Autoimmune diseases are a cluster of more than 80 chronic, and often debilitating, diseases affecting 22.5 million Americans. Generally speaking, an autoimmune disease is a condition wherein the body’s immune system begins to attacks its own cells. The immune system is not “over-active”; rather, it is confused. Although an autoimmune disease may manifest in a certain location, organ or tissue, an autoimmune disease is a systemic condition. Despite being such a prevalent and impactful chronic condition, the conventional medical paradigm does not understand the cause, nor does it have a cure or effective solution, relying only on toxic drugs with an abundance of side effects.
A Broken Approach
The conventional treatment approach is to attempt to shut down the immune response and lower inflammation with large doses of powerful medications, which often come with a laundry list of side effects. Furthermore, some of these drugs can suppress the immune system so much that it leaves you susceptible to life-threatening infections and can increase your risk of cancer. At best, they may provide some temporarily relief in the short term, but in the long term do nothing to address WHY you got the disease in the first place.
Environmental toxicity and nutrient deficiency have been shown to be a major contributor to the development of an autoimmune disease. Yet conventional medicine ignores this when treating autoimmune conditions. In fact, Dr. Douglas Kerr, M.D., Ph.D., professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, says “there is no doubt that autoimmune diseases are on the rise and our increasing environmental exposure to toxins and chemicals is fueling the risk. The research is sound. The conclusions, unassailable.”
Treat the Cause: Toxicity, Nutrient Deficiency .. or Both?
We are exposed to an incredible amount of toxins each and every day. They are in the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and in other substances we put in and on our bodies. You can find them in your home, car, office, or the school your child attends—almost everywhere!
Over 80,000 synthetic, laboratory- made chemicals exist in the world today. Even more frightening, the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) tested the umbilical cord blood of newborns and found 232 industrial compounds and pollutants in this blood! Even at birth, our bodies are already burdened with a tremendous amount of toxins. In the body, these compounds act as carcinogens, neurotoxins and immune and endocrine disruptors, often leading to a wide array of non-specific, but debilitating, conditions.
It is easy to see that it would not take much for the body’s detoxification systems to become overburdened. Our major organs of detoxification include the liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal system, lungs and skin. All of these organs need adequate levels of nutrition to properly perform their detox functions and require even MORE nutrients when there is an increased toxic burden. In fact, certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies can lead to an increased risk of developing an autoimmune disease.
Using Naturopathic Medicine to Heal Autoimmune Disease
Each individual is unique; therefore, each requires a personalized plan to address his or her autoimmune disease. For each person, all the contributing causes (toxins, infection, heavy metals, allergies, poor nutrition, stress, etc.) must be identified and addressed to bring the body back into balance. The body’s needs must also be met in order to facilitate optimal physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and wellbeing. Clean, whole foods, nutrients, exercise, fresh oxygen, clean water, stress management, healthy lifestyle habits, happiness, and a sense of purpose all contribute to re-establishing balance in the body. When you address all of these factors, the results can be amazing.
There are effective, natural methods that address autoimmune disease if you, or someone you love, are suffering and fed up with conventional treatments and pharmaceutical side effects.
By: Derek Lawrence, ND