Autoimmune Diseases

Your immune system is designed to protect your healthy cells and tissues by attacking any viruses, bacteria, pathogens, or diseases that enter your body. Simply put, it’s what prevents you from getting sick, and also what helps you feel better if you do become ill.

However, autoimmune diseases are different. They cause your immune system to get confused and attack the healthy cells in your body instead of the diseased ones.

Autoimmune disease is one of the top causes of death in the US. In fact, it out numbers cancer and heart disease combined. For women under the age of 65, it is the second highest cause of chronic illness and is the top cause of morbidity in women in the United States. It is an area of major concern.

Additionally, autoimmune diseases have been reported to be on the rise in the US and around the world, making this poorly understood category of disease a public health crisis that has cost over $100 billion.

Here are a few facts about Autoimmune Disease:

  • Once you have one autoimmune disease you are 3x’s more likely to get another one.
  • According to the CDC, 50-75 million Americans and 125 million people worldwide suffer from autoimmune disease.
  • Antibodies for autoimmunity begin to show up in the blood 5 years before there is enough tissue damage to get a diagnosis and treatment.

So, why is this the case? It is because we live in a toxic and stressed-out world. We are now exposed to tens of thousands of chemicals that didn’t even exist before the industrial revolution.

To make it worse, conventional medicine is not good at preventative medicine. It treats autoimmune disorders according to a person’s symptoms, sending the patient to multiple doctors only after the onset of the autoimmune disease.

Some myths about autoimmunity:

  • Autoimmune disease cannot be reversed.
  • Your symptoms require harsh medications.
  • Autoimmune disease is totally dependent on genetics.

The biggest myth of all is that diet (e.g. being gluten and dairy free) does not affect autoimmune disorders. An Elimination Diet is the first tool that should be used in treating autoimmune disorders. We have seen amazing results in our patients just by making strategic diet changes.

Causes of Autoimmune Disease

The development of an autoimmune disease requires a triad of variables including:

  1. Genetic predisposition or family history
  2. Leaky Gut Syndrome
  3. A trigger like:
    a. Estrogen
    b. Gluten and Dairy
    c. Toxins
    d. Medications
    e. Stress
While genetics don’t sentence you to a life with an autoimmune disorder, there does need to be a predisposition. The next factor that appears to be critical is the presence of foreign proteins in the blood and this is where leaky gut comes in. Then, there has to be a trigger.

Some common symptoms which can be related to autoimmune disease:

  • joint pain
  • fatigue
  • digestive problems
  • chronic anemia
  • diarrhea
  • cold hands and feet
  • constipation
  • weight gain
  • infertility
  • osteoporosis
  • type 1 diabetes
  • panic attacks
  • burning pain
  • numbness
  • tingling
  • skin disorders
  • cerebellar ataxia
  • hair loss
  • loss of skin pigment
  • rosacea
  • chronic dry eyes
  • GERD
  • unexplained weight loss
  • attention disorders
  • mental fog
  • insomnia
  • anxiety

Can you reverse autoimmunity?

Conventional medicine says that autoimmunity cannot be reversed, but the world of functional medicine says different. Many functional medicine doctors are seeing wonderful transformations in their patients. While you can’t cure anyone of autoimmunity, many patients are finding their conditions become “dormant”. This is called recovery.