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Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmune disease testing and Triggers 12

Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body instead of foreign threats and diseases. It can cause symptoms such as fatigue, joint and muscle pain or swelling, Brain Fog recurring fever, swollen glands, digestive issues, and more. 

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About Autoimmune Disease

According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, there are more than 80 different types of autoimmune diseases affecting around 24 million people in the United States. Many of these conditions are considered chronic and “incurable” by Western medicine.

At Dr Hagmeyer.com we take a different approach. An approach that looks at the Root Cause and one that is founded on the principles of functional medicine. We are team of Certified functional medicine practitioners along with functional nutritionists. Not only can we help manage your symptoms, but we can also focus on addressing the underlying causes as well.

Once diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, many believe their only option is to manage the symptoms while waiting for modern medicine to find a cure for the disorder. I’m here to tell you that is not the case.
A functional medicine approach to autoimmune disorders has the possibility of reversing the disease process by enabling your body to heal itself.

How Functional Medicine Treats Autoimmune Disease

When it comes to autoimmune disorders, traditional medicine tends to focus on stopping attacks and managing symptoms. This may be accomplished by using pharmaceutical drugs to depress the immune system, reduce inflammation, or alleviate other symptoms.  This is necessary and can provide much needed relief to patients.  

However, these treatments are occurring after the fact. They focus on stopping attacks in progress and relieving the symptoms of the attack. While this can help patients, if you want to restore true health, then you need to figure out WHY the immune system went from functioning normally to attacking your body. 

The likelihood of developing an autoimmune disease is based on 25% genetic makeup and 75% environmental factors.  

Since we can’t alter genetics, my autoimmune disease treatment plans focus on the other 75%: addressing and supporting the main environmental triggers influencing the patient’s health.

Underlying Causes of Autoimmune Disorders

Functional medicine and traditional medicine now know that there are a handful of reasons or triggers behind the development and progression of an autoimmune disease. Let’s talk about just a few of them. In people with a genetic predisposition (where their genes put them at high risk), certain environmental exposures can trigger an autoimmune disease. These triggers vary from person to person and they are not in any particular order. Some of these autoimmune Triggers include.

Trigger I: Food Sensitivities and Autoimmune Disease
Trigger II: Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Disease
Trigger III: Toxins, Heavy Metals, BPA and Autoimmune Disease
Trigger IV: High Viral Load and Autoimmune Disease
Trigger V: Hormones and Autoimmune Disease
Trigger VI: Inflammation and Autoimmune Disease
Trigger VII: Nutritional Deficiencies and Autoimmune Disease

When we work with patients, We will identify what testing you need and review those tests with you. 

Food Sensitivities and Leaky Gut Can Trigger Autoimmunity
It has been said that 80% of our immune system can be found in the gut. Think about that for just a moment. If 80% of the immune system is located in the gut- why are we not focusing more on its health? Why are we sometimes taking more and more medications that cause further damage to the health of the gut?

In functional medicine, we believe that the gut is a key player in the development or stabilization of autoimmune diseases.

Stress, high viral load, medications, toxins, certain foods like gluten can all lead to a condition known as leaky gut. As the gut becomes “leaky” it allows toxins, microorganisms (including bacteria), and undigested food proteins to leak into your blood stream. Here it creates a body wide systemic inflammatory reaction that can trigger autoimmunity. Not only can leaky cause systemic inflammation, It can also prevent the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals further complicating the healing process.

Chronic Infections and Autoimmune Disorders
Unlike an acute infection, which typically receives treatment, creates a inconvenience in our lives for one to two weeks, chronic infections for some individuals, can be life altering. With chronic infections the immune system is unable to respond to the infective agent or pathogen.
Some common examples of chronic infections include: Gulf war syndrome, Chronic Fatigue syndrome, Epstein Barr Virus, Fibromyalgia, CMV, Mycoplasma, Hepatitis C, Herpes, H.pylori, E.Coli, Pseudomonas, Salmonella.

Scientists have long suspected that viruses may be linked to the development of autoimmune disorders. Some people are simply better able to tolerate the low-level viruses than others. If you’re a person who is not able to tolerate the viruses, or if your immune system is otherwise compromised, it can trigger an autoimmune disease. If we suspect that a high viral/bacterial/fungal load is triggering your immune system, we can run certain tests to identify your immune competence.

Toxins and Autoimmune Disease

We are exposed to more environmental toxins on a daily basis than ever before in history. Even the simplest of daily routines can expose one to several common pollutants found in the water we drink, food we eat, and air we breathe. While our liver, kidneys and lymphatic system play a major role in removing biologically harmful compounds, our bodies have not evolved to deal with the growing number of toxins we unknowingly interact with every day.

When chemicals enter the body, then can bind to human tissue proteins causing a variety of chronic health problems such as diabetes, autoimmune disease, MS, inflammatory disease, hormone imbalances and neurodegenerative diseases. In addition to binding to human proteins, they easily overwhelm our Detoxification system causing stress to the liver and toxin overload. This happens when your body has taken in more toxins than it can process.

Toxic chemicals include Parabens, Phthalates, formaldehyde, BPA, mercury compounds, heavy toxic metals such as lead, arsenic, nickel, cobalt to name just a few. We offer a variety of tests that can not only assess your risk for exposure, but we can also measure your immune systems response to these chemicals.

Nutrient Deficiencies and Autoimmune disease
When your body does not have the proper amount of key nutrients as fuel, it cannot function properly. Nutritional deficiencies are fundamental to any progression of disease. The average American diet is woefully low in nutritive foods, contributing to many of the chronic conditions we see today.

As a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner, I feel it is essential to assess my patient’s unique nutritional needs.

Good nutrition is the key to good health, but good nutrition varies from one person to the next. Optimizing your biochemistry is a critical pillar.

Patients with chronic health problems present with unique nutritional deficiencies.
What does your unique, deficiency state look like? What does your body need in order to thrive? Are you deficient in certain vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids, certain antioxidants?
I could list many vitamins and nutrients that play a role in immune dysfunction, including vitamins A, D, and K as well as Omega 3s, Iron, Zinc, Magnesium, and Selenium. But before you head to the supplement store, it’s important to know what’s your body requires. What’s good for your next-door neighbor, may not be therapeutically beneficial to you.

As functional medicine practitioner we can test these areas to know exactly what you need and what you don’t.

Chronic Inflammation and Autoimmune Disease
Chronic inflammation is long lasting, insidious, dangerous. And you may not even know you have it. Chronic Inflammation is another pillar of the Big Picture. But there are different pathways activated during the inflammatory process. The key to addressing Inflammation lies in knowing the root cause. Is your inflammation caused by infection, injury, food, blood sugar imbalance, gut, hormone imbalance, industrial toxins, heavy metals or the immune system? Untreated inflammation has been shown to cause autoimmune disease, heart disease, hormone imbalances, thyroid disease, depression, anxiety, digestive problems, chronic pain, migraines, and many other chronic health problems.

Treating Autoimmune Disorders- What We Do

Treating autoimmune disorder requires and understanding that there is no cookie cutter approach to stabilizing the immune system. When I work with patients who have an autoimmune disease, I think first about what might be potentially Triggering the immune system dysregulation, Next I think about how can we Stabilize and Support the immune system for better balance.
As I mentioned, the functional medicine treatment approach to autoimmune disease doesn’t focus on the disease itself. The goal is to identify the autoimmune triggers and then stabilize the function of the immune system. There’s a reason why the immune system has become dysregulated – our goal is to uncover what those triggers are and stabilize those triggers. Sometimes you can identify and correct them, and sometimes you cannot. But there’s always an underlying reason for the immune dysregulation.

 
The approach we take will differ for each patient, but the first step is always to take a detailed health history. What we learn about that individual patient’s history will point us in the direction of detailed testing necessary to uncover the root of the problem.
After testing is complete, we move on to working to correct the problems that we have found. This is a multi-faceted approach that includes dietary adjustments, lifestyle changes, and nutraceutical supplementation.

Here's How It Works

Step 1

Order your Testing

Step 2

Submit testing specimens to proper labs

Step 3

Review Your Test Results and Personalized Treatment Recommendations

Step 4

Retest and refine your treatment plan to stay on track with your health goals.

Autoimmune Disease

One of the things that is happening here in the U.S. is the rates of autoimmune (AI) disease continue to go up for all autoimmune diseases. There is an explosion of AI disease happening now like never before.  Over the next several articles you will be introduced to the causes and triggers behind autoimmunity and what you can do to take back control of your health. You will learn learn about how functional medicine has so much to offer those who are suffering with autoimmunity.

 

What is Autoimmune Disease?

Autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system begins targeting self-tissue of the body causing destruction of that tissue or organ.  The type of tissue that is destroyed in this process determines the type of autoimmune disease.  There are many different AI diseases that have been identified, such as:

 

Autoimmune Reaction versus Autoimmune Disease

During the early stages of autoimmunity, the immune system is attacking Reversing-Autoimmune-Diseasetissue and initiating an AI reaction (based on the presence of antibodies) but the diagnosis of AI disease is not given until observable destruction of tissue has been identified.  An AI reaction is when the immune system starts to attack self-tissue. The presence of autoantibodies indicates that the immune system is initiating an immune response against self-tissue (tissue or cellular components of the body).  During an AI reaction, you may or may not have symptoms of that tissue being destroyed.  Symptoms will only occur when the tissue destruction is severe enough to lead to a change in physiologic function.  Symptoms are your body’s clues, letting you know that something is off. Together we can tap into these clues and pinpoint the triggers causing your symptoms; this is the most effective way to halt the autoimmune response and the development of compounding AI diseases.

AI disease is usually progressive over time.

While there is no cure for most AI diseases, there are ways to manage it through functional medicine. AI patients generally experience more symptoms of tissue destruction over time and the diagnosis of AI disease is only made after there is degeneration of the tissue.  However, the development of tissue destruction or organ failure does not happen overnight so I see many cases where a person may have gone through a 5-10 year “waiting period” experiencing a combination of unexplained symptoms, consulting with multiple doctors without a diagnosis.  Fortunately there is a way to alleviate symptoms by going deeper to uncover the root cause of inflammation and eliminating possible triggers that may, unknowingly, be a part of your everyday diet and lifestyle.  My goal in treatment is to listen to the patient, make connections unique to each individual case, and develop a manageable plan to stop tissue destruction in it’s tracks.

In conventional healthcare, the diagnosis of AI disease is based on destruction of tissue (observable on diagnostic imaging), autoantibodies (antibodies against self-tissue), and other markers found in the blood along with clinical findings (signs and symptoms of patient).
Additionally, conventional treatment is focused on suppressing the immune response and controlling symptoms but little is offered to the patient in regards to modulating the autoimmunity and avoiding triggers that cause flare-ups of the autoimmune response. As a result, AI conditions tend to cause more and more tissue destruction over time, eventually leading to severe tissue destruction and organ failure in many cases.  Instead of dulling the immune response with medication, my focus is rebuilding a healthy functional immune system.  My job is to help identify triggers instigating the autoimmune response, stop the cycle of future destruction, and work with you to develop a treatment plan that supports restoring healthy cells and tissue once again.

By The Time You Have Been Diagnosed With Autoimmune Disease The Damage To Your Body Has Been Done.
Our Job Is To Intervene In The Earlier Stages So That We Can Minimize Your suffering.
Stages of Autoimmunity Cyrex Labs Dr Hagmeyer

Consider these facts and statistics.

“Autoimmune diseases are the third leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the industrialized world, surpassed only by cancer and heart disease.”1

“While many individual autoimmune diseases are rare, collectively they are thought to affect approximately 8 percent of the United States population – 24 million persons.”

“To provide a context to evaluate the impact of autoimmune diseases, cancer affected approximately 9 million people and heart disease affected approximately 22 million people in the United States.” 2

AI disease can affect any organ or tissue in the body

“Autoimmune diseases can affect virtually every site in the body”
“At least 15 diseases are known to be the direct result of an autoimmune response, and circumstantial evidence links more than 80 conditions to autoimmunity.”3

Most AI disease remains undiagnosed- This is often the reason why your doctor says everything is “Normal” yet you feel terrible.

“Collectively autoimmune diseases have been identified in about 24 million people in the U.S., and only 1/3 are diagnosed. That means about 72 million people have an AI disease. It’s not looked for. Our system waits until the signs and symptoms are severe enough with organ failure and irreversible damage before we identify it.”4

Progression and Prevalence of Multiple Autoimmune Diseases

We know that when people have antibodies against one known tissue type, there are likely to be other antibodies against other tissue as well.  In other words, when a person is diagnosed with AI disease, they are at high risk of developing other autoimmune diseases during their lifetime.  It is very rare that only one tissue type is targeted by the immune system.

When we look at people with AI disease, they may have multiple types of tissue being targeted that have not yet been identified.  For example, the literature shows people with thyroid autoimmune disease have over a 50% chance of being affected by another autoimmune disease.5  However, using a functional medicine approach to dampen the autoimmune response means you can have an affect on these statistics and lower your chances of developing additional AI disease.  I would love to talk with you more about how.

If you are experiencing symptoms related to autoimmune disease, we’d like to help you find a solution.
Dr. Hagmeyer’s uses a Functional Medicine Approach to treat each individual case with individualized care.

Contact our office today to finally find the answers you’ve been seeking and get on a right path toward better health.

Contact-UsTake Away Points:
  1. Rates of autoimmune (AI) diseases are increasing every year in the U.S.
  2. The diagnosis of AI disease is only made after there is degeneration,damage or destruction of the tissue
  3. Most AI cases remain undiagnosed and is the reason why most doctors will tell you that everything is normal.
  4. Most AI cases continue to progress over time– The earlier you intervene the better your chances are for a successive outcome.
  5. Most AI patients develop more than one AI disease during their lifetime. Autoimmune diseases are often seen together.
  6. Conventional healthcare has very little to offer patients with autoimmune disease besides steroids and pain pills.

If you’re ready to see how natural treatments can help your autoimmune disease, we invite you to complete a contact us form.

 

Learn more about Autoimmune Disease and Other Triggers:

Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmune Disease and Functional Medicine

Identifying Your Autoimmune Triggers

Trigger I: Identify Leaky Gut and Compromised GI Function

Trigger II: Eliminate Food Senstivities 

Trigger III: Toxins, Heavy Metals, BPA

Trigger IV: Infections, Parasites, and Lyme Disease

Trigger V: Balance and Optimize Hormones

Trigger VI: Dampen the Inflammatory Response

Trigger VII: Identify Individual Nutritional Deficiencies 

 

References:

1. The Journal of Immunology,2005, 175: 4119–4126.

2. NIH. Autoimmune Diseases Coordinating Comm. Autoimmune Diseases Research Plan. 2006

3. NAT CLIN PRAC GASTRO & HEP SEPT 2005 VOL 2 NO 9

4. Jeffrey S. Bland, Ph.D.; Metagenics Educational Programs. 2006

5. ACTA BIO MEDICA 2003; 74; 9-33