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Autoimmune Conditions

Being diagnosed with an autoimmune condition can be very scary.

Autoimmune Conditions Brunswick NaturopathyIt can leave you feeling bewildered with many questions about why you have it and what has caused it.  You may need some guidance in managing your symptoms and in some cases it may be possible to reverse your autoimmune condition.

Autoimmune Disease is defined as an inappropriate reaction of the immune system to the body’s own tissues. It can lead to an ongoing and often severe inflammatory response.  Autoimmune disorders can affect nearly every organ and system of the body.

Some autoimmune disorders include:

  • Hashimoto’s disease where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, and reduces the thyroid’s ability to make thyroid hormones. Symptoms include fatigue, feeling cold, weight gain, constipation, dry hair and skin and heavy periods.
  • Graves’ disease also affects the thyroid gland with an overproduction of thyroid hormones. Symptoms include weight loss, elevated heart rate, anxiety and diarrhoea.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes pain and swelling in the joints. RA usually affects the smaller joints, such as those in the hands, feet and wrists, although larger joints such as the hips and knees can also be affected.
  • Diabetes (Type I). The beta cells of the pancreas are destroyed affecting the body’s ability to make insulin. Symptoms include thirst, frequent urination and weight loss.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease – including Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis. Symptoms include diarrhea with bleeding and abdominal pain due to inflammation and damage to the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition of the central nervous system, interfering with nerve impulses within the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. It can cause numbness, paralysis and impaired vision.
  • Psoriasis is a skin condition that speeds up the turnover of skin cells causing them to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin. This forms red patches and skin scales.
  • Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease affecting connective tissue causing scar tissue.  It causes thickening of the skin, skin ulcers and stiff joints.
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (also known as lupus or SLE) is a condition that can affect many different parts of the body, including the joints, skin, heart, lungs and brain, causing pain and inflammation in the affected areas and a characteristic facial rash.

Brunswick Naturopathy AutoimmuneOften it is difficult to identify one particular cause, but many factors can contribute to autoimmune conditions.


A predisposition to autoimmune disorders seems to run in families. Often family members can be affected by different disorders; for example, one person may have rheumatoid arthritis while another has Ulcerative colitis. However, usually genetic susceptibility alone is not enough to trigger an autoimmune reaction and other factors also contribute.


Studies have shown that toxins play a role in autoimmune disease.  Our environment has been bombarded with chemicals and toxins in the form of pollutants, plastics, fertilizers, pesticides, cleaning products, personal care products, medications etc., that were unknown 100 years ago. These can trigger changes that confuse the immune system.


Some disorders seem to be triggered or worsened by particular infections.Specific bacteria and viruses have been linked to autoimmune responses.


You may have noticed the onset of health problems during a stressful time in your life. Stress has many far-reaching effects on our health including our immune system, and chronic mental stress can be a trigger for autoimmune diseases.

Gender – around three quarters of people with autoimmune disorders are women.

Hormones – Autoimmune disorders often arise during the childbearing years. Some disorders seem to be affected by major hormonal changes such as pregnancy, childbirth and menopause either making conditions better or worse.

Intestinal Permeability

Increased intestinal permeability in the gut lining, or a “leaky gut,” is often a precursor to autoimmunity. Undigested food proteins and bacterial byproducts pass through the gut barrier causing an immune response. This can be the result of damage to the gut lining from food aggravations, digestive problems or medications.

Weakened Microbiome

The majority of our immune system resides in the gut microbiome. This highly sophisticated gut ecosystem consists of trillions of bacteria colonies. Our microbiome controls not only our immune system but our brain, hormones and genetic expression. It can be altered by certain medications (antibiotics in particular), excessive alcohol or poor diet.

Food Triggers

Many foods can trigger immune and inflammatory responses in the body.  The way we respond to food is very individual.

  • Gluten is a protein that’s found in wheat, barley, spelt, rye and oats. This protein is linked in many different studies to an increase risk of autoimmunity.
  • Sugar can trigger immune and inflammatory responses in the body. It makes immune cells sticky and unable to function properly. Sugar reduces the white blood cell’sability to destroy and engulf foreign particles.
  • Milk and other dairy products can be a trigger for inflammation in the body.
  • Nightshades are a plant group that consists of tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplants and some spices. They contain alkaloids which can cause an inflammatory response in some people.

For more information read more about Allergies.

Nutritional Deficiencies and Autoimmunity

Our immune system is constantly working and on high alert. It’s nutritional demands are high.  It requires adequate zinc and vitamin C, iron, protein, vitamin D, vitamin A, selenium and more. If our diet is inadequate or other systems are competing for limited nutrients, our immune system may be compromised.

What Can I Do?

  • Support you with dietary and lifestyle changes
  • Accelerate your healing and recovery with nutritional and herbal support
  • Regulate and balance your immune system
  • Reduce inflammation in the body
  • Help you identify any triggers or food sensitivities
  • Improve digestion and gut function
  • Support you to reduce stress
  • Reduce your flare-ups and down time
If you are ready to take control of your own health, call me at Brunswick Naturopathy (0403755584) or book an online appointment.