Autoimmune disease

woman with autoimmune disease arthritis

What is an auto-immune disease?

It’s a disease where the immune system, which is programmed to ignore “self”, has gone haywire and started attacking the person’s own tissues.

Which conditions are considered to be autoimmune?

The list of what is now thought to be autoimmune is expanding. More than 80 different conditions are listed as autoimmune diseases. Some of the more common ones are Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s, Scleroderma, type I diabetes, MS, Guillain Barre, psoriasis, Grave’s disease (hyperthyroid), Hashimoto’s (hypothyroid) and vasculitis. For a full list of autoimmune disorders, click here: www.aarda.org

What causes autoimmune diseases?

Good question with a complex answer.  Since it doesn’t appear to be just one thing. The factors that contribute to autoimmune disorders are:

  1. Gut health – since 70-80% of your immune system is there, an unhealthy or leaky gut causes unhealthy immune system activity.
  2. Food sensitivities – foods that aggravate the immune system cause the production of antibodies and inflammation.
  3. Latent infections – low-level viral (herpes, Epstein Barr), fungal (yeast) or bacterial infections (strep) cause excessive or disordered immune system activity.
  4. Poorly functioning adrenal glands – the adrenal glands produce powerful anti-inflammatories called corticosteroids. This is what often is prescribed as a medication for auto-immune problems.

How can we fix auto-immune disorders?

Our naturopathic doctors assess your symptoms related to each of the above situations and address them accordingly.

  1. Gut health – a healthy gut requires nutrients like l-glutamine, vitamin A, and fibre. Fibre feeds the good bacteria in your gut.  They then break it down into short chain fatty acids that nourish the cells that line your colon. Good bacteria moderate your immune system and prevent overgrowth of harmful bacteria or yeast.
  2. Food sensitivity detective work – we can determine your food sensitivities (almost everyone has some) either by process of elimination (also called an elimination challenge diet) or through science-based testing for IgG and/or IgA antibodies in your bloodstream to particular foods (up to 184 foods!).
  3. If you are prone to genital herpes, cold sores, had mono or recurring sore throats or strep, recurring yeast infections or BV, these viruses, yeast or bacteria may lurk in your body and fire up your immune system.  Natural antimicrobials like oregano oil, garlic, caprylic acid, black walnut, uva ursi and grapefruit seed extract rid your body of some of these (the herpes viruses stay in your system).
  4. Your adrenal glands are your stress glands.  They are also your body’s source of corticosteroids.  Corticosteroids are powerful immune suppressors that keep your immune system in check and on track. Prednisone is a corticosteroid drug that suppresses autoimmune diseases.  Your body makes its own internal Prednisone via your adrenal glands. They require lots of vitamin B5, B6, vitamin C, zinc and magnesium to function at their best.  Adaptogens are herbs that can help your adrenals work well and help you deal with stress more easily.

Autoimmune disease and natural medicine research

Zamani B, Golkar HR, Farshbaf S, Emadi-Baygi M, Tajabadi-Ebrahimi M, Jafari P, Akhavan R, Taghizadeh M, Memarzadeh MR, Asemi Z. Clinical and metabolic response to probiotic supplementation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Int J Rheum Dis. 2016 May 2. doi: 10.1111/1756-185X.12888.
Li J, Yan H, Chen H, Ji Q, Huang S, Yang P, Liu Z, Yang B. The Pathogenesis of Rheumatoid Arthritis is Associated with Milk or Egg Allergy. N Am J Med Sci. 2016 Jan;8(1):40-6. doi: 10.4103/1947-2714.175206.
Draborg A, Izarzugaza JM, Houen G. How compelling are the data for Epstein-Barr virus being a trigger for systemic lupus and other autoimmune diseases? Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2016 Jul;28(4):398-404. doi: 10.1097/BOR.0000000000000289.
Mravcova M, Chovanova L, Paulikova L, Vlcek M, Rovensky J, Killinger Z, Wendl J, Imrich R. Genetics of neuroendocrine factors in rheumatoid arthritis. Horm Metab Res. 2015 Jun;47(6):411-7. doi: 10.1055/s-0034-1395667. Epub 2014 Dec 12.