How Alcohol May Make Your CIDP Worse
Alcohol may be pleasurable in the short-run, but its long-term use may be making your CIDP symptoms worse.
By Shiraz Abbas
Alcohol is a normal part of American life whether it is as a solo activity or at a party. Yet alcohol is known for its degenerative effects on the heart, mind and liver.
Lesser known is the association of alcohol in aggravating autoimmune diseases like CIDP. The more you know about this, the better your chances are at alleviating your pain, so stop doing things that make your sickness worse.
Alcohol has a dual effect on your body’s immune system. Autoimmune Mom summarizes the problem as follows:
Alcohol consumption directly affects your immune system. Specialized immune cells, called natural killer cells, have reduced effectiveness when alcohol is in the bloodstream, and T-cells also become dysfunctional. Fewer B-cells are produced, although their antibody production may be increased, and circulating antibodies in heavy drinkers have been putatively linked to autoimmune conditions.
It has been found that ethanol metabolism creates “neo-antigens,” which attach to normal body proteins and trigger immune cells to attack, leading some to believe that alcoholic liver and pancreatic disease may be partially autoimmune phenomena. There are many anecdotal reports of increased rates of autoimmune flare-ups with alcohol consumption, especially in regards to lupus and arthritis, although no serious human research is being conducted.
Put in simpler terms, your body has an immune system and a lot of your immunity is managed by a proper inflammatory response.
A proper inflammatory response means that your body must not go haywire and attack itself as is it case in autoimmune diseases like CIDP. Alcohol seems to exacerbate this problem and damage healthy immune balances.
The second problem has to do with the way alcohol effects your gut bacteria.
As we saw earlier, gut bacteria is critical in maintaining a proper immune and inflammatory function in the body. For example, we saw how bad gut bacteria can lead to severe inflammation in the body:
If there is a #1 biological culprit that switches on inflammation in the body it is a substance called lipopolysaccharide or LPS. LPS is a substance that is found on the outer membranes of certain kinds of bad bacteria. LPS protects bad bacteria in the gut from being digested. Although beneficial to the bad bacteria themselves, LPS is known as an endotoxin, meaning that it is a toxic substance that is produced by the bacteria itself. When LPS makes itself into the bloodstream of animals, it brings about severe inflammation in the body.
Remember that your gut has both good and bad bacteria. You need to have a proper balance that favors the number of good bacteria in your body. Not only do they lead to a proper immune function, but they also isolate and keep those bad ones in check since those bad ones can secrete chemicals that will mess up the inflammatory response of your body.
So what does alcohol do?
Well, alcohol can contribute to destroying the good bacteria in your body thereby altering a your gut flora and helping those bad bacteria that may be responsible for exacerbating autoimmune conditions and chronic inflammation.
What is our takeaway here?
What you consume may have a direct effect on your health. Alcohol may be enjoyable at the moment, but its long-term consumption may wreck damage in your intestinal flora thereby exacerbating your autoimmune and CIDP symptoms.
Before you take any action, make sure to always consult with your doctor.
Shiraz Abbas is the founder and manager of the CIDP Neuropathy Support Group. He is also one of the main community educators of IVIG therapy. He resides in Fresno, California. Shiraz can be contacted through our free CIDP advice service at 1-855-782-0574.