In 1995, actress Karen Duffy — better known as MTV’s VJ “Duff” — returned home to New York after the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles in excruciating pain.
She later described the initial pain in her head like “a burning, sharp pain that felt like I was being electrocuted.” As bad as the pain felt, it soon grew even worse.
Before long, Karen’s monster headache had transformed into a full-body experience. Most of her body was wracked with pain so severe she would curl into a fetal position and try not to cry — even her tears felt like sulfuric acid sliding down her cheeks. The only parts of her body that didn’t hurt were areas mainly on her left side
left numb and paralyzed from whatever disease she had become afflicted with.
Six months of endless MRIs, spinal taps, and other tests later, her doctors through a process of elimination finally diagnosed her condition: a systemic inflammatory disease called sarcoidosis. In Karen’s case, the disease attacked her central nervous system, leaving her partially paralyzed to this day.
While sarcoidosis may affect virtually any area of the body, it most commonly attacks the lungs and lymph nodes where small nodules of immune cells called granulomas are formed. Sometimes these nodules disappear on their own. Other times they leave behind areas of fibrosis, or internal scar tissue.
In the lungs this scarring can permanently impair breathing through pulmonary fibrosis. Actor Bernie Mac, known for his comedic roles in numerous television shows and movies, was another high profile individual known to have suffered from sarcoidosis. After being hospitalized in 2008 with pneumonia, his publicist announced his sarcoidosis had been in remission for three years and Bernie was expected to make a full recovery. Sadly, Bernie passed away several days later.
Christmas night 2004, yet another legend passed away. Hall of fame defensive end Reggie White, better known to fans as “The Minister of Defense,” died in his sleep of a cardiac arrhythmia. Sarcoidosis affecting his heart and lungs was ruled the primary cause of death.
While sarcoidosis is a fairly rare autoimmune disorder, inflammation and fibrosis affects every one of us. Half of all heart attacks are caused by inflammation. Considering the widespread problem, no wonder heart disease remains the number one killer in the United States. But that’s not all. Inflammation is also strongly linked to strokes, arthritis, chronic fatigue, and even Alzheimer’s and
other dementing diseases.
Fortunately, the mechanisms behind controlling systemic inflammation are fairly well understood. It boils down to the level of proteolytic enzymes which counter the body’s inflammatory response to injury, sickness, or tissue irritation.
When we’re young, our bodies heal quickly. Around our mid-20s, a precipitous drop in bodily production of proteolytic enzymes lead to extended recovery periods from injuries. The older we get, the longer it takes to heal.
Proteolytic enzymes do more than fight inflammation. They also clean your blood, help fight off viral and bacterial infections, and break down excess scar-creating fibrin. Taking supplemental systemic enzymes not only helps your body keep inflammation in check, it keeps you healthier by boosting cardiovascular, respiratory and immune system functions throughout your body.
The inflammation fighting and scar erasing properties of proteolytic enzymes haven’t been clinically studied yet (to my knowledge) for the specific treatment of sarcoidosis, but anecdotal evidence from members of sarcoidosis support groups who have tried them indicates it has helped alleviate even symptoms of this harsh disease.
It’s certainly worth further study for sarcoidosis patients — and worth taking to maintain good health in everyone else over age 25. A 30-day supply of systemic enzymes and other natural anti-inflammatory ingredients is currently being offered free at The Healthy Back Institute’s website for those who would like to try them.
Carney, K. Former MTV VJ tells of battle with chronic illness. CNN Headline News. 2003, Sep 19.
Duffy, K. Model Patient: My Life As an Incurable Wise-Ass. Harper Paperbacks. 2001.
Mignot, S. Actor And Comedian Bernie Mac Dies At Age 50. CBS 2 Chicago. 2008, Aug 9.
Sun-Times Media Wire. Bernie Mac Expected To Recover, Publicist Says. Chicago Sun-Times. 2008, Aug 3.
FastStats — Heart Disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2010, Apr 15.
Mecklenburg County Office of the Medical Examiner. Report of Autopsy Examination for Reginald Howard White. 2005, Apr 25.
Written By: Updated: May 25,2010
3 thoughts on “Sarcoidosis: Pain and Death from Inflammation and Fibrosis”
Hi, My wife has adhesion from old scar tissue in her stomach which causes a lot of pain. She had them cut away about5 years ago but the pain is back and intensifies after eating and urinating. Could the systemic enzymes help. I also have spinal stenos-is which is not too good and I don’t want surgery, will this help me as well
Thanks for such an informative post! I’ve first heard about sarcoidosis when Bernie Mac passed away several years ago, and it was just the saddest thing to hear. I’ll definitely try and take in supplemental systemic enzymes to better protect my health.
Unfortunatly, this disease at times is fatal. My 51 year old sister passed away on August 13th. She was just diagnosed in Jan of this year. I had never even heard of it until she got ill. I’m not sure if it was the disease that killed her or the agressive treatment of drugs to get in her remission. We miss her so.