What are autoimmune diseases?
Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which the body’s immune system, meant to protect us from foreign pathogens, literally attacks the body’s own healthy tissue. Often a particular organ is targeted such as the thyroid, skin or joints and in some situations many parts of the body are affected. In autoimmune diseases, the immune system is over active producing large amounts of inflammation that cause various manifestations such as pain, digestive upset, skin rashes, fatigue or decreased joint mobility to name a few. Conventional treatment for most autoimmune diseases usually involves prescription drugs that suppress the body’s immune system. At Boulder Natural Health, our approach to autoimmune diseases involves treating the underlying cause, not just treating the symptoms.
There are a variety of known autoimmune diseases, such as:
- Thyroid conditions such as: Hashimoto’s hypothyroid, Grave’s disease (hyperthyroid)
- Gastrointestinal conditions such as: Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Celiac Disease, Ulcerative Proctitis
- Skin conditions such as: Scleroderma, Granuloma Annulare, Psoriasis
- Joint conditions such as: Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Reynaud’s phenomena
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Sjogren’s syndrome
and many more…
What causes autoimmune diseases?
While it is not entirely known what actually causes a particular autoimmune disease, there are many proposed and possible contributors. Much of the body’s immune system resides in the gut-associated lymphoid tissue of the gastrointestinal lining, which controls the body’s barrier between self and non-self. Although there is a genetic predisposition to many autoimmune diseases, a condition called leaky gut syndrome which is associated with food sensitivities is often involved (pubmed research link). In leaky gut, the normally tightly adjoining cells of the gastro intestinal track open up and food particles are thus allowed out into the rest of the body. Because these foods are now outside the confines of the gastrointestinal track, the body’s immune system tags them as foreign, creating anti-bodies to common foods ingested. As long as these foods are eaten, the immune system continues to react to them, generating continuous inflammation. The boundary between self and foreign becomes blurred as the overactive immune system then cross-reacts to aspects of one’s own body, targeting glands such as the thyroid. Hence autoimmunity is born. Inflammation can also settle in joints and skin causing pain and other manifestations of this gut-based problem. Gastrointestinal dysbiosis, exposure to yeast ,mold, heavy metals and other toxins and even hormonal changes such as in pregnancy may also be involved in precipitating autoimmunity.
Natural support for autoimmune diseases:
- Support your immune and gastrointestinal health. Over 70% of our immune system is found in our gastrointestinal track. Identify and omit food sensitivities because they are causing increased inflammation and over-activation of the immune system, contributing to the underlying autoimmune problem. Identification of food sensitivities can be done through a dietary elimination and re-challenge protocol or special blood testing, which assesses for antibody immune markers to certain foods you’ve been eating. A high quality and refrigerated probiotic supplement supports your gut flora and immune system.
- Ensure adequate vitamin D levels. People with autoimmune diseases often have low vitamin D levels. Ask your doctor to monitor your blood levels and make dose recommendations accordingly.
- Decrease stress. Find ways to relax, have fun and release and deal with underlying stress. …and not only emotional stress but physical stress as well. An injury, blood sugar imbalances or inflammation in your gastrointestinal track from food allergies all place the body under stress. Stress leads to inflammation, which perpetuates the immune dysfunction.Release and deal with the underlying causes of stress and you are on your way to improved immunity and lowered inflammation.
- Natural anti-inflammatories such as a high quality fish oil, turmeric, boswelia and others help reduce inflammation and can thereby reduce the pain or other complaints associated with autoimmune diseases.
At Boulder Natural Health, our natural approach for autoimmune diseases focuses on removing specific foods in the diet that can make symptoms worse, healing the gastrointestinal tract, decreasing overall inflammation in the body and supporting the body’s adrenal glands, which regulate immune function and inflammation. Depending on your specific symptoms, you will receive a specific naturopathic treatment plan that may include: dietary recommendations, lifestyle changes, herbal, homeopathic, vitamin and/or nutrient supplementation that work together to decrease autoimmune flare-ups, calm inflammation and prevent additional autoimmune diseases in the future.
The best support for your autoimmune condition is individualized. Call us today at 303-960-3920 to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation and get on your way to feeling better and treating the underlying cause of your condition.
photo credits: fresh turmeric root by hbomb