Immune diseases

Immune diseases, auto-immune diseases

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immune-diseaseImmune diseases are caused by the body's immune system attacking the body instead of some invader (virus, bacteria). The cause is uncertain, but for some reason a foreign stimulus makes the immune system create antibodies which latch onto the cells of the body and damage or destroy them. There are over 150 reported immune diseases depending on what system or cells is involved. The most common include - Systemic Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, haemolytic anemia, diabetes (type 1), Graves disease, multiple sclerosis, myesthenia gravis, vasculitis (affecting blood vessels), myopathies (affecting muscles).

The information below is general information for all immune diseases. I will also give links to more information on a few of the more common ones as well.

What doctors can do

  • Make the diagnosis – symptoms and clinical examination, blood tests for antibodies, Xrays, sometimes biopsy.
  • Drugs – the most commonly used drugs are steroids like prednisone, and sometimes non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Voltaren, Brufen etc. Some antimalarial drugs have been used (hydroxychloroquine) and immunosuppressive drugs (cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and azathiaprin). The aim of these drugs is to reduce the immune response of the body.  More recently immunotherapy drugs ( most of them end in -imab) have been introduced - we still await to see how successful they are but they seem to have much more promise than most of the other drugs we use.

What you can do

Lifestyle –

  • Look after your gut - most of our immune system is in the gut, abnormal bacteria, poor absorption and leaky gut allow larger molecules to be absorbed, and in many cases these can cause immune diseases.   A good diet, probiotics, fish oils and fibre are important.
  • Eat a good diet – but because so many organ systems can be involved, there do not seem to be many particularly bad or beneficial foods, but the Mediterranean diet seems to be the best for most diseases.
  • Physical exercise in moderation is probably a good idea, but only if symptoms permit this to be done comfortably.
  • Get plenty of rest
  • NO smoking – Alcohol on the other hand, in moderation may be beneficial.
  • Women should avoid using HRT and probably the contraceptive pill
  • Low dose naltrexone - may well help (click here for more details) - and after a discussion with your health provider, should be considered.

Supplements –

  • A good multivitamin multimineral seems a logical start to make sure the cells have all the nutrients they need to recover and work as well as they can.
  • Fish oils – have an anti-inflammatory action and some studies have shown them to benefit patients
  • Vitamin D – this affects the genes and immune system function. Patients with immune diseases often have low vitamin D levels, and many doctors are
    now recommending their patients to take vitamin D, 5 – 8,000iu daily.
  • Flaxseed oil – contains alpha linolenic acid which is an anti-inflammatory and can improve kidney function in lupus patients
  • Probiotics - some believe that autoimmune diseases are caused by leaky gut allowing large proteins into the circulations. Bad bacteria are a
    major cause for leaky gut, and regular probiotics, to colonise the bowel with good bacteria may help.
  • Dehydroepiandrosterons (DHEA) a hormone found in some supplements, may help with immune diseases and has been shown to reduce the level of
    steroids required.

The Nutritional supplements I use and recommend to my patients

For my patients with immune diseases I recommend -

USANA - Cellsenials *, Biomega, Vitamin D, Proflavanol C, Probiotics -

Other therapies

There are a number of other therapies which you might like to look at.  They have not been specifically included with this disease because some are a form of treatment which is applicable to most diseases and many focus on the mind, body, spirit, and the universe. These include - acupuncture, Ayurvedic medicine, energy healing, homeopathy, naturopathy, prayer, visualisation and some people with this condition might like to look at these topics (I have described them more fully on another page on this website click here .) With my personal experience and reading, I do not think that I can comment of whether one or a number of these might help.    They fit well with most conventional and complementary treatments and I suspect some or even all of them can be extremely powerful - if performed by an experienced practitioner.    My only caveat is that if in the course of one of these therapies, you are given potions or herbs, do check with your health practitioner that they will not interfere with other treatments or drugs you are receiving.

Nutritional supplements

I believe in today's world that nutritional supplements are so necessary as to be an essential component of any form of both prevention and treatment. Not only is today's food lacking in nutrients because of the way it was grown and processed, but also most of us make the wrong choices in diet. It is virtually impossible to obtain optimal levels of most of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients although many people try to do so, and even then fresh produce is not available all year round. *There are many quality supplements available on the market, including –Thorne, NFS, Douglas Labs, Xtend Life, True Star Health, USANA, and Metagenics. There are others, but do your due diligence before choosing one. USANA Health Sciences has added a new adjunct to its multivitamin and multi mineral called CellSentials. These are a patented blend of phyto-nutrients which they believe affects cell signaling and growth, and increases the production of preventative antioxidants within the cell. These should add to the value of the multi, so these are the multivitamin/mineral preparation I recommend.