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Dr. Emily Chan ND has been awarded as a top Naturopathy practice with some of San Diego's best Naturopaths. Verified by

How do auto-immune diseases develop?

The purpose of the immune system is to differentiate between the “good guys” vs the “bad guys” or what is “self” vs “non-self”. The immune system is vital for keeping harmful pathogens from invading your body. 

Normally T cells made in the bone marrow are sent off to the thymus gland for a scan at 8-9 weeks of gestation. The thymus gland removes and kills any T cells that bind to self. With autoimmune disease, the immune system malfunctions and mistakes what is self for non-self and attacks it. With autoimmune, allergic, or hypersensitivity disorders, the immune system inappropriately responds to substances that healthy people find harmless.

Increased intestinal permeability is one of the ways the immune system gets primed inappropriately. Increased intestinal permeability decreases the selectivity of the intestinal barrier, so consequently large undigested protein molecules enter the blood stream instead of the usual smaller amino acids. Stress, infections, imbalance of intestinal flora, increased toxic load, and food sensitivities are thought to contribute to this process. When the bloodstream is flooded with these foreign substances and over-reacts, the excessive inflammatory response that occurs can cause symptoms such as increased mucous, sore/itchy throat, hives, psoriasis, joint/muscle pain, or any destruction of self-tissues.

Antihistamines merely block cell receptors from allowing histamine to bind to the cells. While it decreases allergic symptoms mediated by histamine, anti-histamines do not decrease the amount of histamine or excessive IgE antibodies produced against harmless antigens. Thus a person taking anti-histamines is still in an allergic state and when they discontinue the drug, they may often experience rebound symptoms.

Immunosuppressive drugs used for autoimmune diseases such as Prednisone, DMARDs, or monoclonal antibodies are aimed at suppressing the immune system and have many side effects including increased susceptibility to infection. These drugs do not correct a dysfunctional immune system, but rather suppresses the whole system.

My approach investigates why your immune system has gone aberrant and then supports your body to bring it back into functional balance. A multi-systems approach is taken in dealing with allergies and autoimmune conditions often involving a combination of intestinal repair, addressing food allergies, balancing the immune system, decreasing inflammation, strengthening cell function, and balancing the nervous system.