*There are two parts to your immune system, TH1 and TH2, and they should be in balance, kind of like a teeter-totter effect. One should not be higher than the other. If your immune system goes out of balance because of stress (physical, chemical or emotional), one system (TH1 or TH2) will become dominant and this will cause your immune system to attack your body. There are specific blood test that can be run to determine if you are autoimmune and if one part of your immune system is dominant.
Know The Autoimmune Triggers...
One of the most common questions we get is... "How did i develop this autoimmune condition?" Well... it's pretty much genetics and the environment. It's a matter of what came first, the chicken or the egg? We all know that genetically, you may be at risk for developing certain problems and/or conditions. If your mom had a thyroid condition, if your grandmother had a thyroid condition, you probably have a thyroid condition too, so it's genetic.
Then there are environmental factors, one of them is being chemicals such as cigarette smoke. There are over 519 chemicals in cigarettes. Here are just a few of them...
TSNAs: Tobacco-specific N-nitrosamines (TSNAs) are known to be some of the most potent carcinogens present in smokeless tobacco, snuff and tobacco smoke.
Benzene: Benzene can be found in pesticides and gasoline. It is present in high levels in cigarette smoke and accounts for half of all human exposure to this hazardous chemical.
Pesticides: Pesticides are used on our lawns and gardens, and inhaled into our lungs via cigarette smoke.
Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is a chemical used to preserve dead bodies and is responsible for some of the nose, throat and eye irritation smokers experience when breathing in cigarette smoke.
So chemicals in general can trigger an autoimmune response, like the latest chemical that's hit the news...BPA. This is a very nasty chemical called bisphenol A. It's used in a lot of plastics, and BPA is extremely bad for thyroid health; it can trigger Hashimoto's thyroiditis or autoimmune thyroid.
Rocket Fuel is another! You heard that correctly, I said rocket fuel! You may ask... "How am I exposed to rocket fuel?" Studies have shown that 30 to 40 percent of women in America have remnants of rocket fuel in their body. It gets into the ground water, It stays there for a very long time.
One of the biggest triggers for an autoimmune thyroid is iodine. When it comes to Hashimoto's autoimmune thyroid, iodine is probably the biggest trigger!
How to know if you are Autoimmune...
How do you know if your immune system is attacking your body? Well... we just talked about the fact that we run tests, specifically TPO and TGB antibodies, to see if you have an autoimmune thyroid or Hashimoto's thyroiditis, along with immune panels. The reality is... Most people already know that they're autoimmune just from the fact that they may already suffer from a current autoimmune disorder, such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Sjorgren's syndrome, scleroderma, and/or lupus.
Another way that people will know if they're autoimmune is that their symptoms may wax and wane. Symptoms that wax and wane are a sure sign that you are most likely suffering from an autoimmune condition.
The third way to know if a patient's autoimmune is that they will come in with a basket of supplements--I mean a truck-load. I've had people bring in so many bottles of supplements it wasn't funny. In many cases, the supplements that they are taking were actually making them worse!
Number four... their life fell apart after they got sick. That's how they know they're autoimmune. They've been to 12 or 15 or 20 doctors and they have a stack of medical records sky-high, all because it's an undiagnosed autoimmune condition.
They may develop an autoimmune condition following a pregnancy. Usually women are TH2 dominant in the third trimester and TH1 dominany postpartum.
And finally, as i've mentioned, there's positive testing via the immune panels and TPO and TGB antibodies, You see, your immune is designed to protect you. When your immune system runs amuck, it starts attacking different parts of your body. It's important to know that once you realize you have an autoimmune condition, you need to get checked, and you need to manage that autoimmune condition
In the Thyroid Secrets portion of the site, we talked about the fact that the #1 cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune thyroid, and there has to be a reason why your body is attacking your thyroid. That's what we're going to adress here. There are certain tests that need to be run on the thyroid--not just a TSH or a free T3 or a free T4-- there are specific antibodies called TPO and TGB antibodies. If these antibody tests are positive, you have an autoimmune thyroid. My guess is that your doctor has not run these tests.
Now there are many other tests that need to be run for the thyroid, but these are the two big ones to determine if you have an autoimmune thyroid. And if you're autoimmune, you have to find out why you're autoimmune. Remember I said there are two parts to your immune system, TH1 and TH2*. They need to work in balance. if one is dominant or working harder thatn the other, it's usually because there's something called an active antigen. And what is an active antigen? It can be a parasite. It can be a virus, bacteria, mold or fungi. It can be a food protein, such as gluten (the protiend found in wheat, barley and rye) or casein (milk protein).
Your immune system could become imbalanced because of disregulation due to hormonal surges and/or extreme stress. Blood sugar problems and/or chronic inflammation and/or high cortisol levels can all cause your immune system to run amuck.
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First, What is autoimmune disease?
It's when our immune system mounts an attack against our own organs and glands--the very tissues it's supposed to protect from foreign invaders! Regardless which tissue is attacked, the mechanism is the same--the immune system gone awry.
Here are some common autoimmune diseases and the tissues they affect:
Thyroid -Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (the most common autoimmune disorder and the cause of 80% or more of all low thyroid cases)
GI tract -Celiac, Crohn's and Colitis
Brain -MS, Autism, Mood Disorders
Joints -Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis
Muscles -Fibromyalgia, Muscular Dystrophy, Migraine
Spinal Cord -Guillain-Barre Syndrome
Skin -Psoriasis, Vitiligo, Scleroderma, Rosacea
Blood -Leukemia, Pernicious Anemia
Nerves -Peripheral Neuropathy
Lungs -Asthma, Wegener's
What causes an autoimmune disease? A disruption of healthy balance in the immune system leads to "autoimmune reactivity" in which immune cells attack healthy, self tissue rather than foreign invaders. This disruption involves a breakdown of the ability of TH3 regulatory cells to control the activity of the TH1 and TH2 immune cells. This leads to "TH1 Dominance" or "TH2 Dominance" in which that grouping of immune cells gets ramped up and turns on self tissue. Different categories of triggers for this process have been identified, including loss of optimal function of specific organs and systems (sugar regulation, hormonal balance, adrenal gland function, GI system), chronic systemic imflammation and "antigens" or foreign molecules that enter the body (foods, infectious organisms, environmental toxins, heavy metals).