What is autoimmune disease, what causes it and how can it be treated? This is my stab at explaining what I have learned since I suspected I have one or more. A recent conversation with two cousins revealed many of my relatives have similar chronic issues.
What is autoimmune disease?
There are many known autoimmune diseases including type 1 diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, pulmonary fibrosis, arthritis, thyroid disease, fibrocystic breasts, cystic fibrosis and psoriasis, to name just a few. They are all caused by inflammation which causes your immune system to work overtime. When your immune system is on all the time, it produces too much fibrin, a mesh-like protein. Normally our bodies produce proteolytic enzymes to remove the fibrin, but if too much fibrin is produced, the enzymes cannot keep up. It does not help that our natural production of these enzymes starts to decrease in our late twenties.
What Causes Autoimmune Disease?
Your immune system is designed to attack anything foreign entering your body, whether it is a virus, bacteria, toxin or food allergen. When it detects something foreign antibodies are produced. The problem arises when your organs get attacked by these autoantibodies and surrounded by the cobwebs of fibrin.
Although research has shown that autoimmune disease is genetic, the genes are not activated until “turned on” by toxins, food allergies, yeast or mold infections and viruses.
Symptoms of Autoimmune Disease
A few indications that you may have an autoimmune disease include:
- unexplained weight loss or gain
- heat intolerance and sun sensitivity
- muscle or joint pain, weakness or tremors, numbness or tingling in hands or feet
- rapid heartbeat
- unexplained hives or rashes
- brain fog, difficulty concentrating, poor short term memory
- constant fatigue
- multiple miscarriages
- abdominal bloating and pain, diarrhea
Treatments for Autoimmune Disease
If you suspect you have an autoimmune disease, unfortunately, you will probably have to stop and reverse your symptoms yourself. Why? Because most doctors only treat the symptoms, hardly a long-term solution. Pharmaceutical companies make billions of dollars producing products to treat the symptoms, so why find the cause? To add insult to injury, many of these medications increase the risk of cancer and severe infection. That issue is a whole other can of worms that I have talked about in a recent post.
These are my recommendations, again based on my (limited) knowledge on the subject. I am not a doctor nor an expert, merely one who was frustrated and confused with my declining health at an early age. This is not a get better quick process either, it will take months even years to straighten out.
Start with removing irritants from your gut because most of our immune system is in the GI tract or gut. Problems in your gut are so much more than gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Many chronic health conditions, like the ones listed above, start in your gut too. Removing known inflammatory foods is the first step. While it might be difficult to remove all of these from your diet, try to eliminate as many as possible. They include:
- gluten (a wheat protein): bread, bagels, pasta etc
- sugar: brown, white, anything that ends in “ose” (sucralose, fructose etc)
- nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes, white (not sweet) potatoes, peppers, eggplant
- processed foods that include trans fats and omega 6s
- dairy and soy products
- corn and other grains like rye, spelt, barley and rice
- pseudo-grains like quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat
- legumes (peas and beans)
If removing these items from your diet for a period of six months does not do the trick, find a doctor that will test your stool for hidden infections and bacteria as well as your blood for antibodies, infections, and toxins like mold and mercury.
Once you have removed these inflammatory foods, you can try supplements of natural anti-inflammatories. These include turmeric, devils claw, rutin, bromelain, papaya, boswellia, ginger and yucca root. I do not take any supplements, but I do include ginger, turmeric, and pineapple (bromelain) in my daily smoothies.
It is a long and frustrating process but can be done. I know because I went through it myself! Many of my previous posts, especially the earliest ones, discuss my journey to health. In fact, that is why I started this blog. Feel free to comment, email or message me with concerns, corrections etc.
The main thing to remember is this. Just as the genes for inflammation get activated by allergies, viruses, infections, and toxins they can also be deactivated.