According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) an estimated 50 million Americans are living with autoimmune conditions. Others estimate that 1 in 5 Americans have autoimmune disease and that 75% are women.
Over 80 different conditions—including rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, Graves’ disease, and Hashimoto’s disease — fall under the umbrella of autoimmune conditions. While these diseases are generally viewed as separate conditions by most doctors, they actually all share common causes.
When we address these common causes from a natural, functional medicine perspective, we are able to significantly improve—and in many cases REVERSE—autoimmune disease.
What does it mean to have an autoimmune disease?
Autoimmune conditions are triggered by an imbalanced or dysfunctional immune system. While the immune system’s primary function is to defend against “foreign invaders,” instead it begins to attack its own healthy tissue. When this occurs, the immune system gets overly active, often resulting in inflammation which can spread systemically throughout the body. Inflammation is the root cause of a number of chronic conditions, beyond autoimmune conditions, and it can wreak havoc on the body. Unfortunately, many routine tests often miss the common markers of inflammation, as well as autoimmune conditions.
Unique Testing & Treatment Approach
Autoimmune diseases are commonly missed via routine testing; therefore, it is not uncommon for people to suffer for an extended period of time with persistent, non-specific symptoms before being accurately diagnosed.
By looking deeper, we can find the underlying causes, which allows us to treat them at the root level. Rather than simply treating symptoms, understanding the underlying mechanisms and triggers for your autoimmune condition allows us to not only resolve not only the symptoms, but the underlying reason for it.
Systemic inflammation is at the heart of not only autoimmune conditions, but other chronic diseases. Dr. Kellman uses highly specialized lab testing to identify common markers of inflammation such as CRP Interleukin 6 IL-8, IL-10, and TNF. We also assess antioxidant levels to determine one’s true immune function and inflammation, which are also markers of autoimmunity.
Autoimmune disease often starts in the gut. When we heal the gut, we are able to cure the disease. Therefore, Dr. Kellman also tests gut function and microbiome health.
One of Dr. Kellman’s groundbreaking contributions to the field of autoimmunity is understanding that if you have an autoimmune disease, chances are high that you also have a low thyroid — even if routine tests show normal thyroid results. This connection could explain many symptoms one might be experiencing. Moreover, low thyroid can exacerbate any autoimmune disease.
What are common triggers for autoimmune conditions?
There are several potential underlying causes and factor that contribute to the onset of an autoimmune condition, including:
Viral or bacterial infections
Exposure to toxins
Stress and anxiety
Gut microbiome imbalances and GI dysfunction, including Leaky Gut Syndrome
Certain medications, especially excessive use of antibiotics
Poor diet, particularly excessive intake of proinflammatory foods
What are the symptoms of autoimmune disease?
As autoimmune conditions can affect multiple systems in the body. Some of the more common symptoms include:
Fatigue and low energy
Joint and muscle pain
General malaise or generally feeling “ill” without a clear reason
Inflammation, like swelling, redness, heat, or localized pain
GI dysfunction or symptoms
Skin problems or rashes
Fever or swollen glands
Low thyroid function
Autoimmune disease treatment options:
Dr. Kellman determines the best combination of therapies to address your specific needs and symptoms – each protocol is personalized and customized to address your condition and get you back on the road to optimal health and healing. In many cases, when these therapeutic modalities are combined, the results are significantly more profound.
Peptides are small proteins, which are comprised of short chains of amino acids. These compounds are naturally produced by the body as signaling molecules used to stimulate hormone production, to prompt an immune response which helps the body to fight against bacteria, viruses, and other diseases, as well as to initiate the healing of damaged tissue. Peptide therapy is often used to boost the immune system in immunocompromised cancer patients. Many peptides are FDA approved and peptide therapy is backed by a breadth of scientific research. These naturally occurring peptides have been proven to be both safe and effective, with few, if any side effects. Overwhelmingly patients have seen significant benefits through the use of peptide therapy.
Peptide therapy is extremely beneficial in many autoimmune conditions. Some of the many peptides we use include:
Thymosin Alpha 1: This peptide is naturally produced by the thymus gland, which is responsible for regulating the immune system, and is therefore a potent immune-modulating compound. As we age, the levels of this peptide decrease. This peptide reduces inflammation and balances immune function. This peptide is administered as a small, subcutaneous injection in the abdomen through a very small needle, making it relatively painless.
BPC-157: (Body Protection Compound) BPC’s occur naturally in the body; their function is to protect and heal the digestive tract. BPC-157 is administered as a lozenge which is dissolved in the mouth. BPC-157 is naturally anti-inflammatory, helps to alleviate pain and is very effective at combating leaky gut, gastrointestinal cramping, as is extremely beneficial in the treatment of Crohn’s Disease.
Stem cell therapy is one of the most common and most well-known areas of regenerative medicine. Exosomes are the latest innovative therapy in this field, and they have shown tremendous success in autoimmune conditions.
Exosomes from young stem cells produce growth factors, which aid in the modulation of an overactive immune system, thereby stimulating it to function properly. Exosomes provide an even greater positive effect by harnessing the power of these growth factors. The cell line that we source our exosomes from contains 300+ of these growth factors.
Autoimmune conditions can result in damage to body tissue, which can adversely affect a patient’s quality of life. The use of exosomes, either by themselves, or in conjunction with stem cell therapy, has been shown to successfully stimulate the regeneration of tissue, control inflammation, and aid in the modulation of the immune system.
Low Dose Naltrexone:
Low dose naltrexone (LDN) is a drug used to treat opioid addiction, however when used in very low doses, it boosts endorphins (commonly low in people with autoimmune conditions) and helps to modulate the immune system. Studies have shown that LDN can have powerful anti-inflammatory effects, which can be especially beneficial for people suffering from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis or other autoimmune conditions.
Herb Nootropics and Targeted Probiotics/Prebiotics/Postbiotics:
The use of herb nootropics, specific strains of probiotics, as well as other nutraceuticals are yet another tool we use to address autoimmune conditions. Probiotics, both from food sources as well as supplementation are essential to healing and balancing the gut microbiome, but it’s the specific strains which are of equal importance. We use a targeted set of probiotic strains that are specifically beneficial to patients dealing with autoimmune conditions. Studies have shown that certain strains of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, as well as Saccharomyces boulardi have a beneficial, modulating effect on the immune system. Saccharomyces boulardi is a non-populating type of yeast, which is naturally anti-inflammatory, promotes intestinal microbiome balance, protects, and repairs damaged intestinal mucosa, commonly seen in people with “leaky gut,” as well as helping to restore short-chained fatty acids (SCFA) balance in the gut, namely butyrate.
SCFAs are crucial to gut health and in the treatment of autoimmune conditions. The main food component that impacts the gut microbiome composition and activity is fiber. The bacteria in our gut ferment this fiber, resulting in the production of SCFAs which fuel them, namely, acetate, propionate, and butyrate, which have recognized health-promoting activities, such as anti-inflammatory and immune-regulatory functions. Butyrate is the main energy source for colonocytes, the cells which make up your gut lining. Higher levels of butyrate in the gut also help to boost antioxidant levels, which protect against free radicals. All of these things protect the GI tract, improve digestion, as well as reduce overall inflammation. Saccharomyces boulardi also aids in boosting butyrate levels in the gut, promoting further healing,
Other key supplements include:
Turmeric, which is a natural anti-inflammatory agent
L-glutamine which promotes healing of the gut
Vitamin D which aids in balancing and strengthening the immune system. Deficiencies in Vitamin D have also been limited to a number of chronic conditions, including autoimmune conditions.
Diet and Lifestyle:
As with most chronic conditions, including healing the gut microbiome to address autoimmune conditions, dietary changes are an essential part of our whole-body approach to overall health and wellness.
Chronic inflammation is a root cause of many conditions, including autoimmune conditions. Dr. Kellman’s Microbiome Diet is not only naturally anti-inflammatory, but also includes supportive, functional foods that balance the microbiome and heal the gut.
Lifestyle changes including sleep hygiene and the reduction of stress are also key areas of focus when addressing autoimmune conditions.
Whether you have already been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease or suspect you may be suffering from one, the Kellman Wellness Center is here to help you to take the reins on your road to recovery. Contact us at 212-717-1118 to learn more or to schedule a consultation.