When your immune system turns on your own tissues it can be a helpless and disembodying experience. Autoimmune conditions are exactly that, where your immune system has recognized a protein, enzyme or tissue in your body as non-self, AKA it thinks its a bacteria or virus or something that needs to be removed to protect you. Damage starts to occur and symptoms arise. Unfortunately, in many cases with autoimmune conditions the conventional medical system doesn’t have a lot to support you. That is why it is critical to look for other support and to have a deeper understanding of the cause!
Autoimmune conditions come in a variety of different flavours but did you know that ultimately there are similar underlying causes? Yes, whether you have lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, psoriasis or even autoimmune infertility, we need to be stabilizing your immune system. 60-80% of your immune system is located in your gut and that is why understanding your digestive function is a huge part of any treatment plan. Whether you have gut dysbiosis, SIBO, IBS, HPylori, yeast overgrowth, a long history of antibiotics exposure or any number of other factors your treatment needs to start here!
In order for an autoimmune condition to onset we need to see a genetic predisposition, a digestive vulnerability and a trigger. Triggers can be related to hormonal changes (see below), but it can also be an accident, stressor, trauma or even a virus. It is truly the perfect storm!
Women are disproportionately affected by autoimmune conditions because your hormones have a HUGE effect on immune function! This is why the most common triggers for autoimmune conditions include pregnancy/ postpartum, menopause and other large hormonal shifts. Women are uniquely complex and that is to be embraced! But it is also critical to understand how your unique hormone pattern can be contributing to inflammation and immune changes, which is why we are here at AWH to help you understand and get the treatment you need!
The Advanced Women’s Health Autoimmune Support Program
At AWH we realize that you are unique and therefore you need a plan that is customized to your individual needs! This is especially true in autoimmune conditions. When you have one autoimmune disease you are predisposed to get others. Our three phase plan will help you to understand your triggers, customize your nutrition and supplement routine and support long term wellness.
Phase 1 – Understand and Customize
Healthy immune systems do not get confused and attack your own tissues! Our goal is to get you as symptom free as possible and therefore we place an emphasis on thoroughly investigating your health and what your individual triggers could be.
In the first appointment you can expect that your Naturopathic Doctor will take time to hear your unique symptoms. We will also help you to understand what is happening in your body so that you can understand what we will do to fix it.
At the end of this appointment you can expect to leave with:
- Basic diet and lifestyle recommendations
- Personalized herbal and nutrient recommendations
- Where appropriate, in house testing for your adrenal health, gut health, nervous system balance and/or bioelectrical impedance analysis
- Lab test recommendations may include an autoimmune panel, digestive health tests, androgens, female sex hormones such as estradiol and progesterone, a full thyroid assessment, inflammation investigations and liver testing. We use both functional tests and standard blood tests to come to understand your health better.
After we receive the results of your testing your ND will explain all of the findings. No blanket normal statements here, we want to ensure you understand what it all means. From that point we will customize a meal system and supplements to your specific needs.
Phase 2- Tweak and Monitor
In almost all autoimmune treatment plans the initial phases focus on stabilizing symptoms and addressing the big obstacles. After we have found some stability though it is critical for us to begin the deeper work. This may include:
- Addressing long standing digestive issues and work on gut healing
- Balancing female sex hormones
- Addressing nervous system issues and stress patterns
- Understanding your personal genetic predisposition and supporting vulnerable areas
- Managing inflammation
Some or all of these concerns may have been taken care of by this phase but any remaining issues are tackled head on!
Three months after embarking on your plan we will also be retesting inflammation markers and any other important tests. This allows us to make sure that you are improving as expected and making your way into Phase 3.
Phase 3- Flourish and Maintain
When it comes to autoimmune conditions, falling completely off plan can have more than just energy and weight repercussions, it can result in a return of symptoms. We are passionate about making it easier for you to stay motivated and that is why we have our community! Need inspiration, we have got your back! Sick of your old recipes, lets get some new ones! We will also be here for you when the inevitable set back occurs, which is why most of our autoimmune patients have quarterly wellness visits. The most important thing is that you know we are here for you to keep you feeling at your best, judgement free! Autoimmune conditions are lifelong, but the symptoms don’t have to be!