At first glance, someone may wonder what do allergies and autoimmunity have to do with one another? While they are actually very separate issues, they both have a lot in common and understanding the similarities sheds some light on how to better address and treat these conditions. One thing I think we can all agree on is it appears that we are seeing an increase in the number of things people are allergic to and an increase in the prevalence of autoimmunity whether that be thyroid issues, Crohn’s, colitis, MS, Lupus, Arthritis, psoriasis or any other version.
Immune System Function
The primary job of the immune system can be broken into two steps:
- Be able to tell the difference between what is “self” and what is the outside world. Our own body and cells should never be considered a threat.
- Of the things that are not self, we need to be able tell the difference between good guys and bad guys; what is a threat and what is considered safe.
We are born with a naive immune system. In other words, as we develop and get exposed to more and more of the outside world, our immune system is constantly evaluating and learning. It is generally making lists of friends and foes, looking for threats and remembering who the bad guys are so we can attack them quickly when they show up.
If we are generally healthy and our environment is generally safe and clean, our immune system makes pretty accurate lists of what we need to protect ourselves from and what we can let pass through as safely.
In simple term our immune system’s list should look like this:
- All the cells we are made out of should be considered safe
- Properly digested healthy food should be considered safe
- Seasonal allergen (pollens, etc.) should be considered safe but possibly annoying
- Infections (bacteria, viruses, molds, etc.), toxins and other chemical should be considered dangerous and marked for attack and removal if detected.
If our immune system was actually behaving that way, we would not see the rise in allergies and autoimmunity that we are witnessing in our communities.
There are 4 causes of this increase in disease rates:
- Food (either due to poor digestion or due to processing/GMO/chemicals)
- Toxins (mercury/lead/pesticides/herbicides/glyphosate, etc.)
- Infections (EBV, Lyme, etc.)
- Immune system weakness (result of all of the above, inability to properly detect and react)
Put simply, the common thread between allergies and autoimmunity is that our immune system is overreacting. In the case of allergies, the immune system is overreacting to something in our environment (pollen, foods, mold, etc.) and in the case of autoimmunity, it is overreacting to a certain group of cells that is actually self.
So in reality our bodies are losing the ability to determine what is self, what is safe and what is a foreign invader needing to be destroyed. As a result, we are finding immune cells that are attacking self, an overreaction to our environment and less of an ability to fight infections. All of this results in a generally weak and confused immune system.
The bad news: Allergies and autoimmunity typically get worse over time, not better, and it does not take weeks or months to correct. It really takes years.
The good news: There are reasons why this happens (the body does not behave this way for no reason) and there are great strategies for helping to fix these issues. In order to really address these conditions, you need to:
- Remove the source. Clean and remove toxicities (metals, mold, subacute infection, processed foods).
- Regenerate the cells. Fix the cell membranes, relearn the environment, turn over a new layer of healthy cells.
- Restore cell energy. Nourish yourself properly through food and proper supplementation. Increase energy production and improved digestive system function.
- Remove inflammation. Detoxify the accumulated inflammation, allow the body to fight infection without as much medications.
- Re-establish methylation. Create a pathway for continued detoxification for a lifetime.