Autoimmunity is when the immune system attacks itself.
AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES used to be rare. Now they are not only common, they are absurdly common (click the link for a list of the most common Autoimmune Diseases, as well as the number of people dealing with each). The US Government tells us that at least one in five Americans (60 million) is suffering from one or more Autoimmune Diseases. However, many experts believe this estimate is too low —- possibly far too low. In fact, there are many who believe that half of all Americans have some sort of Autoimmune Disease (yes, ASTHMA is an autoimmune disease).
Face it. No matter how you slice it, the immune system is complicated —- incredibly complicated. Why do you think that the medical community sometimes resorts to actually removing the autoimmune patient’s THYMUS GLAND —- the headquarters of the immune system — in their attempt to squelch the out-of-control autoimmune responses known as an “Autoimmune Storm”? A significant part of the problem is that few people in healthcare (mainstream or alternative) truly understand the underlying issues that can leave a person sensitive to foods (for instance, Gluten is heavily related to Autoimmunity — HERE) or environmental toxins (i.e. MERCURY & ALUMINUM. which are commonly found in VACCINES). As the body becomes increasingly saturated with INFLAMMATION (to understand today’s post you need to click this link) the Immune System will begin to attack one’s own tissues, organs, or glands. IMMUNE SYSTEM RESPONSE
The immune system can essentially be broken down to four parts, TH-1 & TH-2, TH-3, and TH-17. TH-1 RESPONSE -vs- TH-2 RESPONSE
|TH-1 tends to be immediate. Overproduction of Natural Killer & Cytotoxic T cells. TH-1 Cytokines (chemical messengers) include IL-2, IL-12, Tumor Necrosis Factor α, and Interferon||TH-2 tends to be delayed. Overproduction of B-cells (antibodies) TH-2 Cytokines (chemical messengers) include IL-4, IL-13, and IL-10|
Regulates TH-1 & TH-2 Responses When the TH-3 System that regulates and balances TH-1 & TH-2 gets out of whack, the body can go into a full-blown tailspin. An “Autoimmune Storm” (CYTOKINE STORM) takes place when the body feels it is so backed into a corner immunologically that it says, “I’m going to destroy myself rather than let this infection or invader destroy me.” The problem is that the body is not typically being attacked by infection, or at least not an active or acute infection (often times these infections are subclinical — HERE). It frequently perceives it’s being “attacked” by things that are no more toxic than, say, grain.
For reasons that we do not fully understand (HERE), the body creates immune responses to certain foods. It also creates immune responses to things like PARASITES, chronic (hidden) virus or bacteria (see link in previous paragraph), aluminum, mercury, YEAST, MOLD, etc, etc, etc. Whatever the case, this frequently causes a massive, “whole body” (Systemic) immune system response that we call Inflammation. Inflammation is a group of chemicals which are part of the normal immune system response. However, when the body over-reacts to an invader (whether real or perceived), the inflammatory response usually leads to something called LEAKY GUT SYNDROME. But the Immune System reaction does not stop there.
In a final desperate, attempt to stop the invader (whether said invader is real or perceived), the TH-17 System can kick in. It is essentially a Self Destruct Mechanism. If the body cannot kill the invader (GLUTEN, for instance), then by golly it is going to make sure that it follows a scorched-earth policy so that there is nothing left of a particular organ, gland, or tissue for the invader to get a hold of. This is a full-blown Autoimmune Storm. Stopping an Autoimmune Storm is critical because every day that it continues, tissue is dying (THYROID, for instance, is an exceedingly common tissue to be attacked in Autoimmunity).
(Cellular Apotosis System) This is the body’s “Final Solution” —- its “Self Destruct” mechanism, if you will (‘Apotosis’ means cell death). When the body feels it is left with no other choice, it activates the TH-17 System and begins attacking itself like there is no tomorrow. It would rather destroy part of itself than leave that particular part (particularly THE GUT) to invading infections or organisms (real or perceived) that could use it as a base to launch further attacks from. The body sends out a signal for IL-17 to create a massive immune system response. This causes the release of iNOS (a bad form of Nitric Oxide), which is a major culprit in the process. If you or a loved one is struggling with Autoimmunity, it is absolutely critical for you to understand the following concept. Autoimmunity is not a problem with the organ, gland, or tissue that is being attacked. It is a malfunction of the Immune System. If you want any hope of managing your problem and returning to a normal life, you must grasp this simple fact. Because few doctors really understand this (they always prescribe IMMUNOSUPPRESSIVE DRUGS to squelch the Immune System — as opposed to squelching the Autoimmune Storm), the standard methods of dealing with Autoimmunity are failing miserably. And even worse, because the problem is rooted in the Immune System itself as opposed to the tissue being attacked, patients that have one Autoimmune Disease tend to have several Autoimmune Diseases. This is why Autoimmune Diseases are said to travel in packs —- like wolves. It’s also why you rarely want to “BOOST” the immune system.
If you want any real hope of squelching an Autoimmune Storm (as opposed to simply squelching the Immune System itself), you will have to figure out what is driving the Inflammation and Leaky Gut. Is it Gluten? Is it a parasite (yeah, don’t kid yourself — they are more common here in America than you can imagine)? Is it a latent (occult) bacterial or viral infection (latent virus’s are all over the medical literature these days)? Is it a food sensitivity (namely an IgG reaction)? Remember; once we make IgG Antibodies to food, we begin making antibodies to self! Is it a sensitivity to Mercury, ALUMINUM, or some other environmental toxin? Is it an ADRENAL GLAND ISSUE (Cortisol -vs- Melatonin)? Whatever the case may be, the one and only way to find out is to get tested.
TESTING FOR UNDERLYING CAUSES OF AUTOIMMUNITY
Testing is not cheap. But sometimes it is the only way to figure out exactly what is causing such out of control Inflammation, Leaky Gut Syndrome, and the subsequent Autoimmunity that follows it. The very first step is to attempt to halt the Autoimmune Storm. If your body is actively destroying itself, this has to be stopped — period! Although some of these tissues, glands, and organs, can regenerate themselves, many cannot. Not to mention, more tissue destruction creates longer healing times — sometimes much longer.
The next thing to do is to figure out whether any “Deal Breakers” are present. Deal Breakers are problems that will prevent you from ever really healing yourself and getting better. The main Deal Breakers in dealing with Autoimmunity are…..
- Anemia (HERE)
- Blood Sugar (HERE) & Adrenal Stress Index (ADRENAL FATIGUE)
- GI / Liver (LEAKY GUT SYNDROME & PHASE I, II & III Detox)
- Fatty Acid Metabolism (HERE)
Although it might require some testing from a doctor versed in Functional Medicine, there are any number of things that you can do on your own. Many are generic (eat a healthy diet, get more sleep, exercise, blah, blah, blah). The things that are going to help you the most are specifically geared at changing your diet and lifestyle — sometimes in a fairly radical way. To see how my SISTER and a CLOSE FRIEND accomplished this, click on the links. For general protocols, HERE is the place to look.