Natural Treatment for Autoimmune Disease: A Guide to Holistic Wellness

Mar 5, 2024 | autoimmune disease prevention

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You aren’t alone facing autoimmune issues in life. According to a study conducted by Oxford University, approximately 10% of the worldwide population is impacted by autoimmune disease, with a higher prevalence among women at 13% compared to 7% among men. In the United States, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences reports that autoimmune disease collectively afflicts over 24 million individuals. When you factor in people with a positive ANA (Bilstrom’s Nuclearitis) and the fact that many other mental health and chronic conditions are now being linked to immune system disruption.  It’s estimated to be at least 50 million Americans are affected by autoimmune issues.

Autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system starts attacking itself… organs, tissues, and cells within the body, nothing is safe from a dysfunctional immune system. The associated symptoms can be incapacitating, spanning from persistent fatigue to joint discomfort, gastrointestinal issues and mental health challenges such as brain fog, anxiety, depression, ADHD and more. The gut brain axis is now well established in science and when the gut is out of whack, it always drags the brain into its mess.

While there might be conventional therapies, they don’t focus on actually reversing autoimmune disease.  Allopathic medicine focuses on treating the symptoms which is like putting a bandaid on a bullet hole. The typical biologics or immunosuppressants used have nasty side effects that often end up creating more autoimmune disease and sometimes even cancer. 

My focus for the past 20 years has been on the natural treatment for autoimmune disease because it significantly improves quality of life through reversal and prevention. A significant number of the patients I see have been told by their traditional (allopathic) doctors there is no natural treatment for autoimmune disease and I’m here to tell you that is FALSE.  I am helping 1,000+ patients a year reverse their autoimmune conditions using natural treatments that don’t have nasty side effects and won’t contribute to creating more disease. 

This guide will discuss autoimmune disease and the natural remedies that can help you reverse symptoms effectively by addressing the 7 central mechanisms.

Understanding Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmune disease is a group of conditions or disorders that arise when the body’s immune system, designed to protect against harmful invaders, mistakenly attacks its own healthy cells. The immune system normally produces antibodies to combat viruses and toxins, but in this case, it fails to distinguish between foreign threats and the body’s cells. This confusion results in the release of autoantibodies that attack healthy tissues, leading to conditions such as type 1 diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis and 100+ other names.  Autoimmune disorders can target specific organs or the entire body in different ways, including rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease. This is why one of the first things I educate patients on is how autoimmune disease is just “one big disease” that can attack any body part.

Traditional (allopathic) medicine will tell patients that these health issues associated with an autoimmune disorder have no cure, necessitating lifelong management in different ways to alleviate symptoms. This is FALSE.  It’s my mission to revolutionize how autoimmune disease is treated worldwide by educating people on the Functional Medicine approach to natural treatments for the autoimmune disease. 

The importance of a balanced immune system

Maintaining a balanced immune system is essential for overall health and well-being. Ensuring your 7 central mechanisms are functioning properly is the key to a balanced immune system (which we will dive into below). 

As you learn about the immune system, one key perspective to understand is that you do not want to “boost” the immune system. What you want to do is rebalance immunity. You don’t want the under active immune system issues like colds, flus, infections, and you don’t want the overactive autoimmune disease issues like allergies, asthma and eczema either. 

To naturally heal autoimmune disease you’ll address your 7 central mechanisms that are key to creating a balanced immune system. Here are some of the key benefits of a balanced immune system:

Preventing Autoimmune Responses: 

Here’s what it does to prevent an autoimmune response: –

  • Stronger defense: It effectively fights off real foreign cells, bacteria, & viruses, reducing the burden on the system and preventing mistaken attacks.
  • Regulation mechanisms: Healthy systems have better “calming” mechanisms to shut down overactive responses before they damage healthy tissues.
  • Tolerance training: A healthy system learns to recognize and ignore harmless substances, reducing the risk of mistaking “self antibodies” for a threat.

Effective Pathogen Defense:

If you have a well-functioning balanced immune system, it will efficiently recognize and combat pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi. It produces white blood cells, antibodies, and other substances that work together to neutralize and eliminate these invaders before they can cause infections or diseases.

Regulating Inflammation:

Autoimmune disease often involves chronic inflammation. A balanced immune system helps regulate this, preventing it from becoming excessive or chronic. 

Faster Healing:

A balanced immune system facilitates rapid recovery from injuries, cuts, and wounds by deploying immune cells and growth factors that repair damaged tissues. This promotes quicker healing and reduces the risk of complications.

Reduced Fatigue:

A strong balanced immune system minimizes the frequency and severity of illnesses, leading to less downtime and fatigue. When the body’s defenses are effective in warding off common ailments, energy is conserved, and you experience increased vitality and reduced overall fatigue.

Signs and Symptoms of Autoimmune Conditions

Autoimmune disorders can bring several health conditions affecting various parts of the body, leading to a wide range of symptoms. Let’s discuss them based on the 7 central mechanisms involved in a balanced immune system and well functioning mitochondria: 

  • Gut – When it comes to the  autoimmune disease systems of the gut, individuals may experience symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, and acid reflux. These symptoms can often be attributed to conditions like celiac disease or inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.  However, many autoimmune conditions have no gut symptoms at all, even though the gut is unhealthy. 
  • Cortisol Balance – An autoimmune disorder like Addison’s disease can impact the adrenal glands, affecting the production of cortisol. Symptoms may include fatigue, muscle weakness, weight loss, and low blood pressure. Imbalances in cortisol levels can have cascading effects on the body’s ability to respond to stress and regulate various physiological processes.  Conversely, when cortisol is out of balance, due to stress (emotional, physical, psychological and even spiritual) it inhibits the body’s natural healing abilities.  Cortisol levels must be reset and balanced in order for the body to naturally heal autoimmune disease. 
  • Food sensitivity – Food sensitivity is a common cause of autoimmune issues, particularly conditions like celiac disease, where the immune system reacts adversely to gluten. Individuals with food sensitivities may experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea upon consuming specific trigger foods.  Food sensitivities don’t have to stay around forever, they can be caused by a leaky gut and when that is healed naturally, food sensitivities can dissipate over time.
  • Vitamin Absorption – An unhealthy gut or a leaky stomach can also affect vitamin absorption and can result in deficiencies. For instance, pernicious anemia, caused by the immune system attacking cells responsible for vitamin B12 absorption, can lead to fatigue, weakness, numbness or tingling, and difficulty walking.
  • Hidden Infections – Science has known for a long time that chronic infections drive all autoimmune and chronic diseases, yet most people are unaware of this fact. People can find all sorts of infection combinations in their gut: candida, other mold species, bad bacteria, and parasites. In their bloodstream and throughout their body they can have infections involving herpesvirus 6, Epstein Barr virus, Coxsackievirus virus, mycoplasma, and a whole bunch of other bad ones. 
  • Hormonal imbalances – People suffering from the autoimmune disease affecting the thyroid and insulin-producing cells face a lot of issues of hormonal imbalances. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder targeting the thyroid gland, may lead to an underactive thyroid, causing symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, dry skin, and sensitivity to cold. On the other hand, Graves’ disease, another autoimmune thyroid disorder, can result in an overactive thyroid, causing weight loss, heat sensitivity, tremors, and a rapid heartbeat. In the case of type 1 diabetes, where the immune system attacks insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, symptoms include excessive thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, and fatigue.
  • Environmental toxins – Another factor increasing autoimmune disease is environmental toxins. Exposure to certain toxins may contribute to the development or progression of autoimmune disorders, although symptoms can vary widely. These may include general malaise, fatigue, headaches, joint pain, and skin issues, depending on the specific toxins involved. 

It’s crucial to note that autoimmune disease often presents with overlapping symptoms, making diagnosis challenging for traditional providers. I often speak with patients who have been to many different doctors and have multiple possible autoimmune disease diagnosis.  

With my natural healing approach that focuses on your 7 central mechanisms, we don’t need a specific diagnosis of “which autoimmune disease”. Because autoimmune disease is ONE BIG disease that may attack any body part, by addressing your 7 central mechanisms, you create a balanced immune system and proper functioning mitochondria.  Which gives your body’s innate healing ability all the tools it needs to reverse autoimmune disease naturally and prevent future disease.

When you choose to work with an autoimmune disease doctor like me who is board certified in Functional Medicine, we use appropriate testing to figure out which of the 7 central mechanisms need to be addressed first and create a personal plan for you.  Eventually all of the 7 central mechanisms will be addressed and lab testing will help us get to the root quicker. 

Conventional vs. Natural Treatment

Conventional and natural treatments for autoimmune disease represent two broad approaches to addressing symptoms or solutions.

Conventional Treatment:

  • Immunosuppressive Medications: Conventional treatments often involve medications that suppress the immune system to reduce inflammation and control the autoimmune response. Examples include corticosteroids, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and biologic agents.
  • Anti-inflammatory Drugs: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and other anti-inflammatory medications are commonly used to manage symptoms such as pain and swelling.
  • Disease-Specific Medications: Depending on the type of autoimmune disease, specific medications may be prescribed. For instance, TNF blockers are used for rheumatoid arthritis, and insulin may be prescribed for type 1 diabetes.
  • Hormone Replacement: In conditions like autoimmune hypothyroidism, hormone replacement therapy may be opted for, such as providing synthetic versions of thyroid hormone.
  • Plasma Exchanges: In some cases, procedures like plasma exchanges may be recommended to remove harmful antibodies from the blood.

Natural Treatment:

  • Diet and Nutrition: Dietary changes to support overall health and reverse autoimmune disease is a key step in the process. A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, omega-3 fatty acids, and quality fats like grass fed butter or ghee is often recommended.  A huge key is removing ultra processed foods!
  • Lifestyle Modifications: Stress management techniques, regular exercise (walking counts), spending time in Nature and improving sleep hygiene are emphasized in natural approaches to promote overall well-being and to reverse autoimmune issues.
  • Supplements: Certain supplements, such as vitamin D, butyrate and probiotics, offer benefits in modulating the immune system and promoting gut health. Let’s learn more about them. 

7 central mechanisms

Recommended Supplements

For the Gut 

  • Butyrate Calcium Magnesium, an essential end product of a healthy microbiome, fuels gut cells, fortifying the gut lining and repairing leaky gut.
  • HiFlora-5012 delivers 50 billion CFU of a powerful probiotic blend containing 12 synergistically balanced strains to support the body’s own microbiome function. 
  • MegaSporeBiotic – 60 capsules is a probiotic blend of 5 Bacillus spores that have been shown to maintain a healthy gut barrier and immune function.
  • L-Glutamine is a vital amino acid crucial during trauma or metabolic stress. 

For Cortisol Imbalance 

  • The Reset Calm & Cortisol Supplement Bundle is a natural supplement combination that aims to reduce stress, enhance well-being, and balance cortisol levels by targeting the adrenal glands and promoting relaxation.
  • Cortisol Levels Reset helps in stress adaptation, correcting stress hormone levels for natural healing, boosting energy and mental clarity, and supporting a healthy stress response, immune system, and restful sleep.
  • L-Theanine – Cortisol Assist promotes relaxation without inducing drowsiness and helps manage stress, anxiety, and sleep issues.

For Invisible Infections 

  • pH Structured Silver Solution is a 30-parts-per-million silver solution designed for general internal use and is known for its unique benefits like microbial defense along with immune support.

Food Sensitivities

  • In order to prevent the autoimmune disorder that may occur due to food sensitivities, you must be familiar with what food affects you. The Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test measures IgG antibody reactivity to 96 different foods, aiding in the identification of potential sensitivities. The test provides easy-to-understand results and guidance for an elimination diet, offered by a CLIA-certified lab and reviewed by a physician.
  • WheatRescue™ is a blend of digestive enzymes and probiotics designed to support gluten digestion. It contains DPP-IV and Tolerase G® enzymes, probiotic spores, and yeast, promoting intestinal health and barrier function.
  • You can also join our free 7-day email course, to get the steps on how to do an elimination diet and a proper food reintroduction.

Vitamin Deficiencies 

  • Multiplex Complete™ offers over 200 nutrients, including superfoods and organic aloe vera. It provides complete multivitamin and mineral support with no additives, promoting overall health and wellness.
  • Dr. David Bilstrom’s Multivitamin – Iron Plus is a comprehensive formula designed for individuals that need extra iron. It supports bone, thyroid, and adrenal health, contains antioxidants, and features optimal mineral absorption. 
  • Dr. David Bilstrom’s Multivitamin – Iron Free for Men is designed to support men’s unique nutritional needs, including prostate, liver, and adrenal health, with broad-spectrum antioxidant support and optimal mineral absorption.
  • The methylated Vitamin B complex helps reverse and prevent autoimmune conditions. It contains active B vitamins, vital for methylation, detoxification, and gene expression. 

For Hormone Imbalances

  • Pregnenolone is Dr. David Bilstrom’s supplement associated with stress resistance, hormone balance, brain fog relief, and inflammation control. 
  • DHEA Pure 5 (dosage for women) and DHEA Pure 25 (dosages for men) is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands with diverse health benefits including hormone production, heart and bone health, and brain function. 

For Environmental Toxins 

  • The Nurse Practitioners’ Guide to Autoimmune Medicine” offers a natural approach to detoxifying, and explaining the proper order of healing to ensure a detox isn’t done too soon.  Detoxing before detox pathways are ready, can send toxins right back into the bloodstream causing more issues. This guide is highly recommended for healthcare professionals and patients seeking insightful and actionable information on how to heal autoimmune disease naturally.
  • G.I. Detox™+ is a multi-ingredient detoxification formula with zeolite clay, activated charcoal, apple pectin, and more, supporting full-body cleansing, microbial balance, and mold metabolite clearance. 
  • HM Protect™ is a comprehensive blend of antioxidants, minerals, and nutrients designed to support the body’s response to environmental heavy metal exposure.  In my book, there is a protocol for how to use this supplement to support detoxing in gentle and effective way.
  • Mineral-Plex by NuMedica is a multi-mineral formula in capsule form. It contains essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins D and C, catering to optimal nutritional needs.   

Benefits of healing autoimmune disease naturally

Here are some potential advantages associated with natural approaches to reversing autoimmune conditions:

  • Reduced Side Effects:  Many pharmaceutical drugs used in autoimmune conditions, such as corticosteroids or immunosuppressants, can have significant adverse effects on organs and compromise the immune system. In contrast, natural approaches often involve lifestyle modifications that lead to reduced dependence on immunosuppressive medications or other pharmaceuticals, minimizing the risk of potential side effects associated with long-term drug use. For example, dietary adjustments can target specific triggers and promote a balanced immune response. This reduced risk of adverse effects is especially crucial for long-term management, where sustained well-being is a priority. 
  • Whole-Body Wellness: Natural approaches often focus on overall well-being, including dietary changes, getting rid of hidden infections, environmental toxins and stress management. This holistic perspective contributes to preventing future disease for all family members.  Autoimmune disease data shows us that when one family member has autoimmunity, the risk greatly increases for everyone else. The natural healing approach impacts families for generations, which is in stark contrast to solely addressing autoimmune symptoms which only creates more future disease.
  • Improved Gut Health: Many natural treatments emphasize the importance of gut health. Since the gut is a central mechanism that plays a significant role in the immune system, promoting a healthy gut microbiome, including Vitamin D receptor sensitivity, has a huge impact on reversing autoimmunity.
  • Individualized Approach: Natural treatments often allow for a more personalized approach, considering an individual’s unique needs and responses.

Our Personalized Approaches to Natural Treatment

My approach offers a personalized and holistic approach to the treatment of autoimmune disease by addressing your 7 central mechanisms involved in a balanced immune system and well functioning mitochondria. By addressing the root causes of autoimmune conditions, reversal and prevention are happening at the same time. Through advanced testing, nutritional therapies, lifestyle modifications, and other interventions grounded in scientific data, you can achieve optimal health and wellness. 

To begin your natural healing journey and learn from my 20 years of experience in Autoimmune Functional Medicine, you can join my Autoimmune Hope course. This includes a 90-minute self paced video/audio/pdf course, live Q&A group session with me for an interactive learning experience and access to recordings of previous Live Q&A sessions, accelerating your learning experience.

Start your natural healing journey now by joining my Autoimmune Hope course at https://edu.drdavidbilstrom.com/autoimmunehope.

Conclusion:

In summary, adopting natural approaches to treating autoimmune disease empowers you to take charge of your health, reverse symptoms, and improve overall quality of life. By understanding the importance of a balanced immune system, the 7 central mechanisms and incorporating natural remedies, you can gain the knowledge necessary to effectively reverse your autoimmune conditions and enhance overall wellness.

 

“Got a Revolution, got to Revolution.”  Jefferson Airplane

Dr. David Bilstrom
Autoimmune Functional Medicine Doctornatural treatment for autoimmune disease by Dr David Bilstrom Functional Medicine Doctor MD

 

 

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