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What’s Making Your Immune System Go Haywire?

As a doctor trained in the functional medicine approach to healthcare, I spend much of my time discovering and treating chronic illnesses, including those encompassing chronic inflammation, which can often be traced to immune system dysfunction. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates daily how an infection can trigger a powerful immune response resulting in inflammation.

With COVID-19, the inflammation primarily impacts the lungs, but it can affect other organs and tissues, as well. Deaths from COVID-19 are typically a result of excessive inflammation caused by the body’s over-the-top immune response.

Inflammation isn’t all bad. In fact, it’s part of the mechanism responsible for enabling the body to fight disease, recover from injury, and repair damaged tissue. Any trauma to the body’s cells triggers an inflammatory response. The immune system releases inflammatory chemicals, which expand blood vessels and cause them to leak, thereby delivering healing cells and substances to the site that’s injured or under attack. The expansion and leaking of blood vessels are what cause the inflammation.

Unfortunately, the immune system can become the body’s own worst enemy, identifying healthy cells as threats and attacking those cells — a condition referred to as autoimmunity. Various autoimmune diseases can develop as a result, depending on the cause and the organs or tissues being damaged. With type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks pancreatic cells, impairing the body’s ability to produce insulin; with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the immune system attacks the thyroid; with rheumatoid arthritis, it primarily attacks the joints; with multiple sclerosis (MS) and Guillain-Barré syndrome, it attacks nerve cells; with myocarditis, it attacks the heart; and so on.

The exact mechanism that gives rise to an autoimmune disease remains a mystery. However, evidence suggests that the cause may be traced to a genetic susceptibility triggered by one or more environmental factors, which may include chronic stress, poor diet, gut dysbiosis (an imbalance of microorganisms in the intestines), infections, environmental toxins, as well as other stressors.

Recent research points to viral and bacterial infections as being major triggers for several autoimmune diseases, including the following: Continue reading…

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – Healing Your Frustrations!

Have you ever been told it’s all in your head? I mean, did you ever have the feeling that when you speak with your doctor, the look on his or her face is saying “you must be making this all up”? 

In my Tampa holistic and functional medicine practice, I regularly see patients who have many chronic symptoms. Symptoms that on the surface are seemingly unrelated and bizarrely appear to have no known cause. Many of these patients have been diagnosed as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or exhibit multiple symptoms in multiple systems of the body. It appears as if they have some type of autoimmune condition(s). Although, some have been diagnosed with a specific autoimmune condition, many elude diagnosis. The doctor often suggesting “let’s retest in a few months or a year, it looks autoimmune, but I don’t see anything in your labs yet”. 

Case Study 

A forty year old female administrator recently presented with complaints of memory loss, lack of motivation and anxiety, all brain based symptoms, ok that fits. She explained to me that she has low sex drive, stomach pain, rashes that come and go and is always tired. When, I let her continue to state her concerns, “I also have cramps in my legs and I wake up stiff, my joints hurt, and at times I find it difficult to breathe. I sleep well enough but wake up tired.” There was more! “I have tingling in my hands and I feel weak”. This is suddenly sounding way more complex! 

The patient went on to tell me about her  Continue reading…

Why Am I Always So Tired? Autoimmune Gastritis Could be to Blame

Persistent fatigue is a tough mystery to solve. Causes include anemia, anxiety, depression, infection, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), poor diet, too little or too much exercise, poor sleep, liver or kidney disease, and the list goes on. One of the most overlooked conditions that can cause fatigue is autoimmune gastritis— a chronic inflammatory disease in which the immune system mistakenly destroys parietal cells— cells that produce the stomach acid and intrinsic factor (IF), which the body needs to be able to absorb vitamin B12.

As a result, people with autoimmune gastritis often suffer from pernicious anemia — a condition in which the body is unable to absorb the vitamin B12 needed to manufacture healthy red blood cells. Without sufficient numbers of healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body, it is no surprise that people with pernicious anemia suffer persistent fatigue.

When we think about autoimmunity, a few specific conditions come to mind including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), multiple sclerosis (MS), juvenile diabetes, hyperthyroid, and Lupus. Of course, there are others.

What we don’t often consider are the less discussed or less aggressive autoimmune conditions that can have a large impact of how we feel day to day, lead to more progressive illness, and are often associated with the development of additional autoimmune conditions.

Unfortunately, conventional medical doctors often overlook autoimmune gastritis in patients who report chronic fatigue. They may test for anemia and treat it with iron supplements or test for B12 deficiency, see that your B12 level is fine, and never consider whether your body is actually able to absorb and use that B12. Even worse, some people who report fatigue are simply diagnosed as having Continue reading…

Leaky Gut Symptoms and Treatment

By |2017-08-11T11:02:18-04:00August 11th, 2017|Categories: Autoimmune Diseases|Tags: |0 Comments

You’re not feeling well. Maybe you have digestive issues — gas, bloating, heartburn, or food sensitivities or intolerances. Or maybe your symptoms aren’t related to digestion — you have chronic sinus congestion, post nasal drip, or allergies; achy or stiff joints; fatigue; or swelling or inflammation in your arms, legs, or even your face.

Your doctor has done a careful physical examination, run a battery of lab tests, and maybe ordered x-rays and still can’t figure out what’s wrong. You’re taking medication to deal with the symptoms, but you still feel lousy.

Has your doctor considered the possibility of leaky gut syndrome (LGS)? If not, that’s a good place to start.