Your Guide to Eliminating Chronic Fatigue (Part 1 of 10): Auto-Immunity and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
BY MICHAL COOLING, CNTP
At The Healing Center Denver we have a holistic, whole-person view as well as molecular view, with tools and testing to evaluate the biochemistry of cells, tissues, and organs. We seek to find the exact imbalance in your body, the underlying cause for that imbalance, and the individualized solution.
With this approach, we view fatigue differently than traditional medicine does, and usually find there is usually a network of things contributing towards this fatigue and other related symptoms.
Our Top Ten Strategies
These are the top ten most common causes of chronic fatigue that we see, which are often not addressed by conventional or even holistic practitioners:
- Gut Function / Nutrient Imbalances / Poor Absorption
- Hidden Food Sensitivities
- Hidden Infections
- Brain Imbalance
- Emotional / Stress/ Post-Trauma
- Sleep Issues and Their Underlying Causes
- Hormone Imbalances (Thyroid, Adrenal, Sex)
- Detoxification and Metabolism Impairment
Today, our focus is on Auto-Immunity and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS):
CFS is actually referred to as “Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome,” showing there to be a science-based link between immune function and chronic fatigue. Many studies have shown imbalances in the immune system with those who experience chronic fatigue, and the science literature in the last ten years has shown the mechanism underlying chronic fatigue to be immune in nature. In fact, the risk profile for CFS is similar to the risk profiles for a number of autoimmune diseases. Most conventional doctors typically don’t look for this “immune piece” and rarely address it. At The Healing Center, we are determined and committed to finding and addressing the underlying cause, and in nearly 100% of our patients, we find immune imbalances at the root of chronic fatigue.
How Do We Identify Auto-Immunity?
At The Healing Center Denver we utilize a Clinical Immunology Laboratory Specializing in Functional Immunology and Autoimmunity. Cyrex Laboratories offers multi-tissue antibody testing for the early detection and monitoring of today’s complex autoimmune conditions. Cyrex develops innovative arrays through continuous collaboration with leading experts in medical research and clinical practice. This gives us a clear picture at functional and laboratory ranges to catch even the slightest imbalance that may be contributing toward your symptoms. If you’ve ever been told “Your lab tests are normal,” yet still have symptoms, this is the test for you!
What Do We Do About Auto-Immunity?
To talk about autoimmunity, we need to mention a key component, inflammation. Inflammation is connected to nearly every known chronic disease. Most practitioners try to shut off the inflammation with medication like NSAIDS and immune-suppressants. This approach causes more problems, and neglects to address the underlying causes, such as hidden allergens, infections, environmental toxins, an inflammatory diet, and stress. All the pain reliever in the world won’t eliminate the pain from standing on a tack. It must be removed.
Some other common auto-immune and inflammatory conditions include:
- rheumatoid arthritis
- multiple sclerosis
- thyroid disease
- inflammatory bowel disease
- heart disease
Dr. Mark Hyman, MD states that “Autoimmune conditions are connected by one central biochemical process: A runaway immune response also known as systemic inflammation that results in your body attacking its own tissues.” He explains autoimmunity, inflammation and some underlying causes in an easy to read and interesting article called “How to Stop Attacking Yourself: 9 Steps to Heal Autoimmune Disease.”:
Autoimmunity: What it is and How it Occurs
Your immune system is your defense against invaders. It is your internal army and has to clearly distinguish friend from foe — to know you from others. Autoimmunity occurs when your immune system gets confused and your own tissues get caught in friendly cross-fire.
Your body is fighting something — an infection, a toxin, an allergen, a food or the stress response — and somehow it redirects its hostile attack on your joints, your brain, your thyroid, your gut, your skin, or sometimes your whole body.
This immune confusion results from what is referred to as molecular mimicry. Conventional approaches don’t have a method for finding the insult causing the problem. Functional medicine provides a map to find out which molecule the cells are mimicking.
Interestingly, autoimmune disorders occur almost exclusively in developed countries. People in poor nations without modern amenities like running water, flush toilets, washing machines, and sterile backyards don’t get these diseases.
If you grew up on a farm with lots of animals, you are also less likely to have any of these inflammatory disorders. Playing in the dirt, being dirty, and being exposed to bugs and infections trains your immune system to recognize what is foreign and what is “you.”
In this country, autoimmune diseases, when taken all together, are a huge health burden. They are the eighth leading cause of death among women, shortening the average patient’s lifespan by eight years. The annual health care cost for autoimmune diseases is $120 billion a year representing nearly twice the economic health care burden of cancer (about $ 70 billion a year). (i)
Unfortunately, many of the conventional treatments available can make you feel worse. Anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil, steroids, immune suppressants like methotrexate, and the new TNF-alpha blockers like Enbrel or Remicade can lead to intestinal bleeding, kidney failure, depression, psychosis, osteoporosis, muscle loss, and diabetes, not to mention overwhelming infection and cancer.
When used selectively these drugs can help people get their lives back. But they are not a long-term solution. They shouldn’t be the end of treatment, but a bridge to cool off inflammation while we treat the root cause of the disease.
10 Ways to Address the Root Problem
- Check for hidden infections — yeast, viruses, bacteria, Lyme, etc. — and address them. At The Healing Center we utilize lab testing, bio-communication technology, and other methods to identify and eliminate hidden infections.
- Check for hidden food allergens. At The Healing Center Denver we recognize the 7 different types of sensitivities that can occur. Most conventional doctors only test for 1 of the 7. We Look at the other pieces through lab testing, NAET, Elimination diet protocols, and other modalities to ensure we don’t miss anything. We also train our patients to identify food sensitivities themselves, and know what protocol to use to address them.
- Get tested for celiac disease and other auto-immunity (such as against brain, adrenals, thyroid, etc) to determine what support is needed to effectively address your symptoms.
- Get tested for other triggers which may be causing inflammation and triggering an autoimmune flare up.
- Get checked for heavy metal toxicity. Mercury and other metals can cause autoimmunity.
- Fix your gut. 80% of your immune system is in your gut, so there is a direct correlation. Autoimmunity causes leaky gut, which produces inflammation, causing more autoimmunity. Stop this cycle!
- Use nutrients such as fish oil, vitamin C, vitamin D, and probiotics to help calm your immune response naturally. At The Healing Center, we create a customized immune protocol for each of our patients, to address their individual biochemistry and needs.
- Exercise regularly — it’s a natural anti-inflammatory. Don’t over-train! It will cause a flare up.
- Practice stress relief like deep relaxation, yoga, deep breathing, biofeedback, or massage, because stress worsens the immune response. At The Healing Center, we provide emotional and stress clearings and teach our patients simple techniques to use on their own. It’s a priceless part of our comprehensive care. Many unresolved stress or trauma’s are triggers for autoimmunity themselves. Resolving the past is a large part of many of our patients recovery.
- Balance your blood sugar. Blood sugar levels are directly correlated to immune function. Though we customize our clients meal plans to fit their individual needs, some basic principals include, eating within an hour of waking up and every 2-3 hours throughout the day, including a good quality protein for every meal and a protein or fat for every snack. Keep sugars under 10g/serving, and eat a lot of fresh vegetables and whole foods.
Contact The Healing Center Denver today to learn more about Auto-Immunity and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and how your functional medicine specialist in Denver can help.
- Is chronic fatigue syndrome an autoimmune disorder of endogenous neuropeptides, exogenous infection and molecular mimicry?http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15082083