What Is Auto-Immune Disease?
Our bodies have an immune system, which is an incredibly complex network of cells and organs that defend the body from germs and other foreign invaders. The immune system's core function is to protect the body by attacking that which is foreign. Auto-Immune Disease is when the immune system loses the ability to differentiate between foreign and native and begins to attack its own cells. When this happens, the body makes autoantibodies that mistakingly attack native, healthy cells. At the same time, regulatory T cells, whose job it is to keep the immune system working properly, fail. This combination within the body results in autoimmune disease. The parts of the body affected by auto-immune disease depend primarily on the type of auto-immune disease the body is experiencing.
While there are more than 80 known types of auto-immune disease, our office frequently sees the following:
Hashimoto Thyroiditis - Hashimoto Thyroiditis is a progressive disease of the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland that sits low on the front of the neck and whose primary responsibility is to produce and regulate hormones. We consider the thyroid gland to be the "supervisor" to the body as it oversees essentially every physiologic reaction. In the case of Hashimoto Thyroiditis, antibodies are inappropriately directed against the thyroid decreasing its ability to make thyroid hormones. Hashimoto Thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid does not make enough hormones for the body's needs.
Graves' Disease - Graves' Disease is caused by autoantibodies that induce thyrotoxicosis by mimicking the action of TSH and activating the TSH receptor in the thyroid gland. Unlike Hashimoto Thyroiditis, Graves' Disease causes hyperthyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine. Signs of hyperthyroidism include rapid or irregular heartbeat, an accelerated metabolism resulting in rapid weight loss, sweating, and nervousness or irritability.
Celiac Disease - An autoimmune disorder with both a genetic and environmental component. Celiac Disease affects the small intestines, triggered by the ingestion of gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine. This change in the small intestines results in difficulty with nutrient absorption.
Psoriasis - As part of its defense against foreign invaders, the body makes specialized white blood cells called T-cells. Under normal circumstances, T-cells identify and coordinate attacks on foreign invaders. However, with the autoimmune disorder psoriasis, the body's T-cells mistakenly identify skin cells as invaders and attack them. This attack injures the skin cells, resulting in the skin damage seen in psoriasis – swelling, reddening, and scaling.
Vitality's Approach to Auto-Immune Disease
Your provider will help you decide the best way to treat your auto-immune disease. Frequently this includes a short time on the auto-immune protocol (AIP) to help your body heal. The details of AIP can be found here.
Your provider may also talk to you about the benefits of peptides. Peptides refer to the newly emerging science of cell signaling amino acid sequences, with far-reaching regulatory and rejuvenation actions on neuro-endocrine-immune functionality. The specifically targeted use of peptides has the potential to rewrite bodily chemistry relationships, and ultimately generate restoration.