A root cause approach is necessary when it comes to chronic disease management.
However, chances are that if you are dealing with any kind of chronic condition, you may be completely focused on your disease diagnosis. Your energy is spent on trying to figure out how to get the right treatment and ease the symptoms.
You may have never thought of asking any of the questions below-
Why do I have this disease?
Why is my body behaving this way?
Why is my immune system attacking my body’s tissues?
You are not the only one!
We are not really taught to think about our health in terms of a root cause approach. When it comes to dealing with health issues, we are used to giving up complete responsibility for it to the “experts”. We get a prescription from the health professional and take the pill so that the issue goes away.
We believe our responsibility ends there.
Revolving door of disease
While this approach is appropriate and necessary for life-threatening and acute conditions, it fails miserably in the case of chronic disease management.
Moreover, in diseases where the immune system becomes dysregulated, the conventional approach is simply to suppress the symptoms. Hence the use of steroids and immune suppressing medications.
However, it does nothing to address the root cause(s). This is why most people with chronic health problems remain stuck in a revolving door of disease.
They end up spending years of their life chasing diagnoses and medical treatments. In the meantime, they get sicker and sicker even while they take higher and higher doses of medications.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way!
Later in this post, I share some facts and information that will help you to take a different approach irrespective of whether or not you already have a clear diagnosis about which autoimmune disease you have.
Looking for answers in the wrong place
Many of us are looking for answers which will give guide us so that we get better. But usually, we are looking for them in the wrong place.
We get test after test done, visit one specialist after another hoping that they will finally be able to tell us what’s really wrong. But sadly, that rarely happens. We start searching for answers all over the internet.
However, all we get are a mish mash of answers on Google. Some are useful and some may not have any real evidence or scientific basis to them. Now we are more confused than we were before!
More importantly, we are still not clear about what we can do to start getting better. Often, we simply give up all hope for a better life.
Believe me, I get it.
I was also once desperately looking for answers to get my daughter well. I had to find a way to bring her severe eczema under control without relying on strong medications.
Her immune system had somehow lost its ability to regulate and tolerate itself intelligently. As a result, it had become hypervigilant and over-reactive to many things. It was only after focusing on her gut health that her immune system calmed down and her eczema came under control.
My search for answers took more than a year but I was fortunate enough to get what I was looking for. I took a root cause approach, found Functional Medicine, and never looked back.
What promotes disease progression?
One of the most important things that you need to understand is what promotes disease progression. This is true for autoimmune diseases as well as other chronic conditions.
For most chronic conditions, there are 3 main reasons why this happens-
-nutrient poor foods
I have written about this in an earlier post, you can read it HERE
This combination of factors challenges our immune system’s ability to tolerate and respond at appropriate times. We can end up with either an over-reactive or an under-reactive immune system.
An under-reactive immune system is one that is dealing with too many challenges at once. It is usually not receiving the support it needs in terms of nutrients, removal of toxins, proper stress management.
In the case of eczema, allergies, asthma, and autoimmune conditions, the immune system is an overactive one. There is aggressive immune response along with lots of inflammation. Plus, there is little to balance it so that it can stop responding once the threat has disappeared.
Having a healthy and balanced immune system
Ideally, we would like our immune system to respond appropriately to genuine threats like a virus or a parasite. At the same time, we would not like it to react to the foods that we are eating daily.
Our immune system’s role is also about repairing damage and eradicating internal damaged, dysfunctional cells. This keeps our glands, tissues, and organs working properly since these cells are disposed off constantly.
Our immune system is responsible for both accelerating and applying brakes on itself. This way we can have an appropriate, measured, and balanced response to a threat. Otherwise, we have chronic runaway inflammation which comes at a heavy price as it is being constantly fueled by an overreactive immune system.
We know that there is direct regulation of our immune system by the microbial ecosystem in our gut (known as the microbiome). This means that we have to make better choices that support our immune health. This includes better dietary choices for adequate nutrient intake, adequate rest, proper hydration so that our immune system can do its job properly.
When we strengthen our gut health and microbiome, we develop truly resilient immunity.
Immune loss of tolerance
There is a network of inflammatory cytokines (signalling molecules) that are released by our immune system in response to a threat. These signalling molecules are of different types such as Th1, Th2, Th9, Th17, and others.
Having a balance between the pro-inflammatory cytokines (such as Th17) and anti-inflammatory and regulatory T-reg cells is important. T-reg (anti-inflammatory) and Th17 (pro-inflammatory) responses must balance one another in a healthy immune system. This will help in having a controlled immune reaction and prevent runaway inflammation.
This chronic inflammation contributes to much of the oxidative damage and pain related symptoms that are a part of autoimmune disease.
I have written more about inflammation and you can read it HERE.
We need key nutrients like zinc, vitamin A and vitamin D to maximize T-reg cell synthesis and make different types of cytokines. In this, a healthy microbiome has a big role to play in directly regulating the immune system based on the diversity and health of the gut bacteria.
You can read more about cytokines and inflammation in the links provided in the resources section below.
Taking a root cause approach
As you can see, when we are completely focused on only which autoimmune disease we have, we do a disservice to ourselves. We don’t pay as much attention to uncovering why it happened. We don’t take a root cause approach.
We don’t ask questions like
“Why do I have this disease?”
It is very rare that there is only one factor at play in the progression of chronic disease. This is what makes chronic disease management so complex. Chronic diseases are usually a combination of various mechanisms which overlap and have synergistic effects on each other.
Changing the way you approach your disease condition starts by asking the RIGHT questions. Questions that will lead you to answers so that you can create long term health.
“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tip toe if you must, but take a step.”
— Naeem Callaway
“AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE 101”
A carefully curated and comprehensive collection of carefully selected books, podcasts, websites, blogs, and other resources from the field of Functional Medicine with a focus on autoimmune diseases
If have been looking to get ANSWERS to questions like
-Why do I have this disease?
-Will I get any better?
-Can anyone help me? Nothing is working
-Is there any hope for me to get my life back?
-I am still waiting for a diagnosis, which direction do I need to move towards?
then this GUIDE would a game changer for you!
“Autoimmune Disease 101” is a carefully curated and comprehensive collection of carefully selected books, podcasts, websites, blogs, and other resources from the field of Functional Medicine with a focus on autoimmune diseases.
The Functional Medicine model of care for chronic diseases seeks to answer the question “Why do you have this disease” so that you can get personalised and effective care for your unique condition.