Autoimmune Disorders part 1

by Holly C. Berman, EAMP, MSOM

We are seeing growing epidemics of stress, lifestyle and autoimmune diseases, which western medicine cannot explain or treat effectively. In 2005, 24 million Americans were diagnosed with an Autoimmune disease. Women make up 75% of the cases. These statistics are based on 24 diseases listed by the National Institute of Health, (NIH). However, the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association, (AARDA), puts that number at 50 million and research has identified 80-100 AI diseases and suspect 40+ more. Some comparisons: 9 million Americans diagnosed with cancer and 22 million with heart disease.

An “autoimmune disorder” is a condition arising from an abnormal immune response to a normal body part, whereby the immune system attacks another part of the body. For example, the thyroid in Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, smaller joints in Rheumatoid Arthritis, larger joints such as the hips and the spine in Ankylosing Spondilitis, the myelin sheath or protective covering over the nerves in Multiple Sclerosis, the skin in vitiligo, scleroderma and psoriasis, the muscles in Fibromyalgia and the organs in Lupus. Other autoimmune disorders include Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Celiac disease, Type 1 Diabetes, Pernicious Anemia, Inflammatory bowel diseases, (Crohns, Colitis), Addison's, Grave's and Sjogren's diseases, other skin disorders (eczema).

Symptoms of autoimmune disorders usually include fatigue, pain, fever and malaise. Autoimmune diseases are considered chronic and incurable. Sufferers usually appear normal and healthy, showing no obvious symptoms and are often considered hypochondriacs. They are commonly told their symptoms are “all in their head” and/or a result of anxiety or depression, until they are properly diagnosed. And many of these diagnoses are new.

In my clinical experience, some other disorders behave much like autoimmune disease and are controlled with similar treatments. These include: Interstitial Cystitis, ADHD, autism, some eating disorders, chronic Lyme disease and narcolepsy. These disorders are very susceptible to improper diet, (although not necessarily gluten, like traditional autoimmune disorders), stress and adrenal fatigue and they have similar Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnoses.