What Is An Autoimmune Disease?
Your immune system is your body’s way of protecting itself against the various pathogens out there, including bacteria, viruses and parasites.
An important part of your immune system is your white blood cells. These cells constantly patrol your body, looking for unwelcome pathogens. When they recognize such a pathogen, they mount an attack against it.
However, in some cases, your immune system recognizes a part of your own body as a pathogen, and mounts an attack against it. Sometimes, it attacks your entire body, and others, just a single organ.
What Causes Autoimmune Diseases?
We haven’t yet pinpointed a specific cause for why your immune system begins to attack your body.
However, we do know certain groups of people are at greater risk. Women are about twice as likely to develop an autoimmune condition vs. men. Certain ethnic groups are at greater risk of some disorders as well. Lupus, for example, affects particularly those of Hispanic and African ancestries.
Others, like multiple sclerosis, seem to be inherited.
The western diet and environmental factors may also contribute, since the prevalence of autoimmune disorders is on the rise in developed countries.
There are many different types of autoimmune diseases. Below, you can read more about some of the more common ones, and the solutions naturopathic medicine can offer.
Naturopathic Treatments For Lupus
Lupus is an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks many different systems in your body. This may include your heart, lungs, brain, kidneys, blood cells, joints, and skin.
Because so many of the symptoms of lupus are common with other disorders, it’s difficult to diagnose. But the most common symptom is a butterfly-shaped rash across both cheeks on your face.
However, each case of lupus is different. Depending on your individual case, you may experience:
- Joint pain
- Stiffness and swelling
- Lesions sensitive to the Sun
- Chest pain
- Memory loss
- Dry eyes
- Shortness of breath
- Extremities that turn blue or white during periods of cold or stress
The exact cause of lupus is not exactly known, but if you’re already predisposed to the condition, it may be triggered by the right conditions. This includes sunlight, certain infections, or certain medications. As for risk factors, women between ages 15 and 45 of African, Hispanic, or Asian descent are at the highest risk.
If left untreated, complications from lupus can be deadly.
Currently, there is no known cure for lupus. However, naturopathic treatments may be effective in helping you manage your lupus symptoms to help you live a normal life.
Naturopathic Treatments For Psoriasis
Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition where your skin cells multiply faster than they’re supposed to. New skin cells replace the old ones every 10-30 days, but with psoriasis they can replace themselves as quickly as every 3-4 days.
This can lead your skin to build up in thick, bumpy, scaly patches – called plaques.
It generally affects a small area of the body – most commonly the elbows, knees, scalp, or lower back – but in more extreme cases it can be found more widely across your body.
These plaques can be itchy, painful, and may crack and bleed. It can also affect your nails, causing them to be discoloured, pitted, or detach from your nail bed.
There are several types of psoriasis, including:
Guttate psoriasis generally affects children or young adults. It causes small red spots to appear on the body, most commonly on arms, legs, and torso. It may be triggered by certain infections, skin injury, stress, and certain pharmaceutical drugs
Inverse psoriasis causes shiny lesions, usually bright red in colour, to appear under the armpits or breasts, groin area, or other skin folds.
With pustular psoriasis, the skin on the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet will become red and scaly. Tiny pustules will form on them.
Erythrodermic psoriasis may be one of the most painful manifestations of this disorder. It causes fiery redness of your skin, and often leads to sheets of skin shedding off. Certain infections, pharmaceutical drugs, or severe sunburn may trigger erythrodermic psoriasis, and without treatment it can lead to serious illness.
Is There A Cure For Psoriasis ?
Currently, no. However, there are naturopathic treatments which may help you manage your psoriasis symptoms.
In most cases, psoriasis is not considered life-threatening. However, the symptoms can be painful, uncomfortable, and frustrating to deal with.
If you have psoriasis, or believe you may, contact Annex Naturopathic to book your FREE consultation today.
Naturopathic Treatments For Autoimmune Thyroid Conditions
Your thyroid is a delicate, butterfly-shaped gland that wraps itself around your windpipe. As an important part of your endocrine system, it plays a crucial role in regulating your body’s hormones.
While there are many conditions that affect the thyroid that aren’t related to the immune system, there are specific autoimmune-based thyroid conditions
Graves ’ Disease
Graves’ disease is one of the most common thyroid disorders leading to hyperthyroidism.
The hormones secreted by your thyroid control, among other things, your metabolism. Generally, your thyroid knows how much of these hormones to secrete based on the TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) it receives. With Graves’ disease, your immune system produces antibodies that mimic TSH, which causes your thyroid to overproduce hormones, called hyperthyroidism.
Symptoms of Graves’ disease include:
- Weight loss
- Increased appetite
- Excessive sweating, especially in the palms
- Increased sensitivity to heat
- Bulging eyes (Graves’ opthalmopathy)
- Menstrual changes
- Nervousness or trembling
- High blood pressure or heart rate
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease where your immune system directly attacks your thyroid, affecting the thyroid’s ability to produce thyroid hormones. This often leads to hypothyroidism, an underperforming thyroid.
Many of the symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are the opposite of Graves’ disease symptoms. They include:
- Weight gain
- Decreased appetite
- Chronic fatigue
- Sensitivity to cold
- Reproductive issues
- Hair loss
- Joint and muscle pain
- Slowed heart rate
- Low blood pressure
Treatments For Thyroid Disorders
There are currently no known cures for the thyroid disorders listed above. However, there are naturopathic treatments available which can help you address the root cause of your thyroid disorder. The goal is to bring your thyroid back into acceptable levels of hormone production, relieving your symptoms, and helping you live a normal, healthy life.
Contact Annex Naturopathic today to find out more about our naturopathic solutions for thyroid disorders.
Naturopathic Treatments For Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder where your body’s immune system attacks your pancreas, damaging or destroying the cells that produce insulin.
Unlike type 2 diabetes, which is often linked with lifestyle factors, type 1 diabetes can’t be prevented. The only known effective treatment is through insulin injections administered by a medical doctor.
However, these insulin injections may come with side effects, including diarrhea, rashes, nausea, and pain.
Naturopathic treatments for type 1 diabetes are focused on reducing the side effects of insulin injections, and dietary guidance to help improve your quality of life.
If you have type 1 diabetes, contact Annex Naturopathic today to book a FREE consultation.
Naturopathic Treatments For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder where your immune system attacks the lining of your joints. It’s different from osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, in that osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear of the joints.
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis commonly affect your joints, and include:
- Abnormal warmth
Other symptoms include fatigue, fever, and loss of appetite. However, it can also affect a number of body parts beyond your joints, including:
- Bone marrow
- Blood vessels
- Nerve tissue
- Salivary glands
There is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis. However, naturopathic treatments can help manage your symptoms. The goal is to reduce pain and suffering, helping you live a healthy, normal life.
Naturopathic Treatments For Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune condition where your immune system attacks the fatty material that protects your nerve fibers, called myelin. Without their protective layer, your exposed nerve endings can end up damaged and scarred.
As a result, your brain has difficulty sending messages to different parts of your body. This can lead to symptoms like:
- Difficulty walking
- Poor balance & coordination
- Difficulty remembering
- Difficulty concentrating
- Chronic pain
- Chronic fatigue
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Sexual dysfunction
- Muscle spasms
- Muscle weakness
- Vision problems
The cause of multiple sclerosis is unknown, and currently there is no known cure. However, there are naturopathic treatments available which may help reduce the severity of MS symptoms.
Contact Annex Naturopathic
When it comes to autoimmune conditions, it can be frustrating to know that your body is its own worst enemy. However, naturopathic medicine can help manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
To find out more about how naturopathic medicine can help, contact Annex Naturopathic today to book your FREE 15-minute consultation with one of our licensed naturopathic doctors.
You’ll get all your questions answered and your concerns addressed, and from there you’ll walk away with a better understanding of how naturopathic medicine can help you.