Once you have a good conventional doctor on your team, then run, don’t walk, to a functional medicine practitioner who specializes in autoimmunity and inflammation. A functional practitioner is critical to help you move beyond a solely conventional approach, which is limited. Here are examples of the shortcomings of a stand-alone conventional approach, which is usually about managing symptoms:
You have Hashimoto’s. You’re fortunate to even know because often doctors don’t tell you it’s an autoimmune disease, they tell you it’s “hypothyroidism.” News flash: It’s not your thyroid, it’s your immune system. You’re told to watch and wait until it’s time to go on thyroid hormones. Meanwhile, your immune system continues to attack and destroy your thyroid. Thyroid hormones do not put Hashimoto’s into remission.
You have Type 1 diabetes. You obsess on blood sugar and insulin balance and are told diet is key – but the diet information may be off-target. You’re given insulin and/or other diabetes medications. None of these put Type 1 diabetes into remission. Your immune system continues to destroy your pancreas beta cells. Diabetes medications do not put the autoimmune attack into remission.
You have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). You get various drugs to suppress your immune system and prevent joint destruction. Perhaps you take joint protection supplements like glucosamine or fish oil. None of these drugs or supplements put RA into remission, they only stop the downstream effects. If you don’t
balance your immune system, your drug dosage stays the same for life. Then when the drugs stop working you move to different ones.
All the other autoimmune diseases
This is the same story for any autoimmune disease you can think of. Multiple Sclerosis, Myasthenia Gravis, Lupus, Sjogren’s, Celiac, etc. There’s now evidence that Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and Endometriosis are autoimmune in nature.
In fact, what kind of doctor do you
Your conventional doctors who work with the tissue or system that is under attack are important members of your team, however, their approach is limited.
What is missing here?
The elephant in the room is your immune system! Your very wise and sophisticated immune system is stuck in self-attack mode. And, the issue is not really about the tissue that is attacked. The real problem to solve is what your immune system is doing on a cellular level that created, and is perpetuating, this self-attack.
These immune self-attacks don’t typically occur unless certain conditions already exist or are triggered. Specifically, you:
- May already have chronic inflammation, which overloads your immune system and makes you more vulnerable to self-attack.
- Probably have chronic triggers, which can include food intolerances, chronic stress, and blood sugar dysregulation, among others.
Why run to a functional practitioner?
A functional medicine practitioner will work like a detective to identify any sources of chronic inflammation, as well as immune triggers, and then help you reduce or resolve them. This massively lifts the burden off your overloaded immune system and helps your autoimmune response simmer down.
A deeper project is to orchestrate your immune cells away from a hypervigilant response, and towards a calm and balanced state. This means your immune system is well-regulated instead of dysregulated. This is possible even with autoimmunity. Once you are not chronically inflamed, infected or triggered, this fine-tuning is easier. We use natural herbs and supplements that are proven to influence very specific immune cell actions.
You may have heard that certain agents help your immune system, such as reishi mushrooms or Vitamins A and D, or turmeric. But we are interested in specifically what kind of input your immune system needs, and then we can pick the right agents, at the right dose, for the right length of time.
Why even try to get autoimmunity into remission?
If you want to avoid the hamster wheel of managing medications and enduring continued tissue destruction, then getting to the root of the problem may interest you.
Did you know that once you have one autoimmune disease, your chances of developing more of them are much higher? This is especially true when there’s uncontrolled inflammation, like when you are in a “flare.” When your immune system is actively in self-attack mode, it is hypervigilant as well as overloaded, and can more easily start to attack other types of self-tissue. This is not a good situation!
Can you get rid of autoimmune diseases forever?
The bad news is, no. Once your immune system creates T cells that tag your body tissue as a foreign invader, those “memory” cells are there forever. But, the good news is that you can do all sorts of things to regulate your immune system, reduce inflammatory messenger cells while increasing the anti-inflammatory ones, and actually make your autoimmunity go dormant. This is the key – what we call dormancy, latency, or remission.
Remission is something you can work towards. It’s the goal of any functional immune specialist. And, it gives you many more options than helplessly doing nothing to prevent a slow (or rapid) loss of parts of your body or brain.
Ready to get down to business?
I welcome your questions and comments below,