IMMUNE SYSTEM DISORDERS, AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES
Although there is no known cure for autoimmune disorders, we have had excellent success at The Center for Natural and Integrative Medicine in helping our patients alleviate symptoms and prevent relapses.
Your immune system’s job is to fight foreign substances in the body, such as bacteria and viruses. But with autoimmune diseases, things go awry. The immune system attacks the body’s own tissues, causing inflammation, pain, and tissue injury. More than 23 million Americans are affected by lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, multiple sclerosis, and scores of other autoimmune diseases.
Nobody is sure of the underlying cause of autoimmune diseases. Genetics appear to play a role, and some experts believe that microorganisms may be involved. Other possible culprits include food allergies and “leaky gut,” which allows partially digested proteins to cross the intestinal walls and enter the general circulation, where they prompt an immune response.
Most doctors offer little relief for autoimmune disorders, except to prescribe powerful medications such as immunosuppressives, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and steroids. Long-term use of these drugs can have serious side effects including gastrointestinal bleeding, retinopathy, headaches, and kidney failure.
Our Integrative Approach for Autoimmune Diseases
We help our patients implement natural treatments for autoimmune diseases that, unlike medication, address the patient’s overall health as well as the underlying disease mechanisms. Although there is no known cure for autoimmune disorders, we have excellent success in helping our patients alleviate symptoms and prevent relapses.
A Therapeutic Diet
Autoimmune diseases are often associated with food allergies and abnormal bowel permeability, linking them closely to diet and lifestyle. Our physicians will help you learn to identify and avoid your individual food allergens.
There is a strong connection between diet and inflammation, and for autoimmune disease sufferers, inflammation means pain. Certain fats (processed vegetable oils, in particular) stimulate the formation of inflammatory chemicals, while others (the omega-3 fatty acids found in cold-water fish and flaxseed) actually reduce inflammation.
Exercise, and Nutritional Supplements
Regular exercise is one of the best therapies. It helps you strengthen the musculature around affected joints and improve flexibility. It will also improve sleep, increase your energy, and even improve your mental attitude. Our practitioners will help you plan a personalized exercise program designed to be easy to stick to. The immune system needs a strong nutritional foundation over a long period of time to combat autoimmune diseases. In addition to a broad range of protective antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals, our physicians will prescribe a potent combination of nutritional supplements for relieving pain and inflammation, such as fish oil, curcumin, and other herbs.
Hormone Replacement Can Do Wonders
Natural hormone replacement therapy can be a godsend for patients with autoimmune diseases. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) has a modulating effect on the immune system and lowers production of stress hormones. Estriol, a form of estrogen, also shows promise, particularly for women with multiple sclerosis. And natural thyroid (as opposed to synthetic Synthroid), often improves outcomes in patients with autoimmune thyroid disease.
Low-Dose Antibiotics Show Promise
In addition, we use a decades-old therapy that in some cases actually reverses autoimmune disease. It involves a course of low-dose antibiotics aimed at eradicating the microorganisms present in affected joints. Although this therapy has been well studied and written about in top scientific journals, it is largely disregarded by most physicians. But for some patients with rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, and other autoimmune diseases, low-dose antibiotic treatment is nothing short of miraculous.
Low-Dose Naltrexone Benefits
Many Autoimmune Diseases Our physicians at The Center for Natural & Integrative Medicine also prescribe another overlooked, yet very powerful drug for autoimmune disorders: low-dose naltrexone (LDN). Small doses of LDN taken at bedtime have a powerful balancing effect on the immune system, making it an excellent therapy not only for autoimmune diseases but for a wide range of other conditions as well.