As many as 1 out of every 4 American women have an autoimmune disorder. And 1 in 10 men is an autoimmune sufferer. Once an autoimmune condition exists, patients have a good chance of developing another one. Even though autoimmune problems are widespread, patients may go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for many years. 

Autoimmune symptoms

Symptoms of autoimmunity are many and varied. An individual can have just a few, or many, depending on the type of condition and its severity. Autoimmune symptoms include: 

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Allergies
  • Chronic pain
  • Memory issues
  • Brain fog and concentration difficulty
  • Depression 
  • Skin rashes
  • Digestive problems
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • And many more

How conventional medicine addresses autoimmunity

The conventional approach is to suppress the overactive immune system with steroids and other drugs. These medications may include chemotherapy agents or other harsh chemicals that modulate the immune system. The drug approach can and does save lives. It can help patients manage their autoimmunity more optimally. However, these methods do not address the underlying causes and triggers of autoimmunity.

Autoimmunity basics

Rates of autoimmunity have become epidemic in the last few decades. Autoimmunity is a disorder in which an overenthusiastic immune system attacks and breaks down the body’s tissue. Another term for the autoimmune process is “loss of self -tolerance.” In autoimmunity, one aspect of the immune system dominates the other. This imbalance can direct attacks on the body’s own tissue. Specific supplements and herbal immune tonics can restore balance. All-natural immune stimulants can balance out the immune system, reducing flare-ups, damage, and symptoms. These can be used before potent pharmaceuticals are enlisted.

Autoimmune testing

Functional medicine is science-backed and research-based. Lab ranges are often different in functional vs. conventional medicine. Functional medicine uses narrower lab ranges to identify health conditions. Often a patient’s lab work falls in the so-called “normal” range, yet they still suffer from symptoms.  It is helpful, even necessary, to explore and identify each person’s root causes and triggers of disease. This is true for autoimmune conditions such as:

  • Lupus
  • Chrohn’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Hashimoto’s disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • And many more 

Underlying triggers to autoimmunity include:

  • Infections (viral, bacterial, and parasitic)
  • The body’s burden of chemicals and toxins and the inability to adequately detoxify them
  • Food intolerances
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Blood sugar imbalances
  • Stress
  • Allergies

These must be addressed to lessen autoimmune problems. 

Autoimmune treatment

Functional medicine and integrative healthcare practitioners strive to examine every detail in a case. These must be managed for success. Although things like hormone imbalances, emotional trauma, and lifestyle stressors are commonly found in autoimmune patients, a practitioner needs to pin down the initial issue that caused a loss of self-tolerance.  With an ever-increasing number of autoimmune disorders being diagnosed each year, practitioners aim to focus on finding the exact mechanisms for a patient’s loss of tolerance. Investigating and finding the triggering mechanism may not be easy. However, these mechanisms need to be identified so patients can manage their current condition and prevent the potential for developing more than one autoimmune disease.