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.
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
Order your Testing
Submit testing specimens to proper labs
Review Your Test Results and Personalized Treatment Recommendations
Retest and refine your treatment plan to stay on track with your health goals.