There are many auto-immune disorders, but the common thread is that the body becomes ‘allergic’ to its own tissues and attacks them by means of antibodies, and differ only depending on which tissues are attacked.
A plausible answer to why this happens involves four factors: (1) low stomach acid, (2) leaky gut, (3) food sensitivities, and (4) hypothyroidism, ALL of which need to be addressed.
If stomach acid and digestive enzymes are too low, proteins from the diet will not be fully broken down into their individual amino acids. If the intestinal wall is also “leaky”, these large protein molecules enter the bloodstream causing the body’s immune system to build antibodies to fight the “foreign” protein pieces.
Each antibody has a specific shape to ‘fit’ the molecule it is trying to digest and recycle, and that shape is dependent on temperature. The thyroid controls body temperature, and if it is underactive, the body’s temperature will change throughout a wider range than normal. The antibodies that were created at one temperature will change shape at both higher and lower temperatures. This enables them to ‘fit’ protein molecules other than those intended, including some of the body’s own tissues.
Supporting digestive weaknesses is quite simple and immediate by taking broad-spectrum digestive enzymes containing HCl (hydrochloric acid).
Restoring thyroid function is straightforward in principle but may take several months, and in some cases, nutritional/supplemental support alone is not enough. The thyroid may need a ‘kick start’ by taking an external thyroid hormone, ideally assisted by a Naturopathic Doctor who can prescribe the natural hormone and assist you in weaning off it. In any event, it is imperative to monitor body temperature daily and use whatever natural means possible to restore it to a daytime constant of 37°C (98.6°F), reducing support as it is no longer required.
It takes dedication to identify and eliminate the foods aggravating the condition, but when it’s done, the rewards can usually be felt within a week. There are different ways to identify offending foods, including having a BioScan Meridian Stress Assessment done, but if that’s not available, other methods should be discussed with your Naturopathic Doctor. The main thing to remember is that ALL offending foods MUST be eliminated completely until the gut is healed.
The restoration program for leaky gut is critical to success (next month’s blog). It requires a very restricted diet, so the intestinal wall can heal both its surface layer and inner lining.
Note that sometimes the body will attack its own hormones, rather than its tissues. In this case, low thyroid function is still be a factor, but the other factors may either not be involved, or involved to a lesser degree.