Inflammation is a highly discussed topic in medicine, as it is linked to nearly all known chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, autism, dementia, and depression. The prevalence of other inflammatory diseases, such as allergies, asthma, arthritis, and autoimmune diseases, is also increasing rapidly. While conventional medicine offers treatments such as aspirin, anti-inflammatory medication, steroids, and immune-suppressing medication, these only address the symptoms and not the underlying causes of inflammation. Causes of chronic inflammation include hidden allergens, infections, environmental toxins, an inflammatory diet, and stress.
Autoimmune diseases, affecting over 24 million people, are often treated with powerful immune-suppressing medication rather than addressing the root cause of inflammation. Functional medicine, a 21st-century paradigm of systems medicine, teaches us to diagnose and treat the cause of disease, not just the symptoms. By treating the cause of inflammation, rather than suppressing it with medication, patients can achieve vibrant health. This approach is based on finding the source of inflammation and addressing it, instead of treating only the symptoms. In this blog, we will explore autoimmunity, the causes of inflammation, and nine steps to cool the fires of inflammation and overcome conditions ranging from allergies to arthritis.
There is a growing epidemic of allergic (affecting 60 million people), asthmatic (affecting 30 million people), and autoimmune disorders (affecting 24 million people), including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, celiac disease, thyroid disease, and other hard-to-classify syndromes of the 21st century. These conditions share a central biochemical process: systemic inflammation, which is a runaway immune response causing your body to attack its own tissues. Your immune system is designed to defend against invaders and differentiate between friend and foe.
However, in the case of autoimmunity, the immune system becomes confused, and friendly fire occurs, attacking your own tissues. This occurs when the body is fighting an infection, toxin, allergen, food, or stress response, but redirects the attack towards your joints, brain, thyroid, gut, skin, or even your entire body.
What is Molecular Mimicry?
Molecular mimicry is a pharmaceutical approach to trick the body back into what it is supposed to do. The problem is that it doesn’t last and the body eventually outsmarts the drug, always.
Molecular mimicry causes immune confusion, which is not easily detected through conventional approaches. However, functional medicine can help identify the molecule that the cells are mimicking. Autoimmune disorders are mostly prevalent in developed countries and not common in poor nations without modern amenities. Growing up on a farm with animals, playing in the dirt, and exposure to infections and bugs help train the immune system to differentiate between foreign and self-antigens. Autoimmune diseases are the eighth leading cause of death among women and have a significant healthcare cost of $120 billion per year.
The conventional treatments available such as Advil, steroids, immune suppressants, and TNF-alpha blockers can cause adverse side effects such as osteoporosis, muscle loss, diabetes, infection, and cancer. While these treatments may help reduce inflammation, they do not address the root cause of the disease. Functional medicine provides an alternative way to deal with autoimmune conditions, which involves identifying and treating the underlying causes of inflammation. This approach was demonstrated in the case of Sam, who suffered from a series of inflammatory conditions that were difficult to diagnose until functional medicine was applied.
The treatment involved addressing the underlying causes of inflammation by identifying toxins, allergens, and infections and supporting the immune system with nutrients, herbs, and probiotics. The application of functional medicine helped Sam regain his health and restore his immune system to normal.
9 Steps To Heal Autoimmune Disease From Dr. Mark Hyman
Here are the nine steps to treating autoimmune disease in an step-by-step list:
- Check for hidden infections — yeast, viruses, bacteria, Lyme, etc. — with the help of a doctor, and treat them.
- Check for hidden food allergens with IgG food testing or just try The UltraSimple Diet, which is designed to eliminate most food allergens.
- Get tested for celiac disease, which is a blood test that any doctor can do.
- Get checked for heavy metal toxicity. Mercury and other metals can cause autoimmunity.
- Fix your gut. For details, see my blog on irritable bowel syndrome.
- Use nutrients such as fish oil, vitamin C, vitamin D, and probiotics to help calm your immune response naturally.
- Exercise regularly — it’s a natural anti-inflammatory.
- Practice deep relaxation like yoga, deep breathing, biofeedback, or massage, because stress worsens the immune response.
- Tell your doctor about Functional Medicine and encourage him or her to get trained — go to www.functionalmedicine.org for more information and to get a copy of the Textbook for Functional Medicine.
Give these steps a try — and see if you don’t start feeling less inflamed. As mentioned earlier, the answers are right in front of you. By treating the underlying causes of your illness, you will begin to experience vibrant health once more.
Begin to ferment foods and drinks from home. The power of living probiotics (in food and drink, not pills) has a huge effect on the gut microbiome and immune system as a whole. You can learn how to make your own fermented foods and drinks by visiting FermentationMethod.com – There’s also a big difference between fermented foods bought at the store and what you make at home, click here to find out why.