Woman standing on rock looking at water. - The Journey Begins blog post


What started as my first blog post (this one) has become a treatise on Autoimmune Disease and also chronic disease prevention and reversal in general. This framework needed to be set down before we move forward.

So here we are. July 2018. One of my favorite people in the world has died because he chose to. On the other hand, Bob Dylan has won the Nobel Peace Prize for literature. One of the top killers of young and middle-aged women is Autoimmune Disease. More women are diagnosed every year in the United States with Autoimmune Disease (AD) than with breast cancer and cardiovascular disease combined. While the #1 killer of men up to age 45 is unintentional injury. Falling off something or running into something much of the time. One of the top killers of young and middle-aged women up to age 45 is AD. The body attacks and kills itself!

It is estimated that 50 million Americans have an AD. 80% of them are women. The same basic rates apply to all the developed nations of the world. Previously undeveloped nations are quickly moving towards these numbers as they become developed nations.

On the other hand. We know so much about what causes AD. Where to look/what to test for to find out what specifically is causing the AD in each individual. How to address these findings to put the body in a position to reverse the process and potentially get it to go away completely. How to keep someone from getting a 2nd AD. Or a 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc… I cannot tell you how many young women in their 20’s I see in the clinic with 5 ADs already.

We also know so much about the epigenetic changes (alterations in gene expression thus body functioning not based on DNA sequence) that allow the ADs (and all chronic diseases for that matter) to be passed on from generation to generation. If an adult gets an AD, they have already passed on to their children a much higher risk of AD. But because of how epigenetics work, they have passed this on to the grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and now it looks like the great-great-grandchildren. 4 generations are adversely affected by passing on “unclean genes”.

On the other hand, we know so much about what causes these epigenetic changes. We know so much about what needs to happen to “clean up the genes” before a new human being is conceived by their parents. Ideally, start to clean the parental genes at least 2 years before conception.

We know so much about how to keep the mother’s genes clean during pregnancy so the developing child’s genes are as clean as possible by the time they are born. We know so much about what needs to happen and shouldn’t happen during the first 1-2 years of life to set your child’s epigenetics optimally so they can carry these “clean genes” for the rest of their lives.

We know so much about how to set the genes by age 19 so that the very cleanest epigenetics is established and will be carried on, preventing disease, for the rest of their lives. Even if an adult’s lifestyle choices are not optimal, they will be so much better off than adults who are doing everything right. Even if they eat well. Sleep well. Exercise well. Manage stress well. Use Nature for health and well-being. They still won’t be as healthy as people who set their epigenetics by age 19. For example, the very best time to prevent breast cancer is by age 19.

The very best time to fully address Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs) is by age 19 as well. These include divorce or separation of the parents, substance abuse of someone in the home, death of a close family member, physical/verbal/sexual abuse or trauma. We know that if any or any number of these occur, the person is much more likely to get chronic diseases in life. These ACEs will set in motion disease processes that may only show up decades later as ADs, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, anxiety, depression, cancer, etc… etc… We know this stuff. How do we know this stuff? Why does hardly anyone else know this stuff? Doctor or non-doctor?

There has been a huge explosion in medical knowledge to the point where hardly anyone can keep up with all the data/information coming out every day. Whereas in 1850, the medical knowledge was doubling every 50 years. And in 1950 it was doubling every 20 years. By 1980 every 7 years. It is estimated that by 2020, medical knowledge will be doubling every 73 days!!! 73 days!!! Who can keep up with this knowledge explosion? Who can keep up with the explosion in medical knowledge when it comes to what causes AD? Who can keep up with the explosion in medical knowledge when it comes to preventing AD (or chronic disease in general) by doing the right things before conception? During pregnancy? Within the first 19 years of life? Functional Medicine people. That’s who. Functional and Integrative Medicine people. That’s who. More and more people are keeping up with the medical knowledge in these areas. But not a lot. Hardly anyone keeps up with the explosion of medical knowledge in the area of AD. Worldwide 20? 10? 5?

There are now many, many researchers doing work on why people get the ADs and how to reverse them. I just read a brilliant manuscript by researchers in Norway and Iran regarding toxic metal exposure, such as mercury and lead, and their impact on epigenetics and chronic disease development. I will be sharing more information from this research work in future blog posts. Great, Great stuff.

But hardly anyone up to this point has put the information regarding AD to use in clinical practice. Applying the knowledge in the cases of actual people. 20? 10? 5? Less? As more people know this information, more people will look for and demand more medical practitioners who apply this knowledge for the betterment of the lives of people with ADs.

auto mountain snow

So who gets these ADs? Even though they may go by many, many names depending on what body part is being affected, they are all one disease. A “Polyautoimmunity” if you will. That is basically why, when you get one AD, you are more likely to get a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc…

Anyone can get an AD and sometimes it seems like everyone is getting an AD. Just a little aside. It looks now like there could be a significant autoimmune component to diseases like osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease for example. But anyway. who gets ADs? It doesn’t seem to matter where you come from, your age, your socioeconomic situation. Everyone is at risk. So how about we just mention famous people with ADs as an example of how anyone can get an AD? By just searching for the explosion of information in our world in general, we come up with these names and diseases. Usually this information has been provided by the famous people themselves.

Venus Williams: Sjogren’s Syndrome. Phil Mickelson: Lupus. Kim Kardashian: Psoriasis. Victoria Justice: Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Selena Gomez: Lupus. Seal: Discoid Lupus. Jack Osborn: Multiple Sclerosis. Toni Braxton: Lupus. Ann Romney: Multiple Sclerosis. Montel Williams: Multiple Sclerosis. Missy Eliot: Graves’ Disease. Shannen Doherty: Crohn’s Disease. Jennifer Esposito: Celiac. Elisabeth Hasselback: Celiac. Nick Cannon: Lupus Nephritis. David Garrard: Crohn’s Disease. Tamia: Multiple Sclerosis. Terri Garr: Multiple Sclerosis. Cynthia McFadden: Multiple Sclerosis. Tim Raines: Lupus. Gigi Hadid: Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Michaele Salahi: Multiple Sclerosis. Sam Faiers: Crohn’s Disease. Cindy Lauper: Psoriasis. Wendy Williams: Graves’ Disease.

How about just the AD Type 1 Diabetes? The AD that attacks a person’s insulin-making cells in their pancreas. Nick Jonas. Damon Dash. Anne Rice. Bret Michaels. Mary Tyler Moore. Halle Berry. Dorian Gregory. Elliot Yamin. Jean Smart. Crystal Bowersox. Olympic swimmer Gary Hall Jr. And even Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

But sometimes help comes too late. Casey Johnson, of the Johnson & Johnson family, died at age 30 from complications of Type 1 Diabetes. And so did my wife’s nephew, Tanner Kitelinger, at age 27.

Even Lady Gaga has an AD but she doesn’t know it. Not yet at least. It seems like even her doctors don’t know it. By all accounts for quite some time, Lady Gaga has not been feeling her best. Wow, the things she can do for mankind without feeling her best! Incredible!

For a long time, there was speculation that she had the AD Lupus. After having to cancel some concerts, Lady Gaga came out in the press earlier this year saying she didn’t have Lupus. Even though her aunt has Lupus. Lady Gaga said she has Fibromyalgia (widespread muscle pain involving at least 3 of 4 of the body quadrants and having lasted more than 3 months). One reason her doctors for quite some time though she may have Lupus was that she has a positive ANA test. Besides the fact that she has had symptoms consistent with Lupus for quite some time. But no Lupus “specific” test has been positive yet. So no AD, no Lupus, just Fibromyalgia (FM).

But wait. Even though a positive ANA is not technically a specific AD in and of itself. Isn’t a positive ANA an autoimmune process that suggests people are moving toward ADs such as Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis? A positive ANA means a person is making Antinuclear antibodies. ANA. AntiNuclear Antibodies.

Antibodies are made by our immune systems to attack things. Things such as viruses, bacteria, mold, parasites, and mycoplasma that has gotten into our bodies when they shouldn’t have and now we need to try and attack them to get rid of them. So the AntiNuclear Antibodies are antibodies that attack our nuclear material. “Antinuclear” Other names for our nuclear material? DNA and other structures in the heart of every cell in our body! The nucleus within every cell in the body!

So Lady Gaga has an Autoimmune Disease just not one that has a name attached to it. Many people who get many different kinds of ADs will have a positive ANA. So you can’t say exactly what AD you are moving towards simply by having a positive ANA. But this is why people with a positive ANA have a much higher risk of getting Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis in the next 10 years.

Given what we started to discuss early in this blog post, why just wait around to see what AD Lady gaga will develop? Why not do some simple testing to help Lady Gaga identify why she is attacking her nuclear material? Her DNA? Address the findings from the simple laboratory tests and then make the ANA turn negative. Then guess what? That increased risk of Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis in the next 10 years is gone!

And guess what? The same things that drive people to develop ADs, drive people to get Fibromyalgia (FM). That is why so many people with ADs have also been diagnosed with FM. Take care of why the body is attacking itself and at the same time you are taking care of why someone has FM! Thus the FM can go away too. No AD. No FM. The body works so beautifully.


So, as you can now see, hardly anyone knows this information on AD. Not Lady Gaga. Possibly not any of the famous people we already mentioned. And, one of the saddest stories of all. And, one of the reasons I am so passionate about AD. Glenn Frey of the Eagles. The Eagles. The quintessential Rock and Roll band of the 1970s and beyond.

What happened to Glenn Frey should never happen to anyone. What happened to Glenn Frey is unfortunately typical of what happens to many, many people with ADs. And this happened to Glenn Frey despite having what you would think would be all the resources in the world allowing him to receive the most cutting edge medical care anywhere. He didn’t live in Sub-Saharan Africa. He lived in California. In the United States of America. With all the intelligence anyone could want and most likely all the financial resources as well.

But here is Glenn Frey diagnosed with an AD. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). An AD that attacks a person’s joints eventually destroying the affected joints. And a lot of pain and disruption of a person’s lifestyle and quality of life in the process. So here is Glenn Frey in the late ’90s diagnosed with RA. He is given the typical medicines that people are given for the ADs. The medicines don’t fix the underlying reasons why the immune system starts to attack specific body parts. And because of this you, or Glenn Frey, never feel the best. And because the underlying issues are not addressed, the problem just keeps getting worse and worse. And because the underlying issues are not addressed, a person just gets a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th AD.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not wrong to use these medicines. If a person is feeling so poorly that they can’t do what they need to do day in day out to live in this world with a decent quality of life then these meds can be a “lifesaver”. A temporary lifesaver, but a lifesaver none the less. If you can’t even get out of bed in the morning. If you can’t take care of your kids and get them off to school. If you can’t get to work, make an income to put food on the table. These meds can be that temporary “lifesaver”.

There is nothing wrong with using these meds. What is wrong is thinking they fix the problem!

So here is Glenn Fey diagnosed with RA and put on the meds. They don’t fix the problem so you never feel your best and you just keep getting worse and worse over time. Glenn Frey died in January 2016. By all accounts after his death, he had not felt well for years but had tried hard not to show his suffering. These were accounts from 2 of his best friends, Bob Seger and Jackson Brown.

But did Glenn Frey die from his RA? No. He died from not fixing the underlying issues that caused his RA in the first place and potentially because of how the medications he was on affect the immune system.

When a person has an AD, they have a dysfunction of the immune system. This immune system dysregulation causes not only “up-regulated” immune issues like ADs, allergies, and asthma but at the very same time “down-regulated” issues like colds, flus, infections, recurrent infections, and cancer! You lose the immune system ‘set point” right in the middle and move away from it both up and down at the same time.

So here people are with an AD and often they are offered meds such as immunosuppressants. Meds that suppress the immune system. That is why people are told by their doctors when these meds are started “oh by the way, these meds will increase your risk of cancer and infections that no amount of antibiotics can clear”. By trying to suppress the AD, the entire immune system is being suppressed. Pushed down, down, down to the “down-regulated” zone.

So, when you already have an AD and know-how this immune system dysregulation works, you can see how a person is both high and low at the same time. High and low, far away from the “set point” right in the middle at the same time. When you have an AD you already know you have an increased risk of infections and cancer. And now you are taking a medication that makes it more likely to get infections and cancer. You may say to yourself “that doesn’t seem quite right”. And your body and immune system agree with you.

What your body wants is not immunosuppression but instead immune system modulation. Immune system rebalancing. A rebalancing of the immune system. Back to the original “set point.” Back to that happy place in the middle again. No AD, asthma, or allergies. No colds, flus, infections, recurrent infections, or cancer.

So what about Glenn Frey? He didn’t die from his RA. He died of acute ulcerative colitis and a pneumonia that no amount of antibiotics could clear because his immune system was so suppressed. He died from the autoimmune disease process just getting worse and worse and worse and now he develops a 2nd AD. A new or “acute” one that started to attack his intestines, his gut. And because he was already at an increased risk of infections due to the underlying immune system dysregulation, loss of the “set point” if you will, an infection that no amount of antibiotics could clear. And possibly because of the immunosuppressant medication he was on which increases the risk of infections that no amount of antibiotics can clear.

This scenario happens over and over and over again around the world. Not only in the United States. This is why I will be talking about AD in other countries and from other countries. This is why how we care for people with ADs must change. This is why there needs to be a revolution in how we care for people with AD. This is why there needs to be a revolution in how we prevent AD from occurring in the first place. Do what we know can be done to prevent ADs in the next 4 generations by properly caring for people alive today.

I believe what started as my first blog post has become a treatise on AD but also chronic disease prevention and reversal in general. I don’t believe any of my future blog posts will be this long. I do believe this framework needed to be set down before we move forward.

“Got a Revolution. Got to Revolution”

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



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