Tag Archives: autoimmue

Mystery symptoms autoimmune? How to find out

720 cyrex autoimmune panel

Do you have mysterious health symptoms — such as fatigue, pain, brain fog, unexplained weight gain — that rob you of your quality of life, but lab tests and doctors keep saying nothing is wrong? Or maybe doctors tell you your chronic symptoms are depression and you need an antidepressant. Maybe you’ve even been accused of complaining too much.

Most people know when something is wrong with them, even if lab tests come back normal and doctors say you’re fine. This is because the standard health care model does not screen for autoimmunity — a disorder than occurs when your immune system attacks and destroys your own tissue. You can suffer from symptoms of undiagnosed autoimmunity for years and even decades before it is severe enough to be diagnosed and treated in the conventional medical model.

Fortunately, in functional medicine we can screen for autoimmunity against multiple tissues in the body at once. Knowing an autoimmune reaction is causing your symptoms can remove the mystery and bring significant peace of mind. It is confirmation your health symptoms are real and proof you are not a whiner or hypochondriac.

We identify autoimmunity by testing for antibodies in the blood against a particular tissue. For instance, we can screen for Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid disease that causes hypothyroidism, by testing for immune antibodies against thyroid peroxidase (TPO) and thyroglobulin (TGB). Positive results mean autoimmunity is causing your hypothyroid symptoms of weight gain, depression, fatigue, constipation, cold hands and feet, and hair loss.

Cyrex Labs tests for 24 different types of autoimmunity at once. The panel is called Array 5 Multiple Autoimmune Reactivity Screen. It is more cost effective than testing for each autoimmunity individually, and Cyrex Labs tests are highly sensitive. To do the test, simply ask me for the kit, take it to an approved blood draw center, and I will let you know when the results are in.

If your test results are “positive” or “equivocal,” it means your immune system is attacking that tissue. You may not even have symptoms yet. This is a best-case scenario because managing your health with functional nutrition can prevent the autoimmunity from progressing.

Array 5 screens for the following autoimmunities:

  • Parietal cell and ATPase instrinsic factor: Stomach autoimmunity
  • ASCA, ANCA, and tropomyosin: Intestinal autoimmunity
  • Thyroglobulin and thyroid peroxidase: Thyroid autoimmunity
  • 21 hydroxylase (adrenal cortex): Adrenal autoimmunity
  • Myocardial peptide, alpha-myosin: Cardiac autoimmunity
  • Phospholipid platelet glycoprotein: Phospholipid autoimmunity
  • Ovary/Testes: Reproductive organ autoimmunity
  • Fibulin, collagen complex, arthritic peptide: Joint autoimmunity
  • Osteocyte: Bone autoimmunity
  • Cytochrome P450 (hepatocyte): Liver autoimmunity
  • Insulin, islet cell, glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD): Pancreatic autoimmunity
  • GAD, myelin basic protein, asialoganglioside, alpha and beta tubulin, cerebellar, synapsin: Neurological autoimmunity

If you have no symptoms but a positive result, then you may be able to prevent the autoimmunity from expressing itself. If you have symptoms that correspond with a positive test result, other testing may help you track your condition. For instance, if you test positive for Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, follow up with thyroid testing will track the severity.

Knowing you have an autoimmune reaction means you can halt its progression and prevent it from worsening. This can mean preventing or even reversing devastating and debilitating symptoms.

Ask me for more advice.

If you have autoimmunity you need to look at leaky gut

 leaky gut and autoimmunity copy

One of the primary things we look for when someone has autoimmunity is leaky gut, a condition in which the intestinal wall is damaged, as it is usually a key factor. Autoimmunity is an extremely common disorder today in which the immune system attacks and destroys part of the body. Common autoimmune disorders include Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, and vitiligo. However, there are many more.

What is leaky gut?

Leaky gut, a condition in which inflammation damages the intestinal wall and makes it overly porous, creates a hyper inflammatory state in the body that can predispose one to autoimmunity. Also known as intestinal permeability, it has been shown to play a role in triggering and exacerbating autoimmunity.

Leaky gut is still a relatively new concept. Science once believed the digestive system’s only role was to digest foods and absorb nutrients. Now we know it also serves as barrier between the outside world and the inside of the body, and that it is home base to the immune system.

When you consistently eat foods that are inflammatory (junk foods, sugars, foods to which you are sensitive), are exposed to infectious yeast and bacteria, live with constant stress, take certain medications, or drink too much alcohol, the integrity of the gut and the immune system breaks down. As a result, the immune system becomes hyper zealous and can begin to attack the body, creating autoimmunity.

Repairing leaky gut can help improve autoimmunity

Now that researchers have established the role of leaky gut in autoimmunity, they suggest we can slow down the autoimmune process or even send it into remission by repairing a leaky gut wall. Repairing leaky gut prevents undigested foods and other foreign invaders from escaping into the bloodstream where they trigger the immune system. When you are dealing with autoimmunity, you do not want to give the immune system a reason to be activated unnecessarily. If every meal and snack you eat contains a food that activates your immune system, you are keeping inflammation alive. An anti-inflammatory diet and repairing leaky gut are key to managing your autoimmune condition.

Symptoms of leaky gut

Obvious symptoms of leaky gut are digestive symptoms, including bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea, and food sensitivities.

However, many people with leaky gut have no gut symptoms. Instead, they may have problems with their joints, skin, lungs, mood, brain function, or fatigue, depending on how inflammation affects that person.

When autoimmunity causes leaky gut

Sometimes autoimmunity itself causes leaky gut as it creates chronic inflammation that can damage the gut wall. This is particularly true in the case of autoimmunity to gut tissue, which may cause symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

In these cases it’s especially important to follow a leaky gut diet and to focus on nutritional compounds that dampen inflammation. Ask my office for more information.

BPAs in store receipts can trigger autoimmunity and other health issues

426 BPA store receipts copy

BPA (bisphenol-A) is gaining recognition as an undesirable toxin that people now try to avoid in plastics, particularly water bottles. But it’s harder to avoid than you think – research shows handling those seemingly innocuous store receipts quickly raises blood levels of BPA.

BPA on store receipts

Store and fast food receipts, ATM receipts, airline tickets, gas station receipts, and other thermal papers use large amounts of BPA on the surface as a print developer. Holding a receipt coated with BPA for just five seconds is enough to transfer it to your skin and if your fingers are wet or greasy about 10 times as much is transferred. Having hand sanitizers, lotions, or sunscreen on your hands also increases the amount of BPA your body takes in from receipts. Cash stored with receipts in a wallet also become contaminated with BPA that raises blood levels when handled.

Why BPA is bad for health

So why should you care? BPA has estrogen-like qualities that meddle with hormone function and become a toxic burden. In rodents BPA has been proven to cause reproductive defects, cancer, and metabolic and immune problems. BPA is particularly threatening to a developing fetus as it can cause chromosomal errors, miscarriage, and genetic damage. In children and adults BPA is linked to decreased sperm quality, early puberty and early breast development, ovarian and reproductive dysfunction, cancer, heart disease, thyroid problems, insulin resistance, and obesity.

BPA and autoimmunity

Recent research also links BPA to the triggering and flaring of autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. BPA does this because it stimulates and disrupts various pathways in the immune system, which raises the risk of triggering autoimmune disease or flare-ups.

Where BPA is found

BPA is the main component of polycarbonate and is also found in water and beverage bottles, plastic lids, the lining of tin cans, food storage containers, dental sealants, contact lenses, and electronics. BPA contamination from canned foods is significant. One study found a person who eats canned soup versus fresh soup receives 1,000 percent more BPA because it is in the lining of the can. Plastics exposed to heat, light, or acids (such as soda) release considerably more BPA. Eating from a microwaved plastic container and drinking hot coffee through a plastic coffee lid, sugary soda from a plastic water bottle, or water from a plastic bottle that has been sitting in the sun are examples of ways you will increase your exposure to BPA.

BPA-free is no guarantee

Given the documented health risks it poses, BPA has been banned from use in baby bottles and sippy cups and many companies now offer BPA-free products. Unfortunately, researchers have found many non-BPA plastics still have synthetic estrogens similar to BPA. Some even have more. Basically, if it’s plastic, it’s a problem–- 95 percent of all plastic products can disrupt hormones, even if they carry a “BPA-free” label. Also, be aware that some metal water bottles are lined with plastic, negating the purpose of avoiding a plastic water bottle.

How to reduce your exposure to BPA

It’s important to reduce your exposure to BPA as much as possible. Minimize use of plastics and especially avoid drinking or eating from heated plastic. Maintaining healthy gut bacteria with cultured and fermented foods such as kimchi and taking probiotics is believed to help mitigate the absorption of BPA and help degrade it in the body.

Is “silent” autoimmunity causing your mysterious symptoms?

silent autoimmunity copy

Autoimmune disease has become frighteningly common today. This degenerative condition, which can affect any tissue in the body or brain, happens when the immune system attacks and destroys the body as if it were a foreign invader. Chances are either you or someone you know has an autoimmune disease. Some of the more commonly known autoimmune diseases include Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, and psoriasis.

Although the statistics for autoimmune disease are alarming enough — it affects one in five people, the majority of them women — these numbers do not tell the whole story. The truth is the autoimmune process typically is underway long before the tissue damage is advanced enough for it to be diagnosed as a “disease.”

In fact, some people go an entire lifetime suffering from the symptoms of an autoimmune reaction that never progresses to the disease stage. This is because tissue damage and symptoms have to be quite severe or life threatening before conventional medicine can offer remedies in the way of steroids, chemotherapy drugs, or surgical removal.

This means untold numbers of people suffer from autoimmune reactions that cause symptoms but are not advanced enough to be diagnosed as disease. This creates confusion and frustration for the suffering patient.

For instance, someone with an autoimmune reaction to the pancreas may struggle with keeping her blood sugar stable despite eating a very good diet. This is because she is on the path to possibly developing type 1 diabetes. It’s estimated 10 percent of those with type 2 diabetes, a lifestyle-induced condition, also have pancreatic autoimmunity and thus markers for type 1 diabetes autoimmunity. Another example is autoimmunity that causes hypothyroidism — Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Patients are given thyroid hormone in ever increasing doses but are not instructed on how to dampen or halt the autoimmune attack on the thyroid gland.

People can also have symptoms that suggest multiple sclerosis, arthritis, brain disorders (depression, anxiety, loss of balance, loss of memory, etc.), poor adrenal function, irritable bowel, and others because their immune system is attacking the glands or tissues associated with those symptoms. However, the tissue destruction is not advanced enough to be labeled as a disease and hence medicine has little or nothing to offer.

Fortunately, functional medicine shines in this arena. Specialized lab testing can determine whether autoimmunity is affecting a number of different tissues. Testing can identify (or rule out) the source of chronic, mysterious, and undiagnosable symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, chronic pain, declining brain function, gastrointestinal issues, hair loss, weight gain or weight loss, and more.

This information can validate patients who have long been dismissed or belittled by their doctors for “making things up.” Testing can also uncover autoimmune reactions that are not causing any symptoms. For instance, a person may be producing antibodies (an autoimmune marker) to the sheaths that coat the nerves. In its progressed stage, this becomes multiple sclerosis. Knowing this kind of information can give you more incentive to avoid inflammatory foods and pursue other lifestyle choices that may lower your risk of that silent autoimmune reaction becoming a disease.

In functional medicine we use a variety of strategies to dampen autoimmunity and relieve symptoms. These strategies include an anti-inflammatory diet that removes foods to which you are sensitive and stabilizes blood sugar, minimizing your exposure to toxic chemicals and metals, adopting lifestyle habits that minimize stress and maximize well being (socializing, exercise, play time, laughter, etc.), and the use of natural compounds that dampen inflammation and support the balance of immunity, stress, gut health, and blood sugar.

Ask my office for more information.