Dr. Mary Galloway • Newberg, Oregon

Is Autoimmune Disease Treatable?

  • Posted on Oct 30, 2018

Autoimmune disease is a result of immune system dysfunction. This may be caused by different parts of your immune system either being too weak or too active or a combination of both. There are over 150 known autoimmune diseases. Once you have one, you are at risk for developing others.

What triggers your immune system to malfunction? Can an autoimmune disease be reversed? In this blog, we will explore the immune system, why it malfunctions and whether it can function normally again.  In future blogs, we will look at specific autoimmune diseases, how they affect your body, and what we can do to help normalize your immune system.

How Does Your Immune System Work?

Your immune system consists of two parts – Innate and Acquired Immunity.

Innate Immunity is the majority of our immune system.  It includes epithelial barriers (skin), mucous membranes (nose and throat), white blood cells called macrophages, and Natural Killer cells, to name a few.  This first line of defense protects our body by keeping chemicals, pathogens and harmful elements out.  The Innate Immune System also eliminates harmful cells inside your body that have been identified by antibodies.  If the Innate system is weak, it will not be able to keep out pathogens or destroy all the harmful cells identified by the antibodies.  The harmful cells will continue to make you sick.

Acquired Immunity includes antibodies.  When they are exposed to specific foreign bodies or pieces of normal cells that make their way into your blood stream, antibodies identify them as harmful so the macrophages and natural killer cells can find and eliminate them.  Antibodies retain this knowledge of what is harmful to continuously protect your body.  An overactive immune system may produce too many antibodies.  These extra antibodies locate and identify all the harmful cells.  They continue to look for anything that resembles those harmful cells, including healthy cells.  As the macrophages and natural killer cells destroy your healthy cells, autoimmune diseases develop.

What Triggers the Immune System to Malfunction?

Immune system dysfunction can be caused by one or more triggers. These triggers could be an illness, a trauma or an exposure to a toxin.

When the cause is illness, your body creates antibodies to identify the pathogens for the immune system to destroy. If your immune system creates too many antibodies, they can target both harmful cells and healthy cells that look similar.  The illness may be over, but the antibodies remain in a heightened state of alert and continue to attack healthy cells.

If the cause is trauma, cells are suddenly killed instead of dying a normal death. Cell fragments from the dead cells are released into the blood stream, triggering antibodies to target them for removal by macrophages and natural killer cells. If the antibodies are on high alert for cell fragments and they find healthy cells that look similar, they may target your healthy cells.

If the cause is toxin exposure, the cells are again killed instead of dying a normal death. The antibodies go on high alert, attacking both damaged and healthy cells.  If the toxin stays in your body, the antibodies will remain on high alert, continuing to attack damaged and healthy cells.

Each of these triggers can result in the development of autoimmune disease.

Can I “Reset” My Immune System to Function Normally?

If you have a flat tire, you don’t throw away the tire and keep driving.  You repair the tire.  Conventional drugs suppress the immune system; they do not repair it.  You need your immune system to continually protect you from harmful elements; you need to repair your immune system, not disable it.

At Joy of Health, returning to health involves a multi-centered approach.

The first part focuses on treating intestinal dysbiosis.  Dysbiosis is an imbalance between beneficial and pathogenic bacteria.  When the bacteria are out of balance, the immune system feels threatened, creating antibodies to target the harmful cells for destruction by the macrophages.  If the dysbiosis becomes chronic, the immune system will either go into overdrive to correct the imbalance or become weakened because it can’t keep up.  Treating your dysbiosis with a healthy diet, probiotics, and intestinal healing herbs can help rebalance the intestinal tract and support a healthy immune system.

The second part to healing the immune system uses diet and herbs that modulate your immune system.  Unlike pharmaceuticals that force your immune system to work less, reducing your sugar intake and taking herbs such as Echinacea and Rehmannia can help your immune system to return to its normal state.

The third part involves strengthening the body systems that are affected by your autoimmune disease.  For example, if you have Rheumatoid Arthritis, treatments might include herbals and other natural remedies to reduce inflammation and support joint healing.

Joy of Health can create a natural, custom treatment plan to help address your autoimmune disease and its impact on your life.  Please call 503-554-5865 today to schedule an appointment.