Autoimmune disease is like punching yourself in the face and not being able to stop it.
What is an autoimmune disease?
An autoimmune disease develops when your bodies immune system malfunctions and decides that the healthy cells of your body are foreign and starts to attack itself. Different types of autoimmune disorders can occur based on which tissues of the body are being affected. Whether its the nerves of Multiple Sclerosis or the thyroid in Hashimotos Thyroiditis. The mechanism is similar.
There are over 100 different autoimmune diseases. Some of the most common are Rheumatoid arthritis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), Celiac Sprue, Pernicious anemia, Vitiligo, scleroderma, Psoriasis, Inflammatory bowel disease, Hashimotos thyroiditis, Addisons Disease, Graves Disease, Sjogrens, Type 1 Diabetes, and the list goes on, and on, and on. Literally!
Autoimmune (AI) Diseases are on the rise
Autoimmune disorders(AI) are on the rise significantly! AARD estimates that the total cost of treating AI disorders to be in excess of 100 billion per year. Between the years of 1970 and 2000 there was a 300% increase in the prevalence of AI diseases, and it's continuing to escalate. And that's a low estimate. It doesn’t include the millions of people that suffer from low grade AI disorders and just think it's “normal”.
The current prediction for the year 2020 is that 1 in 9 women will have an AI disease by the time they are 50 years old.
For all the attention that breast cancer and coronary heart disease get, autoimmune diseases occur more than breast cancer and heart disease combined. Currently there are 9.8 million people, mostly women, living with AI disease. In contrast there are 7.2 with heart disease and 2.2 with breast cancer.
This is a HUGE problem that will only get worse with time. The estimated cost for all AI diseases is in the 100 billion range and escalating. The cost to an individual in a cohort study that looked at Rhuematoid patients found that the average out of pocket cost per patient per year to be $20,000. The cost for a patient with moderate to severe Psoriasis to be up to $27,600 depending on the patients insurance coverage.
I guess if your not lucky enough to have good insurance your out of luck.
Why are Autoimmune Diseases on the rise?
There is no questioning that all chronic diseases are on the rise. Some of them directly attributable to certain things. Autoimmune disease in not one of those things. But… we do know what contributes to it and what to do about it. Hint: Not drugs.
A common phrase that many Functional Medicine Physicians use is “Genetics load the gun, and environment pulls the trigger.” What this essentially means is that we are all predisposed to certain things based on what genes we have. However, it doesn’t mean that you will necessarily get that disease.
Some of the most common triggers involved in the development of Autoimmune disease include viruses, bacteria, medications (which are toxins), pollutants, hormones and stress. A lot of these triggers are often involved in causing an inflammatory response thus ultimately leading to an overactive immune response against the body. Other causes that should be considered when determining the cause of a developed AI disease include gluten sensitivity, Immunizations (which contain thimersol, a KNOWN immune toxin), mycotoxins from molds, infections from candida, epstein barr, and herpes simplex. While this list is not all inclusive it does contain the majority of issues that contribute to the development of AI disease.
I would like to point out that the rate of AI disease in the US is significantly higher than in third world countries. While studies do not explain why this is the case, some very smart people have suggested that this is due to 3 possible reasons.
1) Living in a third world country, the population is exposed to a much greater biodiversity of microbiome. What this means is that the good bacteria in their intestines are much greater in number and variety than that of the typical American. The good bacteria in the intestines often contributes up to 50% of immune system health.
2) Living in the US we are obsessed with cleanliness. Which can be a good thing. However this can be a bad thing too. (This reason is kind of a combination of reason 1 and 3.) In trying to be super clean we are exposed to all kinds of antibacterial products(toxins) and in the process we are limiting ourselves to what micro biome we are exposed to. In short, BAD!
3) TOXINS! In my opinion this IS the most common reason for the development of AI disease.
Wrap this around your head real quick.
According to the EPA website, as of the year 2008, there were over 84,000 chemicals in commercial use. Many of them used in products we use every day. Every year there are 1,000 new chemical products in use. Of those 90K chemicals in use by now only 1% have had any type of studies done on them, simply because the chemical companies say, Nah! we don’t want to or thats privileged information. NO OVERSIGHT.
In Another study in 2009, 232 chemicals were found the cord blood of all the babies studied.
How can we think that all these chemicals and toxins are
not affecting our bodies and our babies?
Anyway, For more information on toxins check our my other webpage here.
The problem with conventional/western treatment
of autoimmune diseases.
Conventional or western treatment for autoimmune disease, or most other diseases for that matter, revolve around covering or controlling symptoms. Not necessarily addressing the root cause of the symptoms. Functional Medicine anyone?
One of the most common treatments include immuno-suppressants. The problem with this route is fairly obvious. You are basically killing the immune system so you don’t have symptoms. This leads to an increased risk of developing severe or life threatening infections and an increased risk of developing cancer. The immune system is responsible for killing all those cancer cells before they multiply after all. Kill the immune system and there is no one to kill the cancer cells. Simple.
Another treatment that is sometimes used for certain autoimmune diseases, particularly Graves Disease, is radiation therapy. Hmmmm. Radiation doesn’t sound too good. But put the word "therapy" behind it, and it suddenly becomes not only ok, but good. I don’t think so! This treatment is sometimes called an “Atomic Cocktail”. We all know what radiation does - Cancer.
Finally, corticosteroids are used for symptom abatement. Initially when people take these they think “great, I'm cured”. Then a month or two down the road reality sets in. They are having to use higher and higher doses of stronger medications to get the same result. Before you know it they have ballooned in weight, have moon face, are diabetic and depressed, with no sex drive. Corticosteroids also increase the risk of adrenal insufficiency, osteoporosis, cataracts, and they inhibit the immune system by “inducing lymphocyte death”. Doesn’t sound too good to me.
So Whats a Gal (or guy) to do?
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Dr. Craig Mortensen
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