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What Happens When the Immune System Misfires?
Do you suffer from an autoimmune disease like the following?
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease)
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Lupus-Systemic Lupus Eyrthematosus
Type I Diabetes
If your immune system is “off tract.”
The immune system is the body's military forces, because the immune system is designed to defend the body against anything that can damage it. An army of white blood cells is always on hand to find and destroy foreign agents called antigens. Antigens include bacteria, viruses, environmental toxins, cancer cells, foreign proteins and any other irritant to the body. When the immune system IS working properly, it identifies things that do not belong in the body and sends its forces out to neutralize these intruders.
To do this, the body must be able to tell the difference between what is part of itself and what is foreign to itself. Sometimes, the immune system fails to do this and the immune system misfires, attacking parts of the body. It's like the "friendly fire" in a combat zone; it doesn't matter whether the bullets are coming from the enemy or your own forces, they can still kill you. If the immune system gets confused about who the "enemy" is, it is going to cause problems.
In autoimmune disorders the white blood cells are producing antibodies that attack various tissues of the body, usually in the nerves, glands, joints or digestive tract. In some cases the immune system can completely destroy glands or organs, resulting in death.
Autoimmune disorders are growing more and more. The actual cause of these health problems has not been firmly established by science, but we do know some probable contributing factors to their development.
People can be genetically susceptible to autoimmune disorders. Women are more likely to suffer autoimmune disorders, as 75% of the 23.5 million autoimmune sufferers are women. Even though females have higher susceptibility to autoimmune disorders, men seem to suffer more severely from these diseases when they get them. People with blood type 0 are more prone to these disorders.
Chemical Toxicity and Autoimmune Conditions
It is likely that autoimmune disorders involve environmental toxicity. The fact that they have become so prevalent in modern industrial society is a major clue that this is the case. Heavy metals play a major role in autoimmune diseases because they confuse the immune system when they get into cells.
Tissues don't normally absorb heavy metals very easily, but when heavy metals are accompanied by solvents like formaldehyde they can be carried into the cells. The solvent dissolves the fatty membrane of the cell so the heavy metal can enter it. Vaccines contain both heavy metals (like mercury and aluminum) and solvents and may be one of the major factors in the rise of autoimmune diseases.
When heavy metals enter the cells, the body's immune system will seek to destroy the damaged cells, giving rise to the idea that the body is attacking itself In reality, it may just be attacking severely damaged and abnormal cells.
Other factors that contribute to autoimmune diseases include nutritional deficiencies (which again cause weakened cells the body may see as defective), low-grade viral infections. food allergies and leaky gut syndrome, stress, adrenal fatigue and electromagnetic pollution.
Eight Basic Therapies for Autoimmune Disorders
There is no blanket natural therapy for all autoimmune disorders and even people with the same autoimmune disorder may require slightly different approaches in order to heal. The following natural therapies have helped people recover from autoimmune disorders.
These therapies can serve as the foundation for any healing program for someone with an autoimmune condition. Choose the therapies and products that most closely match your needs and consult with trained professionals to monitor your progress and assist you in choosing the products and lifestyle changes that are right for you.
#1: Feed Yourself Right
Conventional medicine suggests that the immune system is attacking healthy tissues in autoimmune disorders. Many natural healers believe that the immune system is actually attacking unhealthy tissue. Strengthening the tissue through better nutrition has helped many people with autoimmune disorders to improve dramatically.
To feed yourself right by getting rid of all high-glycemic carbohydrates in your diet, which include all simple sugars and refined carbohydrates and even fruit juices, honey and other sources of simple sugars. High sugar levels increase inflammatory responses, something that needs to be calmed down in autoimmune disorders.
Be sure to eat good fats as these help modulate immune functions and reduce inflammation. Particularly important are omega-3 essential fatty acids. Try taking Super Omega-3 EPA or flax seed oil. For autoimmune disorders involving the nervous system also consider DHA, an important fat for nerve function.
Look at the specific tissues the body is attacking and use nutrients that strengthen them. Eat lots of non-starchy vegetables, particularly green vegetables, organic meats and moderate amounts of fruits and whole grains.
Consider following the blood type diet as this helps reduce immune confusion in the body.
#2: Heal Your Digestive Tract
It's likely that everyone who has autoimmune disorders has issues with digestive function, because a large part of our immune responses centers on the intestines. Enzyme supplements like Proactazyme or Protease Plus are usually helpful for people with autoimmune conditions.
#3: Rebuild Exhausted Adrenal Glands
Corticosteroid drugs are prescribed by doctors to reduce inflammation associated with autoimmune disorders. These drugs mimic an adrenal hormone called cortisol. Supporting the adrenals so they can produce cortisol naturally can be a useful therapy for people with autoimmune diseases.
Yucca and Licorice can supply a cortisol-like effect and reduce the inflammation and pain associated with autoimmune disorders. Licorice root inhibits the breakdown of cortisol from the adrenals, prolonging its effectiveness. Yucca alkalizes the blood while it reduces inflammation and pain.
#4: Cool the Fires of Oxidative Stress and Inflammation
In all autoimmune disorders the normal process of inflammation, the body's response to tissue damage, has spun out of control, like a forest fire. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients are needed to get the inflammation back under control.
The dietary recommendations found under #1 will provide a lot of support for reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. For extra support use Thai Go or Super ORAC; both are powerful sources of natural plant antioxidants.
To reduce inflammation and help ease pain consider IF Relief. This powerful blend contains mangosteen, pericarp, turmeric, willow bark and other herbs that can reduce inflammatory responses and ease oxidative stress.
Another tip with autoimmune disorders is to stay cool, because most autoimmune disorders are aggravated by heat. It is best to AVOID hot tubs, saunas, extremely hot baths, electric blankets and hot pads with autoimmune conditions.
#5: Avoid Immune Stimulants and Modulate Immune Responses
Because the immune system is causing damage to the tissues of the body you don't want to stimulate the immune system. You want to modulate the immune system, which means to regulate immune reactions so they target the real "enemy" and not the body's own tissues.
Remedies to AVOID: Immune Stimulator, Echinacea, Ultimate Echinacea, Goldenseal, Echinacea/Golden Seal, Trigger Immune, Korean ginseng, Colostrum with Immune Factors and Astragalus. A basic rule is to avoid any supplement designed to stimulate immune responses or that has "heating" effects on the body.
Some herbs and supplements which can modulate immune responses so that the immune system works in a more balanced way include adaptagens like AdaptaMax and Eleuthero root. These remedies also work to reduce stress.
Chinese Blood Stimulator can help regulate immune responses. It contains ganoderma, a medicinal mushroom known to help modulate immune reactions.
When a person with an autoimmune problem has an infection, Silver Shield is the best choice for fighting it. It does not stimulate the immune system and will not aggravate autoimmune symptoms.
#6: Get Moving
Exercise is an important part of staying healthy. Keeping the lymphatics moving through physical activity helps to gently" detoxify the body. Physical activity helps maintain blood sugar levels, muscle tone and proper weight. Rigorous exercise programs can be counter productive in people with autoimmune conditions. Exercises like yoga, tai chi, walking or swimming are great choices because they stretch the body and gently oxygenate the blood. The exercise should be gentle but needs to be done regularly with an individualized pace and rest as needed.
Autoimmune disorders appear to involve at least some level of toxicity in the tissues. Heavy metals and solvents may play a role in autoimmune disorders, so detoxification' is an important part of working with these conditions. It is best to detoxify gradually, as harsh cleansing programs can aggregate symptoms.
Purify your water (NSP RO water filter). Avoid processed foods with their chemical additives, dyes, preservatives and flavoring agents. Use all-natural, non-toxic household cleaning products (Sunshine Concentrate and Enzyme Spray) and personal care products. Read labels. If you work a job that exposes you to a lot of chemicals (beauty parlors, painting dry cleaning, etc.) you may even have to change jobs.
Gradual detoxification can be achieved by taking small do of appropriate cleansing formulas. For heavy metals, take Heavy Metal Detox per day along with 6-8 Algin capsules. One capsule of Enviro-Detox per day can be taken for general cleaning and Psyllium Hulls Combination or Everybody's Fiber. Everybody's Fiber is the best choice if you have inflammatory bowel disorders.
Cleansing can be assisted by soaking in warm baths with Epsom salts and your favorite essential oils, Ionic foot spas cam be used to accelerate detoxification.
#8: Heal Your Emotional Wounds
Autoimmune disorders are caused by the body attacking itself and can be influenced by your tendencies to attack yourself mentally and emotionally. People tend to put each other down. We're told that we're not fast enough, strong enough, smart enough, thin enough, rich enough and just plain not good enough. This can undermine our sense of self-worth and lead to not taking good care of ourselves and our feelings.
Learning to be gentle and positive with yourself will help your body to do the same. Forgiving yourself will give you greater ability to take care of yourself Reduce your stress and emotional issues through meditation, prayer, keeping a journal and relaxing with activities that YOU find enjoyable.
You can take remedies to help you relax and reduce your stress level. Magnesium Complex is helpful, especially for autoimmune disorders that affect joints and connective tissue. Fibralgia is good for fibromyalgia.
Nervous Fatigue Formula can be helpful if you suffer from fatigue and disturbed sleep patterns. It also supports the adrenal glands.
The exact therapies that a person needs will vary, but these eight therapies will give you a great start.
Common Autoimmune Disorders
There are many different types of autoimmune disorders which are characterized primarily by the tissues the immune system is attacking. There isn't space to cover them all, but here are some of the major ones.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is caused by the immune system attacking the central nervous system, particularly the myelin sheath that surrounds and insulates nerve fibers. This causes nerve impulses to "short circuit" causing muscle weakness, difficulty moving, balance problems, speech problems, fatigue, visual problems and chronic pain. MS generally occurs episodically, with worsening conditions and symptoms in each relapse.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is known as Lou Gehrig's disease. It is similar to MS in that the immune system attacks the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscles. This results in the degeneration of nerves and muscles, eventually causing paralysis and death. Iron in the tissues increases oxidative stress in ALS.
Fibromyalgia is characterized by chronic muscle pain and stiffness. This disorder is more commonly seen in women with symptoms of fatigue, inability to sleep and headaches.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a form of arthritis where the immune system is attacking the joints, causing pain, swelling and stiffness. Deformities in the joints occur over time and the disorder may affect the heart, lungs and eyes.
Systemic Lupus Eyrthematosus, more commonly known as lupus, is characterized by the immune system attacking the connective tissues of the body. The main symptoms include joint pain, swelling and redness, rashes on the nose and feet, chest pain and coughing, sunlight sensitivity combined with rash and fever, fatigue and pain with inflammation.
Hashimoto's Thyroiditis involves an immune attack on the thyroid gland and is believed to be the most common cause of under active thyroid.
Other diseases considered to be autoimmune in nature include chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), Sjogren's, scleroderma, type I diabetes, Grave's disease, Crohn's disease, celiac, ulcerative colitis and autoimmune hepatitis