So you got an Autoimmune Disease. It’s time to Stop Beating Yourself Up.

Autoimmunity is an unfortunate situation where your immune system starts wreaking havoc on your own tissues.  This results in debilitating symptoms characteristic of the tissue being attacked.

People develop autoimmunity via “molecular mimicry”, a process based on cross reactivity between proteins found on infectious agents and those found in our body.   It starts with a relatively benign infection in a genetically susceptible individual that leads to our body’s mounting of an immune response against a part of a bacteria or virus that looks very similar to our own.  Our immune molecules can’t tell the difference between the proteins in our body and the ones on the bacteria and end up attacking our own tissue, and subsequently destroy the innocent bystander.  The result is inflammation, fatigue, and destruction of important parts of our body.

One recent example that illustrates this point was learned from the recent H1N1 Swine flu vaccinations in Finland.  This was one of the most powerful examples of this concept to date.  Following mass immunizations of all the kids in Finland, there was a dramatic rise in the number of kids developing narcolepsy.  Upon further analysis, there’s a protein sequence on the H1N1 virus (hemagglutinin protein) that looks very similar to a proton in our brain that keeps us awake called hypocretin.  In genetically susceptible individuals, the immune reaction against the vaccine triggered the destruction of their hypocretin, and subsequently their daytime alertness (read more here: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0033723#pone-0033723-g003).  Other examples tissues susceptible to autoimmune conditions are:

  • Brain (MS),
  • Joints (Rheumatoid arthritis, Ankylosing spondylitis),
  • Thyroid (Hashimoto’s and Graves disease)
  • Hair (Alopecia Totalis),
  • Skin (Psoriasis, Dermatomyositis),
  • Bowels (Crohn’s, Celiac, Ulcerative colitis),
  • Liver (Primary Biliary Sclerosis), or
  • Any other part of our body (Lupus).
  • And many more…

Many people who have one autoimmune condition likely have others as well.  Medicine has traditionally employed an arsenal of sledge-hammer like immune suppressants that can be expensive, difficult to tolerate, and have a myriad of side effects.  These drugs can certainly help people feel better and slow progression of the disease, but they do nothing to address the underlying cause.   There are also some instances where despite being on one or more of these drugs, flare ups still occur.  So what can we do about it?

Fortunately, we now have an invaluable tool to pull the rug out from under the autoimmune process. Just like being able to desensitize against allergy to pollens, we can desensitize people to the proteins that caused their illness. It’s an adaptation of Low Dose Allergen therapy, a bimonthly injection immunotherapy to desensitize people to allergens. The only difference is that in stead of using inhalant allergens to desensitize hay fever, we use proteins that are known triggered your autoimmune disease.  You would get an injection on 2 month intervals to start, and we would space them out further once remission is sustained.

This therapy does not require that one stops their current medication, however medications can often be reduced or eliminated once there’s objective evidence that the inflammation has ceased. If you have an autoimmune condition (or allergies for that matter -it works for those too), and you’d like to possibly be free from it, please give us a ring.  If you live nowhere near Summerland BC, either move here or email us to help you find a trained LDA physician in your area.

Kindly,

Dr. Bentham

 



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