Auto-Immune ConditionsDecember 2, 2013
Auto-Immune Conditions are on the Rise
Over 24 million American’s suffer with auto-immune conditions, making it the second highest cause of chronic illness in America and the third leading cause of Social Security disability behind heart disease and cancer.
And yet most people can’t name a single one by name of more than 100 that have been identified. These conditions, to name a few include:
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Chron’s Disease
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Multiple Sclerosis
Symptoms arise based on what tissues are being attacked by the immune system.
Why Auto-Immune Conditions Occur
Auto-immune ( A. I.) conditions occur when the immune system which is supposed to protect you from outside invaders (bacteria, virus, toxins) instead start attacking your own tissues as if they were the enemy. The immune system regularly performs this function at low levels as it aids the body in removing cells that are no longer living, making way for new cells to take their place. However in an auto-immune condition this is happening at a much higher rate and it’s attacking healthy cells. This abnormal response has occurred because the immune system lost the full ability to determine your cells from abnormal non-self cells.
If you have an auto-immune condition why did it happen? People who have auto-immunity have a predisposition to the conditions based on their genetic family tree. When I see an A. I. patient in my office who has been diagnosed or I am suspicious that they may have auto-immunity, I always ask, do you have other blood relative with the similar symptoms? Very frequently they respond in the affirmative. Even though you have a genetic predisposition it doesn’t mean that you will develop auto-immunity, however the chances are greater if you have exposure to known triggers that cause A.I. conditions to develop.
These triggers include infections that the body cannot eliminate such as viruses, parasites, bacteria and fungi. These organisms will be low grade and chronic and often are difficult to detect. The most common symptom they produce is fatigue.
Other triggers include low Vitamin D, blood sugar imbalances and adrenal gland problems.
Another important trigger is leaky gut syndrome. This occurs as a result of the above problems weakening the permeability of the small intestine and colon allowing undigested and foreign proteins to breach the intestinal barrier. This a serious problem because 80% of your immune system is in your gut. This creates a tremendous response from the immune system and will cause the immune system to wind way up and become overactive setting the seeds of autoimmunity. As this reactivity continues to occur you will start sensitizing to foods you eat creating more inflammation and even more reactivity.
How do you know if you are experiencing auto-immune problems? If you have not been previously diagnosed there are several signs that you may have an A.I. condition that is causing your symptoms.
- You have been to many doctors for many different symptoms but your condition has not improved.
- You have tried to help yourself with natural medicine because you either did not want to take medications that caused unwanted side effects/did not help and/or you have a shopping bag of supplements you take but you’re not much better.
Many A.I. conditions are not found because proper testing is not done to find them. The accuracy of testing has recently greatly improved; there are blood panels that can now find which tissues your immune system is targeting for destruction.
If you have a chronic health condition that has not been improving, consider that there may be an auto-immune component that has not been evaluated properly. In addition to evaluation also make sure your Vitamin D levels are optimum; a good goal is greater than 40. Also consider avoiding gluten, dairy and soy and see if you feel improvement.
Auto-immune patients are on average the most ill patient’s that I see. Fortunately there are very effective strategies that we use to calm the immune system and improve symptoms. The key to success is to find and correct the triggers. We do this with comprehensive testing, specific nutritional protocols, detoxification, and targeted neurological care.