The human body is constantly under attack from bacteria, microbes, toxins and parasites. Thankfully we have a highly sophisticated immune system that defends us from these invaders. Autoimmunity is when these immune cells mistakenly recognise healthy cells as foreign invaders and mount an attack.
In an autoimmune condition the body begins to manufacture specialised cells such as T-cells, B-cells and antibodies directed against healthy cells and tissues. This results in the destruction of perfectly normal cells in your body, leaving the body impaired and unable to perform basic human functions. Autoimmunity is poorly understood in the Scientific community, however, known triggers have been identified.
The two main triggers of autoimmunity are genetics and environmental factors. Genetics make people prone to autoimmunity, however the genes are only triggered if the right environmental stimuli is provided. A perfect example of this is Type 2 diabetes. People with genetics for developing type 2 diabetes will only develop the disease in the right environment (excess carbohydrates). If this environment is avoided by healthy eating and limiting carbohydrates the genes for type 2 diabetes are never switched on.
Knowing the link between genes and environment helps us understand how we can control, limit and even reverse some autoimmune conditions.
Rheumatoid Arthritis & Joint Pain
The immune system manufactures antibodies that attach to the linings joints. Immune cells mount an attack on the joints, causing inflammation, pain and swelling. If untreated rheumatoid arthritis can cause permanent damage to the joint.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
The immune system attacks the lining of the intestines, causing diarrhoea, rectal bleeding, irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal pain, fever and weight loss. The two major forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease are Ulcerative Colitis and Chron's disease.
People who suffer from Lupus develop antibodies that can attach to tissue throughout the whole body. Most commonly affected areas are skin, joints, blood cells, nerves and kidneys.
Antibodies produced by the immune system attack the thyroid gland, very slowly destroying the cells that produce thyroid hormones vital for human function. Low levels of these hormones cause Hypothyroidism, which can be recognised by fatigue, constipation, weight gain, dry skin, depression and sensitivity to cold. If this condition is not treated early the thyroid gland will be permanently damaged and thyroid hormone replacement will be required.
The immune system produces antibodies that stimulate the thyroid to release excess amounts of hormones in to the blood stream (Hyperthryroidism). Symptoms include weight loss, nervousness, rapid heart rate, irritability, weakness, brittle hair and nails.
Psoriasis & Eczema
The overactive immune system causes a build up of T-Cells to collect in the skin. The activity of the immune system causes skin cells to rapidly replicate, producing silvery, scaly plaques on the surface of the skin.
The immunes system attacks the nerves controlling muscles in the legs and sometimes the arms and upper body. Weakness in these area occur, which can become severe. The syndrome appears to be triggered by acute viral or bacterial illnesses, such as respiratory or gastrointestinal infections, occurring one to three weeks earlier. However, other events such as pregnancy, dengue fever, surgical procedures, insect bites and Bell’s palsy have also been shown to cause Guillain-Barre syndrome.
The immune system attacks the nervous system causing damage to the brain, spinal chord and optic nerve. There is some remarkable scientific research currently underway, showing extremely promising results for MS sufferers. The studies suggest that down regulating the immune system via diet, lifestyle and herbal supplementation have halted progression and even put MS into remission. It's a shame these studies are not provided to all people diagnosed with MS.
Other Known Autoimmune Diseases
Addison’s disease, Agammaglobulinemia, Alopecia areata, Amyloidosis, Ankylosing spondylitis, Anti-GBM/Anti-TBM nephritis, Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), Autoimmune hepatitis, Autoimmune inner ear disease (AIED), Axonal & neuronal neuropathy (AMAN), Behcet’s disease, Bullous pemphigoid, Castleman disease (CD), Celiac disease, Chagas disease, Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), Chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis (CRMO), Churg-Strauss, Cicatricial pemphigoid/benign mucosal pemphigoid, Cogan’s syndrome, Cold agglutinin disease, Congenital heart block, Coxsackie myocarditis, CREST syndrome, Crohn’s disease, Dermatitis herpetiformis, Dermatomyositis, Devic’s disease (neuromyelitis optica), Discoid lupus, Dressler’s syndrome, Endometriosis, Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), Eosinophilic fasciitis, Erythema nodosum, Essential mixed cryoglobulinemia, Evans syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Fibrosing alveolitis, Giant cell arteritis (temporal arteritis), Giant cell myocarditis, Glomerulonephritis, Goodpasture’s syndrome, Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis, Graves’ disease, Guillain-Barre syndrome, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Hemolytic anemia, Henoch-Schonlein purpura (HSP), Herpes gestationis or pemphigoid gestationis (PG), Hypogammalglobulinemia, IgA Nephropathy, IgG4-related sclerosing disease, Inclusion body myositis (IBM), Interstitial cystitis (IC), Juvenile arthritis, Juvenile diabetes (Type 1 diabetes), Juvenile myositis (JM), Kawasaki disease, Lambert-Eaton syndrome, Leukocytoclastic vasculitis, Lichen planus, Lichen sclerosus, Ligneous conjunctivitis, Linear IgA disease (LAD), Lupus, Lyme disease chronic, Meniere’s disease, Microscopic polyangiitis (MPA), Mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD), Mooren’s ulcer, Mucha-Habermann disease, Multiple sclerosis (MS), Myasthenia gravis, Myositis, Narcolepsy, Neuromyelitis optica, Neutropenia, Ocular cicatricial pemphigoid, Optic neuritis, Palindromic rheumatism (PR), PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcus), Paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration (PCD), Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), Parry Romberg syndrome, Pars planitis (peripheral uveitis), Parsonnage-Turner syndrome, Pemphigus, Peripheral neuropathy, Perivenous encephalomyelitis, Pernicious anemia (PA), POEMS syndrome (polyneuropathy, organomegaly, endocrinopathy, monoclonal gammopathy, skin changes), Polyarteritis nodosa, Polymyalgia rheumatica, Polymyositis, Postmyocardial infarction syndrome, Postpericardiotomy syndrome, Primary biliary cirrhosis, Primary sclerosing cholangitis, Progesterone dermatitis, Psoriasis, Psoriatic arthritis, Pure red cell aplasia (PRCA), Pyoderma gangrenosum, Raynaud’s phenomenon, Reactive Arthritis, Reflex sympathetic dystrophy, Reiter’s syndrome, Relapsing polychondritis, Restless legs syndrome (RLS), Retroperitoneal fibrosis, Rheumatic fever, Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Sarcoidosis, Schmidt syndrome, Scleritis, Scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome, Sperm & testicular autoimmunity, Stiff person syndrome (SPS), Subacute bacterial endocarditis (SBE), Susac’s syndrome, Sympathetic ophthalmia (SO), Takayasu’s arteritis, Temporal arteritis/Giant cell arteritis, Thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), Tolosa-Hunt syndrome (THS), Transverse myelitis, Type 1 diabetes, Ulcerative colitis (UC), Undifferentiated connective tissue disease (UCTD), Uveitis, Vasculitis, Vitiligo, Wegener’s granulomatosis (now termed Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (GPA)