Autoimmunity Explained

By Mila McManus, MD

According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, there are more than 150 different diseases on the autoimmune spectrum[i].  In America, almost one in six people have an autoimmune disease.  To understand autoimmunity, it is necessary to start with discussing foreign invaders and inflammation.

Inflammation is designed to be a necessary process. It is a natural response when the body identifies a foreign invader or threat.  Examples of threats include:

  • Injury
  • Microbes, such as bacteria, viruses, molds or parasites
  • Chemicals and heavy metals
  • Undigested food particles that have made their way into the body through a leaky gut

When a threat is detected, the body creates antibodies to find and mark the invaders. Antibodies attach to, and highlight, the foreign invader so that the immune system can see it and attack it.  Inflammation is the result of the battle within.  Under healthy circumstances, once the threat is removed, the battle is won, and the inflammation dissipates.

Antibodies find the foreign invader by identifying the unique protein molecules of the invader. This can be complicated, much like trying to distinguish poison ivy from another green, leafy plant.  You have to know what distinguishes poison ivy from other plants that look very similar.

Problems arise when foreign threats multiply and/or become persistent.  As small battles turn into full blown war, inflammation, stress and confusion increases. The immune system is now hyper sensitive and operating in high alert.  Antibodies begin to make mistakes and fail to distinguish the nuanced differences between the proteins in healthy, human tissue and the proteins of the foreign invader.  Mistakenly, antibodies attach to human tissues (for example, thyroid tissues or joint tissues), marking them for attack, and causing the immune system to attack its own. This is autoimmunity.

Autoimmunity develops over time, in a sequence, from chronic, on-going exposure and inflammation. As tissue damage accumulates, degenerative processes escalate, and symptoms are increasingly manifesting. The autoimmune process moves from unnoticeable to an organized disease pathology.

Autoimmune diseases can strike many parts of the body, making symptoms vary widely, and making diagnosis sometimes difficult.  Interestingly, the same foreign threat can manifest differently in different people. For example, a gluten sensitivity may result in compromised brain function for one person.  In the next person, it may manifest as constipation, while yet another person, as liver disease and neuropathy. For yet another, it may affect the thyroid. Some suggest that the place of attack is simply your weakest link in overall health, caused by genetics, lifestyle factors or environmental factors.

Conventional Medicine will tell you it is genetic, and nothing can be done except to minimize the severity of symptoms. You will be directed to a specialist who treats the specific damaged tissue.  Standard treatment protocols involve reducing inflammation with steroids, biologics, and even cancer drugs such as methotrexate.

Functional Medicine will seek to stop the cascade of events which lead to autoimmunity.  The root of the problem lies first with the foreign invasion and resulting inflammation. A Functional physician will address the entire chain of events rather than one tissue that has been attacked.  For example, important interventions include:

  • Addressing gut health
  • Identifying and reducing toxic burden
  • Uncovering and addressing food sensitivities and allergies
  • Supporting and strengthening immune function
  • Identifying if pathogenic microbes are involved and address them
  • Improving diet and nutrition in general
  • Obtaining a genetic profile to address mutations that affect how the body functions

Other supportive modalities include:

If you want to read  more about autoimmunity, we recommend the following books:

Brain Maker by David Perlmutter, MD

Plant Paradox by Steven Gundry, MD

Wahls Protocol by Terry Wahls, MD

The Autoimmune Fix, by Tom O’Bryan, DC, CCN,DACBN


[i] American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, “list of Diseases: Autoimmune and Autoimmune-Related Diseases,” http://www.aarda.org/autoimmune-information/list-of-dieases/.

By |2019-07-29T13:47:24-05:00July 25th, 2019|Articles, General|

Could You Be Next?

Do you have, or are you at risk for, an Autoimmune Disease?

By Nancy Mehlert, MS and Mila McManus MDautoimmune diseases

While rare in underdeveloped nations, autoimmune diseases have become a 21st century epidemic, with one in six people in America living with autoimmune disease. Some of the increasingly common autoimmune diseases of our times include Hashimoto’s thyroid disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease (i.e., ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease), psoriasis, and celiac disease.  What you may not realize is how easily anyone can end up with an autoimmune disease if inflammation is not addressed aggressively and in a timely manner.  Here’s why:

Your immune system is designed to protect and defend you from potential invaders; those microbes and substances which should not be in your body, including bacteria, parasites, yeast, fungi, chemicals (e.g., plastics, pesticides, petroleum, heavy metals), and anything else that looks foreign and mysterious to  your body. There are varying theories as to the exact etiology of autoimmune disease. Traditionalists tend to blame genetics or occasionally allow that infectious disease may stimulate it.  Others in the functional and integrative medicine fields give genetics significantly less credit and recognize inflammation as an underlying common thread to all autoimmune diseases that have become chronic and systemic. Simply put, autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system loses its ability to distinguish friend from foe and begins to attack its own tissues, whether that be an organ, nerves, joints, bone, or other tissues. Most functional integrative practitioners also recognize the gut microbiome (i.e., the colonies of various microbes in the gastrointestinal tract) as providing the vast majority of our immune system, and so connect a compromised microbiome and consequent gut inflammation, as well as related gut permeability (aka “leaky gut”), directly to the onset and progression of autoimmune disease.  So while definitions and causes of autoimmune diseases vary, what is consistent among them is a systemic inflammation partnered with the body attacking itself, most likely involving underlying gut UNhealth. Lack of gastrointestinal symptoms does NOT equal a healthy gut.  Moreover, let’s not underestimate the role of stress as it triggers and/or exacerbates all that ails you.

Treatment methods also vary.  Traditionalists will simply seek to stop the immune response with anti-inflammatory medications and immune suppressing medications, all of which have serious side effects and fail to address the source of the problem.   Functional medicine seeks to find the chronic sources of inflammation in the body and correct these areas, working to restore optimal function and offer healing.

Understanding the concepts above about autoimmune disease can help you see that, if you don’t identify and put out the fires of inflammation in the body, they can lead to some very serious diseases. Moreover, it follows that your best defense against autoimmunity is to choose a balanced lifestyle that avoids common sources of inflammation, and address any inflammation at its source if, or when, it does appear.

The human body is complex.  Just as a car needs the parts of the engine, properly assembled, AND gas, AND oil, AND tires, AND brake fluid AND filters, the human body has many parts that must function together properly and be cared for properly in order to remain disease free and healthy.  There is not a simple pill or diet or an exercise that can cure or prevent autoimmune disease.

Here are many of the likely factors to consider as you seek to avoid or treat an autoimmune disease. We recommend that you partner with a functional/integrative practitioner to explore the following:

  • Check for hidden infections caused by yeast, viruses, bacteria, and other parasites or pathogens.
  • Identify food allergens and sensitivities with IgE and IgG testing so that they can be removed as a source of immune attack and invasion.
  • Identify inflammatory foods and beverages, as well as medications, which contribute to overall inflammation, and avoid them.
  • Identify vitamin, mineral, and other nutrient deficiencies. Healing and recovery will require them. They help to regulate the behavior of the immune system.  For example, vitamin D and zinc deficiencies have been well studied as common culprits involved with inflammation.
  • Address your gut health by restoring the military force of beneficial bacteria that protects you, while simultaneously eliminating the inflammation there.  The gut needs to be healed, sealed and re-militarized!
  • Identify possible sources of chemical exposure and minimize ongoing exposure. Consider your past and present exposure to pesticides, heavy metals (e.g., mercury, lead and arsenic), petrochemicals, Roundup (an herbicide), plastics, fragrances and other beauty care products. All of these are invaders that create havoc, disrupt normal bodily processes and create real and significant inflammation. They are pervasive and present in our routine daily lives but can be dramatically minimized with an intentional approach.
  • Consider utilizing PEMF as a complement to your other treatments.
  • Address your stressors.  Stress is an inflammatory trigger.  According to Dr. David Marquis, a Diplomat American Clinical Board of Nutrition, “ when you engage in an argument and your cortisol levels increase or you are burning the midnight oil to finish a project and your thyroid hormone levels fluctuate, both are examples of chemical changes in the body that create immediate, real time intestinal permeability, resulting in absorption of partially undigested food, toxins, viruses, yeast and bacteria to pass through the intestines into the bloodstream where the immune response attacks”. Learn to balance your life, practice deep relaxation, exercise regularly but not excessively, ensure quality sleep and maintain healthy relationships. Care for your mind, body and spirit – your whole, integrated being.

References:

https://draxe.com/autoimmune-disease-symptoms/

www.mercola.com

 

 

 

 

 

By |2016-08-01T08:57:27-05:00July 29th, 2016|Articles, General|

Proteolytic Enzymes (Protease)

protease

While MSM, Turmeric, and Vitamin C are well known anti-inflammatories worth including in any autoimmune strategy, we want to introduce Proteolytic Enzymes, or Protease, as it is a supplement which serves multiple purposes that support the immune system and address auto-immunity and inflammation in general.

Proteolytic enzymes, or proteases, are produced in our stomach and pancreas and used in the digestive process to break proteins down into amino acids.  Many people have heard of protease as a component of digestive enzymes taken as a supplement at meals to support healthy digestion; however, proteases have many systemic (i.e., full body) uses and are essential to good health.  When taken between meals, protease is absorbed through the gut lining and into the blood stream where they begin to be distributed throughout the body to serve many critical functions, including:

  • Improving blood flow.  Under a microscope, healthy blood cells are dispersed and “fluid”, while unhealthy ones are clumped and crowded, or “sticky”.   UNclumped cells have more surface area to accept nutrients, oxygenate, and rid themselves of debris.
  • Improving circulation of blood which delivers cell nutrients, removes waste from cells, delivers oxygen to the brain, muscles and tissues, transports immune cells to sites of infection, inflammation and damage and helps to repair and heal.
  • Stimulating the immune system by pairing up with white blood cells, working to make the immune system more precise and efficient.  This results in fewer colds, allergies and infections.  Improved detoxification frees up the immune system to focus on real threats and also helps to manage the inflammatory response preventing allergies, inflammation and overreaction to minor triggers.
  • Improved detoxification through removal of metabolic waste, environmental toxins and helping to maintain a clean and healthy internal environment.  Proteases help to break down and eliminate damaging or compromised proteins and thus reduce inflammatory responses due to prompt removal of potential triggers. Proteases also break down defensive biofilms created by pathogens (e.g., bacteria). These pathogens create the biofilms in the body to hide themselves from the immune system.  Once revealed again, the immune system can attack those pathogens and eliminate them.

I like to think of proteases as a great cleaning crew that go all over the body and scavenge for waste materials, cleaning up debris and removing the sticky film on surfaces that make it hard to tell what is underneath. Dirty=irritated and inflamed.  Clean=calm and peaceful.

Talk to your healthcare provider about proteolytic enzymes, or proteases.  Whether you are well and want to be preventative or if you suffer from any kind of inflammation, pain, organ or system dysfunction, compromised immune function, metabolic or genetic disorders, cardiovascular or circulatory concerns, you will want to consider proteases. We carry Transformation Enzyme formulas and can recommend the best one for you.

reference:
https://www.transformationenzymes.com/ 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
By |2016-07-22T09:49:27-05:00July 22nd, 2016|Articles, General|
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