20 Aug 2022

Healthy Living: Autoimmunity – a emerging new epidemic

Healthy Living: Autoimmunity – a emerging new epidemic

One in 13 people in Ireland currently have asthma

I hate to be the voice of doom, but on top of the pandemic we are also facing an epidemic of allergic, asthmatic, and autoimmune disorders. You might be familiar with the first two, but when it comes to auto-immunity, most people only hear about it when they receive a diagnosis. It is certainly becoming one of the most common health concerns clients come to my clinic.

Autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, celiac disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and the many other hard-to-classify syndromes of the 21st century. At their root they are connected by one central biochemical process, an immune imbalance. Your immune system gets confused and your own tissues get caught in a crossfire. Your body is fighting something - an infection, a toxin, an allergen – even food, and somehow it redirects its hostile attack on your own tissues. This immune confusion results from what is referred to as molecular mimicry: when the invader's structure is very similar to the structure of our own tissue.

Interestingly, autoimmune disorders occur almost exclusively in developed countries. People in poor nations without modern amenities like running water, flushing toilets, washing machines, and manicured backyards don't get these diseases. If you grew up on a farm with lots of animals, you are also less likely to have any of these inflammatory disorders. Playing in the dirt and being exposed to bugs and infections trains your immune system to recognize what is foe and what is "you." Stress has a huge impact on your immunity, weakening your ability to fight infections and increasing your chances to develop allergies and autoimmunity.

Autoimmune diseases when taken all together are a huge health burden. Unfortunately, many of the conventional treatments available can make you feel worse. When used selectively, these drugs can help people get their lives back. But they are not a long-term solution. Anti-inflammatory drugs and immune suppressants may lead to multiple side effects. They shouldn't be the end of treatment, but a bridge to cool off inflammation while the root cause of the disease is found and addressed.

Naturopathy sees you as a whole, not as a machinery with separate parts. No matter what part of your body is under attack by your immune system, the solution is one and the very same: you need to find the root cause and balance your immune system using a functional medicine approach, a new way of thinking about the underlying causes and imbalances in chronic disease.

You are also a unique individual – a mixture of your genetic makeup, your history and your environment, therefore the only real solution is finding and addressing your specific cause, ridding your body and your environment of anything that may drive your condition, healing your damaged tissues by supplying your body with immune-balancing nutrients and powerful botanicals. The journey is long, it is not easy, but it leads to quality of life without side effects and halts the spread of autoimmunity to new tissues.

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