Editorial by David Mulvain
According to current medical wisdom, autoimmune diseases occur when our immune system mistakes our healthy tissues for foreign proteins and attacks them. That doesn’t make sense. I propose that so-called autoimmune diseases have, as yet, unidentified or ignored external causes.
Over 25 years ago, during my graduate studies, a fellow student reporting on the food borne illness, Listeria, superfluously mentioned that it was sometimes followed by the development of “symptoms” of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a so-called autoimmune disease. I knew that Lyme disease, a bacterial infection, could also cause “symptoms” of RA.
A search of the scientific literature on the relationship between bacteria and RA disclosed that 95% of the people with RA had bacteria, or parts of the bacteria that cause food poisoning in their arthritic joints and that 45% had whole, or parts of food proteins in the affected joints. Large protein molecules, bacteria, or parts thereof, are not supposed to escape from the intestine. When they do, it is called “leaky gut syndrome” (LGS). It is those foreign proteins, including bacteria, that are the target of the immune response, not our bodies “healthy” tissues and organs.
The high carbohydrate diet of many Americans is causing an epidemic of yeast over-growth in the intestines, which is a major cause of LGS, and thus RA and food allergies. Other symptoms of LGS include excessive gas, bloating and diarrhea.
Infections, like Lyme disease, are another cause of so-called autoimmune diseases. Dr Thomas McPherson has had very good success using low dose antibiotics to treat RA, lupus, scleroderma and many other so-called autoimmune diseases (rheumatic.org).
The most dangerous cause of so-called autoimmune diseases, however, is the protein gluten found in most grains. Gluten can cause LGS by damaging the intestinal lining, a condition called celiac disease. Symptoms include gas, bloating, diarrhea, pain, failure to absorb nutrients, weight loss, weakness, and a four-fold risk of premature death. Most people with celiac disease, however, are symptom free, undiagnosed and unaware of the damage that gluten is doing in their bodies.
Evidence is accumulating that celiac disease may be the cause of many so-called autoimmune diseases. For every person that has intestinal damage caused by gluten there are 8 that have no intestinal symptoms but may have other undiagnosed diseases, or diseases diagnosed as autoimmune diseases in other parts of their bodies.
Gluten can react with an enzyme called transglutaminase that is found in most tissues. When this reaction occurs in the thyroid, it is called Hashimoto’s thyroid disease. When it is in the joints it is called rheumatoid arthritis. Gluten has also been implicated as the most probable cause of Type I diabetes. Gluten has the potential to cause what are incorrectly being diagnosed as autoimmune diseases in nearly every organ or tissue type in the body.
There is increasing speculation that all autoimmune diseases may have explainable underlying causes. However, much of the tissue damage, pain and inflammation can be collateral damage caused by the immune system’s response to the actual causes.
Treating the symptoms of so-called autoimmune diseases caused by the immune response, like pain and inflammation, only suppresses symptoms. The diseases continue to get worse. Successful treatment must address the underlying causes. Treatment protocols are over 25 years behind the science for RA. Don’t wait for the science to catch up. Lifestyle changes can be very effective.
If you have a leaky gut or an autoimmune disease consider adopting a gluten/dairy free, low carbohydrate, hunter/gatherer type diet and a good supplement program. There are also several very safe herbs that work as well as drugs for pain and inflammation.