Autoimmune disease rates have been escalating dramatically over the past 30 years, some by up to 23%. These diseases occur when the immune system, which is supposed to attack invaders like bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeast instead attacks one’s own body. The medical and scientific community does not know exactly what causes autoimmune conditions like type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn's disease. (More than 100 autoimmune diseases have been identified).
The immune system is comprised of white blood cells, lymph nodes and the whole lymph system, the spleen, tonsils, and bone marrow (which makes white blood cells). It also makes certain types of chemical messengers, while some types of white blood cells make proteins called antibodies.
When the immune system attacks parts of our own body, those areas become inflamed instead of the invaders. For example, with rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks joint tissue, which can cause very bad pain and disfigured joints. With lupus, the skin, joints, and internal organs are affected. In multiple sclerosis, the immune system eats away at the protective coating around the nerves, preventing them from functioning properly.
A critical part of treating autoimmune diseases is healing the digestive system. Every patient I’ve seen with an autoimmune disease has been helped to some extent by adopting a specific diet to heal the gut. When the gut gets balanced and there is no inflammation there, the immune system benefits regardless of what part of the body is affected by an autoimmune disease.
While I have found that pharmaceutical medications are often still needed in managing autoimmune diseases, using diet and natural remedies to regulate the immune system can bring major improvements and in some cases even lead to remission. I typically focus on working with patients to develop a healing diet as a foundation. I will also recommend certain types of probiotics and natural remedies to help heal the gut and regulate the immune system, along with regular acupuncture. The acupuncture helps reduce pain and inflammation and strengthens the internal organs. Over time, patients with an autoimmune condition are usually able to live healthier, happier lives with less dependence on medication.
In the video, Dr. Taketa-Wong discusses autoimmune conditions in general and talks specifically about treating two that affect the thyroid, Hashimoto’s and Grave’s disease. Her treatment includes thorough lab testing, individualized vitamins and nutrients, Chinese and Western herbs, improvements in food choices, and hormone therapy if needed.
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Dr. Kathryn Taketa-Wong, N.D., L.Ac. 1221 Kapiolani Blvd., Suite 348 Honolulu, HI 96814