The world is experiencing an epidemic of autoimmune disease. There are now more than 100 diseases that have been identified as autoimmune in origin. Autoimmune diseases can affect any organ or body system and cause anything from mild to life-threatening illness. The underlying causes of autoimmune disease include infections, toxins, allergens, an imbalanced microbiome, nutritional deficiencies, and stress.
Some of the more common autoimmune disorders include thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatologic disorders, cardiovascular disease, and chronic fatigue syndromes.
Conventional medicine has successfully treated some of these conditions with powerful immune-modulating drugs. This approach may be necessary when a condition is having a severe impact on your health, but these treatments come at a price. The drugs used include NSAIDs like Aleve and Advil, steroids, folate antagonists like methotrexate, and more recently TNF suppressors of TNF alpha, a powerful inflammatory molecule. These drugs can suppress the immune system and may halt the inflammatory process, but they can cause severe side effects such as infections, ulcers, liver damage, fatigue, allergic reactions, increased risk of cancer, and other tissue damage.
Functional medicine: A different perspective
Functional medicine approaches these disorders from a different perspective. Recognizing the early changes in health, identifying the underlying causes, and intervening early in the process can prevent the progression to more serious illness. Even more encouraging is the fact that these treatments are primarily diet and lifestyle changes. By removing the factors that contribute to illness and providing some unmet needs, this approach supports our natural impulse toward healing. In this approach it is the patient, not the disease, that is the target of treatment.
The Wahls Protocol by Terry Wahls, MD
The Disease Delusion by Jeffrey Bland