Are you tired of chasing down one symptom after the next? Have you tried everything and maybe something worked temporarily, but never fixed the problem? Have you lost hope that injections, medications and pain management are just how you will have to live the rest of your life?
Many of our patients at the GC clinic have struggled with autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s, Celiac, Crohn’s, Arthritis and subsequent issues like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). I have even seen conditions like eosinophil esophagitis and rare conditions that don’t have specific medications to effectively treat.
Common Treatments and Protocols
With autoimmune disease, the conventional treatment is to look at the organ that’s damaged and treat only that organ – as if it functions in complete isolation. Give a medication for a symptom.
Let’s take Hashimoto’s – hypothyroidism – as an example. The most common treatment is a medication called levothyroxine to help manage the thyroid hormone levels and symptoms that were “abnormal” on your lab test.
Current treatments for hypothyroidism are often medications. Levothyroxine is a very common medicine, but it acts like a bandaid. It doesn’t heal or fix what caused the hypothyroidism in the first place. Think about it this way: if you stopped taking the medication, would your lab numbers be normal or would they eventually show a problem with the thyroid?
Many therapies treat the end stage of inflammation, but they do not address the root cause of where the autoimmune process begins (1).
Yes, the therapies help in the beginning to get you feeling better, which is a huge benefit for someone noticing significant hair loss, and terrible fatigue from Hashimoto’s.
However, research has shown that the GI tract, particularly syndromes called leaky gut and dysbiosis, play a much larger role in what can cause autoimmune disease in the first place (2).
But levothyroxine doesn’t treat the gut so, you’ve “put out the fire” with the medication, but the coals are still burning underneath. With our current state of medical care, we search and search for the next best medicines that will treat the disease, but in so many cases they don’t. And we accept this as the final answer.
The Unfortunate Truth of Autoimmune Disease
Many of my patients show up after several years of taking medication to manage their hypothyroidism with other symptoms beyond the fatigue, hair loss and difficulty losing weight… with gut bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, loss of sense of smell, itchy eyes/ears, headaches or migraines, fatigue and/or overall joint aches and pains.
If you can treat autoimmune disease early by identifying the problem before the lab test shows an issue, that’s ideal. What does this look like? You head into your doctors office saying there’s something wrong, they run a bunch of labs and say “everything looks healthy”. And you look at them and say, “then why am I feeling so terrible?”. If this is you, you’re not crazy. And most of my patients that are years into autoimmune disease will say that there was a time before their diagnosis that they could not figure out what was happening.
There are several stages of autoimmune disease.
- Silent Autoimmunity: There may be positive antibody labs, but symptoms are minimal or non-existent. This is pretty rare to catch autoimmune disease in this stage as antibody’s are hardly ever tested unless there are symptoms or reasons to check for them. Most likely, your physician will tell you you’re fine and tell you to come back if you start feeling symptoms.
- The Reactive Phase: You may have positive antibody labs and some symptoms, but other labs may not show enough for a definitive diagnosis.
- Autoimmune Disease: The body has attacked itself enough to create enough destruction for a diagnosis.
Are you with me that this formula for diagnosing autoimmune disease is very flawed?
In both stages 1 and 2, there are so many treatments and changes that can be made to avoid organ damage that once it begins, may or may not be reversible. Don’t wait just because your physician tells you to come back next year.
Hypothyroidism and the GI Tract
Hypothyroidism slows down the body. It slows down the metabolism (causing weight gain and difficulty losing the weight) and it slows down the GI tract. This can further cause issues with the thyroid because part of the conversion of thyroid hormones happens in the GI tract. In addition, the slowing down of the GI tract can lead to unhealthy growth of bacteria in the both the small and large intestine. AND, it can continue to promote dysbiosis and leaky gut.
Ultimately, it’s this “slowing down” of the body that can lead to other illnesses like Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). The Small Intestine is designed to be more or less “sterile”. All the bacteria should live in your large intestine.
So, what’s the solution?
Use Functional Medicine to diagnose and treat the cause.
- Test don’t guess. You’ve been given names of diseases for the symptoms you have, but that doesn’t tell you what’s causing the disease or illness. What you want to do is restore function to the all the systems in the body. Each organ does not function separately of the others. Each system is very interconnected – so you’re treatment should reflect that.
- Work with your physician to put together a plan that takes in your input, your goals, and what’s important to you. The best part? You’re not on your own. We help you to implement the plan.
- Get your life back. We get long lasting results and have seen full reversal of serious chronic diseases because we help you make the lifestyle changes that your body needs in order to heal.
You can have more energy to spend time with your friends and family and finally have the freedom to live your life to do what you’ve been dreaming to do.
Many patients continue to live treating symptoms and chasing down diagnoses. They never get answers and it can often lead to multiple surgeries, pain, medication after medication, and a lifetime of persistent poor health.
Imagine being able to live life with minimal to no medications, to go to the gym, or out with friends/family, without any pain or fear of GI symptoms?
Get started and take a Functional Medicine approach to your health care today.
Call 503-974-4749 to set up a free consultation with Dr K.
Looking for More?
Check out our most popular articles: