and inflammation levels. While I haven’t had bloodwork done since starting it, I can already tell that my pain is reduced when I take it.
But more so, it reduces anxiety and feelings of worry and rumination — and we all know that living with daily pain and immune issues can wreak havoc on our moods. I do notice that it helps more with anxiety for me than pain reduction — but the effects are notable and worthy of sharing with other patients. I recommend full-spectrum CBD (I use a kind that comes with .3 percent THC, but you can go THC-free, too). I take about 15 drops twice per day.
H20 for overall health
I recently started drinking loads more water — probably because I bought two massive jars from an Italian shop. They were intended for pickling veggies, but they’re so delightful I just have to drink out of them. I drink about 100 ounces of water each day, maybe more.
While water is never going to cure me of AS, it certainly helps with water retention, energy levels and staving off cravings for garbage which, in turn, will only harm my gut and make my AS worst. It’s also a ritual — sitting down to drink water. It can help us take a moment for ourselves, and when we’re in pain and living in this COVID era, every little ritual helps.
Movement is medicine
Ever since 2020 started, I committed to nearly daily workouts. This doesn’t mean I’m lifting weights daily, though! It means I am holding myself accountable to 35 minutes of my time to do take care of myself in some way. This might mean gentle stretching or yoga, swimming, pilates, strength training, dancing for a half-hour, or doing a HIIT and strength training circuit.
I think myself, “This is for my future.” It’s helped to keep me mobile, flexible, and — more than anything — happier and more in touch with my ever-changing body. But remember: don’t push yourself or you’ll throw yourself into a flare. Do what feels right foryou.
Nature for stress relief
Taking myself to the park has been a godsend, literally! There is so much evidence that "earthing" — being in nature, surrounded by its colors, scents, and sounds — has an effect on our inflammation levels and moods. it can even reduce heart rate and anxiety. While it’s not a magic bullet, it certainly has helped me — especially living in NYC during COVID, when being inside and having limited nature is our reality.
Probiotics for gut health
I started taking one probiotic (1 billion colony forming units) a day by pill form. The goal is to increase the "good" bacteria in my gut, thus balancing out the bad bacteria that might be affecting my AS and flare-ups. There’s a lot of information about the gut relationship to AS, as well as the bacteria known as klebsiella, which may be at the root of AS triggers.1 I also drink kombucha and reach for kimchi whenever it comes my way.
What do you use to help manage your AS and overall health?
Other than back pain and fatigue, what is the most common symptom that AS patients experience?