Tag Archives: autoimmune

Use nitric oxide to tame inflammation in body and brain

InflammationIf you have an autoimmune disease, chronic inflammation, or signs of brain inflammation (such as brain fog), you may have noticed it can be tough to tame the inflammation. This is because the body can get trapped in vicious cycles that feed the inflammation.
Luckily, researchers have pinpointed what perpetuates these cycles and ways to stop them. They include targeting two immune messengers called “nitrous oxide” and “IL-17.”

IL-17 and inflammation

The immune system triggers inflammation by releasing an immune messenger called IL-17. IL-17 triggers other immune cells to damage body tissue, such as the thyroid gland in the case of autoimmune Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism or joint tissue in rheumatoid arthritis.
IL-17 isn’t all bad—in a healthy immune system it prevents infections. But chronic inflammation and autoimmunity create too much IL-17.

IL-17 and “bad” nitric oxide

IL-17 damages body tissue by activating a compound called “inducible nitric oxide”. Nitric oxide is a gas in the body that activates various processes.
Two good forms of nitric oxide tame inflammation: endothelial and neuronal nitric oxide.
However, IL-17 triggers the pro-inflammatory inducible nitric oxide, which damages body tissue.

Targeting nitric oxide to tame inflammation

When it comes to taming chronic inflammation, we want to dampen IL-17 and inducible nitric oxide.
So why not just take the nitric oxide booster arginine? Although arginine may boost the anti-inflammatory endothelial nitric oxide, it also may increase the inflammatory inducible nitric oxide.
It’s safer, therefore, to go with nutritional compounds that boost the anti-inflammatory endothelial nitric oxide for maximum inflammation fighting effects:
• Adenosine
• Huperzine A
• Vinpocetine
• Alpha GPC
• Xanthinol niacinate
• L-acetyl carnitine
Endothelial nitric oxide aids in tissue repair and regeneration, enhances blood flow, dissolves plaques, and dilates blood vessels. Exercise is another excellent way to boost endothelial nitric oxide.
These compounds may also boost the activity of neuronal nitric oxide, which enhances the health of the brain and nervous system.

Other anti-inflammatory tools

Other inflammation busters include vitamin D3, omega 3 fatty acids, and glutathione. Glutathione is vital to dampening inflammation, repairing damaged tissues, maintaining a healthy gut (which houses most of the immune system), and buffering the body from the many stressors we face these days.
Other helpful tools are high doses of emulsified resveratrol and curcumin. Taken together, these two compounds dampen IL-17 and quench inflammation.
Of course, eliminating pro-inflammatory foods such as gluten and sugar, getting enough sleep and not over-stressing yourself are important too. Schedule a visit now to ask me for advice.

10 things that can cause leaky gut and wreck your health

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If you’ve been googling how to manage your chronic health condition, chances are you’re heard of leaky gut. Leaky gut is what it sounds like — the lining of the intestines have become “leaky,” allowing undigested foods, bacteria, and other undesirables into the sterile bloodstream.

This causes system-wide inflammation that becomes chronic health issues: autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, chronic pain, brain fog, food allergies and sensitivities, depression, eczema, asthma, and myriad other complaints.

It makes sense, then, that people want to heal leaky gut.

However, it’s best to know why you have leaky gut first. That way you’re not chasing down the wrong remedies.

Ten causes of leaky gut

Although we understand the role of leaky gut in chronic health disorders, the underlying causes of leaky gut itself can be harder to pin down.

Here are the causes we know about:

1. Many inflammatory foods damage the intestinal walls, leading to leaky gut. Gluten in particular is associated with leaky gut. Dairy, processed foods, excess sugar, and fast foods are other culprits.

2. Excess alcohol is another common cause of leaky gut.

3. Some medications cause leaky gut, including corticosteroids, antibiotics, antacids, and some medications for arthritis  It’s important to note some drugs have inflammatory fillers such as gluten.

4. Certain infections, such H. pylori overgrowth (the bacteria that causes ulcers) or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can cause leaky gut. Yeast, parasites, and viruses are other possibilities.

5. Chronic stress raises stress hormones, which damages the gut lining over time.

6. Hormone imbalances can cause leaky gut as the intestines depend on proper hormone levels for good function. Imbalances in estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid hormones, and stress hormones all contribute to leaky gut.

7. Autoimmune conditions can lead to leaky gut. We often think in terms of leaky gut causing autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, or psoriasis. However, sometimes it’s the other way around. The constant inflammation of autoimmune disease can make the gut leaky. Or autoimmunity in the digestive tract can sabotage gut health. In these cases, managing autoimmunity is a strategy to improve leaky gut.

8. Food processing changes the natural structure of foods in a way that makes them inflammatory to the gut. Examples include deamidating wheat to make it water soluble and the high-heat processing (glycation) of sugars. Additives such as gums (xanthan gum, carrageenan, etc.), food colorings, and artificial flavors are inflammatory for some people, too.

9. Our environment surrounds us with toxins, some of which have been shown to degrade the gut lining. Regularly taking glutathione, the body’s primary antioxidant, helps protect the body from toxins.

10. Sufficient vitamin D is vital to protecting the gut lining and a vitamin D deficiency can make the intestinal lining more vulnerable to damage.

These are some of the factors known to contribute to leaky gut. By understanding the cause of your leaky gut, you will have more success restoring health to your gut and managing your chronic health or autoimmune condition.

For more information on how to support leaky gut and autoimmune management, schedule a visit with me.

Still have hypothyroidism despite normal lab results?

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Your doctor says your hypothyroid condition has been treated, but do you still suffer from symptoms of low thyroid function?

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Memory loss
  • Cold hands and feet

If so, you may suffer from Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that attacks and destroys the thyroid gland.

Hypothyroidism is usually caused by Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease

Hypothyroidism means your thyroid gland is under functioning and not producing enough thyroid hormone. This is bad news because every cell in the body depends on thyroid hormones. Including brain cells. This explains why people with untreated or poorly managed hypothyroidism are at higher risk for rapid brain decline.

Hypothyroidism affects millions of Americans, many of them whom continue to suffer from worsening health despite treatment. What’s more, 90 percent of hypothyroid cases are caused by autoimmune Hashimoto’s. As Hashimoto’s gradually destroys the thyroid gland, this lowers thyroid function, causing myriad symptoms.

Lab tests can identify Hashimoto’s by testing for TPO and TGB antibodies. If positive, these markers indicate an autoimmune disease is attacking the thyroid gland. In this case, it’s vital to dampen the inflammatory autoimmune attacks against the thyroid and balance the immune system.

However, thyroid hormone medication may still be necessary if damage is already extensive.

How to manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism

Managing Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism is rarely a quick fix. Instead, it involves a multi-faceted approach to diet and lifestyle to reduce inflammation and autoimmune flares against the thyroid. Strategies include:

Adopt a strict gluten-free diet. Numerous studies show a strong link between Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and gluten  In fact, people with a gluten intolerance are genetically more prone to Hashimoto’s disease. Gluten sensitivity also promotes inflammation and leaky gut, which flares autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.

Adopt an autoimmune diet. For many people, going gluten-free is not enough to manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. You may need to go deeper with an anti-inflammatory diet that eliminates common inflammatory foods, such as dairy, eggs, grains, legumes, and other foods. A whole-foods diet that emphasizes plenty of produce and eliminates processed foods is important to manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.

Repairing a leaky gut. Leaky gut, or intestinal permeability, typically plays a primary role in Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and other autoimmune diseases. In leaky gut the lining of the small intestine becomes inflamed, damaged, and porous, allowing undigested foods, bacteria, fungus, and other foreign invaders into the sterile environment of the bloodstream where they trigger inflammation and autoimmunity.

Stabilize blood sugar. Stabilizing blood sugar is vital to managing Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. A diet high in sugars and refined carbohydrates (such as breads, pastas, pastries, and desserts) spikes inflammation, skews hormones, and flares autoimmunity. Energy crashes, fatigue after meals, excess belly fat, hormonal imbalances, mood swings, and sleep issues are all signs you may have low blood sugar or high blood sugar (insulin resistance).

These are just a few of the basics of autoimmune management for Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Ask me for more information.

Don’t let travel derail your autoimmune management

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Managing an autoimmune condition is hard enough. Throw in holiday travel, staying with relatives, meals out, and exhaustion, and autoimmune management goes to a new level of difficulty. However, failing to follow your plan can wreck the holidays with symptom flares or an energy crash.

What to do? First, take a deep breath and adopt a no-stress, can-do attitude. Just as at home, good autoimmune management simply requires some advance planning and strategic thinking.

Here are some tips to help you manage your autoimmune condition while traveling.

Map out meals and snacks so you don’t go hungry or trigger a flare. The functional medicine approach to managing an autoimmune disease requires following some variation of the autoimmune diet  This diet is usually a strict Paleo diet of ample produce and healthy meats and fats, and no grains, dairy, soy, sugar, or processed foods. Continue reading

Did childhood trauma play a role in your autoimmunity?

childhood experiences and autoimmunity

Autoimmune patients expend considerable effort finding the right diet, supplements, lifestyle, and practitioner to manage their autoimmunity.

But did you know your experiences from childhood could be provoking your autoimmunity as an adult?

Abuse, belittlement, insults, neglect, loss of loved ones, parental acrimony… the traumas children weather unfortunately become a lifelong “operating system” that has profound influences on immunological and neurological health. Traumas in childhood affect not only physical and cellular health, but also our DNA.

Early traumas make it hard to turn off stress

In a healthy situation, a child can respond to stress and recover from it, developing normal resiliency.

However, chronic and unpredictable stress in childhood constantly floods the body with stress hormones and keeps it in a hyper vigilant inflammatory state. In time, this interferes with the body’s ability to turn off or dampen the stress response.

In fact, research that compared the saliva of healthy, happy children with children who grew up with abuse and neglect found almost 3,000 genetic changes on their DNA. All of these changes regulated the response to stress and the ability to rebound from it. Continue reading

Mystery symptoms? Lab testing can reveal whether it’s autoimmune

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Do you have chronic, mysterious symptoms that drag your life down but your lab tests come back normal? You may have an autoimmune reaction, a disorder in which your immune system attacks and destroys a part of your body.

Autoimmunity can strike any tissue or compound in the body and symptoms will vary based on the part of the body attacked. However, people with autoimmunity often have many symptoms in common:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Swollen Glands
  • Inflammation
  • Allergies
  • Digestive problems
  • Memory problems
  • Headaches
  • Low-grade fevers

Conventional medicine has yet to fully recognize autoimmunity

Identifying autoimmunity can bring considerable relief. It validates you are not lazy, crazy, and that it’s not all in your head, as many people struggling with autoimmunity are made to feel.

Autoimmunity has exploded in incidence in recent years and neither medicine nor society fully accepts it unless it is at its most severe, end stages. Autoimmunity can slowly undermine your health and quality of life for years or decades before it is medically recognized.

This leaves those with autoimmunity alone in their struggle, wondering what’s wrong and why no one will acknowledge their suffering. Identifying an autoimmune process with proper testing provides solid proof for the fatigue that keeps you pinned to the couch, chronic pain, unexplainable weight gain or loss, depression, poor brain function, and other symptoms.

Testing for autoimmunity

You can identify autoimmunity by screening for antibodies against a particular tissue with a blood test. Antibodies are proteins made by the immune system that attach to the affected tissue to tag it for destruction. You can screen for antibodies to thyroid tissue, joint tissue, brain tissue, the pancreas, and other tissues in the body.

For instance, the book Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? talks about screening for Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid disease, by running antibodies against thyroid peroxidase (TPO), the enzyme that is a catalyst for thyroid hormone production, and thyroglobulin (TGB), a protein involved in thyroid hormone production. If those values come back positive then you know autoimmunity is responsible for low thyroid symptoms causing weight gain, depression, fatigue, constipation, cold hands and feet, and more.

Screening for individual autoimmune reactions is difficult and costly and conventional medicine does not offer treatments to manage autoimmunity until it is in more severe stages. This is why doctors don’t screen for it more routinely. Also, many types of autoimmunity are still considered obscure. The average doctor will not think to test for autoimmunity in the brain, the adrenal glands, the ovaries, or bladder muscle, even though these autoimmune disorders are more common than people realize.

Modern, comprehensive testing for autoimmunity

Fortunately, we now have a lab test called the Array 5 Multiple Autoimmune Reactivity Screen  through Cyrex Labs, that screens for antibodies to 24 different tissues at once much more affordably than running them individually. It can help both the patient and practitioner understand what is causing symptoms.

A positive (or equivocal) response indicates the immune system is tagging that particular tissue for destruction. However, it’s important to know that a positive result does not necessarily mean you have autoimmune disease. It could indicate your body is in the early stage of autoimmunity, which may be silent or causing less severe symptoms. By following autoimmune management protocols you may be able to keep it in a silent or less severe stage indefinitely.

The Cyrex Array 5 panel screens for the following antibodies to indicate specific autoimmune reactions:

  • 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

To learn more about how to find the cause of your chronic symptoms or how to manage your autoimmunity, contact me.

Do you sometimes “crash” with debilitating fatigue?

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Do you “crash” after a busy or stressful event, suffering from extreme exhaustion that keeps you confined to your bed or couch? Do these crashes last anywhere from a day to a week or even longer? If so, you’re not alone and you may suffer from autoimmunity, a condition in which the immune system attacks and destroys tissue in the body. (Which tissue depends on genetics and the type of autoimmunity you have.)

In fact, a recent survey of almost 8,000 autoimmune patients found the overwhelming majority listed bouts of debilitating fatigue as one of their most troubling symptoms.

Any number of things can cause a person with autoimmunity to “crash.” They can include a very stressful event, such as a car accident or a move. Pleasant events can cause crashes because they are long or exhausting, such as a wedding, a trip out of town, or a work conference. Many people hold up fine during the event but crash when it’s over. Exposure to certain foods or chemicals causes it in others.

Because such crashes are not commonplace or medically recognized, they cause anxiety and embarrassment. It’s like having the flu or a bad cold, except without the symptoms. Sufferers worry others will think they are lazy, another stressor on top of stressing about all the things not getting done because you’re in bed, barely able to function. Unfortunately, brain power bottoms out along with physical energy, which makes working at home from your laptop difficult if not impossible.

New survey brings light to autoimmune crashes

Fortunately, you may not have to make excuses for your inability to function forever as awareness about these bouts of debilitating fatigue grows. The survey polled those suffering from a variety of autoimmune diseases, such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, or autoimmunity affecting the brain or nervous system.

Overwhelming number of autoimmune patients report debilitating fatigue

The survey of patients with autoimmune disease, which was conducted by a patient advocacy group, revealed:

  • 98 percent suffer from fatigue
  • 89 percent said fatigue was a major issue
  • 59 percent said fatigue was their most debilitating symptom
  • Two-thirds said their fatigue was profound and prevented them from doing everyday tasks
  • 75 percent said fatigue impacts their ability to work, 40 percent said it causes financial stress, and another one in five said it has cost them their jobs and they’re on disability
  • The overwhelming majority reported fatigue not only impacts their professional life, but also their romantic and family life and self-esteem.
  • The overwhelming majority also say it has resulted in emotional distress, isolation, anxiety, and depression.

According to one patient, “It’s difficult for other people to understand fatigue when it can’t be seen. It’s hard trying to get others, even doctors, to understand how very tired you are. One wonders if they think we are just mental cases or whiners.”

Fortunately, using functional medicine approaches can significantly improve your health and reduce the frequency and severity of these bouts of fatigue. Ask me for more information.

Baywatch beauty brings Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism out of the closet

image21Talk to a group of women with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, and they’ll likely all share the same frustrating story. Frequently dismissed, misdiagnosed, or ignored by doctors, Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism is finally getting the recognition it deserves thanks to former Baywatch beauty and Playboy cover girl Gena Nolin.

Struggling with Hashimoto’s on the Baywatch set

Nolin struggled through marathon days on the set of Baywatch in a tiny red tank while battling symptoms of Hashimoto’s: fatigue, depression, hair loss, and weight gain. According to one interview, she gained weight despite exercising and eating very little—a salad or a can of tuna a day—and her hair became dry and brittle. Exhausted and starving, she pushed on with the help of antidepressants.

Symptoms worsened after her first two pregnancies. Doctors simply pegged her problems on postpartum depression, and prescribed her antidepressants. After her third pregnancy she suffered from arrhythmia, Continue reading

Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism can lead to more autoimmune disease

Hashimoto's-hypothyroidism-autoimmuneFailing to manage your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism condition could lead to future autoimmune diseases. A recent study revealed that roughly one in six patients with Hashimoto’s has another autoimmune disease, most commonly:

  • atrophic gastritis, a condition in which the lining of the stomach is constantly inflamed
  • vitiligo
  • celiac disease
  • antiphospholipids syndrome, which may cause blood clots, miscarriages, or stillbirths, and
  • multiple sclerosis.

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease that attacks and damages the thyroid gland, causing symptoms of hypothyroidism that include weight gain, cold hands and feet, depression, fatigue, and hair loss. In the United States, about 90 percent of hypothyroidism cases are due to Hashimoto’s.

Of the more than 1,500 patients with autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s) who were included in the study, 16 percent were found to have an additional autoimmune disease. These patients also exhibited poor absorption of T4, chronic unexplained anemia, and recurring pregnancy losses. Thyroid hormone medication, which is the conventional treatment, may compensate for a damaged thyroid, but it does not address the underlying autoimmune condition. Continue reading