June 12, 2023

Our Approach to Autoimmune Disease

WHAT IS AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE (AD)?

AD is a self attack –  the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissue.  AD is becoming more and more prevelant.  In fact, it is estimated that 1 in 5 Americans has an autoimmune disease.1   In general, AD affects more women than men and the prevalence of AD is increasing with young people ages 12-19 having the greatest increase.2

Some examples of autoimmune diseases are…

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Psoriasis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn’s
  • Eczema
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Multiple sclerosis 
  • Sjogren’s syndrome 

WHAT ARE TREATMENTS FOR AD?

Conventional treatments for AD aim to suppress the immune system.  Since AD is a self-attack – meaning the host’s immune system is attacking its own tissues – treatments are aimed to calm the host’s immune system down.  Medications typically used are things like steroids and immune biologics.  These types of medications will do a great job to suppress the host’s immune system and will work to treat the symptoms associated with the AD, but they do not address the underlying trigger or cause to the development of the AD which typically leads to treatment failure overtime.  Not to mention, these medications come with a host of side effects.  

WHAT CAUSES AD? 

The exact cause is not known but there are many contributors to the development of AD.  

  • Environmental toxins – mold, pesticides, heavy metals, parabens, phalates etc
  • Gut dysbiosis – bacterial, viral, parasitic, fungal overgrowth in the GI tract
  • Gastrointestinal malabsorption 
  • Lifestyle factors – stress, diet, sleep, exercise

WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS BESIDES MEDICATIONS TO TREATING AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE? 

A functional approach to AD aims to find the triggers and remove them.   Finding and removing the triggers will help to optimize and prime the body for detoxification AND improve cellular communication.  Each individual is very different so a thorough history combined with biomarker analysis will allow us to get to the root of the problem.  

AND DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE GUT! 

Two-thirds of our immune system resides in our gastrointestinal tract.  That’s a HUGE chunk.  There are intestinal symptoms (gas, bloat, constipation, diarrhea, food intolerance, etc) followed by extra-intestinal symptoms (joint pains, skin rash, hair loss, fatigue, etc).  A bowel movement is imperative to detoxification and removal of environmental triggers and contributors to disease development.  So, getting your gut right is essential! 

WHAT CAN I DO AT HOME?

Great question!  There’s a lot you can do at home to reduce your risk of developing AD and to start treating any existing AD you may have.  Optimizing your immune system through improving lifestyle factors like boosting sleep,  decreasing stress, eating healthy, and exercising as well as decreasing your toxic burden are some fundamental first steps to addressing the triggers of autoimmune disease.  

Ways to decrease your toxic burden at home:

  1. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet full of color!
  2. Choose organic, grass-fed, pasture raised animal products 
  3. Ditch and switch to non-toxic products (insert link to blog post)

If you or someone you know has autoimmune disease don’t wait schedule a FREE consult today to see how we may be able to help! 

References: 

  1. Dinse GE, Parks CG, Weinberg CR, Co CA, Wilkerson J, Zeldin DC, Chan EKL, Miller FW. 2020. Increasing prevalence of antinuclear antibodies in the United States. Arthritis Rheum; doi: 10.1002/art.41214 [Online 8 April 2020].  
  2. (https://autoimmune.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/1-in-5-Brochure.pdf).
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