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(theoretical question, I wouldn't actually suggest this) - Would immune suppressant drugs help people with auto-immune disorders reduce the damage their body is doing to itself?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 20, 2012 at 11:29 AM

I'm curious to know if immune suppressant drugs would reduce or maybe stop the bodies auto-immune response and subsequent inflammation/etc in people who have auto-immune disorders.

I don't know anything about the drugs or the science behind how they work, but I'm curious if they have potential to slow down or stop over-reactive immune systems. For example if a person with Celiac disease who has severe responses to gluten took immune suppressant drugs, what would happen to their reaction?

91882203467f64f68f25f58f1caeee68

(1017)

on June 21, 2012
at 12:47 AM

Ha yeah, I guess so. It came to mind because a family member is getting an organ transplant and may have to take immune suppressant drugs, and I have Celiac so was curious how it could be used to help people with autoimmune disorders.

782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e

(5231)

on June 20, 2012
at 05:39 PM

Lindsay, as a pharmacist I've always told my customers to rinse their mouths with water after using an inhaled steroid, otherwise they will get thrush. It's a very common side effect.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on June 20, 2012
at 03:31 PM

Funny...turns out your question isn't theoretical at all, since immune-suppressing drugs *are* prescribed for AI issues sometimes. ;-)

2f83028f9830b25f7c21109197176d9e

(328)

on June 20, 2012
at 02:49 PM

Yup, my sister had to take steroids for a really bad lung infection...then she came down with thrush

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on June 20, 2012
at 02:41 PM

Ditto, Melissa!

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on June 20, 2012
at 01:28 PM

I've been on these drugs for asthma before and I got sick all the time. It was pretty miserable.

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7 Answers

5
Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on June 20, 2012
at 12:53 PM

Synthetic steroids (prednisone, cortisone, etc) are often prescribed for autoimmune conditions, specifically as pain relievers, for exactly the reason you described -- they suppress the immune system.

As for the long-term effects, however, I wouldn't want to be pumping my body full of fake cortisol, especially not for long periods of time.

I've even heard of chemotherapy drugs (specifically methotrexate and naltrexone) being prescribed for AI conditions for the same thing -- suppression of the immune response.

All of the above might be cases where the "cure" is worse than the disease. (And they're not cures anyway...just band-aids that mask the symptoms instead of addressing the underlying cause.)

2f83028f9830b25f7c21109197176d9e

(328)

on June 20, 2012
at 02:49 PM

Yup, my sister had to take steroids for a really bad lung infection...then she came down with thrush

782d92f4127823bdfb2ddfcbcf961d0e

(5231)

on June 20, 2012
at 05:39 PM

Lindsay, as a pharmacist I've always told my customers to rinse their mouths with water after using an inhaled steroid, otherwise they will get thrush. It's a very common side effect.

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on June 20, 2012
at 02:41 PM

Ditto, Melissa!

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on June 20, 2012
at 01:28 PM

I've been on these drugs for asthma before and I got sick all the time. It was pretty miserable.

2
Medium avatar

on June 20, 2012
at 12:57 PM

I've in the past taken Imuran, an immunosuppressant for Crohn's. It worked but it truly is treating a sliver of dsyfunction with a sledgehammer. I would go any other route as I have. Through vitamin d supplementation I've been med-free for 5 years.

1
38dc9448a52fef25672c8ef6e17e8efc

(70)

on June 20, 2012
at 01:24 PM

Drugs like Enbrel, Humira, etc that are used for RA do suppress the immune system. That's why in the commercials they say they increase your risk of infections. Remicade and methotrexate are chemo drugs also used for RA and Crohn's. Interferon therapies are used for MS.

1
Baa413654789b57f3579474ca7fa43d7

(2349)

on June 20, 2012
at 12:37 PM

I don't know about celiac specifically, but doctors often prescribe immunosuppressive drugs to treat auto immune disorder symptoms.

http://suite101.com/article/immunosuppressant-drugs-a25374

Of course, this is treating a symptom instead of the cause, so not ideal.

1
345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on June 20, 2012
at 12:33 PM

my first thought about suppressing the immune system would be that it opens the body up to all kinds of other risks by not having a fully functioning immune system, I'd say at least the body is doing its job by attacking what it thinks is the enemy, may be that it just needs to be 'reprogrammed' instead of suppressed....how? no idea!!

0
089dd41b18fbb95ebb5347cded708d98

(5635)

on January 18, 2013
at 05:08 AM

i have found that immunosuppressants help my AI condition for a short time and then my condition starts flaring again. they are really just bandaids covering a cut but the cut never heals while it's under the bandaid.

0
153c4e4a22734ded15bf4eb35b448e85

(762)

on June 20, 2012
at 02:30 PM

I have understood that for example having parasites is a natural immunosuppressant, and for example weed is also a natural immunosupressant.

Weed works really well for asthma for example etc. Long term weed smoking seems to be ok (not counting the lung cancer risks etc. here just thinking about the immunosupressing angle), and it has helped people with overactive immune systems.

The whole theory about parasites and their benefits seems to lean of the fact that they keep the immune system in check, and prevent the immune system from attacking the body itself. There has been some testing involving worms and autoimmune problems with good results if I remember correctly.

It could be that the body needs a natural immunosupressant of some kind in order to work in a proper way, and that we have evolved having a lot of parasites keeping the body in balance, also the iron theory leans this way.

Just guessing though.

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