Many autoimmune sufferers can recall a trauma that likely triggered their condition, whether it was physical, emotional, or environmental.
There’s been a stark rise in autoimmune disorders over the past 50 years, According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Women’s Health, callers more often ask for information regarding autoimmune disorders than anything else. The National Institutes of Health estimates there are about 23.5 million Americans sufferers but the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association thinks the figure is more like 50 million.
Oftentimes, western medicine simply treats the symptoms rather than looking at the disorder from a holistic point of view.
1. (Real) Food Is Thy Medicine
Many autoimmune disorder sufferers can benefit from cleaning up their diet. I had already been off gluten, wheat, dairy and sugar cane for about six years, but identifying more obscure food sensitivities also made a difference. A naturopath can place you on an elimination diet.
Personally, I believe diet should be tailored to the individual, but there are certainly some basics that apply to all. For instance, try to eat organic whole foods void of chemicals and steer clear from processed foods that are full of preservatives, artificial colorings and flavorings.
Foods you are allergic or sensitive to will cause inflammation in your body, which is the cause of many diseases for that matter.
Another way to approach inflammation is by targeting your intestinal flora and integrating a top notch probiotic one that actually makes it to your tummy. The acid in your esophagus can kill probiotics if the pill doesn’t have an enteric coating, preferably one not made out of plastic.
“Probiotics can fight off potentially inflammatory microbes and communicate with the immune system to down-regulate inflammation,” says Desiree Nielsen, RD. By the way, we create most of our serotonin, in our gut. Good bugs also help produce and absorb B vitamins and folate, which are also important if you suffer from an autoimmune condition!
If you have lupus specifically, avoid alfalfa sprouts because they contain an amino acid that has been shown to cause inflammation, says Rebekah Langford, (rebekahlangford.com) RD, CDN, and CNSC. Meanwhile, foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, walnuts, sardines, and ground flax seeds can also help alleviate inflammation. And Vitamin D3 and magnesium are also essential supplements that have helped me.
2. Master Detoxifier
Glutathione (pronounced “gloota-thigh-own) is the body’s master antioxidant made up of a combination of three simple building blocks of protein or amino acids — cysteine, glycine, and glutamine. Glutathione is a master in that it directly neutralizes free radicals, reduces hydrogen peroxide into water (reducing inflammation), and assists in the role of other antioxidants like vitamin C,E, and lipoic acid. Glutathione contains sulfur groups, which are sticky compounds that adhere to toxins and heavy metals and carry them out of the body.
Normally glutathione is recycled in the body, but if you’ve experienced a massive toxic load, like getting a big whiff of insecticides on a cloudy tropical day, then reserves are depleted.
According to Dr. Mark Hyman, poor diet, pollution, toxins, medications, stress, trauma, aging, infections, and radiation all drain glutathione and can lend to an autoimmune disorder.
Today we live in a world where chemical body burden is common; there are about 80,000 toxic industrial chemicals floating around in our environment. And unfortunately we haven’t been equipped with additional detoxification software.
Meanwhile, your methylation cycle may also be disrupted, explains Michelle Corey, author of The Thyroid Cure: The Functional Mind-Body Approach to Reversing Your Autoimmune Condition and Reclaiming Your Health . Corey is an Autoimmune Recovery Expert, Medical Advocate, and Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant. She personally recovered from
Lupus and Hashimoto’s and has developed a program that has already helped over 700 people to do the same. She says your genetics may make it difficult for you to create and recycle enough glutathione.
“(Or) you could be lacking the important nutrients such as B12, folate and betaine, which are needed to produce and recycle glutathione. If you lack enough of these nutrients, it could be due to a deficiency in your diet, or low stomach acid or some other factor like drinking too much alcohol.”
Studies have linked impaired methylation and low levels of glutathione to every type of autoimmune condition, says Corey.
Unfortunately the body doesn’t easily absorb glutathione via pills. So when I was really feeling crappy, my naturopath was administering intravenous doses of glutathione on a weekly basis.
Read her book to discover additional things you can do to boost your own levels of glutathione.
3. Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)
What exactly is LDN, you may ask? It’s been used for years to treat opioid addiction. Eventually a doctor named Bernard Bihari noticed that that this opiate blocker was helping heroin addicts who also suffered from HIV/AIDS; the medication seemed to bolster their immune systems.
It turns out that when given a smaller dose (4.5 mg), the medication can help reduce pain associated with inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, such as fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease. I started feeling better quite quickly. The only side effects are vivid dreams and that has faded with time.
LDN was approved back in 1984, meaning the patent has expired and thus pharmaceutical companies can’t make big money off of it. Hence why it’s little-known and is not FDA-approved for the treatment of pain. You have to find a doctor or naturopath to prescribe the medication.
No Magic Bullet
The truth is that autoimmune disease is “multi-dimensional and algorithmic,” says Dr. Alexander J. Rinehart.
“Two patients could have rheumatoid arthritis for two very different sets of reasons. One could really be aggravated by something like a non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Another could be caused by an infection,” remarks Rinehart.
Ideally, a skilled medial professional goes through a check list of possible causes, personalizing your treatment along the way. But since that isn’t always the case, it’s best to be your own health advocate and sleuth. These three tips can definitely set you along the path to recovery.
by Maryam Henein