I’m living proof that you can reverse an Autoimmune Disease.
In the span of just a few months, I went from spending my days lying on the floor in pain to playing with my children all day and then hiking for 2 hours. It wasn’t an easy journey. It took dedication and determination each and every day. But, reversing an Autoimmune Disease is possible.
In fact, it’s possible to put an Autoimmune Disease into remission. I did it, and so can you.
I didn’t do it alone. I had help from God, my family, and a functional medicine doctor named Peter Osborne. I’d like to share some information about my healing, in case it helps you or someone you know. Below I have included information, in summary form, taken from a lecture that was given by my doctor during an online summit titled, Autoimmune Revolution: Breaking the Cycle of Pain.
What is an Autoimmune Disease?When someone has an Autoimmune Disease it means their body is attacking itself. Type 1 Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, eczema, osteoporosis, and lupus are all examples of Autoimmune Diseases. Even cancer is now described as a “late-stage autoimmune disease.”
The longer you have an autoimmune disease, the longer your body attacks itself. Over time, your immune system weakens, leaving you more susceptible to developing additional autoimmune diseases, including cancer.
What is the origin of autoimmunity?
Almost all chronic degenerative diseases and immune disease are lifestyle-induced. They are not genetic diseases like Cystic Fibrosis or Down’s Syndrome. Autoimmune diseases are diseases that you “adapt into because of your choices and behaviors.” Your genes are at the core of your triangle i.e. they predispose you to certain diseases and illnesses. However, genes are turned on or off like light switches. They adapt to your behaviors.
For example, if you eat a high carbohydrate meal, your body adapts by up-regulating the gene that encodes for the production of insulin. This is your body’s response to protect you from your behavior i.e. to protect you from the consequences that come from eating a high carbohydrate load. Over the long-term, this response can lead to Diabetes.
It’s important to remember that the body’s adaptation becomes the disease. That’s empowering because it means we are not doomed; we are not victims of our genes. We have influence over which genes (or light switches) are turned on and which genes are turned off in our body. So, how do you turn on and off your genes?
There are three main influences over our genes (i.e. our light switches):
- Emotional/Spiritual – Includes your emotional support group, your work environment, your relationship with God (or whatever higher being you may believe in), etc. Your emotions can influence which genes are turned on and off.
- Physical – Includes what you do, such as: if you are sedentary, if you exercise, if you are injured, etc.
- Chemical – Includes what you put into your body, such as: pesticides, preservatives, dyes, macronutrients, water, nucleic acids, plastics, etc. These chemicals impact which light switches are turned on and off.
All three influences interact together. Therefore, when you treat a disease state, such as an Autoimmune Disease, you need to address the body as whole, including the core origin of where the disease originated from. In other words, take a holistic approach. Since every organ and every cell in your body is connected, look at the body as a whole. That includes looking at what effects your body i.e. your environment. Using a holistic approach, you can reverse an Autoimmune disease and fully recover.
How Do I Recover from Autoimmune Diseases?This graphic is an overview of how to heal yourself from an Autoimmune disease. The general approach is to remove the bad, replace and repair, and then restore and maintain. It’s important to set a realistic expectation.
The cells that make up your immune system have a life cycle of roughly 6 months. It typically takes replacing 3 generations of immune cells in order to calm down your immune system i.e. 18 months. Once the immune system is calmed down, it can take additional time to fully heal the tissues and organs that have been damaged. However, if you are on the right treatment plan for you, improvements should be noticed within days or weeks.
Holistic Approach to Reversing an Autoimmune Disease:
This figure is difficult to read so I have described it below.
If you have an Autoimmune Disease, according to Dr. Osborne, the following issues need to be investigated in concert. A piecemeal approach will not work. Use a comprehensive or holistic approach by evaluating all of the categories listed below so you can get to the root of the problem (basic tests are also listed):
- Vitamin Deficiencies – Lymphocyte proliferation test
- Gut Integrity & Dysbiosis – Stool Testing, SIBO Testing
- Gluten Sensitivity – HLA-DQ Genetic Testing
- Infectious Pathogens – Check blood and GI tract
- Food & Chemical Allergies – Comprehensive Testing (most doctors look at IgE and IgG; you need to test for IgE, IgG, IgA, IgM, T-cell response, and Immune Complexes)
- Toxic Metals – Porphyrin, Urine, Hair, Blood testing
- Physical Issues – Proper Biomechanical Evaluation
- Emotional Issues – Evaluate past and present relationships
I will expand upon the first three categories in more detail.
Nutrition affects all of the known factors involved in Autoimmune Disease. Your immune system acts as an umbrella that protects you from your environment, including: toxins, allergens, pathogens, etc. In order to properly protect you, your immune system relies on nutrients i.e. your diet. If you are nutrient deficient, for example, your immune system will not work properly. Most of Dr. Osborne’s patents have at least 4 nutrient deficiencies. Vitamin D, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids are the most common deficiencies seen in his practice. Even one deficiency can impair the healing process. Thus, you need to determine if you have any nutrient deficiencies.
To make that determination, use a lymphocyte or other functional test. Standard serum or plasma tests are not adequate because they are a snapshot in time and the results vary depending on your last meal, stress level, etc. Storage of nutrients is a better marker of deficiency. A lymphocyte proliferation test looks inside the cell and measures the storage of a nutrient over the past 6 months. Thus, it is a functional test. It’s similar to a hemoglobin A1C test, which measures blood sugar levels over a 3-month period of time.
Specific tests Dr. Osborne recommends for assessing nutritional status:
- Lymphocyte proliferation
- Iodine loading
- 25 OHD
- Iron panel with ferritin
- CBC and chemistry panel
- Hb A1C
Some Causes of Vitamin Deficiencies:Foods can cause nutrient deficiencies, but so can medications. Most Autoimmune patients take prescription medications. When patients come to see Dr. Osborne, they are usually taking 3-5 medications. However, “common medications prescribed for the treatment of autoimmune disease cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies that can hinder the immune system,” according to Dr. Osborne. So, if your doctor prescribes a drug that causes nutritional deficiencies, ask your doctor to also prescribe the appropriate vitamins and minerals to help prevent a deficiency from developing. Then, follow up with lab testing to determine if deficiencies developed. Here’s a short list of common prescription drugs and the nutrients they can deplete:
Dr. Osborne’s Quick Tips on How to Improve Nutritional Status:
- Eliminate Processed Foods
- Choose organic when possible
- Choose nutrient dense foods that are easy to digest:
- Bone broth
- Organ meats
- Soups – cooked down
- Fermented vegetables
GUT INTEGRITY & DYSBIOSIS :
Your gut houses 70-80% of your immune system. Your gut also serves many other functions including: digestion and absorption of your food, destruction and elimination of toxins, regulation of water and electrolyte balance, and it connects and communicates directly to the brain. The microbes in your gut help your body accomplish those tasks.
In fact, we are made up of more microbes than human cells. We are outnumbered 10:1, meaning for every 1 human cell we host 10 microbial cells. In fact, the microbiome may soon be classified as a human organ.
There are 5 major firewalls in the gut that help it accomplish its many jobs:
- GALT immune system (roughly 75% of the immune system resides in the GALT)
- Tight junctions (regulate what crosses from your gut into your body)
- Mucosal IgA (first line of defense; it is made in our saliva and mucosa; binds to toxins and gets rid of them)
- Friendly bacteria (communicates with GALT; warns the GALT about what’s in the gut i.e. immune cross-talk)
- Stomach acid (destroys infectious microorganisms, helps with digestion of protein, zinc, magnesium, etc).
The biggest components that impact your gut include: chemicals (especially glyphosate, which causes villus atrophy in intestine), heavy metals, dyes, food preservatives, meat glue (mTG), gluten, GMOs, infections (viral, yeast overgrowth), and medications. A growing concern among functional medicine doctors is a condition called leaky gut. When tight junctions no longer work properly, leaky gut can develop. When your gut leaks, chemicals and toxins that are not supposed to enter your body are able to leak through your gut lining and eventually get into your blood stream and tissues.
Leaky gut can contribute to Autoimmune Disease.
Known causes of leaky gut include:
- Aggressive Exercise
- Food Allergies
Here’s a list of common medications that can cause leaky gut:
Here’s a list of tests that can help determine the state of your gut:
Take Home Message for How to Repair Your Gut:
Every Autoimmune expert who participated in the Autoimmune Revolution Summit agreed that gluten is an issue in Autoimmune Disease. In fact, gluten was the earliest environmental component that was identified as a contributor to Autoimmune Disease formation (discovered in the 1950s).
All grains contains gluten. We tend to think of gluten as being found in only wheat, barley, and rye. But, different types of gluten are found in other crops as well, including: oats, millet, rice, corn, sorghum, and teff.
To determine if you are gluten sensitive, many doctors will run an antibody test. The problem is that when antibodies are tested to gluten, the results are often misleading because the lab test only checks your antibody level for a handful of glutens. There are over 1,000 different forms of gluten and we only test for a handful of them. In fact, 40 of the gluten forms that were recently discovered are more toxic than gliadin (contained in wheat) that is currently tested. Consequently, there is a high degree of false negatives in current testing.
If you have gluten sensitivity and you consume grains, your body will mount an immune response. That protective response creates inflammation, which contributes to the development and/or progression of Autoimmune Diseases.
In addition to systemic inflammation, gluten sensitivity can also lead to gut dysbiosis, nutritional deficiencies, and impaired recovery from injury.
In addition to gluten, grains contain other compounds that can contribute to Autoimmune disease, chronic pain, and chronic gut damage. Some of those compounds include: heavy metals, mold (which can produce mycotoxins), GMOs, excess omega-6 fatty acids, and amylase trypsin inhibitors (ATIs). ATIs can lead to leaky gut and inflammation.
I hope this summary not only provides a starting point, but fills you with hope. Reversing and recovering from an Autoimmune Disease is a complex process, but you can do it!
If you’d like to learn more, I’ve listed additional resources below.
For additional information, including recipes and mechanisms, listen to the Autoimmune Revolution Summit. http://autoimmunerevolution.org
You can also grab a copy of Dr. Peter Osborne’s book No Grain No Pain, which explains in detail how to recover from an Autoimmune Disease. Recipes are also provided.