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Meet the Master Manipulator: Your Thyroid

Your thyroid is a gland located behind your Adam’s apple. Its job is to produce thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) which are the hormones that control your metabolism. This process of transforming the food you eat into energy can result in (T)erminator-like symptoms where you begin to feel inhuman. 

Think of the story of the tortoise and the hare. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid is under-producing these hormones and can lead to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Hyperthyroidism occurs when too many hormones are being produced and can lead to Graves’ disease. Balance is the key to keeping your body running well.

If you are a woman, you know how much our hormones can take over and drive us either straight and narrow, or straight into a truck depending on stress, menstruation, food or environmental triggers. Men are not immune from thyroid disorders. Women tend to have higher instances with thyroid disorders, generally after menopause. Regardless of gender, autoimmune-related thyroid conditions are on the rise. 

10 most common symptoms that your thyroid is under attack or needs support:

  1. Weight gain or loss

An early sign of thyroid irregularity is weight gain or loss. Since your thyroid can control your energy, it’s no wonder your weight can be affected. Rapid weight gain can be an indicator of low thyroid hormone function, while weight loss can be triggered by an overactive thyroid gland. 

  1. Fatigue

Just like weight gain, fatigue or excessive tiredness can be a sign of hypothyroidism or low thyroid function.

  1. Brain fog

Thyroid hormones are directly related to the health of your brain neurons. There are only two things that every single cell in the body has a receptor for: thyroid hormones and vitamin D. It’s no wonder that vitamin D status influences thyroid function and your immune system.

  1. Intolerance to heat or cold

Your circulation is affected if your thyroid is not functioning properly. This could present as feeling chilled or cold. If you notice that your hands and feet are particularly cold, this could be a symptom or sign of hypothyroidism. Alternatively, you might always run warm or experience hot flashes.

  1. Poor quality hair skin nail

A slow thyroid can cause dry skin, hair loss,and  brittle or ridged nails caused by follicle cycling. Sometimes slow and steady does not always win the race.

  1. Digestive problems

Leaky gut and gastrointestinal discomfort are most often connected to thyroid dysfunction. Constipation is caused by a sluggish metabolism (lower thyroid hormone), while loose stools could be a symptom or a hyperactive thyroid.

  1. Insomnia

When your hormones are out of whack, everything seems to follow suit. Whether your thyroid is over- or under-producing, you can have disrupted sleep from nervousness, be up with frequent urination, or experience night sweats.

  1. Anxiety/depression

Hormones are the major players in mood regulation. They influence the neurotransmitters which cause imbalances in serotonin and dopamine. Thyroid imbalances cause inflammation, and when the hormone production is interrupted, it can affect proper blood flow to the brain.

  1. Changes in your voice

An underactive thyroid can cause thickening of the vocal cords or swelling from the inflammatory changes.

  1. Hormonal fluctuations

Your thyroid can directly affect your sexual function. From irregular periods to difficulty with sexual performance or enjoyment, your thyroid dysfunction may be a contributor.

The Thyroid-Autoimmune Connection

Are you aware that more than 90% of thyroid conditions are autoimmune? Unfortunately, most conventional doctors do not have the education or information about this connection. This can be incredibly frustrating!  

What if you are taking thyroid medication but still experiencing these symptoms? Commonly, providers are not taught how to look at chemistry and physiology, but do prescribe medication for your symptoms. We at Dr. Autoimmune addresses the systems that run the symptoms, diagnose your particular imbalances with comprehensive blood chemistry, and create a customized care plan for you! 

If you suspect your thyroid is the culprit of any of these symptoms, Dr. Autoimmune can help. We test specifically for all 8 thyroid markers. We have worked with close to 3,000 thyroid clients and have an 85% success rate! Call us at 303-882-8447 or fill out the form below today to see if your thyroid needs support.

Why Do I Feel So Good (Or Bad) During Pregnancy?

Pregnancy and Autoimmunity

Many women with autoimmune diseases experience a lessening of symptoms during their pregnancy, only to relapse after the baby is born. Or, the opposite may happen, where autoimmune disease symptoms worsen during pregnancy. Maybe you have heard of this phenomenon or even experienced it yourself. As we continue to celebrate Mothers’ Day, let’s dive into the ways pregnancy can affect an autoimmune disease.

One of the most amazing things about pregnancy is how a woman’s body doesn’t reject a fetus, which is basically foreign tissue because it shares DNA with the father. Very frequently during organ transplants, the body attacks foreign tissue because it thinks it is a threat. How do female bodies know not to attack a fetus?

The Tea on T Cells

Research has found that different types of T cells lead to either a tolerant immune response (the fetus lives), or an active immune response against the foreign tissue (miscarriage). The main two types of cells that make this decision are known as “Th1” and “Th2”. Th1 cells will reject a fetus, while Th2 cells are responsible for a successful pregnancy by creating baby-protecting antibodies.

Th1 and Th2 cells work dynamically creating balance, but are each linked to autoimmune diseases. So during pregnancy, when Th2 cell counts are higher, this can cause Th1-type autoimmune diseases to go into remission. This is why women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Graves’ disease, and multiple sclerosis (MS) usually feel much better while they are pregnant.

On the other hand, Th2-type autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), generally known as just “lupus”, can get much worse during pregnancy while there are more Th2 cells trying to protect the fetus. Lupus flares can cause pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia (blood pressure problems).

Then, once the baby is born, the balance between those two types of T cells switches and causes the opposite effect: Th1-type diseases such as MS get worse, and Th2-type diseases such as lupus get better.

But is there just one simple answer to our question about why some women with autoimmune disease feel better during pregnancy? Our bodies are more complicated than that, of course. We know that Th1 can end a pregnancy while Th2 protects against miscarriages, but what decides which type of T cell is produced? 

Maybe the better question is, “What system can we influence that will regulate both in harmony?” If we could influence said system, wouldn’t we be less likely to experience these swings and problems during and after the pregnancy? After 13 years work with chronic autoimmune conditions, I can say there is an unequivocal “YES” to that question! T-regulatory cells influence Th17, the immune cells that control Th1/Th2 balance. Nutrients such as vitamins A, D, and K, as well as fiber, probiotics, alpha lipoic acid, green tea, and essential fatty acids are all potent stimulators for T-reg cell creation and ultimately help our immune system find balance! Are you getting enough of these in your diet or through supplementation? (Check out the bottom of this blog for one supplement that contains all of these nutrients!)

Hormones Have a Hand

Hormones are also tied strongly to autoimmune diseases, which often begin or change around pregnancy and menopause when a woman’s hormones are fluctuating. This is one of the reasons why most autoimmune diseases are much more common in women. For example, women are 3 times more likely to have rheumatoid arthritis than men are. This is even stronger for thyroid conditions like Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.  

Androgens and estrogens, groups of sex hormones, are able to regulate Th1/Th2 balance. Androgens are generally male hormones and are responsible for pubic/underarm hair growth and help to build muscle. Estrogens help regulate menstrual cycles in females and fertility in males. Androgens such as testosterone promote Th1-type autoimmune diseases like RA, while estrogens promote Th2-type diseases such as SLE. Women with higher androgen levels (ex. polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS) are therefore more likely to experience miscarriages because androgens promote Th1 cells. As we covered above, Th1 cells attack fetuses as if they are a foreign invader. 

Don’t forget that Th1 and Th2 basically work against each other. So when Th2-promoting estrogen is high during pregnancy, Th1-type diseases are suppressed and Th2-type diseases are fueled. When the baby is born, a woman’s estrogen levels decrease, allowing Th1-type diseases to flare up again.

All in all, hormones from pregnancy influence T cells, which influence autoimmune disease. Critical nutrients from diet and supplementation can help stimulate the regulation of the immune system and thereby smooth the transition.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Ian Hollaman

The Ultimate Supplement to Support Your T-reg Cells

Interested in taking one product, instead of 6 to help your immune balance? Our proprietary supplement ImmunoXym contains everything your body needs to create thriving T-reg cells. T-reg cells are the ‘police’ of our immune system and help keep it from overreacting, which makes it the #1 product we recommend for autoimmune patients. Are you autoimmune and planning to becoming pregnant? Supporting your T-reg cells will help ease the transitions your immune system is about to undergo.

To order:

  • Start here
  • Enter the one-time access code: USE777
  • Create an account by entering your name, email and desired password. Click ‘Register’
  • You may then begin shopping. Click here to jump to the product. Otherwise ImmunoXym can be found by clicking “view all” under “products”
  • Use the coupon code: IAN10 at checkout for 10% off!

Keep it Fresh

As comes Spring, so comes the opportunity to reap the rewards of homegrown deliciousness. This time of year is known for awakening all of the human senses. What better time to feel at one with the green spaces around you?  

Spring is the ideal season to start gardening as it helps get your produce and herbs ready for the rest of the year. A home garden is also a perfect way to save money; having fresh veggies and herbs on hand at all times can be expensive. Consider giving yourself the gift of a little -or a big- garden. 

Many of the herbs, fruits, and veggies that are AIP-compliant can also be grown indoors or in containers so you don’t need a big yard to do this! Become one with nature this Spring whether that means watering the herbs from the couch or roaming through expansive acreage. 

For many people, eating AIP-compliant diets means cooking a lot more at home than they may have been accustomed to previously. Because of the restrictions of this particular protocol, we encourage the use of myriad fresh herbs to bring flavor and interest to your meals.  

Easy Herbs to Grow This Spring:

Parsley

The first herb to dabble in is parsley. It’s relatively easy to grow and the yield is high. Parsley is great when you want to make dishes with rich flavors. A lot of Mediterranean dishes are actualized with the use of parsley. Check out Stevie’s grain-free tabbouleh recipe below!

Cilantro

Another herb that is great for AIP dishes is cilantro. It can be grown from the seed or by simply starting with a cilantro plant. Cilantro can survive in many climates so it’s recommended regardless of where you live. 

Dill

Dill won’t survive a frost so make sure to plant this herb when the Spring weather becomes more predictable. It does best with full sunlight so keep it outside or near a big sun-facing window. Dill is often under-utilized, but it can really bring life to both vegetable and seafood-based dishes alike. 

Basil

Basil is perfect for container gardening and grows extremely well indoors near a sunny window. Like parsley, it also produces a high yield so you can make new friends by sharing some of your extra basil. It goes great with meat, salads, vegetables- the list goes on! Hot tip: make a dairy-free, nut-free pesto with just your homegrown basil, hemp hearts, garlic, salt, and extra virgin olive oil. 

Happy Spring and Happy Gardening!

GRAIN-FREE TABBOULEH

Ingredients:

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup lemon juice

½ tsp sea salt

3 bunches fresh Italian parsley, chopped

1 cup hemp hearts

1 cup riced cauliflower, fresh or frozen

8 green onions, finely diced

¼ cup fresh mint, chopped (optional)

Directions:

If using frozen riced cauliflower, add to a skillet and cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until completely warmed through. Let cool completely before assembling the rest of the salad. 

Add olive oil, lemon juice, and salt to a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Add remaining ingredients, toss to coat, and serve.

What is Sjögren’s Syndrome?

April is Sjögren’s awareness month, so we thought it would be a great time to shed some light on it. Sjögren’s (pronounced show-grens) syndrome is a common autoimmune condition where moisture-secreting glands are attacked. This usually happens first in the eyes and mouth, so dry eyes and mouth are the most common symptoms.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Dry nose, recurrent sinusitis, nosebleeds
  • Dry or peeling lips
  • Dry skin
  • Fatigue
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Inability to focus or ‘brain fog’
  • Respiratory issues like shortness of breath, dry cough, or recurrent bronchitis
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Memory loss
  • Dysautonomia 
  • Headaches (most commonly tension-type or migraines)
  • Mouth sores and dental problems
  • Swollen or painful salivary glands
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Acid reflux
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • IBS

Sjögren’s syndrome can develop at any age and in any sex, but it is most common in women (9 out of 10 patients are women) and people over 40. It is considered a widely underdiagnosed condition, with the Sjögren’s Foundation estimating that over 2.5 million patients are currently undiagnosed.

Sjögren’s can occur on its own, but it often shows up alongside other autoimmune conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, Raynaud’s phenomenon, fibromyalgia, pernicious anemia, and thyroid conditions such as Hashimoto’s and Graves’. This useful graphic below (by the Sjögren’s Foundation) uses percentages to show the overlap of each of these conditions with Sjögren’s.

How Does Sjögren’s Start?

Like all autoimmune conditions, Sjögren’s requires 3 things to develop:

  1. A genetic predisposition
  2. Leaky gut (intestinal permeability)
  3. Environmental trigger

The genes associated with Sjögren’s aren’t known yet, but we can’t control those anyway. What we can have some control over, though, is whether those genes are expressed. Our genes basically can be turned on and off with the right environmental factors. This is why gut health and removing triggers are more important than our genes.

In functional medicine, we use diet change and supplementation to heal the gut while working with you to find out possible triggers in your life. Common triggers include stress, viral or bacterial infections, and mold or toxin exposure.

Dry Eyes

One of the first things to occur in Sjögren’s is the glands that produce tears, the lacrimal glands, are attacked by the immune system. You might think that we only produce tears when we cry, but our lacrimal glands are actually always working to keep our eyes moistened.

Have you ever wondered why we blink? Our eyelids keep moisture trapped beneath, so when the part of our eye that is exposed to air starts to dry out, blinking spreads a new film of moisture over them. This method only works, however, when our lacrimal glands are producing moisture.

Dry eyes can lead to burning, itching, a feeling like sand is in the eyes, blurred vision, and difficulty tolerating bright lights. Think back to the last time you were challenged to a “blinking contest”. After some time of forcing your eyes to remain open, your vision starts to become affected and you start to feel a burning sensation. This is what chronic dry eyes associated with Sjögren’s syndrome can feel like.

Dry Mouth

One of the 2 most prominent symptoms, dry mouth is uncomfortable and can lead to dental problems. Along with the lacrimal glands, the salivary glands are the first to be affected. Salivary glands produce saliva, which keeps our mouths and gums moist and also helps with digesting food.

People with Sjögren’s are more likely to develop cavities and gum disease due to lack of moisture, so recommendations include stimulating saliva production with sugar-free (xylitol or maltitol if sugar alcohols are tolerated) lozenges and brushing teeth after every meal. These types of recommendations are only good for managing symptoms without actually addressing the root cause.

What Can You Do?

At Dr. Autoimmune, we are experts at getting to the root cause of your condition and working with you to develop a personalized plan to reach your health goals. Most of our clients notice huge changes within only 30 days. Fill out the form below to get started on your health journey!

Still Can’t Smell or Taste After COVID?

The virus that shook the world has a few symptoms we all know, such as loss of taste and smell. And by now, most of us have heard of the term “long-COVID”, referring to recovered COVID-19 patients who have symptoms long after they test negative for the virus. Long-COVID symptoms include continued absence of smell and taste, difficulty breathing, fatigue, and brain fog. If you have been struggling with this, there is hope!

According to an early study funded by the National Institutes of Health, about 70% of COVID-19-positive patients had lost their sense of taste and smell. A later study found that 61% of recovered COVID patients still had symptoms after 6 months. That is a long time to go without being able to smell anything!

So why are so many people not able to smell for months after they had the virus? Loss of smell (anosmia) is actually a sign that the brain is inflamed.

What Causes Brain Inflammation?

Diabetes, obesity, and insulin resistance are risk factors for severe COVID-19. In fact, this whole-population study in England showed that one third of all the COVID-19-related deaths occurred in people with diabetes. That’s a huge percentage!

While it is known that these are risk factors for severe COVID, emerging evidence is also tying these to long-COVID, especially loss of smell and taste. As we mentioned before, the loss of smell and taste is actually related to brain inflammation. This can be caused by insulin resistance.

When you eat, your food is broken down into glucose (sugar) molecules. Your body then releases insulin, which is a hormone that allows glucose to enter a cell and be used for energy. When your cells become resistant to it, glucose can no longer enter and be used. This causes two things: your cells no longer have an energy source, and inflammation starts to accumulate.

Insulin is an important hormone for brain function. Insulin resistance causes your brain to not have enough energy to function properly and become inflamed. It has been tied to the loss of smell that is common in diabetes patients, so it is no wonder that it is also the culprit behind your long-COVID symptom. Insulin resistance is also one of the most common culprits behind autoimmune disorders and dementia.

Other symptoms of insulin resistance:

  • Sugar cravings after meals
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling “hangry” between meals
  • Weight loss resistance

Insulin Resistance and Alzheimer’s

Your inability to smell or taste anything months after you had COVID-19 is an important sign that you may have insulin resistance that is causing your brain to become inflamed. This is important for you to get on top of not only so that you can enjoy your essential oil diffuser again, but also so that you can protect your brain from long-term damage.

Insulin resistance and diabetes have been linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other dementias for the same reasons they cause the loss of taste and smell. Over time, insulin resistance causes the brain to become more inflamed and receive less fuel for cell energy. Correcting insulin sensitivity levels can help you prevent, and sometimes even reverse, dementia.

Smell and Taste Again with Dr. Autoimmune

At Dr. Autoimmune, we have helped many patients resolve their long-COVID symptoms. We can get to the underlying cause of your extended suffering and find solutions that work for you. Insulin resistance can be brought under control with the right diet and supplementation regimens for your body. We frequently use continuous glucose monitoring to help patients understand exactly how different foods affect their blood sugar levels. Our extensive blood panel, including a fasting insulin marker, also helps us get a better picture of your metabolic health.

Do you miss being able to taste your favorite foods and smell your favorite natural candles? Fill out the form below to get started on your healing journey!

A Hair-Owing Dilemma


Baldness is the name given to the most common type of hair loss, androgenetic alopecia, genetically caused hair loss. Male pattern baldness typically occurs on the top and front of the head. Female pattern baldness occurs on the top, usually widening at the part. Genetics and stress can exacerbate hair loss, but too often our immune system gets involved, and can be the culprit in the alopecia mystery.

Alopecia is the medical term for bald, and “areata” means patchy. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that attacks the skin follicles creating non-scarring hair loss, generally on the head and face. This condition affects millions of people, which often drives both women and men to shave their hair in order to minimize or hide this patchy disorder. One study showed that among the 71 patients with alopecia areata, males outnumbered females with a ratio of 2.5:1. The maximum incidence of alopecia areata was in the age group of 20-40 years (50.4%).

Alopecia has different shapes and sizes

  • Alopecia areata totalis means you’ve lost all the hair on your head.
  • Alopecia areata universalis is the loss of hair over your entire body.
  • Diffuse alopecia areata is a sudden thinning of your hair rather than lost patches.
  • Ophiasis alopecia areata causes hair loss in a band shape around the sides and back of your head.

The loss amount and shapes can be categorized 3 severity classifications:

  • Mild symptoms would typically have 3 or less patches with no larger than 3 cm, or the loss is limited to the eyelashes.
  • Moderate symptoms have more than 3 patches or a patch larger than 3 cm without total hair loss on your head and/or body.
  • Severe symptoms would be classified as total hair loss on head or body, or a snake-shaped loss on the scalp or head.

Any type of alopecia can affect emotional health through shame and trauma. Highlighted during a recent awards show that went viral, hiding or lack of awareness about this disorder can be humiliating, and many are uneducated about its cause or existence. Awareness of any imbalance that affects millions of people should be shared and education of how to support your immune system is key in getting ahead of our health epidemic.

Thyroid/Hashimoto’s dysfunction

Many Dr. Autoimmune clients with thyroid disease report hair loss In fact, 74% of all thyroid patients report hair thinning or loss. When hormone production of T3 and T4 is disrupted, it affects the health and development of hair loss and growth. With proper diet, supplement and lifestyle shifts, your endocrine system can rebalance and your symptoms can dissipate or disappear altogether.

Lupus

Like all autoimmunity, lupus causes widespread panic of inflammation which can include your skin. Inflammation creates stress which can manifest in many different organs. With proper diagnosis and support, you can get this inflammation under control, and your hair can grow back.

Other autoimmune diseases that could cause hair loss

There is hope!

Don’t pull the rest of your hair out in frustration; there is hope! Dr. Autoimmune can help you get to the root cause of your symptoms and get your health to soar again. Rather than utilizing a symptom based approach, maybe looking deeper into the physiology and mechanisms can create lasting changes. It can take longer and requires diet and supplementation but functional medicine is “root cause medicine”, and investing in your health may be the spark you need to feel confident and radiate from the inside-out.

Top 7 Foods For Immune Support

Food is medicine. By providing your body with the correct tools, it has the ability to heal itself. Whether you have a diagnosed autoimmune or thyroid condition, or just want to boost your immune system during these trying times, follow this guide to learn how to use food to your advantage!

Autoimmunity Is Rising- Have You Been Tested?

What are Antinuclear Antibodies?

Antinuclear antibodies (ANAs) are antibodies (proteins that our body creates to fight infections) that are made to attack our own body, or “autoantibodies”. The prefix ‘auto-’ means ‘self’. So, autoantibodies are antibodies against the self, and an autoimmune disease occurs when someone’s immune system is attacking their body using autoantibodies. Examples of autoimmune diseases include multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, lupus, and many more. Antinuclear antibodies attack the nucleus of our cells, hence their name.

A positive ANA usually suggests a vascular condition, or a condition that affects blood flow. Some autoimmune vasculitis conditions include systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), Sjogren’s syndrome, scleroderma, mixed connective tissue disease, and Wegener’s granulomatosis.

Implications

The presence of ANAs in your blood could mean that you might develop an autoimmune disease in the future, if you don’t already have one. Note that typical autoimmune disorders take 5-9 years to develop and symptoms may or may not be present.

In other words, testing for ANAs may provide a chance to stop a disease before it really starts. This is why it is included in our initial and every follow-up blood panel!

The prevalence of autoimmune disease and ANAs has been rising over the last few decades. While the western medical model deems the presence of ANAs a nonconcern without the presence of symptoms, we are now seeing that it can progress into an autoimmune condition over the course of a few years if left unchecked.

Researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) studied the prevalence of positive ANA markers over a 25 year period. Here is what they found:

  • From 1988–1991, 11% (~22 million people) had a positive ANA
  • From 1999–2004, 11.5% (~27 million people) had a positive ANA
  • Here’s the kicker: From 2011–2012, 15.9% (~41 million people) had a positive ANA

From 22 to 41 million people in 25 years is a huge jump! Among the age subgroups, adolescents (ages 12-19) had the highest rate of change, with their prevalence nearly tripling over the time period from 5% to 13%.  Another way to grasp this is that from 88’-04’ ANA Abs jumped 23% and from 04’-12 ANA Abs exploded another 52%!!!

Understanding Test Results

So, you got a positive ANA result on your blood test. There are a couple of other pieces of information next to that result that may seem a bit confusing. Let us break it down for you.

Titer

Your titer is the measure of how many antibodies were found in your blood. You may have a titer of <1:40, 1:40, 1:80, 1:160, or 1:320. The ‘1’ before the colon represents a certain volume of blood, and the number after the colon represents the amount of ANA’s found in that amount of blood. 

A negative test would be a level, or ‘titer’, of less than (<) 1:40 (a.k.a. 40 antibodies per measure). A low titer is between 1:40 and 1:80 (40-80 antibodies per measure), while a high result would be 1:80 or above. It can be confusing because the number presents as a ratio, so one might think that 1:160 is smaller than 1:80, but the reality is a 1:160 titer is double that of a 1:80. 

Pattern

If you have a positive ANA result on your labs, next to your titer there will be a pattern. This just describes how the ANAs look under a microscope. Here are the types of ANA patterns and their associated conditions:

  • Speckled (most common in females)
    • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
    • Sjogren’s syndrome
    • Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma)
    • Polymyositis
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Homogenous (most common in males)
    • Can be seen in any autoimmune disease, higher levels associated with Lupus
  • Nucleolar
  • Mitochondrial
    • Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC)
    • Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma)
  • Cytoplasmic
    • Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC)
    • Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma)
    • Autoimmune hepatitis (AIH)
  • Speckled + Cytoplasmic
    • Antisynthetase syndrome
  • Centromere
    • Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma)
    • Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • Homogenous + Nucleolar
    • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
    • Chronic autoimmune hepatitis
    • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis

What Can We Do?

All autoimmune conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, lupus, and Sjogren’s syndrome, require three things to develop:

  1. Genetic predisposition
  2. Intestinal permeability (a.k.a “leaky gut”)
  3. An environmental trigger (can be inflammation, toxin exposure, food sensitivities, infections, or even stress)

Two of these things can be controlled. With proper nutrition and supplementation, we can heal leaky gut, reduce inflammation, and remove food triggers. Interventions can be taken to remove other triggers also, such as testing your house for mold and treating infected sinuses.

When we see a positive ANA marker, we want to get those antibody levels down to slow down or stop disease progress. One of the first things to do is remove gluten from the diet because gluten is a common food trigger that causes inflammation and worsens leaky gut.

What may be most important to realize is that this one marker is a wake up call.  You need to become very serious about your health if this is positive, and your level of dedication to daily habits and lifestyles that promote inflammation need to change!  That may be hard to swallow, but your body is infinitely wise and it is trying to tell you that what you are doing is not working and we need to change direction to get back into harmony!  Our program has shown an 85% success rate with autoimmune disorders, but it requires your participation – the pill to fix the ill is not our approach!

If you’re interested in getting a comprehensive blood test that includes the ANA marker, and then developing a plan for reaching optimal wellness, contact us below!

Ian Hollaman, DC, MSc, IFMCP

In with Black Cumin Seed Oil, Out with Inflammation

Also known as black caraway and referenced in many scriptural texts, black cumin is a flowering plant found throughout Southwest Asia, parts of the Mediterranean and Africa. This magical oil has a long history of use in diverse culinary and medicinal traditions. Black seed oil is extracted from N. sativa seeds, and has been used in medicine for over 2,000 years due to its many therapeutic benefits. The uses for this natural remedy are all-encompassing. It would be a compliment to your arsenal of supplements, ointments, and aides.

Black seed oil has been used for a wide variety of health conditions across the continents. As a result, it has sometimes been referred to as a panacea, meaning ‘universal healer’. That is a big claim, but black cumin seeds have been used by traditional Arab, Asian, and African practitioners to support conditions such as digestive and respiratory problems, headaches, and bacterial infections. In addition to ingesting this oil that brandishes a pungent herbaceous flavor, it can be rubbed into joints and skin as an anti-inflammatory aid… and YES, it really works!

Black Cumin Seed Oil and Autoimmunity

Black cumin seed oil is known to help regulate overactive immune system responses that can cause things like allergies and inflammatory or autoimmune conditions. These conditions can include Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis, to name a few. The most abundant and active component in black cumin seed oil is thymoquinone* (a phytochemical compound found in the plant), which attributes to these benefits: 

  • Enhancement of the immune response (T regulatory cells)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Liver support
  • Anti-tumor
  • Anti-cancer
  • Antimicrobial
  • Anti-parasitic
  • Hypoglycemic
  • Antihypertensive
  • Anti-asthmatic

*Contraindications for Thymoquinone: Pregnancy, bleeding disorders: might increase the risk of bleeding by slowing blood clotting and 15 days before and after surgery.

Black cumin seed oil has been shown to beneficially affect the immune system by increasing the count and stimulating activity of some T-regulatory immune cells and, most notably, lowering levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. You may be familiar with the recent news of triggering cytokine storms and the havoc it can wreak on our immune systems.

Suppress the Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Hashimoto’s disease is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid, a small gland at the base of your throat below your Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system, which produces hormones that coordinate many of your body’s functions. Black cumin oil may support Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This study found that the group given black seed oil saw reductions in body weight and BMI, as well as improvements in thyroid-related measures such as T3 and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels. The researchers concluded that, “Considering the observed health-promoting effect of this medicinal plant in improving the disease severity, it can be regarded as a useful therapeutic approach in management of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.”

Massage out Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect more than just your joints. In some people, the condition can damage a wide variety of body systems, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels. Black seed oil has the potential to alter disease signaling pathways and provide protection against RA-induced symptoms, and also prevent liver and kidney damage in patients with RA. In 2011, The Journal of Cellular Biochemistry published a report on laboratory tests which showed the effectiveness of thymoquinone on RA-affected isolated human cell samples. Furthermore, 40 female patients with rheumatoid arthritis took 500 mg black seed oil capsule twice daily for one month and they reported suppression of disease progression with reduction of joint inflammation and improved morning stiffness.

Move more with Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is most commonly described as an incurable inflammatory neurodegenerative chronic disease that has life altering effects. Black seed oil consumption by MS patients can be therapeutic by suppressing inflammation, enhancing re-myelination (coating the outside of the nerves), and reducing the expression of TGF β1 in rats. Research shows that TGF B-1 has a role in activation of autoimmunity as well as suppressing autoimmunity. 

Re-myelination is a process of making cells that create new myelin sheaths on the central nervous system (CNS). The brain, optic nerves, and spine (CNS) communicate with each other, and then the brain tells the body how to move, think, and talk. It’s no wonder those who suffer with multiple sclerosis symptoms struggle with movement. So  go ahead and take a swig, or rub some black cumin oil on those aches and pains.

What we recommend   

Andreas Black Seed Cumin Oil touts their product is the world’s most effective and powerful superfood on the planet. It is 100% cold-pressed and sealed in glass bottles. USDA Organic. Dr. Autoimmune is offering 15% off Andreas Black Seed Cumin Oil during the month of August 2021. Regularly $55.00 retail, On sale for $46.75 does not include shipping or tax. Local pickups are available. Give us a call for more information 303-882-8447, or fill out the form below and one of our staff will be in touch with you shortly.

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    How Does Autoimmunity Start?

    There is a phrase in functional medicine by Mehmet Oz: “Your genetics load the gut; your lifestyle pulls the trigger.” Specifically, genetic risk for autoimmunity sets the stage, but our environment (lifestyle, diet, and mindset) can trigger a happy or tragic ending.

    There is much we can do to influence our genetics and health through our actions and behaviors. Many individuals not only improve their quality of life but sometimes even reduce their autoimmune lab markers and go into remission! So how does autoimmunity start in the first place? It takes a triad of factors: genetic predisposition, intestinal permeability (leaky gut), and environmental triggers.

    Genetic Predisposition

    Most people think of their genetics as a life sentence or a predetermined future. However, the emerging field of epigenetics has shown that environmental factors have a huge influence on which genes are actually expressed. In other words, just because you may have genes related to autoimmunity does not automatically mean that those genes will do anything harmful to you (you are NOT chained to your family’s destiny). Genetic predisposition is only one of the factors contributing to disease. Research shows there are common genetic factors that set the stage for autoimmunity, yet findings show that glutathione production and redox capabilities (the body’s ability to get rid of free radicals by reducing oxidative stress) dramatically influence autoimmune gene expression.

    Single nucleotide polymorphisms, frequently called SNPs (pronounced “snips”), are the most common type of genetic variation among people. Each SNP represents a difference in a single DNA building block, called a nucleotide. Types of SNPs such as MTHFR, GST, and COMT can affect glutathione production and oxidative stress management systems. Individuals with these types of genetic variations require more support through epigenetics (modifying diet, preterm environment, chemical/drug exposure, stress, long term supplementation, etc.).

    An SNP within a gene can lead to further genetic variations because genes are in charge of coding DNA. But some SNPs can occur in non-coding sections of DNA. So, even though genetic variances are correlated with diseases like Celiac, they may not have been the cause of the disease. In fact, the bulk of genetic research shows that DNA methylation (the process of changing the activity of a DNA segment) has been found to contribute most to immune tolerance breakdown and autoreactivity (the loss of self V. non-self and therefore autoimmune disease).

    Fortunately, many nutrition and lifestyle strategies can limit the impact of these genetic variations and SNP’s!

    Intestinal Permeability AKA “Leaky Gut”

    The intestines span a single-cell wall that protects your body from the external world. This wall is protected by a mucous membrane called secretory IgA, which is influenced by the environment of bacteria in the intestinal tract known as the microbiome. The cell wall has many functions, mainly providing a barrier between the intestinal tract and the body cavity. Between each cell in the intestinal wall are tight junctions which are meant to be just that: TIGHT! Research is now finding that tight junction failures are associated with a host of conditions, from chronic inflammation, cancer, and autoimmune diseases to allergies and heart disease.

    Tight junctions fail due to:

    • Toxins
    • Infection
    • Free radicals (ROS)
    • Inflammation Stress (blood sugar issues)
    • Hormone Imbalances (pregnancy, menopause)
    • Microbial imbalance (Dysbiosis)
    • Diet (food allergies, poor digestion)
    • Drugs (NSAID’s etc.)
    • Early exposure to gluten and casein
    • Chronic cortisol
    • Autoimmunity
    • Zonulin
    • Not breastfed or breastfed from a mother with intestinal permeability

    After the tight junctions fail, something called molecular mimicry occurs. This is where food, viruses, and bacteria enter the bloodstream through the intestinal cell wall. Essentially, your gut leaks. Your body then starts making antibodies to these foreign invaders. Antibodies are usually antigen-specific, but they can easily bind to something that they perceive as dangerous even if it isn’t because of similar molecular structures. To put it simply, your antibodies can get confused and start to see your own tissue as foreign bacteria, viruses, or food. Molecular mimicry is found in research between the foods gluten & casein and the thyroid; or also between bacteria, viruses, and self tissue. This is how autoimmunity begins. The self (auto-) is attacked by the immune system (-immunity).

    Environment

    The most influential environment for autoimmunity is preterm and during pregnancy. However, you can still do a lot to reduce environmental triggers of autoimmune disease for the rest of your life. Many of the triggers for autoimmune diseases have been studied and infections, vaccines, and other toxins are considered important implications in autoimmune disease. For example, the infection Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) is associated with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), Rheumatoid Arthritis, Graves (hyperthyroid), and Hashimotos (90% of the issue behind hypothyroidism).

    Nutrient depletion and dietary environmental triggers also trigger autoimmunity. For example, Vitamin D deficiency affects the genetic production of vitamin B’s and T-regulatory cells, which are both associated with autoimmunity prevention. Zinc deficiency contributes to a leaky gut and alters the microbiome. Research shows taking zinc can tighten the junctions between cells in the gut. In addition to nutritional factors, other environmental triggers of autoimmunity can include sleep disturbances and stress. Melatonin production from adequate sleep can improve inflammatory diseases like Multiple Sclerosis.

    Toxin and chemical exposure in our air, clothing, furniture, water, food, and other products contributes to autoimmunity. The verdict is out on many major toxins already in use in our society: such as flame retardants, pesticides/herbicides, air fresheners, hair dyes, cleaning supplies, wood stains and oils, laundry detergents, home insulation, art supplies, carpet, smoking, air pollution, mercury fillings, and most plastics. Thankfully, we can vote with our dollars and choose to change the environment we live in by purchasing EWG.org-approved low-toxin products and reducing our exposure.

    Key Learnings

    1. Autoimmunity starts with the trifecta overlap of leaky gut, genetic predisposition, and environmental triggers.
    2. Despite the genetic influences in your body, your environment is what contributes most to the expression of autoimmune diseases.
    3. You can change your diet, improve your sleep, reduce your stress, and toxin load. Each behavior change improves leaky-gut and reduces your environmental triggers.
    4. Oftentimes making epigenetic changes can influence the genetic expression of the autoimmune disease and can halt or even reverse the autoimmune diagnosis.

    Trust us, this is overwhelming at first but when you start to break down your unique contribution towards disease or optimal health it becomes incredibly empowering!  Chronic disease is a lifestyle, not destiny.  You have the choice in this journey to accept your fate or take charge and find a functional medicine practitioner who can guide you through this individualized process.  Trust your gut, find that person who can lead you to a new level of health, and let your health soar!

    Yours in Health,
    Dr. Ian Hollaman, DC, MSc, IFMCP