Examples of autoimmune conditions include the following:
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) • Lupus (e.g., systemic lupus erythematosus [SLE])
- Type 1 diabetes • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)• Crohn’s Disease • Ulcerative Colitis
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis • Grave’s disease• Neurological diseases • Myasthenia Gravis
is now widely accepted that tight junction dysfunction, commonly referred to as “leaky gut”, plays a role in the pathogenesis of several diseases, particularly autoimmune diseases.
Emerging scientific findings from mucosal biopsies of IBD patients have shown altered expression of critical tight junction proteins, possibly due to the effects of pro-inflammatory cytokines on barrier integrity. This suggests a vicious cycle is created , in which increased intestinal permeability allows further leakage of intestinal contents, contributing to a pro-inflammatory immune response on intestinal tissue that in turn promotes further gut leakiness.
A healthy intestinal tract harbors a large variety of beneficial microflora, or “friendly” bacteria, residing in close proximity to rapidly renewing intestinal epithethial cells and other components of the mucosal immune system. Components of beneficial microflora are essential to maintain a balanced immune and inflammatory response; when this balance is disrupted, excessive immune activation could pose a risk to the development of intestinal or systemic inflammation.
A naturopathic approach to treating someone with an autoimmune disease, certainly depends on the autoimmune disease and mostly on the person who has it. Regardless, since it is an immune disorder, a good place to start is with the immune system – 60%-70% of which is in the gut. Often a modified elimination diet along with a gut restoration program is recommended along with clinical nutrition to help rebalance the immune system and put health back in the body to support the resolution of symptoms or minimize progression. Autoimmune disease is considered to be an inflammatory disease, so strict focus through food, movement, stress and trigger elimination, herbals and nutrients that support an anti-inflammatory environment are often prescribed.