by Dr. Michael Boss, DC
Americans with diagnosed autoimmune conditions number more than 50 million. The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) indicates that 1 in 4 Americans has some type of autoimmune issue. The vast majority of these are women (75 percent). My wife is part of this statistic; she has Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, the most common form of hypothyroid disease in the U.S. and also an autoimmune disease.
With this disease, the immune system destroys the thyroid gland and the hormone it makes. In women under age 65, autoimmune disease is considered one of the leading causes of death. The diseases are real and they can wreak havoc on your health and life. There are various types of autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, Sjogren’s syndrome, gastrointestinal issues and many more.
These conditions also cause many different types of symptoms all over the body that range from mild to severe. It can also be very confusing and frustrating, sending life into a downward spiral. To make matters worse, autoimmune conditions are often misdiagnosed.
Understanding Autoimmune Disease
Autoimmune diseases can affect the entire body or certain parts of the body. They are all similar in nature. They are basically hyper-immune responses brought about by chronic stimulation of the immune system, leading to systemic inflammation. Along the way, the signals get crossed and your immune system begins to attack your own body.
The human immune system is very adept at protecting us. It seeks out and destroys invaders strategically and precisely. It heals us from wounds, infections and various other problems. When the immune system identifies something as potentially harmful, it will create a response that results in inflammation, destruction, healing and the production of antibodies so that the invader is remembered for the future. Autoimmune diseases occur when your immune system must repeatedly respond to invaders such as allergens, toxins, infections, poor health and foods (read my leaky gut article in the April 2014 issue). Over time the immune system fails to delineate between the intruder and your own body. Antibodies are created against your own parts, starting the destruction and misery. In my wife’s case, it was her thyroid gland. She had seen a doctor who misdiagnosed her and allowed the destruction to go on for some time. Once I was able to identify the actual cause of her thyroid problem, she was able to feel better and restore her health.
Causes and Symptoms
There are numerous causative factors for autoimmune diseases, and heredity is a main one. Other big factors include leaky gut and gluten intolerance. If you suffer any of these symptoms, or several of them, you may have autoimmune issues:
- Joint or muscle pain or “cramping”
- Sleep problems or unexplained fatigue
- Always tired regardless of amount of sleep
- Weight issues
- Brain fog, lack of concentration/focus
- Rapid heartbeat
- Dry eyes, mouth or skin
- Skin rashes or heat intolerance
- Swelling in hands or feet with activity or exercise
- Sensitivity to the sun
- Abdominal pain, bloating, gas, irritation after eating
- Sensitivities to certain foods
- Unexplained hair loss
The most important step to stopping and reversing autoimmune disease is to properly identify and treat the underlying cause, not just the symptoms. Understand this is an immune system problem.
Conventional approaches usually focus on treating symptoms, ignoring irritants of the immune system. Medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids or immunosuppressants are used. While these may be necessary initially, long-term use causes an array of other problems, side effects and health risks, including cancer.
Functional wellness takes into account the various aspects that aggravate and irritate the autoimmune condition. Devising a plan allows the individual to reverse the destruction and restore normal function (the approach that restored my wife).
Taking the right steps to health is not difficult if you have the right guidance and coaching. Evaluating tests on a whole-function basis, instead of just looking at highs and lows, allows the practitioner to implement an effective reversal plan that gets results.
Dr. Michael Boss, DC, has been a practicing chiropractor and wellness practitioner for more than 20 years. He is co-founder of Elevate Life, and he provides treatment programs that focus on functional health care, diabetes prevention and reversal, nutrition, acupuncture, exercise, hormone function and balance, chronic diseases, nutriceuticals and more. Call 210-999- 5463 for an individual consultation, or visit www.elevatelifewellness.com to learn more.