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Last updated September 30, 2016 (originally published June 18, 2012)

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Sjogren's syndrome may be the most common auto-immune
disease you've never heard of. It is also the answer to the
trivia question "what disease does tennis champion Venus
Williams have?".  

Dry eyes, dry mouth and dry skin are the classic signs of
Sjogren’s, an autoimmune disease where your white blood
cells attack your moisture-producing glands. But tackling
Sjogren’s syndrome is not simply a matter of using a better
moisturizer after your shower and some eye drops. If the
airways, sinuses and tissues in the vagina are affected,
uncomfortable dryness occurs in these places too. And the
condition is not just about dryness – Sjogren’s can cause
problems with the kidneys, lungs, blood vessels, liver, central
nervous system and pancreas.

Is Sjogren’s a rare disease? It’s not common but it is the
second-most prevalent autoimmune condition. Upwards of
four million Americans suffer from Sjogren’s and nine out of
10 are women, according to the Sjogren's Syndrome

Sjogren’s can affect all age groups with the average age of
diagnosis the late 40s. The condition, pronounced “show-
grins,” is named after the Swedish ophthalmologist Henrik
Sjögren who first identified it in 1933. Unfortunately, Sjogren’
s is easily confused with other diseases and conditions and it
takes an average of seven years to receive a diagnosis,
according to the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation.

If you suffer from Sjogren’s is there anything you can do
about it? Are there any remedies or treatments that can help
treat the dryness that comes with Sjogren’s?

What Causes Sjogren’s Syndrome?

Why do people get Sjogren’s? Unfortunately, as with many
other chronic autoimmune conditions, scientists aren’t sure
why some people suffer from Sjogren’s and others escape the
condition. A set of genes may put people at particular risk of
Sjogren’s and a trigger of some sort – an infection perhaps –
seems to be necessary in order for Sjogren’s to develop.

Auto-immune diseases such as Sjogren's are increasing. New
evidence has linked
exposure to smoke and other air
contaminants to an increased risk for auto-immune diseases.

What Are the Symptoms of Sjogren's?

Sjogren’s is an autoimmune condition which means your
immune system makes a mistake and starts attacking your
body’s own tissues and cells instead of harmful invaders.

In Sjogren’s, white blood cells attack glands that produce
moisture such as the tear glands and the salivary glands. This
results in eye and mouth dryness. With this dryness come
gritty, burning eyes, difficulty talking and swallowing, a
cracked tongue, dry lips, dental decay and changes in your
sense of smell and taste – a disturbing and uncomfortable
cocktail of symptoms. If you suffer from Sjogren’s you may
also have joint pain, digestive problems, and fatigue. (Read
more about
remedies for trouble in swallowing.)

According to the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation, about half
of all cases of Sjogren’s occur alone (called Primary Sjogren’
s) and the other half occurs alongside another autoimmune
condition such as
lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or scleroderma
(called Secondary Sjogren’s).

Is Sjogren’s Dangerous?

Sjogren’s is not usually life-threatening. But in serious cases,
it can cause life-threatening problems to major organs in the
body. You are also at higher risk of developing lymphoma if
you have Sjogren’s syndrome. Sufferers may experience
symptoms that remain steady, worsen, or sometimes go into
remission. You may have Sjogren’s for life but you can
maintain a better quality of life with effective treatment and

We’ve looked at the scientific research into Sjogren’s to find a
list of 10 natural remedies that can help relieve the discomfort
of this condition.

Dry Mouth Cures For Sjogren’s

Sjogren’s causes a chronically dry mouth which makes life
uncomfortable as well as interferes with regular talking,
chewing and swallowing. Care for your dry mouth by sipping
small amounts of water throughout the day.

Avoid acidic and caffeinated drinks and chew on sugar-free
gum or candies. Take a tip from the NYU Voice Center at the
NYU School of Medicine and breathe through your nose rather
than your mouth. When you breathe through your nose the
air is warmed and dampened before reaching your throat.
Mouth-breathing also causes excessive evaporation of the
moisture in your mouth. (Read more about
natural remedies
for dry mouth.)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Help Treat Dry Eyes from Sjogren’s

Omega-3 fatty acids are good for dry eyes according to many
experts, and dry eyes are a big problem for Sjogren’s
sufferers. Studies show omega-3s, found in oily fish like
salmon, mackerel, sardines and fresh tuna as well as flaxseed
oil and canola oil, increase tear production and tear volume
and reduce inflammation.

According to the results of a 2011 study from The University
of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, people taking
a dose of fish oil over a 90-day period produced more tears
which helped combat the effects of dry eyes.

And, consider eating more tuna or fatty fish such salmon
. One study in 2005 at the Brigham and Women's
Hospital and Schepens Eye Research Institute found that
eating five servings of tuna a week resulted in a reduced risk
of dry eyes by
up to an astounding 68 percent.

If you suffer from Sjogren’s you may benefit from filling your
diet with several servings of oily fish each week and adding
flaxseed oil to the mix.


Of course, you can get too much of a good thing. And, even
though the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are well-
known, excessive intake of omega-3 fatty acids are not
recommended for people who are taking blood-thinning
medications. Read more on the
dangers of excessive intake of
fish oil

Flaxseed Oil For Sjogren’s Syndrome

Flaxseed oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Evidence for the
benefits of flaxseed oil comes from a 2007 study by the
University of Brazil, among other studies.

The Brazilian research showed patients with Sjogren’s who
took 1 or 2 grams of flaxseed oil a day experienced reduced
inflammation and an improvement in their dry eye symptoms.

Another Omega-3 Remedy for Sjogren’s: Evening Primrose

Evening primrose oil is also rich in essential fatty acids and
may help Sjogren’s sufferers with their dry eyes. Several
experts have looked into the power of evening primrose oil for
this purpose and one 1980 study by Horrobin and Campbell
(“Sjogren’s Syndrome and the Sicca Syndrome: the Role of
Prostaglandin E1 Deficiency. Treatment with Essential Fatty
Acids and Vitamin C”) showed evening primrose oil combined
with Vitamin C and Vitamin B6 improved dry eyes in patients
who suffered from Sjogren’s.

Can Castor Oil Eye Drops Help Sjogren’s Sufferers?

Castor oil may be something you associate with an old-
fashioned prevention of ailments but castor oil may help
relieve the discomfort of
dry eyes. A 2002 study by the
Department of Ophthalmology, Tokyo Dental College, Chiba,
Japan shows that castor oil eye drops help improve the way in
which tears spread across your eye as well as prevent
excessive tear drop evaporation. (Read more about
remedies for dry eyes.)

Just a note of caution is in order. Do not use castor oil for dry
eyes if you are pregnant. Castor oil taken orally can induce
labor, so you should err to the side of caution and not use it at
all if you are pregnant.

Take Vitamin A as a Sjogren’s Remedy

Another eye drop solution comes with added Vitamin A,
according to a 2009 study by the Catholic University of Korea,

Researchers found that eye drops containing Vitamin A were
as effective as traditional eye drops for treating patients with
dry eyes.

You could try increasing the levels of Vitamin A in your diet –
find Vitamin A in sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe melons
and yams.

Use Warm Compresses to Alleviate the Pain of Sjogren’s
Dry Eyes

Looking for an easy and quick way to relieve the discomfort
caused by dry eyes in Sjogren’s syndrome?

Use a warm, moist compress over your closed eye, which
improves your tear production and increases the thickness of
your tear film, moistening dry eyes.

Studies including a 2006 paper from the Tokyo Dental College,
Chiba, Japan and a 2003 study from Schepens Eye Institute,
Harvard Medical School, Boston demonstrate the power of a
warm compress to help improve the symptoms of dry eyes.

Take N-Acetyl-L Cysteine as a Sjogren’s Treatment

A modified form of the dietary amino acid cysteine, called N-
Acetyl-L cysteine, is believed to be useful in treating dry eyes
caused by Sjogren’s.

N-Acetyl-L cysteine is said to assist Sjogren’s sufferers by
helping the body produce antioxidants as well as by
combating symptoms of dry eyes and dry mouth.

A 1986 study by Walters, Rubin and Keightley called “A
double-blind, cross-over, study of oral N-acetylcysteine in
Sjogren's syndrome” found 200 mg three times a day
improved dry eye symptoms, and to a lesser extent dry mouth
symptoms, in people with Sjogren’s syndrome.

A Combination of Herbs, Vitamins and Minerals Helps Treat

Of course, it is not only dry eyes that Sjogren’s sufferers need
to look after. Dry mouth is an irritating symptom that also
needs to be taken care of. A 1999 study from Bispebjerg
Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark showed a herbal supplement
containing rosemary, peppermint, paprika, hawthorn, pumpkin
seed and milfoil improved salivary flow in 44 people with
Sjogren’s syndrome who took the supplement for four

Betaine for Sjogren’s Syndrome?

According to a 2003 study from the Institute of Dentistry,
University of Turku, Finland a detergent-free toothpaste
containing extract of betaine, a substance produced by your
body to aid in liver function, helped treat the symptoms of dry
mouth that plague Sjogren’s sufferers.

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Sprinkle flaxseed on yogurt or salads to
help relieve symptoms of Sjogren's.