Natural Cortico-Steroids?

topic posted Thu, August 28, 2008 - 10:30 PM by  Djinn
Cortico steroids are the immune suppressing steroids used to treat severe auto-immune conditions, not to be confused with anabolic steroids used to increase muscle mass.

While there are many wonderful anti-inflammatory medications, but nothing as strong and immune suppressing as prednisone, cortisone, Solumedrol, ect. I am interested in looking into natural alternatives. Has anybody heard of anything like this?
posted by:
  • Re: Natural Cortico-Steroids?

    Thu, August 28, 2008 - 10:37 PM
    I have found osha root preparations to be quite effective in reducing inflamation and suppressing immune response. I have used it to deal with seasonal and animals allergies, a severe hive outbreak and to stop swelling after a wasp sting. While I have not and do not want to have the opportunity to try this, one of my herb teachers years ago told me that she has used osha root prepartions to stop anaphylaxis. Hope that is helpful.
    • Re: Natural Cortico-Steroids?

      Fri, August 29, 2008 - 5:40 PM
      Doesnt Osha stimulate the immune system and increase white blood cell production? It sounds great for wounds, but I wonder if it would make an auto-immune disease like Crohns or Multiple Sclerosis worse instead of better. This requires some more research.

      I would especially be interested in plant sterols that resemble cortisone.
      • Re: Natural Cortico-Steroids?

        Fri, August 29, 2008 - 6:11 PM
        No it does not stimulate white blood cell production...echinacea has this actions. It actually in both my experiencing and what I was taught about this herb it acts like a natural benadryl. When I was stung by a wasp my arm started to swell and stopped when I took Osha. Also when I broke out in hives it stopped the itching and reduced the reaction. I would encourage you to check this plant out more thoroughly. Also you could call herbalist Susun Weed on Tuesday evenings and talk to her about this, she has had experience with more severe reactions and this plant. She runs a free consulation line on Tuesday evening from 7:30-9:30pm 845-246-8081. I would actually read some of her work (Healing Wise by Susun Weed-the first couple of chapters would be ideal) before I called her, so you can understand where she is coming from.

  • Re: Natural Cortico-Steroids?

    Fri, August 29, 2008 - 5:50 PM
    GAIA Herb Ginger & Turmeric Supreme Phyto Caps along with Willow Bark & Oregano Leaf LE
    and, of course, Omega's.

    1) eliminated chronic bursitis in my knee and 2) eliminated my IBS (of which I suffered
    fools for almost 10 years)
    • Re: Natural Cortico-Steroids?

      Fri, August 29, 2008 - 5:56 PM
      I tried Turmeric supreme but it wasnt strong enough to prevent an MS flare up. It did help my stomach though.

      I wonder if there is a naturally occurring cortisone plant sterol.
      • Re: Natural Cortico-Steroids?

        Sat, August 30, 2008 - 7:08 PM
        ...I asked my boyfriend....

        he sent me this link:

        He has access to several scientific study papers if you are interested in further reading - but methinks
        you are a smart one who can figure this out on your own and are wanting to look for people with first
        hand experience.....correct?
        • Re: Natural Cortico-Steroids?

          Sat, August 30, 2008 - 8:47 PM
          Thank you. That looks promising.

          I also found that Licorice root has a natural corticosteroid. It also has some of the same side effects like raising blood sodium levels and eliminating potassium, which can cause electrolyte imbalance and edema. Also hypertension. It does show promise though.

          Maybe a combination of licorice and plant sterols could be used in place of prednisone or Solumedrol in an emergency situation?
          • Re: Natural Cortico-Steroids?

            Sat, August 30, 2008 - 11:02 PM
            Sounds interesting! Have you found out anything about Licorice Fern Root? I am curious now that you mentioned licorice ;-}
            • Re: Natural Cortico-Steroids?

              Sat, August 30, 2008 - 11:27 PM
              I am not as familiar with fern licorice, but it certainly looks like another possibility for corticosteroid constituents.

              I think I might try a mixture of licorice, plant sterols, Turmeric and Boswellia......Im just wondering what I would use to balance the effect of licorice which can raise blood pressure and affect sodium potassium balance in favor of sodium leading to increased blood pressure and edema. Maybe skullcap?

              What raises potassium levels?
              • Re: Natural Cortico-Steroids?

                Sun, August 31, 2008 - 8:00 PM
                the obvious....bananas
                avos, raisins, dates, cantaloupe - drinking carrot or prune juice really, really pumps up the potassioum. There are
                also Supershots:
                • Re: Natural Cortico-Steroids?

                  Sun, August 31, 2008 - 10:01 PM
                  Well, those are sources of potassium, but cortico-steroids direct sodium into the blood stream and potassium away from the blood even if you are getting the right amounts from diet. I was wondering if something could reverse this effect without diminishing the drugs effectiveness.....but I suppose just avoiding salt and eating extra potassium is a simple solution.
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.

                    Re: Natural Cortico-Steroids? (PeaceHealth)

                    Mon, September 1, 2008 - 3:41 PM
                    Interactions with Supplements


                    Corticosteroids may increase the body's loss of magnesium.1 Some doctors recommend that people taking corticosteroids for more than two weeks supplement with 300-400 mg of magnesium per day. Magnesium has also been reported to interfere with the absorption of dexamethasone.2

                    N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)

                    One preliminary study found that in people with fibrosing alveolitis (a rare lung disease), supplementation with 600 mg N-acetyl cysteine three times per day increased the effectiveness of prednisone therapy.3


                    Oral corticosteroids increase the urinary loss of potassium.4 This may not cause a significant problem for most people. Individuals who wish to increase potassium intake should eat more fruits, vegetables, and juices rather than taking over-the-counter potassium supplements, which do not contain significant amounts of potassium.

                    Vitamin A

                    In some people, treatment with corticosteroids can impair wound healing. In one study, topical or internal vitamin A improved wound healing in eight of ten patients on corticosteroid therapy.5 In theory, vitamin A might also reverse some of the beneficial effects of corticosteroids, but this idea has not been investigated and no reports exist of such an interaction in people taking both vitamin A and corticosteroids. People using oral corticosteroids should consult with a doctor to determine whether improved wound healing might outweigh the theoretical risk associated with concomitant vitamin A use.

                    Although blood levels of vitamin A appear to increase during dexamethasone therapy6-most likely due to mobilization of the vitamin from its stores in the liver-evidence from animal studies has also indicated that corticosteroids can deplete vitamin A from tissues.7

                    Vitamin B6

                    Corticosteroids may increase the loss of vitamin B6.8 One double-blind study of people with asthma failed to show any added benefit from taking 300 mg per day of vitamin B6 along with inhaled steroids.9 Therefore, while small amounts of vitamin B6 may be needed to prevent deficiency, large amounts may not provide added benefit. Some doctors recommend that people taking corticosteroids for longer than two weeks supplement with at least 2 mg of vitamin B6 per day.

                    Calcium and vitamin D

                    Oral corticosteroids reduce absorption of calcium10 and interfere with the activation and metabolism of the vitamin,11, 12, 13, 14 increasing the risk of bone loss. Doctors can measure levels of activated vitamin D (called 1,25 dihydroxycholecalciferol) to determine whether a deficiency exists; if so, activated vitamin D is only available by prescription. A study of rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with low amounts of prednisone found that those who received 1,000 mg of calcium per day plus 500 IU of vitamin D per day for two years experienced no bone loss during that time period.15 An analysis of properly conducted trials concluded that supplementation with vitamin D and calcium was more effective than placebo or calcium alone in protecting against corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis.16 Most doctors recommend 1,000 mg of calcium and 400-800 IU vitamin D per day for the prevention of osteoporosis.


                    Preliminary data suggest that corticosteroid treatment increases chromium loss and that supplementation with chromium (600 mcg per day in the form of chromium picolinate) can prevent corticosteroid-induced diabetes.17 Double-blind trials are needed to confirm these observations.


                    A controlled trial found that a single dose of the synthetic corticosteroid dexamethasone suppressed production of melatonin in nine of 11 healthy volunteers.18 Further research is needed to determine if long-term use of corticosteroids interferes in a meaningful way with melatonin production, and whether supplemental melatonin would be advisable for people taking corticosteroids.


                    Oral corticosteroids cause both sodium and water retention.19 People taking corticosteroids should talk with their doctor about whether they should restrict salt intake.

                    Other nutrients

                    Oral corticosteroids have been found to increase urinary loss of vitamin K, vitamin C, selenium, and zinc.20, 21 The importance of these losses is unknown.
                    Interactions with Herbs

                    Buckthorn, alder buckthorn

                    Use of buckthorn or alder buckthorn (Rhamnus catartica, Rhamnus frangula), for more than ten days consecutively may cause a loss of electrolytes (especially the mineral potassium). Because corticosteroids also cause potassium loss, buckthorn or alder buckthorn should be used with caution if corticosteroids are being taken.22

                    Horny goat weed

                    According to preliminary human studies, horny goat weed offset some of the side effects of corticosteroids.23


                    Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) extract was shown to decrease the elimination of prednisone in test tube studies.24 If this action happens in people, it might prolong prednisone activity and possibly increase prednisone-related side effects. A small, controlled study found that intravenous (iv) glycyrrhizin (an active constituent in licorice) given with iv prednisolone prolonged prednisolone action in healthy men.25 Whether this effect would occur with oral corticosteroids and licorice supplements is unknown.

                    An animal study has shown that glycyrrhizin prevents the immune-suppressing actions of cortisone-the natural corticosteroid hormone produced by the body.26 More research is necessary to determine if this action is significant in humans taking oral corticosteroids. Until more is known, people should not take licorice with corticosteroids without first consulting a doctor.

                    Diuretic herbs

                    Use of corticosteroids may be associated with loss of certain minerals, called electrolytes. Herbs with a diuretic action (in other words, they promote fluid loss from the body through an increase in urine production) may accelerate the electrolyte loss caused by corticosteroids.27 Such herbs include asparagus root, butcher's broom, cleavers, corn silk, juniper, mate, and parsley. This interaction is theoretical and has not been reported in the medical literature.

                    Laxative herbs

                    Like diuretic herbs, herbs with a laxative action could theoretically increase electrolyte loss associated with corticosteroid use.28 Such herbs include aloe, buckthorn, cascara sagrada, rhubarb, and senna. This interaction is theoretical and has not been reported in the medical literature.
                    Other Interactions


                    Corticosteroids can cause stomach upset and should be taken with food.29


                    Oral corticosteroids can cause loss of body protein. For this reason, medical doctors sometimes recommend a high-protein diet for people taking these drugs.30 However, people with diseases that cause kidney damage should not consume too much protein, as this could worsen their condition. A high-protein diet should be used only after consulting a doctor.


                    Corticosteroids can irritate the stomach, and alcohol can enhance this adverse reaction.31

                    Grapefruit juice

                    Taking the oral corticosteroid methylprednisolone with grapefruit juice has been shown to delay the absorption and increase the blood concentration of the drug.32 The mechanism by which grapefruit juice increases the concentration of methylpredniolone in the blood is not known, but it is suspected that it may interfere with enzymes in the liver responsible for clearing the drug from the body. In certain people, grapefruit juice may, therefore, enhance the effects of methylprednisolone. The combination should be avoided unless approved by the prescribing doctor.

                    Pomegranate juice

                    Pomegranate juice has been shown to inhibit the same enzyme that is inhibited by grapefruit juice.33, 34 The degree of inhibition is about the same for each of these juices. Therefore, it would be reasonable to expect that pomegranate juice might interact with oral corticosteroids in the same way that grapefruit juice does.

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