Did you know the current list of autoimmune diseases is now over 150 and continues to grow? We can truly say there is an autoimmune epidemic underway in the United States. We all know at least one person who suffers from an autoimmune condition. In most cases they are offered little help from traditional medicine. The best case is to “manage” it to keep the symptoms as reduced as possible. There is never any mention of a possible reversal of the condition. Fortunately, many natural/holistic practitioners across the country are having success in preventing and reversing autoimmune conditions every day. I recently completed a six week training called the Autoimmune Mastery Program with Dr. Michael Gaeta, one of the country’s leading natural health authorities. This course focused on this very topic – the prevention and reversal of autoimmune conditions.

The purpose of this article is to help you better understand how the immune system works, how autoimmune conditions develop, and how this can be prevented and reversed.

First, let’s take a look at the immune system. It has two main parts. There is the primary or innate immune system and the secondary or acquired immune system. The innate immune system is for immediate response to pathogens. The acquired immune system develops after. It creates highly specific antibodies for foreign (“not self”) or body (“self”) proteins. An allergy is an over-reaction to foreign proteins. An autoimmune condition is an over-reaction to body proteins. The question is of course – what causes the over-reaction?

Next, let’s understand how our cells work. Basically, our cells live and they die. However, there are two ways in which they can die. One way, the natural way, is called apoptosis – this is normal cell death. The cell lives a healthy life, has a natural death, and the body neatly takes care of it. The second way is called necrosis. This is when there is a weakness or degeneration of the cell causing a premature death. Here the clean up method becomes slightly messier which can lead to some problems as we will soon see.

There are two factors that enable an autoimmune condition. The first of these is an immune dysregulation. This occurs when weakened innate immunity allows for pathogens to continuously be active in the body which ultimately leads to an over-active acquired immune system. Causes of immune dysregulation include ongoing infection and infestation, diet, injury, foreign bodies, stress, leaky gut, allergies, chemical sensitivities, genetic factors, vaccinations, cancer and gut dysbiosis.

The second factor is a state of danger. This leads to a high alert status in the body and the launch of an immune attack. The “Danger Theory” implies that auto-immunity occurs when the body is in this state of danger for prolonged periods of time.

Now I would like to pull all the above together. We have what is called the reticuloendothelial system. It works with the lymphatic system to remove dead material from the body. When we experience an overload of necrosis (from immune dysregulation), it is possible for the necrotic tissue cells to overwhelm the reticuloendothelial system (placing the body in a state of danger). As the reticuloendothelial system is overloaded, genetic material from dead cells is now leaking into the blood stream creating autoantigens. This triggers the acquired immune system to create antibodies to destroy the autoantigens. The autoantibodies (these are antibodies to body proteins) will track the source of the autoantigen to the host source and attack those genetic proteins (attacking a specific organ). That in a nutshell is how an autoimmune disease can originate.

What we have subsequently learned is that at some point all disease becomes autoimmune or has an autoimmune component as we will always find autoantibodies to diseased tissue.

There is actually a very simple three step plan for preventing and reversing autoimmune disease, coined PIN by Dr. Gaeta. The “P” stands for “PMG.” This is a group of products manufactured by Standard Process that can be used to assess the situation, reduce the autoantibodies, and prevent disease. The “I” stands for “Immune Regulation.” This is a group of products to support innate immunity, restore the gut, and to clear latent and subclinical infections from the body. The “N” stands for “prevent necrosis.” This is a group of products that support specific organs and their cellular structures as well as detoxify the body.

Thus autoimmune disease can be prevented by clearing the body of infection and by general nutrition support. If you would like more information regarding how to prevent and reverse autoimmune conditions call or email me – I am here to help.

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. His office is in Mequon, WI. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at bernie@brwellness.com, call (262) 389-9907 or go to www.brwellness.com.