autoimmune-01

What is it?

Autoimmunity has become a growing epidemic today. Think of it as the inability of the immune system to recognize self-tissue from foreign tissue, or in laymen’s terms, good guy from bad guy. This loss of self-tolerance ultimately leads to an attack against your own tissue. Unfortunately, this can lead to the destruction of multiple tissues over the course of many years as this autoimmune process has a tendency to feed on itself and impact many systems of the body. The underlying mechanism is much the same no matter what the tissue, organ, or labeled medical condition.

Why does it happen? It is believed that genetic predisposition to certain antibodies against a particular tissue exist. It may be the skin, an endocrine gland like the thyroid, the joints, etc., but in any case this inherent weak gene gets expressed somehow. Diet, stress, and environment all likely play a key role. Once the autoimmunity is turned on, it cannot be turned off. It is now proven that the only recourse for autoimmunity is to turn down the volume of it. You can think of a light’s dimmer switch. A proper understanding and effective strategy can dramatically impact the severity of the autoimmunity, while ignoring it or treating it improperly can make one’s life a challenge.

Signs & Symptoms?

What is tricky about autoimmunity is that without proper testing, the symptoms of autoimmunity may be rather vague and affect multiple systems of the body. Here is a list of potential symptoms:

1. Joint pain, muscle pain, weakness, or tremor
2. Weight loss, insomnia, heat intolerance or rapid heartbeat
3. Recurrent rashes or hives, sun-sensitivity, a butterfly-shaped rash across your nose and cheeks.
4. Difficulty concentrating or focusing
5. Feeling tired or fatigued, weight gain or cold intolerance
6. Hair loss or white patches on your skin or inside your mouth
7. Abdominal pain, blood or mucus in your stool, diarrhea or mouth ulcers
8. Dry eyes, mouth or skin
9. Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
10. Multiple miscarriages or blood clots
The array of possible symptoms confuses and frustrates many sufferers of autoimmunity, as the pain and dysfunction they experience can mimic so many conditions.

Traditional treatment v Functional approach?

Unfortunately, the current medical model is flawed in the management of the autoimmune client. It fails in two ways:

1: It treats the symptoms of the autoimmunity with anti-inflammatories, steroids, or immunosuppressant’s, which misses the mark in addressing the underlying cause of the autoimmunity in the first place. This strategy may help initially with symptomatic relief, but it rarely offers long-term solutions and further adds to the toxicity of the body.

2: It fails to intervene early enough to dim the impact of the autoimmunity. If you refer back to my “a drop about blood” page, you will understand that medicine cannot intervene with drugs until strict parameters/blood markers are met. This allows the autoimmune client to continue to needlessly suffer as the condition progresses.

The functional nutrition approach here is quite different. At RNH, we will take a look at a wide variety of blood markers, as well as tissue antibody panels if necessary, to look for abnormal shifts, tendencies, or clear evidence of underlying autoimmunity. By recognizing these shifts early we can begin to intervene naturally to “dim the switch” and impart lifestyle measures designed to limit the impact of autoimmunity all together.

To be more technical, immune support in this case often involves finding a healthy balance between TH1 and TH2 activity, dampening the activation of the gene response, energizing the antioxidant response, reducing inflammation, and most definitely improving the barrier of the intestine to prevent a “leaky gut” type scenario, all through diet and specific targeted nutrients.