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Autoimmune diseases: where do they come from and how to treat them?

We understand the situation well when the cause of our illness is an infection. So, we need to find a way to kill this infection, and we will recover immediately. Of course, this is a simplification. We cannot always kill viruses, for example. Moreover, an infectious disease can trigger an autoimmune disease. To avoid any confusion, let’s break down the issue in detail.

What Is an Autoimmune Disease?

An autoimmune disease is a condition where your immune system attacks your own body. This is clear. But how does a situation arise where the body starts attacking itself?

In its normal state, the immune system protects us from viruses, bacteria, fungal infections, and toxins. This is how our immune system works: it recognizes an intruder and starts fighting it. However, in certain situations, the immune system may mistake its own cells for foreign invaders, leading to an autoimmune disease.

Why Does the Immune System Attack the Body?

The immune system does this by mistake. For example, after a strep infection, the immune system may attack the heart or kidneys, confusing cells in our body with strep infection proteins. As I mentioned in another article, these problems are less common now, but strep can cause another equally dangerous issue where the brain is attacked, known as PANDAS.

What Do Autoimmune Diseases Affect?

The immune system produces autoantibodies, and these are what attack our healthy cells. They are directed against specific proteins, so autoimmune diseases usually affect a specific organ. For example, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. It typically develops as a result of a viral infection and involves irreversible damage to a specific part of the pancreas. The immune system can also attack joints, skin, the thyroid gland, heart, brain, kidneys, and more. There are many variations.

However, this doesn’t always happen. Some autoimmune diseases affect whole groups of organs or entire systems. For example, systemic lupus erythematosus affects practically the entire body. It is an extremely dangerous disease, and with lupus, it’s easier to list the organs that aren’t potentially attacked by the immune system than those that are.

Why Don’t Autoimmune Problems Affect Everyone?

Strep infections are common, but not everyone develops autoimmunity after such an infection. We now know that certain groups of people are more prone to autoimmunity. We know that a predisposition to autoimmunity is typically a familial, i.e., genetic, problem. But how to identify people prone to autoimmune problems is not yet known.

There are certain statistical data available:

  • Women are more prone to autoimmune diseases.
  • Autoimmune problems often start at an earlier age (between 15 and 44 years), possibly because the immune system is more active during this period.
  • There is statistical data for different ethnic groups and their tendencies toward specific autoimmune diseases.
  • There is a genetic predisposition to autoimmune diseases, but different family members may have different autoimmune conditions.

Why Are Autoimmune Diseases More Common Now?

We are currently witnessing an increase in autoimmune diseases, and of course, the question arises: what factors have influenced the rise in this self-destructive process?

While there is no definitive answer, some factors are considered:

  • Environmental factors.
  • Infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
  • Various toxins are now prevalent in our environment.
  • At one point, the theory that there are too few parasitic infections nowadays led to the idea that autoimmune problems have become more common.
  • There is a theory that modern diets that cause intestinal inflammation may also trigger an immune response and contribute to autoimmune reactions.

It may also be that a combination of several of these factors more frequently leads to an autoimmune response.

Examples of the Most Common Autoimmune Diseases

Type 1 Diabetes

This disease occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. It is an irreversible process and often develops in early childhood as a result of a viral infection. There are cutting-edge developments that allow for the restoration of pancreatic function using stem cell therapy. These technologies are currently in the research stage and are available to individuals with type 1 diabetes who meet certain criteria.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

With this disease, the immune system attacks the joints. It is crucial to treat this problem, as the disease can severely damage the joints to the point where they become unusable. Furthermore, the situation can worsen dramatically overnight.


This is an autoimmune skin disease where skin cells multiply too quickly, leading to inflammation and redness. If left untreated, psoriasis can affect nails and joints, occurring in about 30% of cases.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

MS is an autoimmune problem that affects the myelin sheaths of nerve fibers. This results in slowed transmission of messages between the brain and spinal cord and other parts of the body. The disease progresses at different rates for different individuals.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)

While most people are aware that lupus can cause a facial rash, it actually affects multiple systems and organs, including joints, kidneys, the brain, and the heart. If left untreated, lupus can take on an extremely dangerous form and cause irreversible changes in these organs.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

In this condition, the production of thyroid hormones slows down to a deficiency. Symptoms of this disease include weight gain, sensitivity to cold, fatigue, hair loss, and goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland). If left untreated, this disease irreversibly damages the thyroid gland.

Celiac Disease

This autoimmune disease affects the intestines, where the protein found in grains, gluten, damages the intestinal villi, significantly hindering nutrient absorption and causing inflammation. This disease currently affects approximately 1% of the Canadian population.

In addition to autoimmune disease, there is non-autoimmune sensitivity to gluten.

Symptoms of Autoimmune Diseases

The early symptoms of many autoimmune diseases are quite similar and may include fatigue, muscle pain, skin redness, chills, concentration problems, neurological issues, hair loss, and weight loss/gain.

However, some unique symptoms can sometimes help identify which autoimmune condition is present at a very early stage. For example, type 1 diabetes has unique symptoms: thirst, weight loss, and frequent urination.

How Are Autoimmune Diseases Diagnosed?

It all starts with a medical history. After analyzing your problems, a doctor may perform an examination and decide on the need for tests. There is no single test that can diagnose any autoimmune disease.

There are two groups of tests: sensitive and specific.

  • Sensitive tests check whether there is a possibility of an autoimmune disease.
  • Specific tests help determine which specific autoimmune disease is present. These are tests that show antibodies specific to a particular condition. Some diseases are more common than others.

In general, there are about 100 autoimmune diseases known.

How Are Autoimmune Diseases Treated?

Although it’s not possible to completely cure autoimmune diseases – you can’t eliminate your own immune system – a combination of therapies can be found to control an overactive immune system.

Treatment involves medications to reduce inflammation and “calm down” the immune system. Additionally, treatments are used to control symptoms such as pain, swelling, fatigue, and various skin problems.

A unique medication, LDN, can suppress autoimmunity and has almost no contraindications or side effects. It helps some individuals, usually if started in the very early stages of the disease.

Simultaneously, therapies and lifestyle changes that help relieve the immune system are used. These may include diets, physical exercises, and other lifestyle changes that can improve your overall well-being.

What Is Remission?

With many autoimmune diseases, stable remission can be achieved. This is a situation in which, through a combination of therapies, the body reaches a state of balance. Remission can be long-lasting, but this equilibrium is extremely unstable. In short, you should never forget about your autoimmune problem, even if your remission lasts for years.

If you have achieved stable remission through medications, diet, specific supplements, and adhering to a certain lifestyle, it’s best to continue these therapies and stay in contact with a specialist who helped you achieve remission. Remission can relapse after any stressful situation for your body, such as a new infection you’ve recently had, changes in supplements/treatments, dietary changes, or just significant life stress.

Why Can Autoimmunity Be Dangerous?

In addition to the fact that autoimmunity is destructive to your body, it diverts the resources of the immune system. At that moment, the body is much less protected against infections and toxins.


Now, a crucial point to remember: you should not delay the treatment of an autoimmune disease. The longer you allow your body to destroy itself, the deeper you push your problem. Autoimmune destruction is often irreversible.

  • It is incorrect to say that treating an autoimmune disease is futile.
  • It is correct to say that treating an autoimmune disease at the earliest stage yields the best results.
  • This treatment should never be discontinued, even if you have achieved stable remission.


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