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What Is An Autoimmune Disorder?

What Is An Autoimmune Disorder | Mindful Healing | Mississauge Naturopathic Doctor

Has someone around you had the flu or cold, and you wondered why you didn’t catch it?

This is the work of your immune system.

Your immune system consists of numerous organs, including your white blood cells, antibodies, spleen, lymph nodes, and your bone marrow, among other things.

This system protects you from diseases and infections and works to keep your body healthy.

Just as with any other system in your body, your immune system can also malfunction.

When your immune system activity is too low, it can leave you vulnerable to infections.

In this case, your immune system can build strength in various ways, one of them being through vitamins and proper nutrition.

On the other hand, when your immune system activity is unusually high, your body can attack and damage its own tissues, which is considered an autoimmune disorder.

Your immune system is supposed to produce antibodies that attack harmful substances and destroy them.

In an autoimmune disorder, your immune system still produces antibodies but they attack your body’s tissues instead of fighting infections and harmful substances.

With an autoimmune disorder, certain types of tissues are mistaken for harmful substances, and your body turns these antibodies against itself.

Your body’s immune system has gone awry.

This is in response to a trigger your body is exposed to, such as, an allergen, toxin, or infection.

These disorders can result in damage to your body tissues, or abnormal organ growth or function.

They can damage multiple organs in your body including your blood vessels, tissues, endocrine system, joints, muscles, red blood cells, and skin.

RELATED: Getting To Know Your Body: Your Endocrine System

There are over 80 different types of autoimmune disorders across the world.

Some are more well known, including:

There are also rare autoimmune disorders that scientists know less about.

The rarer ones are often more difficult to diagnose.

However, autoimmune disorders in general are fairly common.

They are considered a leading cause of death in women under the age of 65.

While most autoimmune disorders don’t yet have a known cure, there’s still a lot you can do to manage them.

At our naturopathic clinic in Mississauga, ON, we find naturopathic treatments for autoimmune disorders can be effective in managing 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

We don’t fully understand why autoimmune disorders are triggered in most cases.

One suggestion is that harmful substances confuse the immune system.

They trigger changes in it where the antibodies are not properly able to detect substances.

This could occur in those more at risk due to having the genes for autoimmune disorders.

Auto-antibodies could potentially indicate a person’s chance of developing an autoimmune disorder.

They are present in 8 million individuals in the US alone.

While we don’t yet fully understand the causes, we do know of some risk factors.

Your gut bacteria health in your body is one look into your risk of autoimmune disorders.

RELATED: Gut Bacteria Analysis

Another is gender – statistics on autoimmune disorders show autoimmune disorders affect ~8% of the population, and they occur significantly more frequently in women than men.

In fact, 78% of those with autoimmune disorders are women.

There have been investigations into why gender may be a risk factor for autoimmune disorders and why women may be at a 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 autoimmune disorders.

More recently, research is being conducted into increased allogeneic cell traffic in women causing susceptibility.

In addition, there is a genetic component to susceptibility.

Whether genes are expressed or turned on may be caused by a host of factors, such as:

  • Heavy metals like mercury
  • Infections like Candida
  • Herpes simplex virus
  • Epstein-Barr virus

There especially is a connection between autoimmune disorders and chronic inflammation caused by gluten intolerance.

You may also be more at risk of an autoimmune disorder due to experiencing certain conditions, such as:

  • Taking certain medications, including antibiotics, and ones for blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight
  • Infections
  • Endometriosis (the link here is still being investigated)

RELATED: Naturopathic Solutions For Women’s Health

Symptoms Of Autoimmune Disorders

The symptoms you may be experiencing due to an autoimmune disorder may differ based on the disorder you are experiencing.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, or a combination of these symptoms, it may be a sign of an autoimmune disorder:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Cold intolerance
  • Dry eyes, mouth, or skin
  • Chronic 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, diarrhea, or other digestive issues
  • Mouth ulcers

If you have an autoimmune disorder or are experiencing any of the above symptoms, come see us at the Mindful Healing Clinic – we have naturopathic solutions that can help.

For example, vitamin B5 may help with dry eyes.

Know what is an autoimmune disorder and how to deal with it | Mindful Healing | Mississauge Naturopathic Doctor

Common Autoimmune Disorders

The following conditions are some of the most common autoimmune disorders.

1. Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of disorders which involve issues with the digestive tract.

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:

Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis may benefit from naturopathic solutions.

The approach to both tends to start with an elimination diet.

This helps you pinpoint your trigger foods, so you can get a better idea of what to avoid.

From there, a naturopathic approach may include:

RELATED: Naturopathic Treatments For Digestive Disorders

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, as MS affects 1 in 340 Canadians.

Naturopathic management of multiple sclerosis may include:

3. Psoriasis

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.

Naturopathic treatments for psoriasis may include:

RELATED: Naturopathic Treatments For Skin Conditions

4. Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the immune system attacking your 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.

It’s the second most common form of arthritis – osteoarthritis is the most common.

Natural treatments for rheumatoid arthritis may include:

5. Lupus

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 the 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.

A naturopathic approach to lupus may include:

  • Eating a gluten free diet
  • Eating a diet high in antioxidants
  • Exercise, stress management, and getting enough sleep
  • Acupuncture
  • Mindfulness meditation

6. Other Common Autoimmune Disorders

Other autoimmune disorders you may encounter include:

Book Your Appointment With The Mindful Healing Clinic Today

Since autoimmune disorders are due to over activity 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, ND, 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.

Book your appointment with The Mindful Healing Clinic today.

Until next time,

Dr. Maria Cavallazzi, N.D
Mindful Healing Naturopathic Clinic
Mississauga, ON L5M 1L7
(905) 819-8200

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.