Treating autoimmune conditions

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Chances are, you or someone you know or love are one of the many millions of people with an autoimmune condition. Autoimmunity is an "attack on self," where a person's immune system makes antibodies to and destroys their own tissues. Autoimmune conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Graves Disease, and multiple sclerosis, to mention just a few) are the third most common type of disease in the U.S., after cancer and heart disease. They can involve almost any part of the body, including brain, nerves, muscles, digestive system, kidneys, thyroid, heart, and skin.

It is generally accepted that autoimmunity results from an interaction of genetic predisposition and environmental influences, and people who have one autoimmune condition are much more likely than other people to develop another autoimmune condition. Whereas the most common approach to treating autoimmune disease usually involves some combination of anti-inflammatory medications, including steroids, and medications to suppress parts of the immune system, the functional medicine approach to autoimmune conditions uses other tools to look for and treat underlying causes.

For most conditions, treating the underlying causes means starting with the gut. A healthy gut is the foundation of overall health. One reason is that the majority of your immune system lies in and around the gut. If a breakdown in the normal gut lining and communication system occurs, the result can be confusion in the immune system and the "attack on self" which is autoimmunity. Food sensitivities and toxins are two of the main reasons that leaky gut may develop, and two of the most common environmental influences that interact with genes and cause disease.

So, if someone has an autoimmune condition, we want to look for and eliminate possible causes of the inflammation and confusion in the immune system, and then heal the gut.

Monica is a nurse practitioner board certified in family practice. She treats adults and children of all ages with a functional medicine approach at Lakeside Holistic Health. Visit our website at www.lakesideholistic.com or call us at (208) 758-0568 for more information.

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