August is Auto-Inflammatory Awareness Month. That makes this a good time to ask the question: Why we are seeing such an epidemic of autoimmune illness and excess inflammation? There are several reasons:
1. Immune and Inflammatory Systems on Overdrive
Several factors of common daily life in the U.S. are putting our immune and inflammatory systems on high overdrive:
- The high amounts of sugar, white flour, and grain fed beef typical in today's diet.
- Decreased intakes of omega-3 fish oils in our diets.
- The current vogue in media and government to scare everyone to death and make us all hate each other. Unfortunately, this also keeps our immune systems on high alert and exhausted.
2. Today's Environment
Changes occurring in our modern environment are challenging our immune systems' ability to tell friend from foe.
- 85,000 new chemicals have been added to the environment that humans have never seen before in history.
- "Leaky gut" syndrome is becoming more prevalent due to causes such as:
- Medications such as arthritis meds called NSAIDs.
- Candida overgrowth in the gut driven by high sugar intakes. Suspect this if you have chronic sinusitis/nasal congestion or irritable bowel syndrome.
- Adrenal fatigue from chronic stress. The adrenal glands balance immunity. If you get irritability when hungry ("hangry") from low blood sugar, suspect adrenal fatigue.
- A 30% decrease in the average night's sleep. Healthy sleep is essential for healthy immunity. A powerful way to immune suppress an animal is to sleep deprive it.
Our immune system can handle a few of these challenges. But when there are too many, they can overwhelm our immune system to the point that it acts out indiscriminately, triggering autoimmune conditions, arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
There Are Solutions!
Before looking at powerful chemotherapy, high-dose steroids, and other immune adapting but toxic agents, I recommend the people I treat consider the regimen below:
1. Address Your Diet
Start by changing or getting rid of the foods and beverages that give you the least pleasure!
- Cut out excess sugar. This means mostly sodas and fruit juices. Chocolate is a health food, and you can even get sugar-free chocolates such as those sold by ERND, Lily's and The Good Chocolate that are delicious and sugar-free. Like your ice cream? Your supermarket will usually have several sugar-free brands. Sodas? Zevia (available in health-food stores and Safeway) has a whole line of all-natural sugar-free sodas. So cut out sugar. Not pleasure!
- Increase your consumption of tuna, salmon, sardines, and other oily fish (though avoid fried fish from fast food restaurants as they just make the problem worse). Don't like fish? A simple vectorized omega-3 called Vectomega® supplies what you need in just 1 to 2 tablets a day instead of the 7 to 14 capsules you'd need from typical fish oil products — and without the fish oil burps. I take one of these each day as part of my regimen.
- Whenever you have the opportunity, buy grass fed beef instead of grain fed. This is higher in omega-3's and healthier for your immunity
- Again, when convenient, switch from white flour to whole grains.
2. Take Walks in the Sunshine
Vitamin D helps to optimize immunity. For example, numerous studies show that locations around the globe that have the least sunshine have the highest levels of multiple sclerosis. The proper advice when it comes to sunshine? "Avoid sunburn, not sunshine!"
3. Get the Amount of Sleep That Feels Best to You
Just to offer some perspective, the average night's sleep in the United States until the light bulb was invented was nine hours.
4. Cut Down on the Negative News Media
Turn off media and government reporting that leaves you feeling badly. Mark Twain said long ago, "If I don't read the news, I'm uninformed. But if I do read the news, I'm misinformed!" It hasn't gotten any better since then. Scan the news briefly every so often to stay abreast of key topics. But don't let them suck you (or your immune system) into getting chronically scared to death.
5. Find Reasons to Laugh and Smile More
And then do so :-)
6. Low-Dose Naltrexone
For those with autoimmune illness, I generally prescribe low-dose naltrexone.
Supplements That Help Balance Immunity
There are a number of nutritional supplements that can help your immune system stay healthy and balanced. And even though I personally feel fantastic, I take the following supplements every day to keep my immunity optimized:
- Energy Revitalization System™ vitamin powder drink mix. IMHO, this is the best multivitamin in the world. One drink each day provides the equivalent of well over 35 vitamin and mineral pills, supplying 50 key nutrients at optimal levels. This includes high amounts of antioxidants to balance the inflammatory system, support immunity, and protect the body.
- CuraMed® 750 mg 1 softgel daily. The health benefits of this amazing, highly absorbable curcumin are dramatic. In addition to being remarkably powerful for balancing inflammation, countless studies are looking at curcumin's benefits for our cancer surveillance systems. It has been shown to be very effective for joint health and likely very helpful for brain health as well. In head on studies with Zoloft, it was more effective for mood. I take it mostly because there are simply so many studies showing its benefits.
- Vectomega® 1-2 tablets daily supplies the clinical equivalent of 7 to 14 big fish oil capsules — and without the fish oil burps :-)
- Are you hangry/hypoglycemic? If so, I suggest naturally increasing cortisol/adrenal benefits using Adrenaplex®. This awesomely designed mix of herbals and nutrients helps keep the adrenal stress/inflammation glands optimally balanced. (Caution: If you have high high blood pressure, you should check with your physician before taking adrenal support and monitor your blood pressure thereafter.)
- Need sleep support? A mix of six herbs called the Revitalizing Sleep Formula, a mix of four essential oils called Terrific ZZZZ™, and an excellent EP120™ 10 mg sustained release melatonin leaves me and most people sleeping like kittens and puppies.
As the book A Tale of Two Cities notes in its first sentence, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." That is an apt description for our modern age. This is the time in human history that I would most choose to be living. But it also presents some remarkable challenges (as most times in human history have). The information above will help give you, your immune system, and your body what you need to thrive in our modern age!
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.