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Auto Immune Disease  RSS feed

 
Burra Maluca
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Anyone know anything about auto immune diseases? 

My new wwoofer, who I'm supposed to be feeding for the next six weeks, appears to have a pretty intimidating set of auto-immune related problems, including thyroid problems, diabetes, vitiligo, and (I think, from his vague description) multiple sclerosis.  He's sold up his place and is looking for a new life and a farm to live it on, but I'd really like to feed the guy the best possible diet while he's with us. 

Anyone have any pointers for me?  I'm a total newbie to auto-immune stuff and don't want to make any blunders. 
 
Jonathan Byron
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About half of people with autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto's disease) show very good improvement when they go gluten free. My wife has that, and since she cut out gluten, her T3, T4, and TSH have returned to normal, while her anti-thyroid antibodies dropped to almost normal.
 
Len Ovens
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lots of probiotics.... kefer, sauerkraut, yoghurt... low on starches.... especially refined. Basically  any processed preprepared foods are worse for a sick person like that. Chicken soup (not store bought) and raw veg juice are good too. Try to get meats that have not been fed drugs.... antibiotics, hormones, etc.
 
Burra Maluca
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Thanks for that, Len and Jonathon.  Gluten free and low starch sounds like it would be good for the diabetes too.  I think our chicken supply might get seriously reduced over the next few weeks! 

Any other pointers?  Is more omega-3 going to help?  It's the start of the berry season so I think lunches based on local sheep's cheese and strawberries or cherries should be good. And lots of eggs and home grown chicken.  And loads of good veggies from the garden.  I just feel that if I can improve his health over the next six weeks then maybe he'll be able to keep it improving if he moves here and follows a similar lifestyle, so I'm determined to do whatever I can.
 
Jonathan Byron
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Omega 3s might be good. Vitamin D is also somewhat protective against many autoimmune conditions. Cod liver oil has both.

There are also herbs and pharmaceuticals that go farther to turn-down the immune system, and such things might be in order if someone has multiple autoimmune conditions. But that is beyond my knowledge - better to work with someone who has specific qualifications and experience. 
 
Dave Miller
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How about dirt?

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/health/27iht-snbabies.1.19711937.html?pagewanted=all
[size=10pt]Eating dirt can be good for you - just ask babies
[/size]
Ask mothers why babies are constantly picking things up from the floor or ground and putting them in their mouths, and chances are they'll say that it's instinctive - that that's how babies explore the world. But why the mouth, when sight, hearing, touch and even scent are far better at identifying things?

When my young sons were exploring the streets of Brooklyn, I couldn't help but wonder how good crushed rock or dried dog droppings could taste when delicious mashed potatoes were routinely rejected.

Since all instinctive behaviors have an evolutionary advantage or they would not have been retained for millions of years, chances are that this one too has helped us survive as a species. And, indeed, accumulating evidence strongly suggests that eating dirt is good for you.

In studies of what is called the hygiene hypothesis, researchers are concluding that organisms like the millions of bacteria, viruses and especially worms that enter the body along with "dirt" spur the development of a healthy immune system. Several continuing studies suggest that worms may help to redirect an immune system that has gone awry and resulted in autoimmune disorders, allergies and asthma.

These studies, along with epidemiological observations, seem to explain why immune system disorders like multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma and allergies have risen significantly in the United States and other developed countries.

"What a child is doing when he puts things in his mouth is allowing his immune response to explore his environment," Mary Ruebush, a microbiology and immunology instructor, wrote in her new book, "Why Dirt Is Good" (Kaplan). "Not only does this allow for 'practice' of immune responses, which will be necessary for protection, but it also plays a critical role in teaching the immature immune response what is best ignored."

One leading researcher, Dr. Joel Weinstock, the director of gastroenterology and hepatology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, said in an interview that the immune system at birth "is like an unprogrammed computer. It needs instruction."

He said that public health measures like cleaning up contaminated water and food have saved the lives of countless children, but they "also eliminated exposure to many organisms that are probably good for us."

"Children raised in an ultra-clean environment," he added, "are not being exposed to organisms that help them develop appropriate immune regulatory circuits."

Studies he has conducted with Dr. David Elliott, a gastroenterologist and immunologist at the University of Iowa, indicate that intestinal worms, which have been all but eliminated in developed countries, are "likely to be the biggest player" in regulating the immune system to respond appropriately, Elliott said in an interview. He added that bacterial and viral infections seem to influence the immune system in the same way, but not as forcefully.

Most worms are harmless, especially in well-nourished people, Weinstock said. "There are very few diseases that people get from worms," he said. "Humans have adapted to the presence of most of them."

In studies in mice, Weinstock and Elliott have used worms to both prevent and reverse autoimmune disease. Elliott said that in Argentina, researchers found that patients with multiple sclerosis who were infected with the human whipworm had milder cases and fewer flare-ups of their disease over a period of four and a half years. At the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Dr. John Fleming, a neurologist, is testing whether the pig whipworm can temper the effects of multiple sclerosis.

In Gambia, the eradication of worms in some villages led to children's having increased skin reactions to allergens, Elliott said.

And pig whipworms, which reside briefly in the human intestinal tract, have had "good effects" in treating the inflammatory bowel diseases, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, he said.

How may worms affect the immune system? Elliott explained that immune regulation is now known to be more complex than scientists thought when the hygiene hypothesis was first introduced by a British epidemiologist, Dr. David Strachan, in 1989. Strachan noted an association between large family size and reduced rates of asthma and allergies. Immunologists now recognize a four-point response system of helper T cells: Th 1, Th 2, Th 17 and regulatory T cells.

"A lot of inflammatory diseases - multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and asthma - are due to the activity of Th 17," he explained. "If you infect mice with worms, Th 17 drops dramatically, and the activity of regulatory T cells is augmented."

In answer to the question, "Are we too clean?" Elliott said: "irtiness comes with a price. But cleanliness comes with a price, too. We're not proposing a return to the germ-filled environment of the 1850s. But if we properly understand how organisms in the environment protect us, maybe we can give a vaccine or mimic their effects with some innocuous stimulus."

Ruebush, the "Why Dirt Is Good" author, does not suggest a return to filth, either. But she correctly points out that bacteria are everywhere: on us, in us and all around us. Most of these micro-organisms cause no problem, and many, like the ones that normally live in the digestive tract and produce life-sustaining nutrients, are essential to good health.

"The typical human probably harbors some 90 trillion microbes," she wrote. "The very fact that you have so many microbes of so many different kinds is what keeps you healthy most of the time."

Ruebush deplores the current fetish for the hundreds of antibacterial products that convey a false sense of security and may actually foster the development of antibiotic-resistant, disease-causing bacteria. Plain soap and water are all that are needed to become clean, she noted. When no running water is available and cleaning hands is essential, she suggests an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Weinstock goes even further. "Children should be allowed to go barefoot in the dirt, play in the dirt, and not have to wash their hands when they come in to eat," he said. He and Elliott pointed out that children who grow up on farms and are frequently exposed to worms and other organisms from farm animals are much less likely to develop allergies and autoimmune diseases.

Also helpful, he said, is to "let kids have two dogs and a cat," which will expose them to intestinal worms that can promote a healthy immune system.


Here's a similar story from this week: http://www.kgw.com/lifestyle/health/Expert-A-dirty-girl-is-a-healthy-girl-122185459.html
 
Burra Maluca
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I'm almost in tears here - you guys have all been absolutely *spot on* - thankyou!!!

Since he arrived, my wwoofer, who is supposed to be doing three hours work a day but even from the very start has been giving us five hours on the grounds that he thinks he works slower than he should, has improved so much in the couple of weeks he's been here it's unbelievable, and we can't stop him working!!  Not that I'm complaining - it's hay making season...   

A combination of loads of exercise, plenty of sunshine (vitamin D), an improved diet (lower carb, but still a way to go - the guy came here to have fun, not to get nagged at by some crazy, dumb-ass woman), and digging in the dirt has already meant that his blood sugars are lower and more stable than they've been for ages despite dropping *all* his diabetes medication.  He was also incredibly pale when he arrived, but he's now sporting a bit of a tan.  And yesterday, after a good long heart to heart chat about stuff, we've come to the conclusion that he is gluten intolerant so today we're changing everything we feed him yet again and trying to persuade him to change his breakfast cereal to something more suitable. 

Nothing in the world would make me happier than sending this guy on his way in a few more weeks totally cured.  Not sure I'll manage it, but I'm gonna give it all I got!
 
Len Ovens
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Burra Maluca wrote:
A combination of loads of exercise, plenty of sunshine (vitamin D), an improved diet (lower carb, but still a way to go - the guy came here to have fun, not to get nagged at by some crazy, dumb-ass woman), and digging in the dirt has already meant that his blood sugars are lower and more stable than they've been for ages despite dropping *all* his diabetes medication.


Lots of physical work makes up for extra carbs. Be careful with no or low gluten diets as often the no-gluten subs are very starchy and processed (processed being the worse of the two). As we have discovered, each person is different. Each of us needs to find out what diet works for us. Your student needs to learn to listen to his body and not eat things that give him problems. My mother can tell when she has eaten the smallest amount of gluten within an hour, for example.

Also, our tastes change. Since I have started making my own bread (about 3 years ago), anything I get from the store tastes odd. I can taste the extra chemicals and the damage fast processing does to the flour. I stopped drinking pop years ago and now it just tastes like chemical soup when I have a sip. Most beer is dead.... the list goes on.
 
Burra Maluca
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Len wrote:Your student needs to learn to listen to his body and not eat things that give him problems.


I think the most interesting thing he said soon after he arrived was "I used to eat bacon and egg for breakfast, but I thought I ought to eat healthy so I switched to Weetabix.  I feel even worse now." 

Gluten-free subs won't be a problem out here - I don't think there *are* any so he'll just have to fill up on veg.  But when he gets home it might be a problem.  Hopefully he'll find his dream farm soon and won't have to go back to the UK at all.  
 
                              
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MSG--In all packaged foods, at least in the States--is implicated in all his problems.
 
Melba Corbett
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Sometimes there is a connection between heavy metal toxicity and auto immune disease.  Check out the thread on heavy metal. 
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
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In many cases, diabetes is easily reversed through diet alone. 

Omega 3 oils are highly indicated.  Coconut oil can be source of healthy calories that will not spike blood sugar, it will also support the thyroid. 

Rancid and cooked oils are a major source of inflammation in the system, and thus contribute to auto-immune problems.  Barbecue and rotisserie are dangerously carcinogenic styles of cooking.  Cooking with rosemary greatly reduces free radicals formed when cooking meat & carbs both.  Animal foods in particular should be poached or stewed.  High temp cooking is bad news.

Two vegetables which are excellent medicine for diabetics are goya, the bitter melon and swiss chard.  Both contain an insulin-like substance, which support the body in normalizing blood sugar.  With the chard it is particularly the stems.  They can be eaten raw - we put them in smoothies.  The bitter melon is incredibly powerful medicine. 

From a mind-body perspective, immune system issues are all about boundaries - it is highly likely that interpersonal boundaries are a major issue. I wouldn't be surprised if you have already observed some of the boundary issues, but perhaps not made the connection.  Auto-immune specifically involves attacking one's self.  While his work ethic is admirable, it seems to come along with a certain level of self-punishment and guilt that may be undermining his health.  Assuming the vitiligo has affected his appearance for many years, he may well have a lot of self-judgements about his appearance, perhaps even self-hatred. 
 
Burra Maluca
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yukkuri_kame wrote:


From a mind-body perspective, immune system issues are all about boundaries - it is highly likely that interpersonal boundaries are a major issue. I wouldn't be surprised if you have already observed some of the boundary issues, but perhaps not made the connection.  Auto-immune specifically involves attacking one's self.  While his work ethic is admirable, it seems to come along with a certain level of self-punishment and guilt that may be undermining his health.  Assuming the vitiligo has affected his appearance for many years, he may well have a lot of self-judgements about his appearance, perhaps even self-hatred. 


There is absolutely some mind-body thing going on, and one which I totally failed to help him with.  He left a few days ago, threatening to go and 'sort out' his doctor who'd told him he was diabetic, when he obviously isn't (any more).  He also left us reeling with sound-bites like -

"Well I don't trust anything in that print-out you gave me - it was written by an American."

"Cooking?  I'm not going to waste my life cooking!  There's things I want to do with my life!"

"I never trust anything anyone tells me."

"I couldn't find any gluten free biscuits so I had to buy ordinary ones."

"If this was my place the first thing I'd do would be to cut all those trees down!"

And a huge collection of stories which seem incredibly unlikely, and bring to mind the saying 'those who do not trust are not trustworthy'.  It really does seem like he's determined to be ill, no matter what the cost, and it did feel as though if we sorted out one set of complaints he'd just work hard enough to make sure he ached enough to have a good moan.  I can only hope that at some level he's learned from us, even if he can't admit it. 

On the plus side, and it's an enormous plus, he's found himself a totally fantastic little farm (the sort that made us ask the agent "Where was this when we were looking?!!!" with a little house to renovate, loads of outbuildings, two wells, an acre of ground with vines and fruit trees, a wine cellar, and a font for drinking water.  He's coming back in a few weeks to finalise the deal and maybe then he'll be able to sort his life out and let himself heal. 

I'd just like to thank everyone for all their replies to this thread - I've learned a terrific amount, including the fact that I can't heal everyone.  Sometimes all I can do is sow the seed and then stand back and hope some of it takes root. 
 
Kellic kelwen
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I suggest you read the wonderful book called Gut & Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Campbell-McBride. Grains contain anti-nutrients that have been linked to autoimmune disease.
 
Len Ovens
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Kellic wrote:
I suggest you read the wonderful book called Gut & Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Campbell-McBride. Grains contain anti-nutrients that have been linked to autoimmune disease.


She also has a fair amount of stuff on the GAPS website too. The diet she recommends is SCD, though she describes a little different than Elaine did(in "Breaking the Vicious Cycle". She has studied the biology of the gut flora quite a bit more and so recommends more probiotics. Her take on genetics and their place in all this is interesting as well.
 
Lisa Allen
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Lots of great suggestions here!   I thought I would add that a mixture of 3/4 Astragalus and 1/4 Mullein added to your good diet, etcetera may really help - this has been used with success on many autoimmune disorders by Dr. Christopher's school.  I hope this helps!
 
Burra Maluca
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I just wanted to post an update on this.  When my wwoofer was here with his collection of complaints, he got very little sympathy from my other half as most of the things he complained about were things that my other half has had all his life and has learned to put up with, ie big beer-belly, 'cow-pat' poop, strange patches of skin with no feeling.  He went 'gluten free' at the same time we tried the wwoofer on gluten free. 

And now his belly has gone down, his cow-pats have disappeared (after over 60 years!) and the biggest patch of 'dead' skin, which has been there for donkey's years but has gradually been increasing in size, has started tingling and getting a bit of sensation back. 

And next year's proposed experiment of growing a wheat patch and grinding our own flour seems to have turned into a 'let's experiment with every type of pumpkin and corn' experiment.  I wonder where I can find myself a corn-grinder...
 
Jonathan Byron
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Glad to hear your experiments have yielded improved health!!

 
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