Illness Root Cause:
Causes of Autoimmune Illness
By Dr. Ben
have countless immune cells in every corner of your body that are
constantly working to keep you healthy by identifying, packaging,
and eliminating harmful substances that have made their way into
your immune system falters and begins to identify some of your own
tissues as being harmful or unnecessary, it will work to attack
and eliminate these tissues through an inflammatory response that
can cause pain and discomfort in many forms - this is how autoimmune
specific tissue or groups of tissues (organs) that your immune system
decides to attack is determined by your genetics.
just because you have a genetic predisposition for an autoimmune
illness does not mean that you are guaranteed to experience it sometime
during your life, or that you cannot recover from it.
predispositions are largely triggered, maintained, and kept under
control by environmental factors, namely, your diet, lifestyle,
and how much stress you experience.
the development of autoimmune illness requires that your immune
system begins to identify some of your own cells as being harmful,
and that control mechanisms that are in place to prevent such "glitches"
no longer do what they are supposed to in preventing such occurrences.
are several theories that attempt to explain why and how these glitches
occur. Rather than get into biochemical jargon that will not do
much, if anything, to help you get better, we can explain these
glitches in the following way:
time, as your cells are abused by lack of rest, lack of optimal
nourishment, accumulation of waste products, and direct insult by
excessive amounts of free radicals and toxins, your cells gradually
become less efficient at eliminating waste products and exogenous
toxins (toxins that are produced outside of your body).
waste products and toxins may incorporate themselves into your cell
membranes, and if this happens, your immune system may identify
such cells as being old and damaged. At that point, your immune
system will work to attack and eliminate such cells from your body.
does your immune system go about attacking and eliminating such
cells? By producing antibodies, attaching said antibodies to the
cell membranes of cells that have been identified as old and damaged,
and then sending other components of your immune system to destroy
these antibody-tagged cells. Your immune system destroys such cells
using a process of inflammation, which is why autoimmune illness
is often accompanied by discomfort.
your genetic predisposition is such that the majority of cells that
are tagged to be destroyed are clustered around your thyroid gland,
your health challenges may be attributed to a diagnosis of Graves'
disease. If your abnormal-looking cells are in the fatty, insulating
sheath (myelin) that surrounds your nervous system, you may exhibit
symptoms of multiple sclerosis. If your genetically weak tissues
are those that line your joints, destruction of old and damaged
cells in and around your joints may be diagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis.
the underlying inflammatory process that accompanies autoimmune
disease is the same for all of the following names that we have
created for different groups of symptoms:
disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) involves inflammation
in the brain that typically occurs a few days or weeks after a
vaccination or a viral infection.
disease involves dysfunction of the outer portion of
the adrenal gland.
spondylitis is a type of arthritis that involves inflammation
of the spine and pelvic joints.
antibody syndrome (APS) is a condition that affects the
blood-clotting process, causing blood clots to form in veins and/or
anemia is a condition whereby the bone marrow does not
produce enough blood cells. It is often caused by an autoimmune
attack on the bone marrow.
hepatitis involves inflammation of the liver.
disease is characterized by chronic inflammation of the
first third or half of the small intestine, and is caused by exposure
to a type of dietary protein called gluten, found in abundance
in grains like wheat, oats, barley, and rye.
disease involves chronic inflammation of the intestinal
Mellitus Type 1 is characterized by low or non-existent
production of insulin by the pancreas.
syndrome involves destruction of kidney tissue and bleeding
in the lungs.
disease is a form of hyperthyroidism.
syndrome (GBS) involves inflammation of the peripheral
nervous system, and is also called acute inflammatory demyelinating
polyneuropathy, acute idiopathic polyradiculoneuritis, acute idiopathic
polyneuritis and Landry's ascending paralysis.
disease is a form of hypothyroidism.
thrombocytopenic purpura is characterized by a low platelet
count, resulting in easy bleeding.
lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune condition
that can involve inflammation in the following areas: skin, joints,
heart, lungs, kidneys, and nervous system.
sclerosis involves nerve dysfunction due to demyelination of the
central nervous system.
gravis involves intermittent weakness and fatigue due
to a problem with communication at the junction of nerves and
neuritis involves inflammation of the nerves that supply
your eyes which can cause partial or complete loss of vision.
is characterized by the formation of blisters and raw sores on
mucous membranes and skin.
Anemia is a form of anemia (inadequate red blood supply/function)
that is caused by a problem with absorbing vitamin B12, which
is needed to form healthy red blood cells.
arthritis is characterized by joint pain and inflammation.
syndrome involves destruction of glands that produce
saliva and tears.
arteritis is characterized by inflammation that narrows
the lumen of arteries.
arteritis is characterized by inflammation in medium
to large-sized arteries, mostly commonly in the head. It is sometimes
called giant cell arteritis, and can lead to significant vision
autoimmune hemolytic anemia is characterized by destruction
of red blood cells by IgM antibodies.
granulomatosis involves inflammation of blood vessels,
typically affecting the kidneys and lungs.
that are not universally accepted as being autoimmune in nature,
but for all practical purposes belong in the same category of health
is characterized by hair loss. Loss of random patches is called
alopecia areata, while full body loss of hair is called alopecia
is characterized by endometrial tissue (tissue found in the uterus)
being deposited outside of the uterus, causing pain and sometimes
cystitis is a urinary bladder disease that is characterized
by one or more of the following symptoms: intense, intermittent
pelvic pain, frequent urination, a sense of urgency to urinate,
pain with urination, and pain with sexual intercourse.
is a skin condition that is characterized by patches of rapidly-dividing
cells that produce itchy, scaly, and inflamed lesions.
is characterized by granuloma formation in the lungs and sometimes
throughout the body.
is characterized by impairments in the perception or expression
of reality, often leading to social and occupational dysfunction.
is characterized by excessive deposits of collagen throughout
colitis is characterized by inflammation in the bowel,
typically in the distal section of the large bowel and rectum.
is characterized by gradual loss of pigmentation in patches across
the face and/or body.
of these conditions may be caused, in part, by cells in the problematic
regions becoming old, damaged, and congested enough to be tagged
by your immune system as being ready for destruction and removal.
there is another major mechanism by which all autoimmune illnesses
can develop and worsen. Whenever any unnecessary, harmful, or unidentifiable
substances enter your bloodstream, they get noticed by your immune
system. In an effort to preserve your health, your immune system
produces antibodies that seek out and attach themselves to these
unwanted substances; these substances are generally referred to
your antibodies attach themselves to antigens, antigen-antibody
complexes are formed. Your immune system will work to eliminate
these antigen-antibody complexes from your body so that the foreign
antigens cannot harm your cells. But if enough of these complexes
are formed, your immune system may not be able to eliminate them
as quickly as they are formed. This can lead to some of these complexes
getting deposited into different tissues, where they can cause inflammation
and damage. Typically, the sites at which these complexes get deposited
are determined by your genetic predisposition.
of Antigen-Antibody Complex Formation and Ensuing Inflammation
the most common cause of excessive formation of antigen-antibody
complexes is having an unhealthy digestive tract.
your mouth to your anus, your digestive tract is one long tube that
is meant to extract nutrients out of your food and allow these nutrients
to slip through through into your bloodstream so that they can nourish
your cells. While your digestive tract is designed for proper digestion
and assimilation of nutrients, it is also designed to protect your
blood and inner cells against undesirable substances that can become
antigens that lead to antigen-antibody complex formation in your
you abuse your digestive tract long enough with poor dietary and
lifestyle choices, it can begin to lose its ability to prevent harmful
substances from entering your blood. The lining of your digestive
tract can begin to break down, and the population of microorganisms
that line your digestive tract can shift from being predominately
health-promoting and protective bacteria to largely microorganisms
that can break down your digestive tract lining, such as yeast,
bad bacteria, and even parasites.
state -- where your digestive tract lining loses its ability to
keep harmful substances out of your blood -- is often called "leaky
gut syndrome can cause incompletely digested food to enter your
bloodstream. And the most problematic incompletely digested food
group in autoimmune illness is protein.
body expects to receive amino acids -- the smaller constituents
of protein -- into its blood supply, not bigger molecules of protein
(several amino acids linked to one another). So when incompletely
digested protein enters your blood supply through an unhealthy digestive
tract lining, your immune system identifies these molecules as being
foreign and potentially harmful. Your immune system will quickly
move to create antibodies that can attach onto chains of incompletely
digested protein, forming antigen-antibody complexes. And you know
what happens next. While your immune system will do its best to
eliminate these complexes from your body, if enough of them form
because you continue to have a dysfunctional digestive tract and
you continue to eat large amounts of protein, some of these complexes
will get caught up in various tissues in your body, leading to inflammation
digested protein is not the sole group of substances that can contribute
to autoimmune illness in this fashion. Any substances that your
body cannot use for nourishment can potentially trigger the production
of antigen-antibody complexes and ensuing inflammation. This is
why it is important to be aware of common household and environmental
toxins, and to do your best to decrease your exposure to them.
example, great care should be taken to avoid unnecessary exposure
to conventional cosmetic products. Lipstick, lip balm, and other
products that are typically used around large pores have a relatively
easy pathway to your blood supply. It is a well established fact
that women suffer from autoimmune illness at a significantly higher
rate than men; I have come to believe that this is, in part, due
to the widespread use of cosmetics among women -- this is a connection
that has not been established in the medical literature, it is a
personal hypothesis based on my own clinical experiences.
this point, I hope that it is clear that autoimmune illness, no
matter which specific one you are concerned about, is not a local
problem in your body; it is a systemic problem that has multiple
causes and should be addressed as such.
another way, if you want to maximize your chances of experiencing
a full recovery and being free of autoimmune illness for the long-term,
you must take care of every aspect of your health on a daily basis.
part two of this look at autoimmune illness, we'll review specific
guidelines on how to prevent and address the root causes of autoimmune
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