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What is Autoimmunity?

What is Autoimmunity?

By Dr. Patrick Lovegrove Medically Reviewed by Lindsay Langley, BSN, RN, CHT
Posted Thursday, June 20th, 2019
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The healthy human body is equipped with a powerful set of tools for resisting invading microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Unfortunately, this set of tools, or the immune system, sometimes goes awry and attacks the body itself. These misdirected immune responses are referred to as autoimmunity. An autoimmune disorder occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue in either a small area or throughout the whole body. According to Johns Hopkins Autoimmune Research Center, at least ten million Americans suffer from the more than eighty illnesses caused by autoimmunity. The following are some of the more common ones:

Celiac DiseaseImmune Thrombocytopenic (ITP)Graves’ Disease
Addison’s DiseaseGoodpasture’s SyndromePemphigus Vulgaris
Alopecia AreataWegener’s GranulomatosisPolymyositis
Ankylosing SpondylitisGuillain-Barré SyndromePrimary Biliary Cirrhosis
Autoimmune Hemolytic AnemiaHashimoto’s DiseasePsoriasis
Autoimmune HepatitisHidradenitis SuppurativaRheumatoid Arthritis
Berger’s disease (IgA Nephropathy)Giant Cell Arteritis (Temporal A)Scleroderma (Morphea)
Bullous PemphigoidInterstitial CystitisSharp Syndrome
Acute Disseminated EncephalomyelitisIsaacs’ Syndrome (Neuromyotonia)Sjögren’s Syndrome
Crohn’s DiseaseKawasaki DiseaseStiff Person Syndrome
DermatomyositisLupusUlcerative Colitis
DiabetesMultiple Sclerosis (MS)Vitiligo
EndometriosisMyasthenia GravisNarcolepsy

Who is Affected by Autoimmune Disorders?

Autoimmunity is present in everyone to some extent. Although it is usually harmless, in some individuals, autoimmunity can be the cause of a broad spectrum of human illnesses. Unfortunately, autoimmune diseases are a growing threat to the health of all Americans, especially women. Taken as a whole, they represent the fourth-largest cause of disability among women in the United States. Currently, 78 percent of those affected with an autoimmune disease are women.

What are the Risks Associated with Autoimmunity?

Patients with autoimmunity and systemic inflammation have much higher rates of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, renal insufficiency, and cardiovascular disease than does the rest of the apparently healthy population. These connections between autoimmunity, inflammation, cardiovascular and renal complications can make autoimmune disorders difficult to treat. However, multifaceted holistic interventions such as nutritional immunomodulation can weaken these ties and reduce the incidence of avoidable disease and disability and promote tolerance to self and environmental antigens.

Our Approach to Treating Autoimmune Diseases:

At Merge Medical Center, we are a leader in the holistic medicine approach to managing autoimmune disease in the Charleston area. We view autoimmunity as an ongoing maladaptive process, rather than a static pathological condition. The practical results of the functional medicine model lie in its ability to detect diseases at a much earlier stage in their development and to assess the body as a whole. The model also opens the door to a much broader range of nontoxic strategies for prevention and treatment of existing diseases.
The following are considered in the evaluation and treatment of all patients who are suffering from an autoimmune disorder:

Food SensitivitiesBalance of Microorganisms
Inflammation MarkersHormone Deficiency or Imbalance
Toxin ExposuresDetoxification Pathways
Latent or Subclinical InfectionsDigestive Function
Family HistoryNutritional Deficiencies

In addition to ordering the appropriate tests to assess your condition, our team will develop a personalized herbal and nutritional support program to enhance overall health and wellness, educate you in certain lifestyle modifications and recommend certain nutritional supplements to address your condition. In some cases, prescription medications or natural hormone replacement may be recommended. Body work such as Bemer Therapy may also be advised to support you.

About the author

Dr. Patrick Lovegrove

Dr. Patrick Lovegrove is board certified by the American Board of Family Physicians. He was born in Staunton, Virginia, and graduated from the University of Virginia where he majored in Biology. He received a Medical School Scholarship from the United States Air Force. A graduate of Nova Southeastern College of Osteopathic Medicine, his over 20 years of clinical experience includes Family Practice, Anti-aging, Holistic Internal Medicine, Pain Management, Aerospace, Sports, and Emergency Medicine. He believes that holistic medicine should be integrated with conventional medicine in a scientifically based model to achieve the best results for patients.