Am I Autoimmune?
There are symptoms that mimic autoimmune disorders that may not yet be an actual immune attack on one’s tissues. If the patient has already been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, this step is complete.
At 47 years of age, Anna thought her life was going to get a little easier. As the mother of three boys, crazy days were the norm throughout the toddler and school years. Now Tom, her youngest, just graduated from High School and was to be leaving for college in the fall. Though Anna had been secretly fanaticizing about going back to school, getting a job she’d enjoy, or just taking up painting again, a hobby she enjoyed ‘before kids’, she now wonders if she’ll be able to do anything at all. Just a few months before Tom graduated, Anna started getting severe knee pain that started in the right leg and soon became bilateral. She passed it off as stiffness from non-use until it grew in intensity and both knees swelled for no apparent reason. After her medical doctor prescribed 800mg of Advil to be taken every four hours, she grew suspicious that there was little attempt to discover the cause. The pain and swelling worsened and Anna was referred to a rheumatologist who, after some testing, diagnosed her with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Anna was devastated and her prognosis seemed grim – medications for life to simply ‘manage’ the condition.
One of the things that happened over time, in traditional medicine, is that their model for care has become governed by whether there exists pharmaceutical intervention. The purpose in obtaining a diagnosis is simply to administer medications to manage the symptoms. They may look at autoimmune conditions and believe that as long as they give the condition a Latin name, the investigation is over and they simply need to open the Merck Manual and prescribe the appropriate drug. If the person has Rheumatoid Arthritis, let’s try Tramadol, if the diagnosis is Multiple Sclerosis, our protocol may be Interferon; if the person is hypothyroid, we’re going for replacement hormones, and at first we don’t succeed, then try, try again.
Success is measured by the suppression of symptoms not correcting the cause that is producing an effect. The population seems to be okay with this model: Give my symptoms a name and then drug them into oblivion. Unfortunately, we are going to discover that this type of mentality is leading us down the road of destruction. The question they really need to ask is why they became sick in the first place. The answer to this question for many suffering people may lie in the fact that they have an immune destruction against their tissue that, unless stopped, is continuously progressing and may ultimately cause death. We cannot be satisfied with symptom suppression while ignoring the cause; we must never settle for a treatment that does not address the reason the disease exists; and we must become our own advocates, studying and demanding that our healthcare practitioner ‘proves’ their cure with logical understanding of the process itself.
He was only eight years old when he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. He’s been on insulin injections for 23 years now and has a difficult time keeping his blood glucose levels perfect, with frequent spikes and drops. That’s not what brought him to seek help though. Four years ago his energy was going through extreme hills and valleys. His wife questioned him about stress at work and they frequently fought over things that ‘bothered him’ that previously were never an issue in their 9 years of marriage. Robert refused to go to counseling but did agree to a visit to the family doctor. After a routine blood workup revealed nothing out of the normal range, his MD ordered a TSH, the test for the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. In traditional medicine approaches, the TSH alone is run to determine the health of the thyroid gland. Sure enough, Robert’s TSH was 47, more than 40 points above normal and it gave the doctor what he wanted – a diagnosis! Robert was diagnosed with low thyroid and placed on synthetic thyroid medication for life.
Robert’s story is identical to the millions of other ‘hypothyroid’ patients. Typically, when people do have a hypothyroid response, they generally don’t really feel that much better with replacement after what I call the “honeymoon period”. Their TSH’s look really nice and pretty with lab work but in reality, the patient does NO better, even if symptoms are subtly suppressed. They still have NOT addressed the cause of their condition and if you don’t fix the cause, the disease progresses! We’ll discuss the fact that hypothyroidism is NOT really a disease of the thyroid at all but an autoimmune attack on the thyroid from a normal functioning immune response that has ‘gone awry’. We will discuss why that takes place.
We also have to be fair and address how hypothyroidism has been traditionally supported from an alternative medicine model. In Robert’s case, after two and a half years of dissatisfaction in the replacement model of care through his MD, he decided to take the advice of a friend and visit a Naturopath. The naturopathic doctor gave Robert iodine and tyrosine supplements and a glandular product to support the thyroid in an attempt to give the gland the building blocks to recover. As was true in Robert’s case, these usually don’t do anything to correct the cause of the problem because they do NOT dampen the immune response against the thyroid. It is equally a failing approach and will often do less for the patient’s symptoms than replacement therapy.
My “RULE” in treating autoimmune disease is simple and stated below. Unfortunately, rarely will one find a doctor who takes these steps or even knows how to do so. This is why we created our Hope’ Healing Place, our virtual, on-line clinic to help people walk through these steps and move towards health.