I faced my own health journey as I struggled with serious and rare autoimmune disease, before I ever became a physician, got my board certification in family medicine, certified in Anti-Aging And Regenerative Medicine and a certified Functional Medicine expert, athlete, and much later pregnancy, becoming a mother at the age of 43. Those days were dark days in my life as I struggled not knowing how I got there, offering through debilitating gut issues, chronic sinus and bronchial infections, severe chronic muscle aches, hair loss, and other symptoms that destroyed my well being and nearly my life and left me desperate for answers. I am so thankful however because even though I was disappointed over and over again as conventional medicine not only had no answers but continued to fuel the disease with drugs they prescribed making it worse I knew inside that there is something better and I am able to take control of my health.
Conventional medicine not only failed me but contributed and likely caused the triggers for my disease.
It is therefore an important part of my life’s purpose to not have the medicine. Conventional medicine offers one size fits all medicine does not work, because we are all different and masks symptoms with drugs and surgery without ever addressing the root causes.
There is a better way, no matter the diagnosis, whether it’s Hashimoto’s, lupus, psoriasis, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis or any of the other almost one hundred named autoimmune diseases, you can take back control of your health, feel better, identify the root causes, and get more and more healthy, living a vital life, rather than accept and cope with the diagnosis and stand by as your health slowly deteriorates.
You can take the necessary steps to reverse autoimmunity by identifying triggers that include toxins, imbalanced gut microbes, inflammation, infections, and stress and restoring balance.
The first steps are understanding what are the causes of autoimmunity and later I will describe the steps needed to heal.
What Is Autoimmune Disease?
Autoimmune diseases are a family of nearly 100 chronic, often debilitating and, in some cases, life-threatening named illnesses that affect the immune system. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 24 million Americans (more than seven percent of the population) suffer from an autoimmune disease – and the prevalence is rising.
They include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto’s and Graves thyroid disease, celiac disease, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, and many others.
When the process of autoimmunity begins, your body begins to make antibodies against its own tissues, and attacks itself. Something confuses the body into confusing self from invaders, which is what the immune system does in a healthy state. The function of a healthy immune system is to protect your body from foreign invaders that can make you sick like bacteria and viruses and to help destroy any abnormal cells that a healthy immune system destroys so they do not continue to grow and make more normal cells, and growth called cancer.
Conventionally physicians are not trained to ask where does this disease come from and why are so many Americans and children falling ill with these diseases.
Autoimmune diseases are addressed conventionally by immune suppressing drugs and not by addressing the actual root cause of the disease. The problem is that these drugs have devastating side effects for the human body and the system as a whole. They literally aim to shut down the immune system.
Unfortunately, that is a simpleton approach because we need our immune system. You don’t need a degree to know that. Our immune system is KEY in our health, it helps us fight off infections and helps kill cancer cells. Thats why the side effects of the pharmaceutical drugs used include serious infections and cancer and even death. This doesn’t really make sense does it?
Autoimmune Disease Does Not Have To Be Lifelong
Conventionally autoimmune disease is incurable and the cause is unknown. At best you are offered pharmaceutical drugs that suppress your immune system, since the root causes are not investigated a all that can be done conventionally is look very superficially and suppress the entire immune system hoping to slow down the autoimmune process by slowing down your whole immune system.
That’s a huge problem though because you need your immune system to fight infections and even cancer cells and the side effects of these drugs include severe infection, cancer and even death.
There must be a better way. Functional medicine identifies and addresses the root causes of autoimmunity thereby supports the immune system rather than suppressing it.
Two of the most common autoimmune diseases are Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis, and celiac disease. In Hashimoto’s the body starts to attacks its own thyroid tissue destroying thyroid cells and eventually decreasing and destroying thyroid function.
Celiac disease is the process of immune activation by gluten that results in immune system attacking its own tissues beginning in the digestive system and small intestine.
Symptoms Of Autoimmune Disease Include
- Joint Pain
- Abdominal Pain
- Constipation or Loose Stools
- Brain Fog
- Thinning Hair or Hair Loss
- Burning Eyes
- Swollen Glands
- Muscle Aches
Autoimmune Disease Is Difficult To Diagnose
Autoimmune diseases can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms can fall under the umbrella of other diseases, vary, and affect virtually any organ system.
Most physicians, unless specialized in autoimmune disease may not be able to recognize the signs of autoimmunity and an accurate diagnosis may be difficult to get until you work with a physician experienced with autoimmunity.
Conventionally, there is no cure for autoimmune disease. However autoimmune disease does not have to be lifelong or progressive. It can certainly be lifelong if there is no investigation of what are the root causes and triggers for the disease.
Conventional testing only involves testing to identify present inflammation and autoantibodies, there is no investigation of the potential root causes which we will discuss below.
When we identify and address the underlying triggers of autoimmune disease significant improvements are seen, without any need for immune suppression, and even resolution can occur.
Examples Of Autoimmune Disease
There are more than 80 different autoimmune diseases named and diseases are complex and far-reaching. Autoimmune Disease can affect any organ system in the body or be multisystemic.
A few examples of autoimmune disease include Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Systemic Lupus, Celiac Disease, Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease, Type I Diabetes, Vasculitis, Psoriasis, Scleroderma, Acquired Partial Lipodystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, and Sjogren’s Syndrome.
What Causes Autoimmune Disease
Autoimmunity can be caused by anything foreign to the body that triggers the immune system to fight, but in the process, the immune system gets confused and attacks self by making autoantibodies (antibodies against self).
Triggers can vary and be multifactorial meaning there could have been one trigger or a number of factors together triggered the disease.
Triggers for autoimmunity include microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungus, parasites or viruses), pharmaceutical drugs, intestinal hyper permeability (leaky gut), environmental toxins and heavy metals, inflammatory foods like gluten, lectins, viral infections, and stress. drugs may trigger changes that confuse the immune system.
Any of these factors can turn on autoimmunity. This may happen more often in people who have genes that make them more prone to autoimmune disorders. However it is environmental triggers that can turn those genes on meaning if those triggers from the environment were not present the gene may have never turned on.
It can also happen in individuals with no genetic predisposition at all, just an environmental trigger. Underlying causes of autoimmunity include imbalanced gut microbes, yeast, candida mold toxins, prescribed medications like synthetic estrogens and oral contraceptives, chronic viral infections, heavy metals, stress, and food allergies.
We will work together and identify the root causes and driving factors of your autoimmune problems and address them. This takes the pressure of your immune system and allows your body to heal so you can live a healthy and vital life.
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