As someone who has suffered with auto-immune response to stress for the last 13 years I have a belief that auto-immune responses are one of the most serious and substantial causes of inflammation and chronic disease that we have today. For me it was diagnosed in the form of Hashimoto's or Auto-immune Thyroiditis.
What is auto-immune disease? Autoimmune conditions are connected by one central biochemical process: A runaway immune response also known as systemic inflammation that results in your body attacking its own tissues. We are facing an epidemic of allergic (60 million people), asthmatic (30 million people), and autoimmune disorders (24 million people). Autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, celiac disease, thyroid disease, and the many other hard-to-classify syndromes in the 21st century.
Your immune system is your defense against invaders. It is your internal army and has to clearly distinguish friend from foe — to know you from others. Autoimmunity occurs when your immune system gets confused and your own tissues get caught unrecognized and then are under attack.
Your body is fighting something — an infection, a toxin, an allergen, a food or the stress response — and somehow it redirects its hostile attack on your joints, your brain, your thyroid, your gut, your skin, or sometimes your whole body.
Autoimmune diseases, when taken all together, are a huge health burden. They are the eighth leading cause of death among women, shortening the average patient's lifespan by eight years. The annual health care cost for autoimmune diseases is $120 billion a year representing nearly twice the economic health care burden of cancer (about $ 70 billion a year).
Unfortunately, many of the conventional treatments available can make you feel worse. Anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil, steroids, immune suppressants like methotrexate, and the new TNF-alpha blockers like Enbrel or Remicade can lead to intestinal bleeding, kidney failure, depression, psychosis, osteoporosis, muscle loss, and diabetes, not to mention overwhelming infection and cancer.
There are two different types of stress. One is called eustress and the other is called distress. Eustress is the kind of stress that is actually beneficial which is the stress that encourages an adaptive response. So an example of that would be exercise if it's done properly. Like if you go and you lift weights, that weightlifting tears down your muscles. But when your muscles grow back, they grow back a little bit bigger so that they can handle the next challenge and that's an adaptive evolutionary mechanism. So that kind of stress can be beneficial because it helps us to grow and expand our capacities.
Distress is often chronic stress and this is the type of stress that directly affects our immune function via neuroendocrine and sympathetic pathways and over time, consistent activation of those systems can cause wear and tear on the body that researchers refer to as allostatic load. This is where Adrenal Fatigue comes in as well. So you know, often mild acute stress especially when it's adaptive like with exercise is beneficial but it's that chronic stress that can be so harmful to the body. The stress that never goes away and does not allow our flight or fight response to get a rest. We need to produce cortisol and adrenaline in certain situations but chronic stress keeps those producing without allowing a shut down and back to normalcy. This is where the danger comes in. Cortisol initially suppresses inflammation. But over time we become "immune" to that suppression and ignore it. Therefore we become chronically inflamed. It becomes cortisol resistance just like insulin resistance.
So what to do? Well you need to think about cleaning up your diet, clean up your gut, take certain supplements and also learn to manage your stress. This can look a little different for each individual, but we know more and more there are proven methods to managing the madness. Autoimmune disease CAN be treated without medication. It takes work but the results are amazing. Certain targeted supplements in conjunction with CBD oil, food, and lifestyle changes. You can get this under control.
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Has had Hashimoto's for 13 years. I am passionate, I live and breathe, helping you to overcome your struggles with weight, stress, and chronic health issues.