Every day, our body self-destroys billions of cells from every tissue in the body, and every day the body makes new ones to replace them. This self-destruct mechanism is called apoptosis, a pre-determined cell death. After the death of the cells, the body sends phagocytes to come and gobble them up and clear them from the body. As long as that continues unhindered, we are healthy. But if there is a defect preventing the cells from dying in a timely manner, or a defect in the clearance, or inability to keep up with the clearance, now we have a problem. We call it autoimmunity.
The professional phagocytes are amazing. They are able to tell the difference between dead cells and alive ones, and only gobble up the dead ones. Smart guys! Somewhere along the line, we think the dead cells release a chemical that says “eat me”, but are still not clear which chemical it is, but suspect a couple of nutrients. No surprise there.
So often, we look at autoantibodies (the antibodies that now go after the host) as being bad guys. While the havoc they create causes many health issues for us, there may be a different way to look at it. More and more diseases are considered autoimmune. Dr. Mark Anderson says “It’s not that there are so many autoimmune diseases – it’s that so many diseases reach the autoimmune phase.” I think that is a very important point, and one that deserves more attention.
As is usual for me to say: we should be asking “WHY?” Why are our diseases progressing to an autoimmune phase? What is the body trying to do? What is blocking it, or what is it missing that is circumventing healing? The body certainly is not programmed to turn against its own tissues, so what is amiss? Why are we, as a human race in general, falling apart in our health? Why is every disease progressing at alarming rates? Diseases that once were “adult onset” diseases or health issues you didn’t have until you are “old”, are now occurring in children. And domesticated animals too!
In order to answer this question, we have to delve into the insults inflicted upon our bodies. Air pollution, water pollution, and foods that are so depleted that even bugs don’t bother them! We have too much stress – job stress, relationship stresses, electromagnetic stresses, physiologic stresses, mental and emotional stresses, and the list goes on. When we are stressed, we tend to drop the things most helpful – like exercise, good food and time to relax. Then replace them with things more harmful – more time on electronics, fast foods, sugar, alcohol, coffee – anything to make us feel more alive and forget the stresses in our life. What is wrong with us? It’s like we as a whole are on self-destruct mode instead of just our cells.
So, back to our cells: It turns out there are many things we can do to get our immune system to behave appropriately.
©2020 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.