Signs of Autoimmune Disease
Types of Autoimmune Disease
Autoimmune diseases are now a significant health burden with more than 80 conditions classified as autoimmune. Some of the most common autoimmune diseases include Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Graves Disease, Lupus, Psoriasis, Multiple Sclerosis, Type 1 Diabetes, and Celiac Disease.
Causes of Autoimmune Disease
Autoimmunity occurs when the immune system becomes confused and mistakenly attacks itself, creating inflammation and pain, damaging and deforming tissues and eventually leading to loss of function.
Conventional Approach Treats Symptoms, Creates Side-Effects
Unfortunately, there is a disconnect between what causes autoimmunity and the conventional treatment approach. The current medical system does not recognize these conditions as a disease of the immune system as a whole, so there is not a specific specialty that is trained to address autoimmune conditions. Instead, they are treated by specialists that focus on an individual organ system, such as Rheumatologists, Gastroenterologists, and Dermatologists. Additionally, conventional medicine does not believe that autoimmune disease can be reversed and only manage the symptoms, often with harsh medications that are designed to suppress the immune system. While these medications are often effective at treating symptoms, they come with significant side effects such as fatigue, weight gain, depression, increased risk of infection, and even cancer.
Dr. Carlson takes a comprehensive functional medicine approach to autoimmune conditions. Her goal is to help you lower and reverse antibodies, come off harsh medications, and become symptom free by determining the root cause of the underlying immune dysfunction. The causes of autoimmune disease are complex and multifactorial. Often there is a genetic predisposition, with many autoimmune conditions more common in women. Intestinal permeability or leaky gut, a condition in which the lining of the intestine becomes damaged, allowing for the immune system to encounter toxins and other microbes in the environment, plays a critical role. Gluten and dairy are the most common foods contributing to leaky gut. Gluten is especially problematic due to its overall inflammatory nature, further taxing the immune system and due to molecular mimicry. Molecular mimicry occurs because the gluten protein has a similar chemical structure to some of the body’s tissues, which can lead to a process in which the body mistakes its own tissues for gluten and attacks them.
Toxins, especially from mold or mycotoxins and heavy metals such as mercury, lead, aluminum, and arsenic as well as infections from bacteria and viruses such as EBV, HSV 1 and 2, and E.coli are also considered. Lastly, emotional and physical stress are thought to disrupt the immune system, cause long term inflammation and exacerbate the autoimmune process.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
- Graves’ Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Type 1 Diabetes
- Celiac Disease