The bodies immune system is designed to recognize and attack anything foreign that gets inside your body that shouldn’t be there. Bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other pathogens are recognized by the immune system and targeted for attack and destruction. The immune system is also designed to recognize and leave out own body tissues as being “normal” and to not attack those tissues. An Autoimmune disorder is simply when the immune system begins attacking your own body tissues, which shouldn’t normally happen.
What causes Autoimmune Diseases? The conventional medical world still classifies these diseases as “idiopathic” which means “of unknown origin”… meaning they don’t know what causes them. Many describe the process as the immune system going haywire or hyperactive and it begins attacking your tissues for that reason. If you understand the specifics of how an immune system cell interacts with pathogens and tissues, this description doesn’t make much sense. A white blood cell in the body doesn’t come into contact with the same tissues day after day and not attack those tissues, and then one day “decide” to begin attacking them. There has to be a specific mechanism or trigger to initiate this immune attack against the tissue. Identifying this trigger is the key to successful Autoimmune Disease treatment and management.
Current medical treatments for Autoimmune Disease, regardless of which type you are talking about, are focused on immune and inflammation suppression. Steroidal treatments and new biological medications are designed to suppressive the immune system so it’s unable to attack the bodies own tissues. With severe and progressed autoimmune diseases these treatments are life saving and necessary. But they come with two obvious and significant drawbacks.
First, they also suppress your immune systems ability to fight off other important pathogens and even Cancer. Secondly, they are just addressing the symptom of the Autoimmune disease (inflammation) and are not addressing the cause or trigger for the inflammation.
The process of how an Autoimmune condition affects the body is often the same for most Autoimmune conditions, therefore the same approach can be taken with all conditions. The emphasis of treatment to focus on identifying the cause/trigger for the condition, removing it and then repairing the damage (tissue, hormonal, physiological) caused by the condition.
We identify these triggers by beginning with an extensive medical history taken (personal and familial). We review your symptoms and other related conditions, and examine your diet and environment for obvious potential triggers. In certain cases, Immunological testing can be performed (blood antibody testing) to identify potential dietary triggers if necessary. Once we identify all potential environmental and dietary triggers, we construct a plan to remove them and monitor your symptoms for improvements.
Diet is a critical contributor to initiation of Autoimmune diseases. We don't have to look very far for a definitive example of this. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder with a known dietary trigger for it, Gluten (Gliadin) The mechanism is known and very simple to explain. This example is very important so please take the time to read and understand it.
A patient eats gluten (a protein found in many wheat products) and is allergic to it. They produce an antibody (or Immunoglobulin) to gluten much the same way they would produce an antibody to a bacteria or virus. This gluten antibody then goes out into the body in search of proteins that look like gluten to attack. Patients with celiac have an allergy to gluten and produce antibodies to it, but they also have tissues in their body (the bowel) that look similar to gluten. The antibodies produced to gluten then attack the tissue proteins in the bowel that look like gluten. This causes the inflammation in the bowel associated with celiac disease. When doctors do blood test for celiac they look for the antibody to gluten in the blood. When they do biopsies in the bowel for celiac, they are looking for the proteins that look similar to gluten that the antibodies may be attacking. This is known and quite easy to understand.
Now if someone could have a gene that makes them allergic to gluten and produces antibodies to it. And they also have a tissue which look similar to gluten in the bowel, and the antibody attack this protein in the bowel and causes celiac disease... Why couldn't a different person with different genes and DNA, be allergic to and produce antibodies to a DIFFERENT food protein and it attack a DIFFERENT protein in the body. This makes perfect sense. Unfortunately the only test available in the conventional medical system for this type of response is for gluten/gliadin antibodies and mimicking tissue proteins. They don't have tests for different food protein allergies and tissue biopsies for these antibody attacks. This does not mean that they don't exist though.
The KEY to managing your Autoimmune Disease is to identify what food may be triggering an antibody cross reaction with the tissue affected by your condition
Supplements are used in a different manner than you might expect when treating these conditions. Emphasis for treatment is on identifying and removing potential triggers for your Autoimmune condition. If we try and manage your condition by prescribing supplements to help with the symptoms of your condition, we are doing nothing different than what the conventional approach to the condition is.
Caution must be take with supplements use with an active and flared Autoimmune condition. As the immune system is actively attack the body tissues, any supplement program designed to boost or stimulate the immune system (which many supplements are intended to do) can actually boost the immune system attack on your own tissues.
Once we identify the trigger(s) for the condition, then supplementation can be used to help repair damage caused by the condition. Supplements can be used to restore hormonal imbalances, boost metabolic systems that have been drained by the chronic inflammation (adrenaline and thyroid) , boost the immune system, improve energy and focus, repair the digestive tract and improve digestive function, improve skin health, and improve mental health and functioning (anxiety and depression).