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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!

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.