Autoimmune disease

When the body’s immune system starts to attack our own tissues, it is referred to as an autoimmune disease. The target of the immune system’s mistaken action can be virtually any tissue or organ and so there are at least 100 diseases at least suspected of being auto-immune. Some of the more common conditions already accepted as being caused by an autoimmune reaction are Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, Diabetes Type 1, Endometriosis, Graves’ disease (thyroid),Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (thyroid again), Lupus erythematosus, Multiple sclerosis, Psoriasis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, Ulcerative colitis and Vitiligo. Often as new autoimmune diseases are added to the list, they are given the name of the scientist or doctor that made the connection.

The medical establishment says that virtually all of these are of “unknown origin” and “no known cure”. Symptoms are typically managed with anti-inflammatory dru+gs of one kind or another. Virtually all risk serious side effects if taken for a long time. Prednisone for example can lead to osteoporosis, weight gain, slow wound healing, persistent heartburn, and elevated blood pressure. Also, medications like chemotherapy are often used to suppress immune function. That puts the patient more at risk for infectious diseases and potentially cancer.

In contrast, the integrative/alternative medical community has said for decades that the problem originates in the gut through a breakdown known as “leaky gut”. Orthodoxy has finally embraced the fact that the lining of the intestines can become damaged and therefore allow substances to pass into the blood stream across a barrier that formerly contained them. The next step should be to realize that the damage to the intestinal lining can be caused by toxins such as mercury but is most often caused by yeasts and bad bacteria allowed to run amok because our friendly bacteria (probiotics) have been killed off (most often by antibiotics). Next would be to acknowledge that foreign substances (like incompletely digested food material) floating around in the blood stream might be enough to confuse the immune system.

Alternative Treatments: There is nothing to lose even for a healthy person and typically potentially much to gain for the victim of an autoimmune disease by implementing these steps commonly used by naturopaths, nutritionists and integrative docs. Absolutely check with your doctor to make sure none of these recommendations are contraindicated in your particular case or for your specific condition.

  • If you know or can find out with allergy tests what is annoying the system (e.g. in the case of celiac disease, gluten in grains), avoid that. Avoid chemicals and drugs that damage our beneficial intestinal bacteria. If there is a hidden infectious agent of some kind (virus, etc.) determine and treat that.
  • Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. That would include reducing inflammatory sugars and omega-6 fats and increasing healing vegetables and omega-3 fats. Starches should be reduced too because they are a favorite food of yeasts that disrupt the intestinal tract. A low glycemic diet can accomplish all of this.
  • Replace and support our friendly bacteria that not only fight pathogens, but also create substances to support the health of the cells that line the intestines. That means eating fermented foods and supplementing probiotics. The reason I always recommend Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics is that it supports all the hundreds of types of friendly organisms in our gut.
  • Read the page on yeasts and take steps to reduce your load of yeasts.
  • Heal the gut with Aloe vera, zinc carnosine and the amino acid L-glutamine.
  • Take anti-inflammatory supplements such as Magnesium, Fish Oil, green food and Curcumin.
  • Avoid supplements that simply stimulate the immune system. Ones that help balance it like vitamin D, vitamin C, Moducare or colostrum may be helpful. Systemic enzymes may be worth a try.
  • A good night’s sleep helps a lot. Try Melatonin.
  • Exercise works wonders. Just start slowly.
  • Relax and breathe deeply. Stress makes everything worse.
  • Far infrared sauna helps improve the body’s circulation, energizes cells and most importantly expels toxins out through the skin, sparing the internal detox systems.
  • Research nutritional support for the specific tissues that are being attacked in your body.

Fat Free Folly by Martie Whittekin, CCN
Living Well with Autoimmune Disease: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Tell You…That You Need to Know by Mary J. Shomon.

Mark Hyman, MD blog post on autoimmune
American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association

Copyright 2014 by Martie Whittekin, CCN