Chronic inflammation in the body has been associated with literally any chronic disease, including depression, dementia, autism, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Many inflammatory diseases like autoimmune disease, arthritis, asthma, and allergies have been rising at a disturbing rate. Doctors use different drugs to fight inflammation. These drugs include immune-suppressing drugs, steroids, anti-inflammatory drugs like Motrin or Advil, etc. They often come with adverse side effects.
Doctors aren’t trained to detect and address the underlying cause of inflammation in chronic disease. In fact, chronic stress, an inflammatory diet, environmental toxins, infections, and hidden allergens are the most common underlying causes of inflammatory disease.
Autoimmune disease affects twenty-four million people in the United States alone. The most common autoimmune diseases include inflammatory bowel disease, thyroid disease, multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.
These autoimmune diseases are usually addressed by taking immune-suppressing drugs. Unfortunately, they aren’t addressed by identifying the underlying cause. It is like taking aspirin while you’re standing on a tack. The therapy shouldn’t include increasing the dosage of the medication, but eliminating the tack.
Identifying the Root Cause of the Problem
In order to reduce inflammation in your body, you should identify the source. The bad news is that in medicine, doctors are primarily taught to diagnose a health problem by symptoms, not by the underlying cause.
In addition, functional medicine is actually personalized, systems-oriented model, which enables practitioners and patients to achieve the highest expression of health by working in collaboration to address the underlying causes of disease.
Doctor Mark Hyman is the 10-time Number One New York Times Bestselling author, the Founder of The UltraWellness Center, and the Medical Director at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine.
He has recently engaged in a group discussion with a patient suffering from an autoimmune disease, a rheumatologist, a conventional doctor, and one of his patients that was completely cured of an autoimmune disease by addressing the underlying cause.
The other doctors were focused on how to decrease the inflammation with drugs, not identifying and addressing the cause.
When his patient described how he cured his autoimmune disease by identifying and removing the culprits of inflammation in his environment and diet, it was considered to be a “spontaneous remission.” The doctors that participated in the group discussion were quickly dismissive and barely curious. That’s why they described it as anecdotal.
But, his patient, a forty-six-year old father of 3 children, had high levels of inflammation in his body, so that he couldn’t function. By addressing the root causes of inflammation he’s currently in good health, enjoying his life with his children and being able to care for them.
Such stories (and the many others Doctor Hyman has shared on TV, and in his books and blogs) aren’t anecdotes but a great compass that points you in the direction you need to find answers to your health issues.
In the United States, there is an epidemic of autoimmune (twenty-four million people), allergic (sixty million people), and asthmatic disorders (thirty million people). Autoimmune conditions include thyroid disease, celiac disease, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and more.
Your immune defends your body against invaders, like foreign bodies, bacteria, and viruses. But, autoimmunity takes place when your bodily tissues get caught in friendly cross-fire as well as your immune system gets confused.
Your body is trying to fight something — the stress response, a food, an allergen, a toxin, an infection — and it starts redirecting its hostile attack on your skin, your gut, your thyroid gland, your brain, your joints, or even your entire body.
That immune confusion is triggered by molecular mimicry. Standard approaches do not have a method for detecting the insult triggering the problem. However, functional medicine can provide a map to help you determine which molecule your cells are mimicking.
In the United States, autoimmune disorders are a great health burden. They’re the 8th leading cause of death among women and reduce the average patient’s lifespan by about 8 years.
Unluckily, most of the standard treatments available may make you feel even worse. The TNF-alpha blockers such as Remicade or Enbrel; immune suppressants such as methotrexate; steroids; and anti-inflammatory medications such as Advil may contribute to diabetes, muscle loss, osteoporosis, psychosis, depression, kidney failure, and intestinal bleeding. They may also result in various infections or even cancer.
There’s another way to treat autoimmune disorders. Here’s the same story Dr. Hyman told the doctors on that panel.
Reversing an Autoimmune Disease
Sam visited many doctors and got all types of labels for his health issues, before he came to see Dr. Hyman.
Sam developed a few inflammatory disorders like chronic prostate and sinus infections. Many physicians gave him antibiotic drugs for his infections.
He experienced severe pain in his chest and went to the emergency room. While Sam was there, physicians told him he had lymphoma, which’s a type of a cancer. But, the biopsy results showed that he did not have cancer. They showed that he had an autoimmune disorder. The physicians were not sure which autoimmune disorder he was suffering from.
Sam had several abnormal blood test results, such as autoimmune thyroid disease, high immunoglobulins, high levels of all kinds of auto-antibodies, and low platelet and white blood cell counts. However, physicians had difficulty identifying the root cause of the problem.
What’s Functional Medicine?
One of the physicians he visited said that whether he had Sjogren’s syndrome or lupus was a bit unclear and that he only needed observation without any therapeutic intervention at that time. What did that physician want to observe, how bad Sam felt?
Then, Sam came to Dr. Hyman. Using a functional medicine approach, Dr. Hyman asked him a few simple questions. Next, Dr. Hyman checked for infections, toxins, and allergens — all common culprits of inflammation — and finally found the underlying cause of his health problems.
Sam was exposed to toxins at his job and had high mercury levels in his body. He suffered from chronic sinus infections. Moreover, he had a leaky gut as well as reacted to various foods, like gluten and dairy. He had taken many antibiotic drugs that altered his gut flora and resulted in yeast overgrowth. Yeast and fungus flourished in his body, particularly on his scalp, in his crotch, on his toenails, and between his toes. He also had H. pylori bacteria in his gut.
Dr. Hyman told Sam that he should keep his house clean in the first place. Dr. Hyman also treated the H. pylori with antibiotic drugs and the yeast with anti-fungals, fixed his gut, eliminated his food allergies, cleaned up his sinuses, and detoxified him from metals.
He also supported his immune system with essential nutrients. He gave him probiotics, herbs, vitamin D, fish oil, and zinc. He also put Sam on a clean, whole-food, anti-inflammatory, allergen-free diet.
At Sam’s next follow-up visit, Dr. Hyman asked him how he was feeling, expecting him to say that he felt slightly better. But, Dr. Hyman was actually surprised by Sam’s response. Sam said he felt great.
The labs also confirmed what Sam told his doctor — they were back to normal. His immune markers calmed down as well as his white cells elevated.
In case you suffer from any autoimmune disorder, here’s what you should do.
9 Ways to Treat an Autoimmune Disease:
– Get checked for heavy metal toxicity. Many metals, including mercury can contribute to autoimmunity.
– Get tested for celiac disease, which’s a blood test that all doctors can do.
– Do the IgG food testing to check for hidden food allergens. Alternatively, try The UltraSimple Diet that’s created to remove almost all food allergens.
– Check for hidden infections — Lyme, bacteria, viruses, yeast, etc. — with the help of a physician and treat them.
– Practice deep relaxation techniques, including massage, biofeedback, deep breathing, or yoga, as high levels of stress can have a negative impact on your immune response.
– Get regular exercise — it acts as an all-natural anti-inflammatory.
– Take nutrients like probiotics, vitamin D, vitamin C, and fish oil to help calm your immune response.
– Fix your gut.
– Talk to your doctor about Functional Medicine as well as encourage them to get trained.