Autoimmunity is a condition in which the body’s immune system becomes overwhelmed, causing chronic inflammation and generating autoantibodies (antibodies against “self”). The tissues affected determine which autoimmune disease a person has, such as the joints in Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) or the pancreas in Type I Diabetes. Autoimmune disease overall is dramatically on the rise, with an estimated 23.5 million Americans diagnosed, and many more suffering from undiagnosed symptoms. While there are more than two hundred identified autoimmune diseases, including Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Crohn’s disease, there are also a growing number of disorders not classified as autoimmune that are suspected to be, including eczema, chronic fatigue syndrome, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.
Currently there is no medical cure for autoimmune illness and symptoms are typically managed with immunosuppressive drugs that carry significant long-term negative health effects. But is this our only option? Or are there natural methods available to treat it?
While the cause of autoimmunity has not definitively been determined, here are a couple of different theories. One critical theory links autoimmune disease to “leaky gut syndrome” or “intestinal permeability”, where the normal intestinal barrier that protects the body from improperly broken-down food particles, microbial pathogens, and toxins, becomes impaired. This allows these constituents into the bloodstream, launching a cascade of inflammatory immune-mediated responses that lead eventually to autoimmunity. Some researchers believe that intestinal permeability is the common theme underlying almost all autoimmune disease.
Another theory points to repeated tissue injury. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), for example, is a progressive brain disorder caused by repeated blows to the head. Associated with contact sports, such as boxing or American football, the condition leads to dementia and early death. The immune system in the brain is overwhelmed by damaged tissue constantly leaking into the blood. Over time it develops autoantibodies against the neural tissue itself, unleashing a perpetual state of inflammation and tissue damage.
The good news is that most autoimmunity, if not too far progressed, can be treated effectively with diets that remove foods that damage the gut lining, or which are pro-inflammatory. This enables the gut to heal long enough to calm down the hyperactive immune response. Combined with special supplements that direct the immune system away from the affected organ, gland, or tissue (e.g., skin or joint) and acupuncture, the effect is often even better! Acupuncture lowers inflammation, swelling, and pain associated with autoimmunity, helps restore gut health and regulates the immune system. At Vital Health we dig deep to uncover the root causes of your autoimmune condition so that we can provide you with the guidance you need to manage with minimal or no medication. We then utilize targeted diet, supplement, and acupuncture recommendations based on your unique needs.
©2022 Darcy Greenwald, M.S.O.M., L.Ac. and Vital Health