What is an autoimmune disorder?
Let me illustrate with a Marvel movie character.
In the movie The Incredible Hulk, Dr. Bruce Banner is an emotionally reserved genius scientist who just wants to do his job – uninterrupted. Following an accidental exposure to toxic gamma rays Dr. Banner is transformed into his destructive big green alter ego, the Hulk whose uncontrollable power, when unleashed, is quite destructive.
Our immune system is supposed to function for us kind of like Dr. Bruce Banner, quietly doing its job, unnoticed, defending the body against foreign invaders, such as infections, germs, bacteria, viruses, and other elements we encounter every day. We want Bruce Banner doing his thing.
When you have an autoimmune condition, you’ve awakened the big green giant and now you are facing the Hulk, your immune system attacks your body’s own cells, organs, and tissues, damaging them as if they are the problem.
One such example of an autoimmune disease that most of us have heard of is Type 1 Diabetes, in which the immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas that produces insulin. We must get Bruce back on board before something smashing happens!
Who gets autoimmune disorders?
Women. In her book Solving the Autoimmune Puzzle, Dr. Keesha Ewers shares, “Women are diagnosed with 80% of the over 145 identified autoimmune diseases (that number is still growing).”
You might ask why women? (a great question)
For starters, our female operating system. Our sex hormones, our x chromosomes, and a history of pregnancy all play a part in the development of autoimmune. But wait, before you go blaming your lady parts there are other significant pieces to this puzzle for women that cause autoimmune conditions to disproportionately afflict us.
What are the significant pieces that contribute to autoimmune disorders?
There are four that have been scientifically validated.
Who remembers Dr. Mehmet Oz? He’s the one I first heard use the expression, “Your genetics load the gun. Your lifestyle pulls the trigger.”
Genetics are important when trying to solve your autoimmune puzzle because each one of your trillions of cells has a central command station (a nucleus). Each nucleus contains 46 molecules called chromosomes. You get 23 from your momma and 23 from your daddy. These 46 contain instructions on how to build YOU.
Sparing you as much science talk as possible (something I am learning that other people don’t find near as interesting as I do. Especially when my husband says, “Can Dr. Jackson take the night off and let my wife Sheila come back now?” Your genes are a blueprint for how your body runs itself and they do all of this by making proteins that take care of the functions that keep you alive. An important piece of the puzzle I would say.
Still, it is a piece not the whole. And how your genes express themselves is influenced by the next three pieces of the puzzle.
A toxicant is a man-made substance that has been introduced into the environment. Say hello to pesticides, industrial pollutants, and a million other toxic ingredients and chemicals being introduced into our physical environment every year.
A toxin is a poisonous substance produced in nature that can cause disease when introduced into the body. Some examples of toxins are infections or viruses, yeast or bacterial overgrowth in the intestinal tract, exposure to allergens and molds.
One often downplayed sources of toxicants is us humans. Our behavior can be toxic, we can be in toxic relationships, have toxic habits, expose ourselves to toxic messages and media, and be in toxic working environments with toxic people, steeped in toxicity themselves.
Your intestinal tract contains over 100 trillion bacteria. This equates to carrying 3-5 lbs. of microscopic critters that live in your gut and outnumber the cells that make up your body approx. 10:1. These tiny critters have a huge influence over how your genetics are expressed.
Leaky gut syndrome is also called intestinal permeability syndrome. Just because you have a leaky gut does not mean you will have a leaky butt; many people assume that if their rectal sphincter is working just fine, then they don’t have leaky gut.
Leaky gut has to do with your intestinal lining, the first line of defense for your immune system. A damaged intestinal wall will become porous, unable to hold back waste and undigested food, it can no longer perform its job and microbial toxins flow directly into your bloodstream. Then they wind up in the liver, whose job it is to it is to detoxify and dump these poisons. Except, now the larger load overworks the liver just by the processing of daily waste created by cell and organ activity. Leaky gut creates a cascade effect that overburdens the liver and eventually it becomes so saturated and incapable of the level of detoxification required. Toxins once again return into the bloodstream.
The lymphatic system will attempt to pick up the extra load and neutralize the toxins, but unable to send toxins to the liver, the body eventually becomes toxic, toxins will collect in the tissue around muscles and joints causing joint and muscle pain which can eventually settle in as Fibromyalgia (another autoimmune condition). If the toxins settle into cells, the inflammatory process can lead to genetic mutation and cancer.
“Hulk smash,” the immune system is now in overdrive.
The three-preceding trauma are now widely known thanks to the pioneering work of Dr. Alessio Fassano who identified these three root causes of autoimmune disease – genetics, environmental toxins & toxicants, and leaky gut.
Most functional medicine providers are aware of these three and focus on them in their protocols. Yet women and their body’s best interest is still falling through the cracks and it is getting more than frustrating. The numbers of autoimmune diseases are rising, and women are losing ground in their own lives while being told by the health and wellness industry (doctors included) that they are doing all the right things.
The missing piece, the unseen conditions that too few are addressing is the trauma and the associated stress response – a biological event that is happening inside the body. Without awareness of the role past trauma plays in autoimmune disease, the tools, and a safe, nurturing environment where women can unleash themselves from the bondage of past physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect, mothers treated violently, household substance abuse, household mental illness, divorce, or parental separation, and/or an incarcerated household member the immune system will continue to mirror the mental-emotional system. Where the mental-emotional body goes so goes the immune system. Is there science to support this – yes, there is plenty.
Can you reverse or cure autoimmune disorders?
The journey back from autoimmunity is not a straight path or without its twist, turns, potholes, and bumps. Please hear me loud and clear when I say if you have been feeling exhausted, sick for many years, on multiple medications, you will need to be patient with yourself, and with your body. There is no quick fix or magic pill.
I am not going to heal you. I am going to share the data with you in a way that you can thoroughly understand what is happening from inside your body. Then using the same methodology that has helped me and thousands of others reverse chronic health conditions I have created a comprehensive and individualized health building program that can (if you choose) eradicate the signs and symptoms of disease and dysfunction that have been impairing your body’s highest function and influencing your life in less than desirable ways.
The nourishing YOU program was designed specifically with women’s bodies, women’s wisdom, working in harmony, empowering every woman to heal along a journey of self-reclamation, reversing her own autoimmune condition.
If you too are ready to emerge well, please join me for a free upcoming virtual tea and learn more about the Nourishing YOU Program. Click here to register.