Published on June 30th, 2020 | by Dr. Doug Pucci0
Holistic Approach to Autoimmune Disease
by Doug Pucci
Autoimmune disease is on the rise. the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association estimates that about 50 million Americans have at least one of the more than 100 recognized autoimmune diseases. They include thyroid disease, Lupus, Celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Type 1 diabetes, psoriasis and myasthenia gravis, among others.
More people are diagnosed with autoimmune disease than cancer and heart disease combined. Rates have more than doubled over the past 25 years and tripled among adolescents. Neurological, gastrointestinal, rheumatic and endocrinological autoimmune diseases are rising worldwide at the rate of 4 to 7 percent annually, with the highest numbers in the Western and Northern Hemispheres. The largest increases are in celiac disease (in the U.S., about one in every 100 people are affected), Type 1 diabetes and myasthenia gravis.
Autoimmune diseases occur when our body’s defense systems attack the healthy tissues and cells in our body, misidentifying them as invading illnesses. There are a number of potential triggers, including pesticides, medications, cigarette smoke, high levels of stress, dietary factors, viruses, bacteria, environmental pollutants and others.
Early signs can seem unrelated and vague, such as inflammation, pain, fatigue or a generally malaise. Many patients have reported that when they bring these concerns to their doctors, they are not taken seriously or are given over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications that address only the symptoms, rather than the root cause. While this may temporarily relieve symptoms like pain or inflammation, eventually these symptoms worsen and new symptoms arise, because the body continues attacking itself as the disease continues to progress.
Long-term use of both OTC and prescription anti-inflammatory or pain-killing medications or immunosuppressant drugs can cause serious side effects and increase the risk of future viral or bacterial infection; some create permanent health problems. There are times when prescription drugs are necessary, but it makes more sense to find the underlying cause using comprehensive lab work that goes down to the molecular level. Covering up, blocking and suppressing symptoms doesn’t address or help the reason for these health problems.
In some cases, something as simple as a lifestyle change can help tremendously. Chronic stress negatively impacts the immune system and leaves us more vulnerable to many types of disease. There can be dietary factors involved if a person is unknowingly allergic or has a sensitivity to a certain food type that is causing a reaction; just because a patient never had a food allergy or sensitivity doesn’t mean they haven’t developed one over the years. There could be hidden infections that deep-dive lab work can uncover, or there might be nutritional deficiencies previously undetected.
It’s only natural to seek the help of a specialist in the area of concern. For example, an autoimmune disease that appears as a skin problem like psoriasis would typically be addressed by a dermatologist solely as a skin problem and treated with topical creams, ointments, light therapy and oral or injectable medications. However, although the symptom is showing on the skin, the problem itself goes much deeper. Specialists only treat the area of the body that lies within their scope, but a whole body, holistic approach is needed to successfully treat the root cause and its accompanying symptoms.
Dr. Doug Pucci is an expert in functional medicine and was recently recognized by The 2020 Best of Awards for Oradell. For more information, call 201-261-5430 or visit GetWell-Now.com.