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ImmunoXym: The Best Way to Get the Benefits of Green Tea

Green tea has been used for centuries in Asia for its medicinal properties, and recent research has taught us that it may be an important tool for tackling autoimmunity. The extract from green tea has been shown to support T-regulatory cells, which help to suppress an overactive immune response and reduce inflammation. Sunphenon®, a decaffeinated and highly potent green tea extract, is a key ingredient in our proprietary supplement ImmunoXym that provides these benefits.

The Benefits

Green tea has been shown to have a number of health benefits thanks to its high polyphenol content. Polyphenols are antioxidants that help protect against oxidative stress and inflammation. Learn more about antioxidants, how they work, and another potent antioxidant in ImmunoXym here.

Green tea is also thermogenic, meaning it helps to boost metabolism and promote weight loss. In addition to all of this, green tea has been shown to protect against kidney damage, reduce risk of cancer, and control blood sugar levels. Simply put, green tea is a powerful tool for maintaining good health.

The Tea for T-Cells

According to research from Oregon State University, one of the beneficial compounds found in green tea has a powerful ability to increase the number of “regulatory T cells” that play a key role in immune function and suppression of autoimmune disease. Regulatory T cells (or “T-reg cells“) are a type of white blood cell that helps to keep the immune system in check, preventing it from overreacting and attacking healthy tissues. That’s why they are often referred to as the “police” of our immune system.

The major compound in green tea that they studied is a polyphenol called EGCG. In a study with mice, EGCG significantly increased the levels and activity of T-reg cells. The research was focused on potential treatments for lupus, but the findings have much broader implications for other autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. As stated by Mitzi Nagarkatti, an OSU professor and vice president for research:

“This is one of the most potent ways we’ve seen to increase the numbers and function of T-reg cells. These results are very exciting and could have broad implications for treatment of autoimmune disease.”

Medical College of Georgia researchers also say that green tea may help protect against autoimmune disease. Researchers studied an animal model for type 1 diabetes and Sjogren’s syndrome, which is an autoimmune condition that damages the glands that produce tears and saliva. The study found that green tea helped to reduce the production of inflammatory cytokines, which are molecules that play a role in the development of autoimmune disease by causing inflammation.

The Caffeine Drawback 

Clearly green tea has a lot of benefits, but it also contains caffeine. Caffeine interferes with cortisol levels– the “stress hormone.” Cortisol is a hormone that helps us to deal with stress. When our cortisol levels are too high, we can feel anxious and stressed out. Caffeine can interfere with the normal production of cortisol, which can lead to feeling more stressed. It can also cause other problems such as insomnia, headaches, and gastrointestinal upset.

Sunphenon® is a decaffeinated, highly potent green tea extract that is used in our proprietary supplement for autoimmune patients, ImmunoXym. Sunphenon® is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect cells from damage, and it has been shown to be effective in reducing the symptoms of autoimmune diseases by promoting T-reg cells.

ImmunoXym is a unique formula that is designed to support the body’s natural ability to stimulate these critical T-reg cells. Our supplement contains a blend of ingredients that are known to be effective in supporting immunity, and Sunphenon® is an important part of our formula. For the month of June, ImmunoXym will be 15% off in-office and 10% off online using code IAN10.

If you are ready to get to the root cause of your health issues and begin your healing journey, click the “Start Your Journey” button at the bottom of this page.

The Immune Power of Antioxidants

What Are Antioxidants?

“Antioxidant” is probably a term you have heard before. It is used commonly to refer to health beverage ingredients, so-called ‘superfoods’, and supplements as an anti-aging tool. But what is an antioxidant?

To understand how antioxidants work, you will need to understand what “free radicals” are. Free radicals are unstable atoms that are naturally made in the body. They are unstable because they do not have enough electrons, so they want to steal electrons from other atoms. When they steal electrons from our body’s atoms, it causes “oxidative stress” on our cells.

Oxidative stress, or free radicals stealing electrons from our bodies’ atoms, has been linked to a number of diseases such as:

In addition to all of these conditions, oxidative stress from free radicals also causes the effects of aging such as wrinkles, gray hair, vision decline, and hair loss. As we get older, our bodies produce more free radicals and have a harder time fighting them.

Now that you understand how free radicals cause oxidative stress, you will understand how antioxidants work. Free radicals need to steal electrons in order to become stable and stop causing damage. Antioxidants are special atoms that can donate their own electrons to the free radicals. Check out the image below to see how this works:

Some common antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), and our focus for this article: alpha lipoic acid (ALA).

How Antioxidants Help Autoimmunity

Oxidative stress from free radicals has been known to lead to autoimmunity because it messes with the immune system and causes inflammation. Here’s how:

Immune cells use free radicals to destroy bacteria, but when they start to produce too many, T-regulatory cells use them to suppress the immune cells. This is one way that T-reg cells ‘police’ the immune system. When immune cells are dysregulated (T-reg cells aren’t working right), they produce more free radicals, which increases inflammation. This is how oxidative stress dysregulates the immune system.

In fact, one study found that oxidative stress was a huge contributor to damage done by the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the most common type of lupus. Free radicals increased inflammation, organ damage, and the chance of developing a second disease.

Since we know that oxidative stress can cause autoimmunity, it makes sense that antioxidants may help with managing autoimmune diseases. Studies have actually shown that this theory is true.

ALA and Autoimmunity

Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is an antioxidant that our cells make naturally. We can also supplement with it and get great results, as some scientists have already tested.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that affects your body’s nervous system. The version of this disease that mice can get is called EAE. When mice with this disease were given high doses of ALA early on, the disease was completely suppressed. The ALA helped regulate the immune system in the mice and was able to completely stop it from attacking their central nervous systems. The implications for humans with MS are very exciting. Even in mice that already had very serious symptoms, the ALA slowed down their disease progression and reduced their symptoms.

Similar research shows us that ALA can be helpful for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus, psoriasis, autoimmune small-vessel vasculitis, and more.

ALA in Immunoxym

Our very own Dr. Ian Hollaman (a.k.a Dr. Autoimmune) developed a supplement formula for his autoimmune patients. Immunoxym is specifically made to support your T-regulatory cells, which are the ‘police’ of your immune system. One of the most important ingredients is ALA.

For the month of June, you can purchase Immunoxym for 10% off online using code IAN10 at checkout, and 15% off if you purchase in the office.

With an 85% success rate for resolution of symptoms, we are confident that we can get to the root cause of your condition and develop a custom plan with you that will help you reach your health goals. If you are ready to be brave and take the Dr. Autoimmune challenge, click “Start Your Journey” at the bottom of this page!

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!

Autoimmunity and the Earth

The idea that humans are separate from the natural world is a new one. Humans and nature evolved together, developing and perfecting symbiotic (mutually-beneficial) relationships over 6 million years. Has our recent separation led to an increase in health issues, particularly autoimmunity?

The environment around us affects the environment within us, including our microbiome (the little organisms- bacteria, viruses, and other microbes- that live in and on us). The microbial diversity in our gut can have a major effect on our overall health, especially immune health.

Densely populated areas tend to have more concrete and less plant life, more chemicals and less clean air or water, and provide little opportunity for communing with the natural environment we were meant to live in. In fact, as we get less natural light exposure, our gut microbiome becomes less healthy!

How does being away from nature increase our chances of developing autoimmunity?

The Gut Microbiome

Have you seen the hit Pixar movie “Finding Nemo”? I bring this up because it demonstrates a great example of a symbiotic (harmonious, or mutually-beneficial) relationship between different organisms. Clownfish secrete a substance onto the surface of their skin that protects them from the sting of the sea anemone. This allows them to live and hide among the sea anemone’s tentacles. In return, the clownfish attracts other fish for the sea anemone to eat.

Over the course of millions of years, clownfish developed this special protective mucus that makes this mutually beneficial relationship possible. This is an example of coevolution!

Similarly to the clownfish and sea anemone, humans and microbes have coevolved to help each other. Human bodies provide a perfect environment for many types of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, which in turn help us digest, make nutrients, and provide a backbone for our immune system.

Keeping the balance between microbes in our gut is very important for our overall health. These little life forms help to regulate infection, digest foods, and even make some vitamins.  Dr. Yehuda Shoenfeld, the “father of autoimmunity”, has been quoted as saying infections and microbiome diversity may be the key player in preventing and supporting autoimmunity.  

Playing in the dirt allows our bodies to meet more microbes and build a stronger immune system. The hygiene hypothesis is the theory that our society’s obsession with sterility and killing germs has kept our immune systems from learning diverse microbes and building a strong backbone. If our immune system is not well-educated, it can become confused and start to mistake our own cells for pathogens that need to be destroyed, setting the stage for autoimmunity.

Air Pollution

Rising pollution levels are not only directly affecting the quality of air we breathe, but they are contributing to climate change and the increase in wildfires (more smoke in the air = even more pollution). 

9 out of 10 people in this world breathe highly polluted air, which contributes to 7 million deaths per year. Breathing in polluted air irritates the lungs and mucosal lining, increases permeability of the mucus membranes (which allows for more irritants to enter the bloodstream), and causes both acute and chronic diseases as a result. It can aggravate and increase the risk of developing chronic conditions like asthma and emphysema (a type of lung disease).

Children’s lungs are in a state of development, with more than 80% of their air sacs developing after birth, so they are among the most highly affected populations. Children who grow up breathing polluted air are at a much higher risk for developing asthma, bronchitis, or even pneumonia. When air quality improves, children’s lung function shows clinically and statistically significant positive change, according to this large California study.

Air pollution can trigger autoimmune disease in genetically susceptible individuals by increasing inflammation. For example, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is strongly associated with air pollution as a risk factor. In a 5-year Polish study, the prevalence of type 1 diabetes (another autoimmune disease) increased by 1.5 times as the air quality depleted.

Can We Use the Environment to Heal? 

The average American spends 93% of their time indoors. Besides teaching our bodies new microbes and giving our lungs a break, are there other health benefits to be gained from spending time outside?

The ancient Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, has been shown to reduce blood pressure, reduce stress levels, and increase immune system balancing. This practice just refers to walking among trees and focusing on your senses- what you see, hear, taste, smell, and feel. It can be done in an actual forest, or simply at a park.

Similarly to shinrin-yoku, a growing trend in earthing, or grounding, simply means having skin contact with the Earth and absorbing it’s abundance of electrons. Our cells operate using electrons, but the frequencies we are exposed to throughout every day can deplete them. The Earth consistently gives off a frequency of 7.83 hz (the same as our alpha brain waves), which we can actually tune into!

Here in Boulder, Colorado, we are lucky enough to live within minutes of lush pine forests and incredible peaks. Wherever you are, find a safe spot among trees where you can go periodically, especially when you feel stressed or overwhelmed, just to play in the dirt, walk barefoot, and breathe.

Routinely incorporating this practice is not the newest fad.  We have evolved around nature and as we digress from it we increase dis-ease, and as we move towards it we plant the seeds of healing and optimal health!

Yours in health,

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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    HORMONES 101 Part 2: Estrogen Dominance

    In Part 1 of this series we covered cortisol, progesterone, and their relationship. Though the vast majority of hormones are made of protein, both of these are steroid hormones made of cholesterol. Estrogen is another steroid hormone. It is the main female sex hormone, but it also plays an important role in male bodies.

    Estrogen: The Breakdown

    Estrogen is responsible for most of the physical changes in the female body related to reproduction. It stores fat in certain areas leading to ‘curviness’, plumps skin, and grows the breasts and pubic hair in females. It also has other important functions such as improving immunity and memory, strengthening bones, controlling cholesterol levels, and maintaining a balanced mood. 

    The body makes three different types of estrogen:

    1. Estrone (E1) = the only estrogen produced after menopause
    2. Estradiol (E2) = main estrogen in females of reproductive age
    3. Estriol (E3) = produced during pregnancy

    The two main sex hormones (hormones involved in reproduction) in females are progesterone and estrogen. As we discussed before, progesterone dominates the second half of the menstrual cycle, maintaining the thick uterine lining to prepare for pregnancy. That thick uterine lining exists thanks to estrogen, who dominates the first half of the cycle. Here is that visual again to refresh your memory:

    A Finicky Relationship

    One of the most common hormonal imbalances seen in females is between progesterone and estrogen. This imbalance is known as estrogen dominance. In males, this presents as an imbalance between testosterone and estrogen. Even though estrogen does important things like keeping bones strong, the key to balanced health is balanced hormones! One of progesterone’s most important roles is to balance out estrogen after it gets ramped up during the first half of the menstrual cycle. When estrogen levels in the body are too high, you risk developing estrogen-related cancers and experience a range of symptoms.

    Because estrogen dominance describes the relationship between estrogen and progesterone, there are a few ways it can present. Estrogen levels could be normal, but if progesterone levels are low, you have estrogen dominance. The opposite can result in the same: If progesterone levels are normal, but estrogen levels are high, you have estrogen dominance.

    Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance

    If you menstruate, you may have experienced some (or all) of these symptoms. Though they are common in our society, they are likely the result of a hormone imbalance that you can get under control with proper nutrition and supplementation and the help of a functional medicine practitioner.

    Females:

    • Heavy or irregular periods
    • Water retention and swelling
    • Breast tenderness and breast changes
    • Headaches or migraines
    • Weight gain
    • Mood swings  
    • Painful periods
    • PMS symptoms
    • Fertility challenges
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Sugar cravings
    • Uterine fibroids (benign growths around or in the uterus)
    • Changes in memory and brain function
    • Cold hands and feet

    Males:

    • Erectile dysfunction
    • Infertility
    • Enlarged breasts
    • Depression

    Estrogen is created in the ovaries/testes, adrenal glands, and fat tissue. In normal amounts, it keeps our bodies well balanced. However, high amounts of fat tissue can result in extra production of estrogen, which in turn encourages more fat storage. This cycle can lead to unwanted weight gain. On top of that, estrogen has been shown to discourage the breakdown of fat cells, especially in the midsection (hips and waist).

    Estrogen dominance over time can lead to more serious health issues, such as heart attacks, breast or ovarian cancer, blood clots, and stroke.

    Estrogen and autoimmunity

    Estrogen is known to be an immune-enhancer, whereas androgens and progesterone are immune-suppressors. This is an important piece of information for people living with autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. Autoimmune diseases manifest when one’s immune system is overactive and starts to attack the body’s own tissue. In this case, having estrogen continue to ramp up your immune system is going to cause further damage. This is the reason that about 78% of people with autoimmune diseases are women.

    What causes estrogen dominance?

    High estrogen levels can be partially hereditary, but it can also be caused (or triggered) by external sources such as hormonal contraceptives, some antibiotics, and other medications, including the popular hormone replacement therapy used to ‘treat’ menopause symptoms. Other factors that contribute are gut dysbiosis, a low fiber diet, and alcohol consumption.  The most common mechanism we see in clinical practice is estrogen dominance due to insulin resistance.  When insulin is spiking to control blood sugar this creates fat cells and fat cells secrete more estrogen.  This in turn alters the ratios of hormones and can increase inflammation which impacts all areas of the body.  As this continues it’s almost like a train gaining steam without brakes.  The estrogen dominance then facilitates inflammation which in turn causes more insulin resistance (and on and on…).

    Another cause of estrogen dominance can be polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which we mentioned in Part 1 as a cause of low progesterone levels. PCOS can be caused by high levels of androgens (male hormones). Symptoms can include acne, facial hair or male pattern baldness in females. PCOS may be manageable through proper nutrition. One group of researchers studied women with PCOS and found that by decreasing the amount of refined carbohydrates in their diets, insulin sensitivity could be induced. Insulin sensitivity, being the opposite of insulin resistance, can help increase levels of progesterone and therefore decrease levels of estrogen.

    Insulin resistance promotes the enzyme aromatase, which converts androgens to estrogen. It also inhibits sex-hormone-binding globulin, resulting in more free estrogen. We’ll talk more extensively about insulin resistance in part 3 of this series.

    Excess fat, stress, impaired digestion and detoxification pathways, and external estrogen copy-cats such as xeno- and phytoestrogens can also lead to increased levels of estrogen. The body metabolizes hormones and gets rid of them through detoxification pathways. When these processes aren’t functioning properly (or genetic alterations are present), estrogen will remain in the body for long periods of time.

    Xenoestrogens are synthetic, man-made chemicals that resemble estrogen and act on estrogen receptors in the body. They are found in things like plastics, cosmetics (we absorb up to 60% of what we put on our skin!), and birth control pills. Phytoestrogens on the other hand, come from plants and have less of an impact (though still an impact!) on the body’s natural estrogen levels. Soy is the most common culprit in this family of estrogen disruptors.

    What’s next?

    The functional medicine approach to all hormone imbalances is represented in the pneumonic “PTSD”. Let’s apply it to estrogen!

    1. Production: 
      1. Estrogen is made in multiple places, but we can have the most control over our fat tissue. This does not mean that you need to eat less. Our bodies need to be nourished! Exercise and proper nutrition will help us control excess fat buildup.
      2. We can limit our exposure to external estrogen-like chemicals. Choosing clean cosmetics and organic foods is one way to reduce our intake of xenoestrogens. Avoiding foods like soy can reduce our intake of phytoestrogens.
    2. Transport
      1. More available estrogen as a result of dysregulated transportation pathways can lead to estrogen dominance.
    3. Sensitivity
      1. A cell’s sensitivity to a hormone may have an impact. For instance, a cell with a rigid membrane may not allow for estrogen to enter. When estrogen receptors are defective, it can result in an estrogen resistance condition and therefore more free estrogen.
    4. Detoxification
      1. If detoxification pathways are not functioning optimally and estrogen isn’t being excreted at a normal rate, that leaves more of it to cause an imbalance. We can provide our bodies with nutrients that support healthy digestion and a healthy liver for detoxing.

    If you suspect you may have estrogen dominance, you should consider meeting with a practitioner who understands how to identify root causes and will work with you to create a personalized plan for balancing your hormones. Contact us using the form below to get started!

    Stay tuned for Part 3 of our hormone series, where we will dive deeper into another very common hormone imbalance: insulin resistance.

    Contact us:






      Can Olive Oil Help Multiple Sclerosis Patients?

      T-Regulatory Cells

      T-regulatory (Treg) cells are the police force of our immune system. As their name suggests, Treg cells regulate our body’s immune response by suppressing it when it isn’t needed. They are extremely important in preventing autoimmunity, which occurs when the immune system attacks the body’s own cells.

      FOXP3 is a protein of the FOX protein family. It plays a role in the differentiation of Tregs during their production. Some Tregs use other protein markers, but FOXP3+ Tregs are the most studied, so these are the ones we will be referring to in these blogs when we say “Tregs.”

      We know that the body deploys Tregs to deal with inflammation and disease, but we are increasingly learning the importance of “tissue-resident Tregs” for maintaining overall balance, even if there is no immediate need for an immune response. Tissue-resident Tregs live in our tissues and keep those environments stable. We are still learning about the mechanisms these resident Tregs use, but there is a strong possibility that specific types of fat play a vital role.

      What does oil have to do with it?

      All Treg cells require fatty acids to be produced and function effectively. The process they use is called ‘fatty acid β-oxidation–driven (FAO-driven) oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS)’. The important part to remember is that FAO (fatty acids and oxygen) are needed. Fatty acids = lipids = fats = oils. Recent data shows that the types of fatty acids Tregs use for this process greatly impact their suppressive function.

      Our tissues have a lot of fat cells mixed into them, so Tregs that live in tissue have easy access to lipids. A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation compared the concentrations of different types of fatty acids in healthy tissue versus tissue from a person with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). 

      MS is an autoimmune disease that results when someone’s Tregs are not policing the immune system correctly, causing them to attack the myelin sheaths surrounding nerves. You can visualize the myelin sheath if you think about the coating surrounding a wire. Imagine your own Treg cells eating away at that protective coating, exposing the nerve (or wire) to damage.

       

      Because of the nerve damage, MS patients can experience a gradual loss of feeling and function in their limbs, pain, weakness/fatigue, muscle spasms and eventually serious problems with inner organ function.

      In the study, researchers found that tissue from healthy individuals contained much higher concentrations of oleic acid than tissue from MS patients. Oleic acid promotes the Treg FAO-driven metabolic process and consequently increases FOXP3 production, which of course promotes more Treg production. This positive feedback loop is responsible for maintaining balance.

      While healthy tissue had a lot of oleic acids, tissue affected by MS had much higher concentrations of proinflammatory arachidonic acid. The Tregs in MS tissue used primarily arachidonic acid, instead of oleic acid, for their FAO-driven metabolism. These Tregs had defects in their suppressive function (ability to suppress the immune system when it is overreacting).

      The most interesting thing is, when researchers exposed the defected Tregs to oleic acid, their suppressive function was partially restored. This same trend proved true when the oleic acid exposure treatment was applied to patients with MS.

      Sources of oleic acid:

      While walnuts and fish count as sources for oleic acid, at Dr. Autoimmune, we make sure everyone is getting a good dose through high-quality olive oil. The oil we provide our patients with is organic extra virgin olive oil from Spain pressed from Picual olives. When Picual olives are out of season, we switch to an organic Italian oil of equal quality. Dr. Autoimmune has done his due diligence and chosen the absolute best oil at the best price for you.

      If you are looking for help getting your MS symptoms under control, contact us using the form below. Dr. Autoimmune’s team is eager to empower you with the tools and support you need in order to tackle your health goals. Mention this blog and receive 15% off our premium olive oil!