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View Full Version : How to Stop Attacking Yourself: 9 Steps to Heal Autoimmune Disease



Angella
5th August 2012, 10:44 PM
INFLAMMATION IS A “HOT” TOPIC IN MEDICINE. It appears connected to almost every known chronic disease — from heart disease to cancer, diabetes to obesity, autism to dementia, and even depression. Other inflammatory diseases such as allergies, asthma, arthritis, and autoimmune disease are increasing at dramatic rates. As physicians we are trained to shut off inflammation with aspirin, anti-inflammatory medication such as Advil or Motrin, steroids and increasingly more powerful immune suppressing medication with serious side effects. But we are not trained to find and treat the underlying causes of inflammation in chronic disease. Hidden allergens, infections, environmental toxins, an inflammatory diet, and stress are the real causes of these inflammatory conditions.

Autoimmune diseases, specifically, now affect 24 million people and include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and more. These are often addressed by powerful immune suppressing medication and not by addressing the cause. That’s like taking a lot of aspirin while you are standing on a tack. The treatment is not more aspirin or a strong immune suppressant, but removing the tack.

It you want to cool off inflammation in the body, you must find the source. Treat the fire, not the smoke. In medicine we are mostly taught to diagnose disease by symptoms, NOT by their underlying cause. Functional medicine, the emerging 21st paradigm of systems medicine teaches us to treat the cause, not only the symptoms, to ask the question WHY are you sick, not only WHAT disease do you have.

I recently participated in a group discussion with a conventional doctor, a rheumatologist, and patient with an autoimmune disease, and one of my patients who was cured of a complex autoimmune disease by addressing the causes. The focus of the other doctors, however, was on how to suppress the inflammation with medication, not finding and treating the cause. Functional medicine is a different way of thinking about disease that helps us understand and treat the real causes of inflammation instead of finding clever ways to shut it down. Medicine as it is practiced today is like taking the battery out of a smoke detector while a fire burns down your house!

Autoimmune conditions are connected by one central biochemical process: A runaway immune response also known as systemic inflammation that results in your body attacking its own tissues.

Autoimmunity: What it is and How it Occurs

We are facing an epidemic of allergic (60 million people), asthmatic (30 million people) and autoimmune disorders (24 million people). Autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, celiac disease, thyroid disease, and the many other hard-to-classify syndromes in the 21st century. These are all autoimmune conditions, and at their root they are connected by one central biochemical process: A runaway immune response also known as systemic inflammation that results in your body attacking its own tissues.

Your immune system is your defense against invaders. It is your internal army and has to clearly distinguish friend from foe — to know you from other. Autoimmunity occurs when your immune system gets confused and your own tissues get caught in friendly cross-fire. Your body is fighting something — an infection, a toxin, an allergen, a food or the stress response — and somehow it redirects its hostile attack on your joints, your brain, your thyroid, your gut, your skin, or sometimes your whole body.

This immune confusion results from what is referred to as molecular mimicry. Conventional approaches don’t have a method for finding the insult causing the problem. Functional medicine provides a map to find out which molecule the cells are mimicking.

Interestingly, autoimmune disorders occur almost exclusively in developed countries. People in poor nations without modern amenities like running water, flush toilets, washing machines, and sterile backyards don’t get these diseases. If you grew up on a farm with lots of animals, you are also less likely to have any of these inflammatory disorders. Playing in the dirt, being dirty, and being exposed to bugs and infections trains your immune system to recognize what is foreign and what is “you.”

In this country, autoimmune diseases when taken all together are a huge health burden. They are the eighth leading cause of death among women, shortening the average patient’s lifespan by eight years. The annual health care cost for autoimmune diseases is $120 billion a year representing nearly twice the economic health care burden of cancer (about $ 70 billion a year). (i)

Unfortunately, many of the conventional treatments available can make you feel worse. Anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil, steroids, immune suppressants like methotrexate, and the new TNF-alpha blockers like Enbrel or Remicade can lead to intestinal bleeding, kidney failure, depression, psychosis, osteoporosis, muscle loss, and diabetes, not to mention overwhelming infection and cancer.(ii)

When used selectively these drugs can help people get their lives back. But they are not a long-term solution. They shouldn’t be the end of treatment, but a bridge to cool off inflammation while we treat the root cause of the disease.

There is another way to deal with autoimmune conditions.

Recovering from Autoimmunity: Addressing the Root Causes of Inflammation

If you have an autoimmune disease, here is what you need to think about and do.

Nine Steps to Treating Autoimmune Disease

Check for hidden infections — yeast, viruses, bacteria, Lyme, etc. — with the help of a doctor, and treat them.
Check for hidden food allergens with IgG food testing or just try The UltraSimple Diet, which is designed to eliminate most food allergens.
Get tested for celiac disease, which is a blood test that any doctor can do.
Get checked for heavy metal toxicity. Mercury and other metals can cause autoimmunity.
Fix your gut. For details, see my blog on irritable bowel syndrome.
Use nutrients such as fish oil, vitamin C, vitamin D, and probiotics to help calm your immune response naturally.
Exercise regularly — it’s a natural anti-inflammatory.
Practice deep relaxation like yoga, deep breathing, biofeedback, or massage, because stress worsens the immune response.
Tell your doctor about Functional medicine and encourage him or her to get trained — go to www.functionalmedicine.org for more information and to get a copy of the Textbook for Functional Medicine

source = Dr Hyman