Every day in my practice, I come across patients suffering from autoimmune conditions like lupus, crohn’s, celiac, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Type 1 Diabetes and so many more. Many of them have tried conventional approaches without much success and they are left with more questions than answers. The point of this paper is discuss how autoimmune conditions are created, who gets them and how our practice would determine the best approach to improving them. We look at many different paradigms that have been successful in our practice and many functional medicine offices from around the world. They are different than just suppressing the immune system to limit the inflammatory response. We will only provide high level explanations due to timing but they will give you a general idea on how you can address your disease.
There are three primary reasons why you get an autoimmune condition in my opinion. The first is a genetic predisposition to the disease. You must have the genes in your DNA that can be potentially activated in the future. For example, “celiac patients have HLA DQ2/DQ8” 1 Crohn’s disease is related to “chromosomes 5 and 10. Variations of the ATG1GL1, PRGM, and NOD2 genes increase the risk of developing Crohn disease. The IL23R gene is associated with Crohn disease. “ 2 The second reason why autoimmune conditions get activated are due to environmental triggers or lifestyle preferences. For example, when celiac patients eat gluten, they inflame their intestines and cause harm to their microvilli and intestinal lining. Smoking and stress have been known triggers that I see in my practice of causing flare ups with crohn’s patients. The last point that must addressed when dealing with autoimmune conditions is leaky gut. In layman’s terms, this is where your small intestine is not bound by tight junctions and antigens or other foreign substances can pass through your small intestine and into the bloodstream. The intestinal lining of the small intestine is only one cell deep so when it is compromised, the toxins, microbes and undigested food particles have complete access to your bloodstream and subsequently your immune system.
So What tests would we run to get to the root cause? There are so many at our disposal like your typical blood panel from your primary care physician, vitamin D, vitamin B status, etc. This will give you a great idea on plasma levels, immune system response, etc. However the two best labs and methods of testing I find helpful are a gut test for parasites, bacteria and yeast infections as well as a toxicity panel that measures the levels of toxins in your system with mercury being a main one. The best lab that we use now is called the GI MAPS lab and this is excellent for looking at your gut flora, potential pathogens and the overall health of your gut. Many autoimmune conditions are exacerbated by parasites or bad bacteria present in your gut. Once we eradicate them, many patients feel much better. The second lab I want to focus on here is the Quicksilver Blood Metals Panel which checks for toxicity and mercury in the body. Mercury and toxicity have been shown in my practice to cause issues for autoimmune patients. I highly recommend them.
Without divulging too much information on a short paper, there are different approaches to treating the patients once we have all of this information back. The information we ascertain from the aforementioned labs gives up the necessary data augmented with the clinical presentation of the client to create a specific protocol. This will include nutrition, sleep recommendations, physical fitness, lifestyle modifications and so much more. We are always here to help people from around the world as health and vitality are paramount to a fulfilled life.
Mike, FDN, PT
About the Author:
After completing his Degree at Ryerson University and spending 15 years in Corporate, he graduated from the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition program in California and is now the CEO of Interactive Body Balance where he oversees a vibrant functional medicine health practice. Transitioning from Corporate to the entrepreneurial paradigm has involved seeing patients and clients via the conventional method but also virtually. He has authored the popular self-help book titled “The Transformation From Within” and the Functional Medicine Book ” How To Restore Your Health”, hosts the highly ranked ITunes Podcast called Interactive Body Balance, is creating multiple online health courses while also presenting to audiences around the world.