Autoimmune conditions are the third largest category of disease in the United States following cancer and heart disease, however, the traditional treatment for these conditions continues to have poor outcomes. Here are three things you should know about autoimmunity.

1. We all have a tendency to focus on the area giving us the most pain or symptoms, but this can be slightly misguided when it comes to autoimmune disease. For example, just because we are developing skin conditions with psoriasis and eczema doesn’t mean the problem is in our skin. If we’re having issues with digestive pain and diarrhea, the problem isn’t necessarily in our gut. Of course, having symptoms in those areas gives us information, but, as silly as this might sound, we need to remember that autoimmune conditions involves our IMMUNE system first.

There are numerous types of autoimmune diseases including autoimmune thyroid (Hashimoto’s, Graves), multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, IBS/IBD (Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis), rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, and more. While these might impact many different areas of our body such as our thyroid, brain, gut, skin, and joints, we need to remember that the reason these tissues are being damaged is because our immune system is acting improperly. Instead of destroying invaders like normal, our immune cells overreact to a stimulus and our own body gets hit in the crossfire.

Point is, pay attention to the area of symptoms, but understand that the immune system must be addressed if improvement is going to be made.

2. Our immune system has memory for the infectious agents that it comes in contact with, which is what allows us to better fight off similar “bugs” in the future. With autoimmunity, your immune system forms the same kind of memory profile for certain tissues or organs in our body. Unfortunately, you will always have immune memory for these tissues and whenever you have an immune flair up, you run the risk of more cell destruction and symptoms.

The good news is that just because your immune system has now marked parts of your own body as “the enemy,” it doesn’t mean you can’t do things to change immune function and reduce the attacks and symptoms. If you can better regulate your immune system then you can decrease symptoms and discomfort, and your body can begin to heal.

Autoimmunity does NOT mean your only choice is a lifetime of worsening health.

3. So how do we normalize our immune system so it isn’t so hypersensitive? The most important thing is to find the DRIVER or TRIGGER for immune dysregulation. The “driver” or “trigger” means that there is some kind of irritant, which is chronically activating our immune system and causing it to be hypersensitive. Just like when we catch a cold, our immune system responds to fight off the “bug” (i.e. the driver or trigger) and in the meantime, we get symptoms. When we have autoimmunity there is a “driver,” which can be the food we eat, toxins in our environment, or chronic infections, that continually activate or “drive” our immune system to try and fight off the invader. Unfortunately in this case, instead of having a runny nose, the symptom associated with the increased immune activity is damage to your own cells.

The first step in treatment is to figure out what the chronic irritant or driver is in our system and remove it. Seems simple, but it isn’t always so easy.

Our recommendation is to consider if you’ve had any serious infections in your past or have noticed chronic, low grade “flu like” symptoms. Take note of what you’re eating and write down if you have any changes in sleep, digestion, energy levels, bowel movements, abnormal sensations, etc. when you eat different foods. Consider your work environment for any potential environmental contaminants or metals that could impact immune function. Lastly, remember that even things like emotional stress or internal changes (abnormal gut bacteria) can also act as immunostimulants. If any of these areas are a problem for you, it may give insight into what is irritating your immune system.

In review, remember that autoimmune conditions are just that, IMMUNE conditions. Therefore they must be treated as such to get results. Secondly, just because you have an autoimmune condition doesn’t mean you will continually experience worsening symptoms and health. With proper treatment you can stop the destruction of your tissue and begin to heal. Keep in mind, although healing is possible, the immune memory for your own body will always be there. Lastly, find out your immune driver or trigger and remove it as soon as possible to help relieve the stress on the immune system.

As always, if you have any other questions feel free to give us a call at 206-824-8464 or email me at

-Dr. B

Note: This information is designed for educational purposes only and should not be used in any other manner. It is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice.