Nothing is more confusing and troubling than suffering through uncomfortable symptoms and not knowing why. Unfortunately, this is the experience of many individuals dealing with autoimmunity, which is a type of illness that occurs when the immune system is triggered to attack your cells.
There are a variety of autoimmune conditions, depending on which part of your body is affected. These issues are often difficult to diagnose and treat, and unfortunately, the conventional medicine approach is rarely effective.
Treating autoimmunity requires time and patience, which we are prepared to provide at Seed and Soil Wellness. In this blog, our functional medicine doctor, Dr. Damon Meixsell DC, MS, explores autoimmune conditions and how a holistic approach is often most impactful for diagnosing and healing autoimmunity.
Why Autoimmunity is Difficult to Diagnose
Autoimmunity is not always easy to diagnose for a variety of reasons. To state it simply, symptoms are not always crystal clear.
Autoimmunity often shows up differently depending on the individual. Symptoms may also be attributed to various causes, so they can get brushed under the rug. Common autoimmune symptoms such as fatigue and brain fog aren’t always an immediate alarm bell.
Tests are not always sensitive enough to detect when you are dealing with autoimmunity. For example, a doctor may run an antinuclear antibody (ANA) marker & an anti-CCP marker to figure out if you have rheumatoid arthritis, but it may read negative even if you’re experiencing the classic symptoms. The reverse may also be an issue where the person tests positive without symptoms.
Potential Causes of Autoimmune Conditions
There isn’t a definitive cause of autoimmunity, but there is likely a combination of factors such as genetics, epigenetics – or how your genes are expressed as a result of your environment, which includes diet, stress, pathogens, and fitness levels.
The immune system becomes confused and dysfunctional and begins to attack your cells. This may be because of a hidden underlying illness such as Lyme or Epstein Barr Virus, which can hide in healthy tissue. Here are some of the clear links that have been discovered:
Several studies, such as this one published in 2018, clearly connect stress and autoimmunity. A life event can shock the nervous system, leaving you in a chronic state of fight, flight, freeze, or fawn. This can trigger the development of the condition and the genes that lead to more issues.
Anything from breaking a bone to going through a divorce can send the body into a spiral towards dysfunction.
Gut health and autoimmunity are also closely linked, which makes sense since stress and gut health are additionally closely linked. The gut is considered the “second brain” which contains the enteric nervous system, and it’s becoming more and more obvious how great of a role our gut health plays in our overall wellness.
When the gut barrier is compromised as a result of toxins, unhealthy foods, chemical exposure, medications, microplastics, and pathogens, it becomes easier for molecules to move into the bloodstream and places they shouldn’t be. This is known as leaky gut.
In this case, the gut and body will likely become inflamed because the immune system is on high alert.
While You’re Around > What You Can Do About Leaky Gut
How to Heal Holistically
When holistic practitioners help patients through their autoimmunity journey, we recognize how important it is to view the entire picture of the patient’s history. This allows us to backtrack to what confused the immune system in the first place.
At Seed and Soil Wellness, we will detect the illness with a thorough exam of your lifestyle to make the necessary changes. Often, lifestyle is triggering or exacerbating the issue, so by providing the body with the environment it needs to thrive, we can balance the immune system and manage or even erase symptoms.
The path to healing often looks like a combination of the following:
Diet changes, supplements, immune-balancing herbal remedies & vitamins Retinol, Vitamin C, cholesterol, minerals, & short-chain fatty acids are important
Exercise that is right for your body
Chiropractic care or physical therapy in some cases
Stress management techniques
Appropriate sun exposure
At Seed and Soil Wellness, we may incorporate infrared light therapy into your treatment plan.
In most cases, medication is heavily overprescribed, leading to other imbalances so that the body never truly recovers. Before resorting to this, we encourage our patients to adhere to our plan of action for at least several months.
Healing doesn’t happen overnight. It is an up and down journey that requires patience and flexibility. However, by better learning your patterns and triggers, you can restore vitality within your body, mind, and spirit.
Retrain Your Defense System with Dr. Damon
Autoimmunity can be scary, especially when it feels like you are your only advocate. At Seed and Soil Wellness, Dr. Damon will be your advocate and never stop doing all in his power to bring you back into balance.
The body is incredibly powerful and intelligent. Under the right circumstances, a sick and dysfunctional body can heal and overcome any hurdle. At Seed and Soil Wellness in Safety Harbor, FL, we will create those circumstances so you can get back to living well.
Ready to feel better? Call 727-282-4368 to schedule your evaluation with Dr. Damon. We help patients in our local functional medicine clinic and offer telehealth appointments too.