With Dr. Alison Danby, Naturopathic Doctor, Functional Medicine Practitioner & Autoimmune Strategist
Autoimmunity is becoming a health crisis with very few conventional solutions. Which for many who are looking for answers, this can be very frustrating. I was one of those people 13 years ago when I battle with my autoimmune condition. The belief in current medicine is that immune suppression is necessary to alleviate symptoms and halt the autoimmune condition. These medications that suppress the immune system are often very harsh with a lot of undesirable side effects such as weight gain, depression, fatigue, increased risk of infections, and cancer. There is a time and place for this, but should never be the only form of treatment. While on the medication, you should be exploring why is your immune system on such a high alert? I know there was so much more I could do than take medication and hope for the best. I knew this was my time to shine and take responsibility for my health. I made important changes and put my condition into remission.
As a Naturopathic Doctor and a Functional Medicine Practitioner, I see the body as a whole and work on the principle that the health of one system impacts the health and function of all others. Our approach is to focus on supporting and calming immune response by getting to the cause of WHY the immune system went haywire. To date, there has been no cure for Autoimmunity, however clinically, I have been able to help hundreds of patients successfully lower antibodies, and become symptom-free in remission by treating these five major areas:
1. Digestive Tract / Leaky Gut
Your digestive tract is what controls your health. It has been reported that approximately 70% of your immune response comes from the gastrointestinal tract. Research has indicated that the majority of people diagnosed with an autoimmune condition have what we call leaky gut syndrome. Leaky Gut Syndrome is the breakdown of your intestine’s tight junctions (cells that hold your digestive walls together), allowing larger molecules (such as food, toxins, bacteria, candida, etc.) to pass through. When this happens, your immune system goes into attack mode and starts to attack all those larger molecules it sees as foreign. This continual elevated immune response eventually causes the immune system to attack its own body.
2. Previous Infections & Candida
New research is confirming what scientists suspected for years that past and current viral, bacterial, and fungal infections could be the initial trigger for the immune system to go rogue. Infections such as Herpes, Epstein Barr, E.coli, and Candida (yeast) are linked to various
3. Food Sensitivities
Food sensitivities are related to Autoimmune disease for several reasons. Firstly, they trigger an immune and inflammatory reaction when consumed. Secondly, the inflammatory response often is the primary cause of Leaky Gut Syndrome. Finally, many foods are considered to be “molecular mimicry,” meaning when these foods are consumed, the body confuses your tissue for the food and attacks it. A few perfect examples of this are beans and the myelin sheath for MS and gluten, which is associated with several AI conditions such as thyroid, celiac, Sjogren’s (tear duct). Autoimmune Paleo is my top go-to for beginners if you’re looking for a place to start.
4. Mold, Heavy Metals & Toxins
Mycotoxins released from mold cause a tremendous amount of stress on the immune system. Heavy metals such as mercury, block the body’s ability to repair and function. They often replace the nutrients needed on receptors or as cofactors, for example, mercury is found in the mitochondria (the part of the cell that produces energy) and the thyroid preventing the addition of Iodine, overall impacting the function of these cells and creating increased stress on the body.
Physical, mental/emotional, environmental, and chemical stressors affect your immune response. Chronic stress, the day to the day hustle and bustle of life, leads to long term inflammation, impacting how your immune system functions. Once Autoimmunity is triggered, immediate stress only makes it worse.
How Do We Fix This?
First, we need to identify if you have one, two, or all of the factors impacting your health through the clinical intake and lab testing.
1. 4 R approach to healing the GUT: REMOVE all the foods, bacteria, toxins, and yeast that could be causing the immune and inflammatory response. RESTORE the function of the digestive tract, stomach acid, digestive enzymes, etc. REINOCULATE the good bacteria and establish a balance. Finally, REPAIR the intestine lining with proper nutrients.
2. Identify if there is an underlying infection and treat it.
3. REMOVE all potential food triggers The most common are Gluten, Dairy, and Eggs. If you are unsure, visit your Naturopathic Doctor for lab testing or to talk about the hypoallergenic diet.
4. Eliminate your exposure to toxins and mold. If you suspect you have heavy metals, there are several tests that can determine your levels.
5. REDUCE and MANAGE your Stress & Balance Hormones. Daily meditations and deep breathing are just as important as all of the other steps and can help control and prevent any flare-ups.
My approach to Autoimmunity is getting down to the core cause of what caused the immune system to go on high alert in the first place and alleviating these root causes.
To explore the cause of your Autoimmune conditions, contact the clinic, and schedule an appointment with Dr. Danby.
Dr. Danby is here to help you every step of the way!