Autoimmune conditions are considered third largest cause of death in the industrialised world. If we take into account antibodies in LDL (low density lipoprotein), then autoimmunity could be considered the largest cause of death in the world.
Currently there is no available cure for autoimmune conditions using conventional medicine as conventional medicine is a model designed to help people with acute problems, i.e. you have problem A and we treat with drug B. However, an acute care model cannot be used to treat chronic disease.
If we take, for example the case of Hashimoto’s in autoimmune thyroiditis, the standard of care is to use synthetic T4 thyroxine. However, this does nothing to address the underlying cause and thus the patient rarely gets better. Take another example of an inflammatory autoimmune condition such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, patient is prescribed harsh drugs like methotrexate, steroids and immunosuppressant drugs like hydroxychloroquine.
Again, this does nothing to address the underlying cause as to why the patient has the condition in the first place and in no way heals them their predicament. The three drugs mentioned in the foregoing sentence are the main drugs of choice for autoimmunity when it comes to majority of inflammatory-based autoimmune conditions. Then there are further autoimmune conditions such as those on the alopecia spectrum amongst others, where conventional medicine has no answer or possible treatment for. This again boils back to needing a completely different approach in dealing with chronic disease and autoimmunity that addresses the whole person and the underlying cause. The best method that exists for doing this is using the functional medicine approach.
When assessing a client with autoimmune disease it is much better to know what sort of person has the disease than to know what disease the person has: a very detailed case history is taken of the client and understanding what antecedents, mediators and triggers would have played a part in their presenting health problems. It would appear that with the vast majority of the autoimmune conditions that clients are suffering from multiple chronic low grade infections, whether they are viral in origin, bacterial, parasitic or fungal. The fact that they are low grade means that the client will not necessarily know they have them and unless a comprehensive case history with comprehensive supporting blood work is carried out, then this will be routinely missed again and again.
We are finding that certain autoimmune diseases have a particular bias towards certain stealth bugs as can be seen here. But recently we are noting that rheumatoid arthritis not only has relationships between Proteus Mirabilis but also with undiagnosed Lyme disease.
The next thing we have to look at with clients is the comprehensive nutritional and environmental workup. Invariably many clients have intestinal permeability, nutrient deficiencies, exposure to environmental toxins such as mercury that are causing them immune reactivity. There may well be food sensitivities, reduced methylation, and poor detoxification via the organs of elimination.
Many clients will have their endocrine system affected by the autoimmune conditions. This will often be triggered by stress, so we regularly work with clients helping them engage in mindfulness practice to reduce activating the stress response. It is this stress response that was only designed for emergency situations and now unfortunately is being used every day by the vast majority of us. It is this stress response that is dramatically contributing to immune dysregulation and inflammation.