Autoimmune disorders are considered a leading cause of death in women under the age of 65.
They are an immune response caused by systemic inflammation, leading your body to attack itself.
Autoimmune disorders are a subset of immune system disorders, which cause abnormally high or low activity of the immune system.
When immune system activity is too low, it causes vulnerability to infections.
When the immune system activity is unusually high, the body attacks and damages its own tissues, which is considered an autoimmune disorder.
The immune system produces antibodies that attack the body’s tissues instead of fighting infections.
This is in response to a trigger your body is exposed to, such as an allergen, toxin, infection, or food.
With an autoimmune disorder, certain types of tissues are mistaken for harmful substances, and your body turns these antibodies against itself.
At the Mindful Healing Clinic, we find that naturopathic treatments for autoimmune disorders may be effective in treating these conditions.
But what causes an autoimmune disorder?
And what treatment options are available to manage your symptoms?
Keep reading to find out.
Risk Factors Of Autoimmune Disorders
Autoimmune disorders affect ~8% of the population, and occur significantly more frequently in cisgender women than men: 78% of those with autoimmune disorders are cisgender women.
Many investigations have been made as to why women are at higher risk, but it has gone largely unexplained.
Most studies into autoimmune disorders have focused on the effects of female and male chromosomes on immune function.
Others have suggested that cisgender women are genetically predisposed, possibly due to the X chromosome leading to susceptibility for tolerance breakdown.
More recently, research is being conducted into increased allogeneic cell traffic in cisgender women causing susceptibility.
In addition, there is a genetic component to susceptibility.
Whether these genes are expressed or turned on are caused by a host of other factors, such as:
● Heavy metals like mercury
● Infections like Candida
● Mycotoxins from molds
● Herpes simplex virus
● Epstein-Barr virus
There especially is a connection between autoimmune disorders and chronic inflammation caused by gluten intolerance.
Symptoms Of Autoimmune Disorders
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, or a combination of these symptoms, you may have an autoimmune disorder.
● Tiredness or fatigue
● Weight gain
● Cold intolerance
● Dry eyes, mouth, or skin
● Joint pain or muscle pain
● Weakness or a tremor
● Difficulty concentrating or focusing
● Recurring rash or hives
● Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
● Multiple blood clots or miscarriages
● Abdominal pain
● Blood or mucus in the stool, or diarrhea
● Mouth ulcers
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, come see us at the Mindful Healing Clinic.
Common Autoimmune Disorders
The following conditions are some of the most common autoimmune disorders.
1. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
With inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, the immune system attacks the lining of the intestines.
This causes episodes of diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, urgent bowel movements, fever, and weight loss.
Two major forms of IBD are Crohn’s Disease, which is the inflammation of the digestive tract, and Ulcerative Colitis, which causes inflammation and sores (ulcers) in the lining of the large intestine.
2. Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is caused by the immune system attacking myelin, the protective covering of the nerves.
Symptoms include pain, blindness, extreme fatigue, weakness, muscle spasms, cognitive impairment, and poor coordination.
Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world; it affects 1 in 340 Canadians.
With psoriasis, overactive immune system blood cells called T-cells collect in the skin.
This stimulates skin cells to reproduce rapidly.
The extra skin cells can produce silvery, scaly plaques on the skin; dry, cracked skin; small scaling spots; or swollen and stiff joints.
4. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the immune system attacking the joints, since the immune system produces antibodies that attach to the lining of the joints.
This causes inflammation, swelling, and pain in the joints.
If left untreated, rheumatoid arthritis can cause permanent joint damage.
Lupus, also known as systemic lupus erythematosus, is a condition where autoimmune antibodies attach to tissues throughout the body.
Lungs, blood cells, joints, nerves, and kidneys are commonly affected.
Lupus can be difficult to diagnose since its signs and symptoms can mimic those of other ailments.
Most people with lupus experience symptoms in flares, where symptoms can worsen for a while, disappear entirely, and then reoccur again.
Contact The Mindful Healing Clinic
Since autoimmune disorders are due to overactivity of the immune system, treatment is generally focused on reducing immune system activity.
Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder?
Or did you read the list of symptoms above and think “wow, that’s me”?
If so, contact me, Dr. Maria Cavallazzi at the Mindful Healing Clinic.
During your initial appointment, you will sit down with me where we can talk about your autoimmune disorder and any other health concerns you may have.
From there, we’ll create a treatment plan based on your unique health needs.
Contact the Mindful Healing Clinic to book your FREE 15-minute introductory session today!
Until next time,
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.