The one thing connected to almost every known chronic disease — from heart disease to cancer, diabetes to obesity, autism to dementia, acne to hair loss and even depression is INFLAMMATION!
Other inflammatory diseases such as allergies, asthma, arthritis, and autoimmune disease are increasing at dramatic rates. Conventional doctors are trained to shut off inflammation with aspirin, anti-inflammatory medication such as Advil or Motrin, steroids, and increasingly more powerful immune suppressing medication with serious side effects.
But alternative doctors are trained to find and treat the underlying causes of inflammation in chronic disease. Hidden allergens, infections, environmental toxins, an inflammatory diet, and stress are the real causes of these inflammatory conditions.
Autoimmune diseases, specifically, now affect 24 million people and include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and more.
So how are they addressed? By powerful immune suppressing medication and not by addressing the cause. That’s like taking a lot of aspirin while hitting your thumb with a hammer. The treatment is not more aspirin or a strong immune suppressant, but removing the hammer.
It you want to stop inflammation in the body, you must find the source. Treat the fire, not the smoke. In the allopathic world they are mostly taught to diagnose disease by symptoms, NOT by their underlying cause.
In Functional medicine, the emerging 21st century paradigm of systems medicine, teaches us to treat the cause, not just the symptoms, to take a thorough history and exam to find out the diagnosis of your patient! Functional medicine is a different way of thinking about disease that helps us understand and treat the real causes of inflammation instead of finding clever ways to shut it down. Medicine as it is practiced today is like putting a band-aid on a gapping wound instead of stitching it while the body bleeds to death!
Autoimmune diseases are the result of an uncontrolled immune response also known as systemic inflammation that results in your body attacking its own tissues.
Why is it when the patient described how he cured his autoimmune disease by finding and eliminating the causes of inflammation in his diet and environment, the medical doctors dismiss it as a “spontaneous remission.” Instead of being more inquisitive and trying to find out more information, these doctors are hardly curious and quickly dismissive. What kind of health care is that?
Autoimmunity: What it is and How it Occurs
We are facing an epidemic of allergic (60 million people), asthmatic (30 million people), and autoimmune disorders (24 million people). Autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, celiac, thyroid disease, and the many other hard-to-classify syndromes in the 21st century.
These are all autoimmune conditions, and at their root they are connected by one central process: An uncontrolled immune response also known as systemic inflammation that results in your body attacking its own tissues.
Your immune system is your defense against foreign invaders. It is your internal army and has to clearly distinguish these invaders — to know you from others. Autoimmunity occurs when your immune system gets confused and your own tissues get caught in the cross-fire.
Your body is fighting something — an infection, a toxin, an allergen, a food or the stress response — and somehow it redirects its hostile attack on your joints, your brain, your thyroid, your gut, your skin, or sometimes your whole body.
This immune confusion results from what is referred to as molecular mimicking. Conventional approaches don’t have a method for finding the insult causing the problem. Functional medicine provides a map to find out which molecule the cells are mimicking.
Another interesting fact: Autoimmune diseases are seldomly found in countries that lack running water and sterilization. They occur almost exclusively in developed countries. Playing in the dirt, being dirty, and being exposed to bugs and infections trains your immune system to recognize what is foreign and what is “you.”
Autoimmune diseases, are a huge health burden in the US. They are the eighth leading cause of death among women, shortening the average patient’s lifespan by eight years. The annual health care cost for autoimmune diseases is $120 billion a year representing nearly twice the economic health care burden of cancer (about $ 70 billion a year).
Unfortunately, many of the conventional treatments available can make you feel worse. Anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil, steroids, immune suppressants like methotrexate, and the new TNF-alpha blockers like Enbrel or Remicade can lead to intestinal bleeding, kidney failure, depression, psychosis, osteoporosis, muscle loss, and diabetes, not to mention overwhelming infection and cancer.(ii)
These drugs are not a long-term solution. They shouldn’t be the end of treatment. There is another way to deal with autoimmune conditions.
Recovering from Autoimmunity: Addressing the Root Causes of Inflammation
Using a functional medicine approach, a new way of thinking about the underlying causes and imbalances in chronic disease, begin asking some simple questions. Then hunt for toxins, allergens, and infections — all common causes of inflammation — and find the real causes of the symptoms. Order labs and other necessary tests.
Start cleaning house, get rid of food allergies,fix the gut, and detox. Then heal the immune system by supporting it with nutrients. Start a clean, whole-foods, allergen-free, anti-inflammatory diet. The results will reflect addressing the root of the health problems and treating the underlying causes of what ails you instead of suppressing symptoms with medications.
If you have an autoimmune disease, here is what you need to think about and do.
Eight Steps to Treating Autoimmune Disease
1. Check for hidden infections — yeast, viruses, bacteria, Lyme, etc. — with the help of a chiropractic physician, who can order labs, stool analysis and saliva tests and treat them.
2. Check for hidden food allergens with IgG food testing or elimination diet.
3. Get tested for celiac disease, which is a blood test that your chiropractic physician can do.
4. Get checked for heavy metal toxicity. Mercury and other metals can cause autoimmunity.
5. Fix your gut.
6. Use nutrients that your chiropractic physician prescribes to help calm your immune response naturally.
7. Exercise regularly — it’s a natural anti-inflammatory.
8. Practice deep relaxation like yoga, deep breathing, biofeedback, or massage, because stress worsens the immune response.
Give these steps a try — and see if you don’t start feeling less inflamed. The answers are right in front of you. Treat the underlying causes of your illness and you will begin to experience vibrant "beautiful health: once more.