According to a worldwide study of autoimmune diseases published last year,
“Epidemiological data provide evidence of a steady rise in autoimmune disease throughout Westernized societies over the last decades…Incidences and prevalences have increased significantly over the last 30 years. [In patients suffering from] Rheumatic, endocrinological and gastrointestinal autoimmune diseases…[incidences] increased the most. These observations point to a stronger influence of environmental factors as opposed to genetic factors on autoimmune disease development.” (1).
Celiac’s disease, Type 1 diabetes, and myasthenia gravis (“grave muscle weakness”, the weakening of voluntary muscles) have had the greatest increases in frequency.
An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system mistakes healthy cells for abnormal ones and attacks them. As of late, more than eighty different autoimmune conditions have been identified. The precise causes of this type of disease are unknown but it is theorized that micro-organisms or pharmaceuticals can trigger changes in the body that lead the immune system to become confused (2).
As the study cited indicates, the main causes of immune conditions are environmental. These include not only the harsh chemicals in the air we breathe, but the food we eat, the products we use on our skin, the drugs we take, and our lifestyles.
Some of the most common autoimmune disorders include:
- Celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Graves’ disease (hyperthyroidism)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
If you or someone you know suffers from an autoimmune condition, you know how debilitating it can be. Chronic fatigue and susceptibility to other sickness make for days or even years of feeling terrible and having a lower quality of life. For some, the disease is literally crippling.
Beware of the Pills
As with every other health condition, there are pharmaceuticals specifically designed to treat autoimmune diseases. They work by weakening the immune system to limit the extent of the self-inflicted damage. The only problem is that they cure the symptoms, not the condition, and they leave your immune system weak in the event of an infection.
Sometimes, these drugs can harm your health by causing serious and even irreversible complications. Plus, they cost patients thousands of dollars per year.
On that note, here is a list of the most prescribed drugs for autoimmune conditions and the annual cost to Americans in billions (3):
- Abilify – $7.2, antipsychotic
- Humira – $6.3, Arthritis, psoriasis, bowel diseases
- Nexium – $6.3, lowers stomach acid
- Enbrel – $5, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis
- Advair Diskus – $5, asthma/autoimmune
- Sovaldi – $4.4, hepatitis C antiviral
- Remicade – $4.3, Arthritis, psoriasis, bowel diseases
- Lantus Solostar – $3.8, diabetes
- Neulasta – $3.6, colony stimulating factor to help low white blood cell counts after chemotherapy
Doctors prescribe these and other medications because they don’t know how to treat the problem. With the exception of hepatitis C, no other autoimmune disease is curable with pharmaceuticals (4). That means a lifetime of medication without hope of recovery. By tricking the immune system, the drugs don’t help it to heal, they only suppress different important immune functions.
The Real Solution
Since these conditions have environmental causes, it makes sense to change the environment to cure the condition.
“Environment” means the conditions in which your immune system lives—inside your body. What you eat, products you use, how much exercise you perform, how much sleep you get, etc.
By changing your lifestyle, it is possible to restore your immune system to its proper working state. One brave woman, Terry Wahls, made it her life’s mission to reverse her autoimmune condition and came out of it a true fighter.
Here is the story of Terry Wahls.
Terry is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2000 and underwent chemotherapy to arrest its progression. There is no known cure for this degenerative neurological disease. For seven years, Terry’s condition steadily worsened until she was forced into a wheelchair, experiencing profound fatigue and brain fog.
Here’s what she has to say about her experience:
“In the summer of 2007, I discovered Functional Medicine, an organization devoted to helping clinicians use the latest scientific discoveries to take better care of those with complex chronic diseases. As a result I developed a longer list of vitamins and supplements that were good for my brain. Then I had an important epiphany. What if I redesigned my diet so that I was getting those important brain nutrients not from supplements but from the foods I ate? I used what I had learned from the medical literature, Functional Medicine, and my knowledge of the Hunter-Gatherer diet—the most nutritious of any diet—to create my new food plan. At that same time, I also learned about neuromuscular electrical stimulation and convinced my physical therapist to give me a test session. It hurt a lot, but I also felt euphoric when it was finished, likely because of the endorphins my body released in response to the electrical stimulation…The results stunned my physician, my family, and me: within a year, I was able to walk through the hospital without a cane and even complete an 18-mile bicycle tour.”(5).
Dr. Wahls has developed a protocol for dealing with MS and other autoimmune diseases and has had “remarkable success”. She and several colleagues published a study in 2014 in which twenty subjects with MS followed her protocol of a modified Paleolithic diet, nutritional supplements specific for brain health, stretching, and stress management techniques. The results showed a reduction in fatigue in all subjects—significantly in eleven of them within three months—and improved quality of life (6).
Dr. Wahls also wrote a book on her experience and her protocol to help other patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. It’s believed that her approach may improve the health of patients suffering from other autoimmune conditions too. You can find out more about her journey here.
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