Autoimmune Disease, Causes and Treatments
Autoimmune disease affects 50 million Americans and researchers estimate that there are 80-100 types of autoimmune disease. The type of disease is named according to the tissue affected. In essence, autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system attacks self.
There are various theories as to what causes autoimmune disease. It is known that there is a genetic component, especially when multiple members of a family have the disease. However, there are environmental causes such as toxins that have been suspected to have caused the autoimmune disease in patients who were chronically exposed to such toxins and have no other family members who suffer from autoimmune disease. Environmental factors such as medications, heavy metals and exogenous estrogens can alter genes so that their expression changes. Viruses are also indicated as being triggers for the immune system dysfunction. It takes a thorough history to find the suspected etiology, and each patient will have different trigger(s), therefore treating the patient is more effective than treating the disease.
Conventional medical treatments range from steroids to suppress the symptoms of inflammation to immunosuppressants which suppress the immune system. Unfortunately, high risks come with these drugs. Patients on immunosuppressants are susceptible to infections and cancer, and the steroids cause weakening of bone and connective tissue. These types of medications attempt to control the symptoms of the disease and do not treat the cause.
Naturopathic medicine aims to treat the cause of disease; this approach is safe and more effective for the patient. A naturopath will first look at the gut to see if toxins are arising from there. They may test for certain viruses such as HPV or Epstein Barr. They will also look into food sensitivities that contribute to immune system overactivity. Most of the time there can be multiple triggers such as a processed food diet, exposure to environmental toxins and chronic use of antibiotics. Because naturopathic medicine treats the whole body and is thorough when it comes to the patient’s medical history, it is extremely effective in improving the patient’s quality of life and preventing flare ups.
Stem Cell therapy is the latest cutting edge treatment for severe autoimmune cases. The stem cells, along with their growth factors and cytokines go to the injured areas of the body and work with the host to repair and replace the diseased tissue. Most profoundly though, they have the ability to modulate the over active immune system. Patients have quickly recovered from the severe symptoms of their disease with the stem cell IV treatments and the recovery is long term.