Five years ago, a rheumatologist diagnosed me with the autoimmune disease Lupus. She also told me that I also suffered from fibromyalgia. She told me my body was attacking itself and that there was no cure. I was horrified. How could I turn on myself in this way? If I could not trust my own body, who could I trust?
As a consolation, she offered me a choice of steroids, immunosuppressants, and/or antidepressants. My entire body, especially my neck and torso, raged with connective tissue pain, but I refused.
I knew there was a more holistic way to go, and although it’s taken me years to figure things out, the most important thing I’ve learned – contrary to what most conventional doctors say – is that if you are one of the 53 million Americans with an autoimmune disease, you can reverse your condition. You don’t have to resign yourself to debilitating symptoms or a lifetime of popping pharmaceuticals. There is hope. I am curing myself, and you can too.
Here are 6 ways to kick off your healing journey.
1. Connect The Dots
When it comes to autoimmune disease, figuring why your body is revolting is like trying to solve an Agatha Christie mystery. It’s important to do a mental intake as you look for traumatic events, chemical exposures, environmental and lifestyle factors, and other conditions or circumstances that may have compromised your immune system. Your condition did not develop overnight. In my case, I experienced a near-death experience when a Ford Explorer traveling at 30 miles per hour smashed into me as I walked across a street. Several rounds of antibiotics and chemical exposures down the road compounded the initial trauma.
Working with a health coach, functional medical practitioner, or naturopath can help draw a clear picture.
There are common findings among autoimmune sufferers: mitochondrial dysfunction, microbiome alteration, omega-6 to omega-3 ratio imbalance, metabolic stress, lack of vitamin D, and serious deficiencies of nutrients such as magnesium, antioxidants, amino acids, vitamin K, and vitamin C, explains Dr. Dimitris Tsoukalas, MD, a leading expert in the application of Metabolomics and Nutritional Medicine in chronic and autoimmune diseases, as well as the author of How To Live 150 Years In Health.
With that said, a one-shoe-fits-all remedy does not exist. It’s important to run lab tests to tailor a wellness program just for you. Each autoimmune disease has a different set of markers which can be used to determine how and why your body is malfunctioning. A “metabolomics panel” can also reveal a lot about one’s overall health.
“Traditional analysis diagnose the disease without giving clues on the cause. Metabolomics analysis locates the biochemical cause of the disease permitting a personalized and causative approach,” adds Tsoukalas. “In addition to any treatment that attempts to control intense symptoms of a disease, we have to restore the physiological (normal) condition at a cellular level for the entire organism.”
According to Harvard Medical School, metabolomics is the simplest and most accurate way to evaluate the health condition of an individual.
2. Address Infections
Infections – both viral and bacterial – are another key factor in autoimmune disease. According to Anthony Williams, author of the best-selling book Medical Medium: Secrets Behind Chronic and Mystery Illness and How to Finally Heal, conditions such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus are all just names of symptoms that can be traced back to various stages of Epstein-Barr, which is a member of the herpesvirus family. Williams contends that when it comes to autoimmune disorders, the body is not attacking itself, as so many ill-informed and uneducated doctors want you to think. “Your body is doing exactly what it’s designed to do – attacking a virus that has burrowed itself deep inside your organs.”
A blood test can determine if you have any latent infections that might be contributing to your autoimmune disease. Sure enough, when I checked my blood, high antibodies of EBV were present. It turns out that Epstein-Barr is one of the most common human viruses; more than 225 million Americans have some form of it. While evidence shows that up to 95 percent of the U.S. population has come into contact with Epstein-Barr, it doesn’t wreak havoc on all. This genius virus seems to hide, springing into action when a person experiences a trauma, undergoes a major hormonal change (i.e. puberty, pregnancy, or menopause), gets exposed to mold or poisons, gets a tick bite, or obliterates their immune system with, for example, several rounds of antibiotics. If you’ve experienced several of these conditions, well say hello to a perfect storm. It’s essential to get out of antibiotics as quickly as possible, and there are powerful natural antimicrobials that help you do this, like my favorite Silver Excelsior, the market’s only chelated, super-concentrated (4,000PPM) formula that you only need a few drops of, and binds several hundred factors better to infected areas than usual colloidal silvers.
3. Food As Thy Medicine
Diet plays a huge factor.
“When it comes to managing and reversing your autoimmune condition, diet is probably the first and most critical step,” says Westin Childs MD, functional medicine practitioner who has helped reverse autoimmune conditions, ranging from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis to rheumatoid arthritis. “Food is information to your body and has a direct influence on genetic expression. That means certain foods can turn on inflammation and predispose your body to autoimmunity.”
Most health practitioners agree that inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, sugar, and processed foods have no place on your plate.
Depending on the severity of your condition, consider an elimination diet or conducting a food sensitivity test.
“Most autoimmune diseases involve some sort of food allergy or intolerance,” says Dr. Mary Wingo, Ph.D., scientist and author of the book The Impact of the Human Stress Response. “The solution here is to do a strict elimination diet for at least a week and see what symptoms abate. I cured severe familial Hashimoto’s disease completely by eliminating coffee and gluten.”
4. Heal The Gut
If you are experiencing gas, bloating, constipation, acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea or some other GI issue, guess what: These are NOT normal, says Childs. “They are signs of intestinal dysbiosis or a derangement in your gut microbiome that need to be addressed to help your autoimmune disease.”
One of the common occurrences in autoimmune conditions is a compromised gut, which is directly connected to our immune system. Leaky gut occurs when there’s intestinal permeability, allowing undigested food particles, toxins, and bacteria to ‘leak’ and enter the bloodstream, causing inflammation, explains Dr. Alexander Rineheart, a nutrition specialist. He suggests looking into Cyrex Labs Array 2: Intestinal Antigenic Permeability Screen.
Supplements that help heal are digestive enzymes and high-end probiotics that actually reach your gut. L-Glutamine is also critical. “Glutamine powder is an essential amino acid supplement that is anti-inflammatory and necessary for the growth and repair of your intestinal lining,” says Dr. Josh Axe. “L-glutamine benefits include acting as a protector: coating your cell walls and acting as a repellent to irritants. Take 2–5 grams twice daily.”
5. Reduce Your Toxic Burden
Did you know that only one percent of what is sprayed actually reaches its target? The remaining 99 percent of all the billions of pounds of sprayed pesticides penetrates the soil, the water, the air, and other creatures. And they penetrate you.
Sadly, it’s no longer enough to eat your daily dose of fruits and veggies. Today, you need to make sure they aren’t doused with pesticides that are easily absorbed by the body. Many pesticides are persistent organic pollutants (POPS) that are fat soluble, which means they take up semi-permanent residence in the fat tissue of living organisms where they bio-accumulate. More than 400 chemical contaminants have been found in human fat. This is what we call “toxic body burden.”
Roughly 15 trillion pounds of chemicals are manufactured or imported into the United States every year, and around four billion pounds of toxic chemicals are released by American industries. Meanwhile, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has 80,000 chemicals registered for daily use but has reviewed only 250 or so, because the United States does not adhere to the precautionary principle.
Ironically, after directing the film Vanishing of the Bees, narrated by Ellen Page, I was exposed to a pesticide spray in the Dominican Republic. I lost all my strength and visited the rheumatologist shortly after that incident. Just like with the bees, poisons had also whittled down my immune system.
When it comes to reducing your toxic burden, you have two main goals: prevention and detoxification. Eat organic, minimize your use of plastic, filter your water, and use toxin-free body products on your skin. Get also the micronutrients you need from the superfoods that we lack in normal food supply (Equilibrium is custom formulated to contain every critical micronutrient).
Additionally, it’s not only about the amount of poisons you absorb, but your body’s ability to expel them. For autoimmune sufferers, this ability has been compromised. Intravenous glutathione, for example, is clinically proven to detoxify a sluggish liver.
6. Relieve Stress Big Time
Juggling many moving parts has become the new normal.
“But every time our bodies experience stress, we activate the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight). This contributes to imbalances in the immune system and often perpetuates autoimmunity,” says Chiropractic Internist Dr. Raymond Tolmos.
Today researchers have found that chronic psychological stress is associated with the body’s inability to regulate the inflammatory response. This prompts a vicious cycle, as chronic inflammation also causes significant stress.
Why is it that the prevalence of autoimmune disease has exploded in the last fifty years? According to Wingo, whose book is the first analysis in history to cover the scientific, biological, sociological, political, and economic ramifications of stress in a modernized society, stress and lifestyle components are huge factors. She believes that it is indeed possible to heal autoimmune diseases if you successfully eliminate the specific stressors causing the body to lose homeostasis.
Managing stress levels is absolutely critical to reducing inflammation in the body. The experts who were interviewed recommend at least 30 minutes of some form of meditation or relaxing yoga. As for natural medicine, I take a few drops of Superior CBD hemp oil every day, which works miracles both for stress and inflammation.
And remember to rid the mind of negative thoughts and unhealthy thinking. Believing your brilliant immune system has gone rogue and is attacking itself can induce negative, stressful repercussions, adds Williams.