Autoimmune Disease: Functional Medicine Approach to Managing Your Symptoms and Loving Life Again
As a woman with an autoimmune condition, are you frustrated with the options you’re given through conventional medicine?
Maybe you’ve tried taking medication, but are still struggling to manage your condition.
You’re tired of your flare-ups running the show.
Tired of chronic fatigue.
Tired of mysterious aches and pains.
You’d do anything for relief, but the conventional options are sadly limiting.
Want to know why? Conventional medicine only addresses the symptoms — not the root cause of your condition.
Autoimmune diseases are complex conditions when your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own healthy cells and tissues. And, unfortunately, autoimmunity is more common in women — much more. In fact, a study found that 80% of US patients with autoimmune diseases between 1965-1995 were women.1
Many women suffer from autoimmune diseases. They often struggle to find the right treatment that can help them manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.
While conventional medicine offers a variety of treatments for autoimmune diseases, they usually only mask the symptoms — a temporary solution.
So what gets to the root of your autoimmune disease? Functional medicine.
As an autoimmune specialist for women and a certified functional medicine practitioner, I’ve helped hundreds of women with their autoimmune diseases. These women were at their wit’s end with conventional medicine and absolutely exhausted with their autoimmunity. With my help, they’re now thriving and taking control of their health in a way they never have before.
I’m Dr. Laura Paris, and I’m going to share the difference between conventional and functional medicine so you can use an integrative approach to take control of your health, too. Because you deserve it!
So, let’s get started.
Autoimmune Disease: Functional Medicine vs. Conventional Medicine
In conventional medicine, the approach to treating autoimmune diseases is typically to focus on the affected body part or tissue. For example, a person with rheumatoid arthritis may see a rheumatologist specializing in treating joint and muscle issues.
Someone with autoimmune diabetes or thyroid problems may see an endocrinologist. And a person with multiple sclerosis or myasthenia gravis may see a neurologist.
However, in functional medicine, we take a different approach. At the core of functional medicine is the belief that our bodies are interconnected. We recognize that all autoimmune diseases have a common underlying process: an overly aggressive immune response that creates destructive cytokines.
We focus on addressing the root cause of the problem for long-term healing. We don’t simply treat the symptoms or specific body part that is affected. A functional medicine doctor will take the following four steps to lead you to remission.
Step 1: Understanding the Triad
Alessio Fasano, a renowned researcher and clinician, has provided us with valuable knowledge on the roots of autoimmunity and how we can combat them. Through his studies, he has identified a triad of factors that contribute to autoimmune disease:
- Genetic susceptibility
- Pre-existing increased intestinal permeability
- Triggers from lifestyle or environment
In functional medicine, we recognize that all autoimmunity comes with this triad. To counteract the triad, a comprehensive approach is necessary.
We can’t change genetics, and we can’t cure autoimmunity. But there’s a lot we can do by addressing gut health and identifying and lowering triggers from the environment. Successfully managing these factors can alleviate autoimmune symptoms and, in some cases, even reverse the disease.
Step 2: Addressing Diet and Lifestyle
The first step in the functional medicine approach to healing autoimmunity is to address the patient’s diet and lifestyle. Functional medicine practitioners help patients create an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle that matches their personal needs.
This can include eliminating certain foods that trigger inflammation, such as gluten and dairy. Instead, they should add nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.
We also encourage patients to exercise regularly and engage in stress-reducing activities like meditation or yoga. Stress has a massive impact on your immune health. The more you can reduce it, the better!
Step 3: Healing the Gut
Another key aspect of the functional medicine approach to autoimmunity is improving your gut health. Research shows a strong link between gut health and autoimmune diseases2, with many autoimmune conditions being linked to increased intestinal permeability.
As your functional medicine doctor, we investigate if any internal infections or imbalances are driving too much inflammation and acting as a trigger for autoimmune processes. We may recommend specific probiotics or other supplements to help improve the patient’s gut microbiome and restore balance to their digestive system.
Step 4: Regulating the Immune System with Supplements
Supplements are superheroes when it comes to regulating your immune system. But in functional medicine, we do the other work first. After identifying your triggers and optimizing your diet and lifestyle, we better understand the supplements you’ll need to fill the gaps.
Because listen, sister — no supplement or diet is going to erase autoimmunity on its own. But the combination of…
- Gut health
- Identifying triggers
- The right supplements
… can be a powerful, holistic approach to complement conventional medicine.
Now you’re in on how functional medicine doctors work their magic — by addressing the root cause of your autoimmunity through 360° care of your whole body and life.
If you’re struggling with an autoimmune condition and are frustrated with the limited options of conventional medicine, I encourage you to try adding functional medicine to the mix. Wondering how to find a functional medicine doctor?
As an autoimmune specialist for women with over two decades of experience — and an autoimmune condition of my own — I’m here to help you manage your condition and reclaim your life.
I invite you to join my program, Road to Remission. I’ll help you develop a personalized plan for healing your autoimmune disease functional medicine style. You truly don’t have to do this alone. Relief is just around the corner!
1 Damian N. Di Florio, Jon Sin, Michael J. Coronado, Paldeep S. Atwal, DeLisa Fairweather,
Sex differences in inflammation, redox biology, mitochondria and autoimmunity, Redox Biology, Volume 31, 2020, 101482, ISSN 2213-2317, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.redox.2020.101482.
2 Christovich A, Luo XM. Gut Microbiota, Leaky Gut, and Autoimmune Diseases. Front Immunol. 2022 Jun 27;13:946248. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2022.946248. PMID: 35833129; PMCID: PMC9271567.