But autoimmune disease isn’t just one condition …
You’re probably familiar with the most common autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, scleroderma, inflammatory bowel disease, type-1 diabetes, hypothyroidism, and psoriasis. But there are many more autoimmune diseases that affect the nervous system, joints and muscles, skin, endocrine gland, and heart. (In fact, there is only one disease: Malfunctioning cells; and only two causes of malfunctioning cells: Exposure to toxins and insufficient nutrient intake–Shaklee addresses both of these uniquely)
Simply put, autoimmune diseases are conditions where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues rather than a foreign molecule like bacteria. This happens when something confuses the immune system. Increasingly, that “something” appears to be the enormous load of environmental toxins to which we are all exposed. (the immune system is not hyperactive-but malfunctioning)
The groundbreaking book, The Autoimmune Epidemic, by Donna Jackson Nakazawa is a breath-taking piece of investigative journalism that seeks the real causes for this epidemic. Her desire to find answers was fueled by her own struggle with autoimmune disease. Donna lays out very clearly a radical, but unfortunately very true, picture of what’s happening. But she also provides clear solutions for changes in diet, supplements, and our environment that can help people deal with and even reverse autoimmune diseases. Donna calls the environmental toxins that are, in part, driving the autoimmune epidemic “autogens” — foreign compounds that create an “auto” reaction, a reaction against the self.
The fact is, these toxins may be the most important cause of autoimmune diseases. (remove them from your homes–Get Clean products, Shaklee personal care, skin care, and laundry, dish and general household products do just that-eliminate the toxins found in even so called “green” products on the market today)
Environmental Toxins: The Leading Cause of Autoimmune Disease
We are exposed to astounding amounts of pollution. Over 80,000 chemicals have been introduced into our society since 1980, and only 550 have been tested for safety. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), about 2.5 billion pounds of toxic chemicals are released yearly by large industrial facilities. And 6 million pounds of mercury are poured into our air every year. In fact, a recent government survey – “ The National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals” issued in July 2005 — found an average of 148 chemicals in our bodies. And those were only the ones for which they tested. (i)
It gets worse …
The Environmental Working Group examined the umbilical cord blood of children just as they emerged from the womb. They found 287 industrial chemicals, including pesticides, phthalates, dioxins, flame-retardants, Teflon, and toxic metals like mercury. And this was before these infants even entered the world! That’s not to mention the toxins found in our foods and other chemicals typically found in the home, like certain cleaning agents, fragrances and pest control products – all of which add to the total toxic load on our bodies.
One wonders what all of this poison is doing to our children …
In his foreword to The Autoimmune Epidemic, Dr. Douglas Kerr, M.D., Ph.D., a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, says that “there is no doubt that autoimmune diseases are on the rise and our increasing environmental exposure to toxins and chemicals is fueling the risk. The research is sound. The conclusions, unassailable.”
That environmental toxins are a major cause of autoimmune disease is clear. Yet conventional medicine doesn’t take that into account when treating autoimmune conditions. Instead, it tries to shut down the immune response with powerful medications including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil and Aleve, steroids like prednisone, anti-cancer drugs like methotrexate, and new drugs like Enbrel and Remicade that block the effects of a powerful inflammatory molecule called TNF alpha. But those new drugs shut down your immune system so powerfully that they increase your risk of cancer and life-threatening infections. And they have frequent and serious side effects, often giving only partial relief. These drugs may be lifesaving for some in the short run — but in the long run they do NOTHING to deal with the causes.
There’s a better way.
We have successfully helped hundreds of patients with autoimmune diseases by addressing the underlying causes, including toxins, infections, allergens, poor diets high in sugar, and stress. The roadmap of functional medicine takes us right to the root of the problem. We have even seen the results of using functional medicine to treat autoimmune disease in myself and in my friends and colleagues in Shaklee.
Using Functional Medicine to Heal from Autoimmune Disease
Years ago, I had Lupus. This condition has autoimmune features and my blood tests clearly showed that my body was attacking itself. Getting rid of my poor diet and using Shaklee supplements, getting rid of as many chemicals in my life as I can and thinking positively– reversed my chronic fatigue and autoimmune problems.
And this has been true of so many of our friends.
For each one, we have to find all the causes –toxins, sensitivities, infections, poor food choices, use of antibiotics and other medications and stress — and deal with all of them while adding back the things the body needs to function optimally, like whole, clean food, nutrients, exercise, stress management, clean water and clean air, community, connection, and meaning. When people do these things, the results are amazing.
A friend of ours suffered for years with the bloody diarrhea and pain of ulcerative colitis. Dietary changes and various kinds of digestive support–EZ Gest, Herb Lax, helped but he never got better — until we removed the toxins from his environment and his body. (Liver DTX, Clean Water, Clean Air, Clean food, The Best Supplementation.
And a friend with debilitating fatigue and scars on her brain from multiple sclerosis got nearly complete relief of her symptoms after she had the mercury fillings removed from her teeth and went on a comprehensive detoxification program. She Started a Shaklee supplementation program, Shakleeized her life and when she repeated her MRI, all of the scars from the MS were gone!
So there are ways you can address autoimmune disease if you or someone you love is suffering. Here is what we recommend.
9 Tips for Addressing Autoimmune Disease
• Read The Autoimmune Epidemic. This book will tell you why we have this problem, and how to fix it.
• Find a functional medicine doctor who can help you address autoimmunity.
• Get tested for mercury and other heavy metals.
- Get tested for celiac disease (an autoimmune reaction to wheat and other gluten-containing grains), which causes over 60 autoimmune diseases. And consider eliminating other inflammatory foods from your diet such as dairy, eggs, corn and animal fats for a few weeks to see if it makes a different your symptoms. GMO wheat and other grains with gluten contain 4 times the amount our bodies are able to tolerate.
- Take immune-balancing nutrients and supplements, including Vitamin D3 (Vita Lea and Vitalizer, OsteoMatrix), essential fatty acids (like OmegaGuard, Lecithin and GLA), and probiotics – Optiflora–4 pearls and 1 tsp. powder per day for at least 4 months–then back to 1 or 2 pearls and 1 tsp. powder. Energizing Soy Protein–the only I will take.
- Practice deep relaxation daily through yoga, meditation, biofeedback, or anything that reverses the stress response. (stress relief complex)
- Practice the precautionary principle, which says that we should avoid anything with the potential for harm. In the US, something has to be proven harmful before it is taken off the market. In Europe, something has to be proven safe before it is allowed on the market. This is also known as “better safe than sorry.” NutriFeron to normalize immune system–get rid of Hepatitis A, B, C, etc.
Learn how to boost your body’s own detoxification system. Liver DTX, Herb Lax, Vivix, Pure Get Clean Water. By addressing the root causes of autoimmune disease, you can start feeling better and getting well today.
(i) Centers for Disease Control. 2005. National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/