There are many different types of autoimmune diseases. An autoimmune disease can affect one particular part of the body, or the whole body systemically. Autoimmune diseases present in many different ways depending on the condition, however, some general early symptoms of autoimmune disease include fatigue, muscle aches, redness and swelling, fever, trouble concentrating, numbness, tingling, loss of hair, and rashes. Some of the most common autoimmune diseases are rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and Graves’ disease.
The diagnosis of autoimmune disease is confirmed by a review of signs and symptoms as well as a combination of tests. The antinuclear antibody test (ANA) is often used to confirm an autoimmune disease. A positive ANA test confirms an autoimmune disease but does not specify which one. Although there is no cure for autoimmune diseases, there are treatments to help manage the symptoms and prevent flare-ups.
Conventional medicine typically will treat autoimmune disease with drugs such as immunosuppressants and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. There is also research to suggest that the autoimmune diet may be helpful in reducing inflammation and preventing flare-ups of autoimmune diseases.
What Causes Autoimmune conditions?
Western medicine does not know exactly why autoimmune diseases manifest, however, it is suggested that genetics, infections, diet, and environmental factors may all play a factor in what causes autoimmune flare-ups. Although Chinese medicine does not have a singular reason as to why autoimmune diseases occur, symptoms of autoimmune conditions can be categorized by Chinese medicine patterns and treated accordingly.
Autoimmune Disease Natural Treatment
Many people find success using natural remedies for autoimmune diseases. The problem with the conventional treatment of autoimmune disorders is that taking prescription medication is only a temporary fix. Immunosuppressants are effective for a period of time, but it does not solve the bigger underlying problem of why the immune system is imbalanced, to begin with. Immunosuppressants also come with their own risks. Immunosuppressants can not target which part of the immune response to suppress and therefore affect the entire immune response. This means that those taking immunosuppressants have an increased risk of infection. Autoimmune conditions often require more than just medication, which is why so many people seek out natural ways to treat autoimmune diseases.
Diet is often the first thing to look at when determining autoimmune triggers. At Advanced Holistic Center, we often recommend an elimination diet to determine potential food triggers that may be contributing to inflammation. We have also seen success with the Autoimmune protocol diet or AIP, in helping to limit autoimmune symptoms. There is research to suggest that eliminating gluten may be beneficial for people looking to manage their autoimmune condition. In certain people, gluten may trigger inflammation and alter the body’s natural microbiome. Gluten also releases a chemical called zonulin, signaling the intestinal walls to open up which increases intestinal permeability, or leaky gut. Foods such as nightshades, dairy, soy, and citrus may also trigger autoimmune flares. As with all aspects of Chinese medicine, dietary recommendations are largely individualized and given based on the patient’s signs and symptoms. If you are looking for dietary recommendations, talk to your Chinese medicine provider to come up with a specific plan that will best address your autoimmune condition.