Get a better understanding of how your immune system works. In this episode, Dr. Trish Murray discusses the three reasons why your immune system can get out of balance and start attacking you. When you have much insight into these complex processes, it would be simpler for you to isolate causes, plan for recovery, and reverse your autoimmune disease or inflammation.
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Why Is Your Immune System Attacking You?
Understanding Our Immune System
Welcome to this talk on why my immune system attacking me, understanding inflammation and autoimmunity. The themes that are going to run through this talk are the theme of balance, meaning the immune system must remain in balance. There are many different complex parts to the immune system. If the immune system is not in balance, it will become dysfunctional and may develop into inflammation. Inflammation is part of the process leading to the possibility of developing an autoimmune disease. Let’s back up and understand what our immune system is. Your immune system is your military. It is your defense system against things that are foreign and dangerous to you and your body from the outside world. Our defense systems, whether they be for our country or for our bodies, should be in balance. If they’re out of balance, don’t have the right tolerance, are over-reactive or under-reactive, you’ll notice that that’s going to cause dysfunction.
The other theme that’s going to run through this talk are icebergs. You’ll notice with an iceberg, you only see a portion of that iceberg above the water. There is a great deal more of the mass of that iceberg below the water where you cannot see it. That’s what we’ll be talking about as a theme. What is autoimmunity? First of all, autoimmunity is when your own immune system starts to attack you. This means that it’s so over-reactive, hypersensitive and hyper-vigilant because it’s constantly being attacked by things that it appears and sees as foreign or dangerous. It starts to attack all the time. You get friendly fire. Your immune system starts attacking your cells that it shouldn’t be attacking.
Why Your Own Immune System Attacks You
There are three reasons why your immune system may do this in any autoimmune disease process. Number one, genetic susceptibility. Anyone who develops an autoimmune or a chronic inflammatory condition has to have some genetic susceptibility, a risk that they were born with from their parents. When you’re born, you get your genes from your mother and father. You can become susceptible to illnesses that they are susceptible to as well. For many , we’ve believed that we live out our lives similar to our parents and are going to have the same diseases as them no matter what. That is not true. Science over a number of years has shown that our environment, diet, medications, drugs we expose our body to, chemicals, stress and toxins in our environment are the that either turns on an illness . Our environmental triggers are important and necessary to be turning an autoimmune process on or keeping it off.
The third thing you must have in order to develop autoimmune disease and inflammation is a barrier dysfunction. What’s a barrier? Think about it, your skin. Your skin is a barrier and it’s meant to keep things out. In the same way, your gut is a hose. It’s like the one in your yard. If you notice, the wall of the garden hose is the barrier. When you eat something, you put it inside the hose. Most of the stuff you eat is supposed to stay in the hose, move down through the it and then leave your body when you move your bowels. Only the molecules of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats and proteins in their most elemental form should be absorbed and get through the barrier inside your body. There are barriers such as your skin or gut lining that if they are not functioning properly are going to allow foreign things that shouldn’t to get through. These three things, genetic susceptibility, environmental triggers and barrier breakdown barrier dysfunction, have to be in present for anyone to have their immune system get out of balance and start dysfunctioning to cause autoimmune disease or inflammation.Your immune system is your military. Click To Tweet
I love to point out that I am not making this up. This is based on scientific research. An I’m going to flip through these different symptoms that could typically be signs that there is a dysfunction or imbalance going on in a person’s immune system. For example, being tired and sluggish, hair loss and thinning, bowel difficulties and problems, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, flatulence or increased gas. All of those could be a sign. Depression, chronic pain, weight gain that you can’t seem to lose no matter what you do, cold hands and feet, mood swings, nervousness and emotional imbalance, insomnia, night sweats. You could tick them these symptoms and say to yourself, “I have that or no, don’t have that.” If you have two, three or four of these symptoms, you most likely have an imbalance in your immune system.
The Different Parts Of The Immune System
I’m going to go over the different parts of the immune system. The immune system is very complex, but I’m trying to simplify and give you the basic understanding of the different parts. Number one, there are barriers. You’ve got to keep the dangerous things out. That’s the job of our defense systems, our Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines for our body. They are our barrier so that bugs, bacteria, viruses, toxins or chemicals can’t get inside us because they’re dangerous and need to be kept out. Two, the innate immunity or innate immune system. That is the initial immune system, like our first recruits that hit the ground. In the Army, for example, the ground troops may hit an area first. Let’s say we use our Air Force. The Air Force goes in first.
The Gut Barrier
We’re going to talk about each one of these one at a time. Here is a discussion of the gut barrier. Increased intestinal permeability, leaky gut is basically that. The cells of the lining of your colon and your intestines are only one cell layer thick. That’s not very thick and not a lot of protection from the outside world. Those cells are meant to have tight junctions where one cell is very tightly attached to the cell next to it and locked together. With leaky gut, the tight junctions are loose and are not healthy. They start to break the lock and be leaky. There are spaces from one cell to the next cell. The barrier is not functioning which means things are going to leak through those spaces and get inside your body where they’re not supposed to be. Right behind the cell lining of the gut lays . If you have a leaky gut, things are leaking from inside the lumen or the hole inside your hose. Behind the barrier sits your immune system, which is going to react to these things that aren’t supposed to be entering your body. Your immune system is overreacting because too many foreign things are getting in. That was number one, barrier dysfunction in your gut lining.
The Innate Immune Response
Number two is the innate immune response. Your innate immune system is the initial response to any foreign stranger or danger. It reacts in the first 0 to 90 hours. When something is getting through the barriers, your innate immune system is the first part of your military or defense system that’s going to try and attack the stranger danger. It can be a bacteria, virus, fungus, chemical, toxin or an allergen. It’s going to try and destroy it or remove it. The cells involved in the innate immune system response are going to put signals on themselves. They’re going to bring those signals to other cells in your body that are the adaptive immune system. They’re going to teach them and train them of what foreign substances have entered and how to help destroy them. They’re going to call in the recruits. Phagocytosis is only one way in which your innate immune cells can destroy foreigners or dangerous things coming into your body. Once that toxin, bacteria or virus is taken inside that innate immune cell, it will kill it. It will destroy it. What will happen after it’s done that is it will take some of the signals from that chemical, toxin or bug and put it on its own cell membrane. Therefore, it has signals on its membrane that it can then teach other cells in your body, for example the adaptive immune system. can bring in recruits and teach them what the foreign thing looks like and what the signals it has are. Then your adaptive immunity can identify those foreign things and start helping your innate immunity bring on a whole other level of defense systems.
Your Adaptive Immune Response
What’s important to understand is that your acquired or adaptive immune response takes as much as four to five days to be initiated. It will create antibodies and T-cell activation. That has to do with what type of thing the immune system fighting against. Once you have trained your adaptive immune system, it creates long-lasting pathogenic specific memory. What does that mean? We’ve all experienced the flu or cold viruses. The typical cold may last only a couple of days. If you get the sniffles and a mild sore throat, then it’s gone. If you get a bad cold, it lasts maybe seven to ten, twelve days. It knocks you out and you’ll finally kick it in ten days or so. Think about that timing.
Many of us have also experienced having our own children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews that, when they go off to kindergarten, nursery school, or daycare, come home and are constantly getting sick from each other. Why is that? First of all, their immune systems have not been trained. They don’t have a very educated adaptive immune system. They’re constantly at risk of getting a new infection. When they come home sick, you’ll notice that you or a fellow family member get just as sick as they are and it lasts seven to ten days. Other times when they bring home a virus, sickness or bacterial infection, you don’t get sick at all. If you do, you’ll only get sick for two or three days and then it’s gone. That’s because if you have already seen that particular bacterial bug or virus before in your life and your adaptive immune system was trained in the past, then your adaptive immune system already recognizes that bug, virus, toxin or chemical. Immediately, both your innate and adaptive immunity are activated. You destroy that foreigner really quickly.
The bottom line is your innate immunity is going to be the first cell to interact with that foreign object. Once it interacts with it and destroys or neutralizes it, it is going to put antigen presentation or receptors on its cell membrane. The naive T-cell comes in and will bind to that innate immune cell. It will get taught and be shown information. That naive cell becomes and acquires an adaptive immunity and is taught what the foreigner looks like and how to try and destroy it. That naive T cell, once it’s given information, could actually go in either one of two roads. It could go down the Th2 road or it can go down the Th1 road. Your adaptive immune system has two different forces or branches. It has the Navy or it has the Air Force. If your body goes too heavily in an autoimmune way, down the Th1 branch or the Th1 road, then you’re going to possibly develop what are called Th1 predominant diseases. They are rheumatoid arthritis, thyroiditis. With thyroiditis, your thyroid becomes inflamed and it’s being attacked by your immune system. You could either develop low thyroid function with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or you can develop an overactive, hyperthyroid, which is called Grave’s disease. They are both autoimmune conditions.
The next is multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Type 1 diabetes or Lyme disease or arthritis. Once you’ve been bitten by a Lyme tick and you develop Lyme disease, the arthritis that’s developing is happening because your immune system and your adaptive immune system is overactive down the Th1 pathway. The other pathway or branch of your adaptive immune system that can become overactive is the Th2 branch. In this branch, you get into allergy or hypersensitivity illnesses and a lot of inflammation. That has to do with antibodies such as IgE like allergies to something or IgG4 for which has to do with food sensitivities. If you have a Th2 imbalance or dysfunction, the diseases that are prominent or dominant with the Th2 pathway are allergies, asthma, eczema or psoriasis, lupus, scleroderma and ulcerative colitis. This is not an exhaustive list but there are quite a few processes here that will give you the idea.If your immune system reacts in a hypersensitive reaction to everything you eat, you're going to have inflammation. Click To Tweet
The final and fourth part of the immune system is tolerance. Tolerance needs to balance all aspects of the immune system. That is what has to happen, there has to be balance. A healthy gut must have tolerance by quieting the immune responses to ingested substances. If your immune system reacts in a hypersensitive reaction to everything you eat, you’re going to have inflammation. You’re going to have an overactive immune system and you’re going to develop an autoimmune disease. That’s why gut imbalance or leaky gut is one of the things you must have in order to develop autoimmune disease. If your immune system is underactive, too tolerant and is letting everybody and anybody come in, then you will notice that you will have more risk of infection, even cancer. It is the job of your immune system to destroy dying or worn-out cells in your body. Cells turn over all the time. If your immune system is not destroying or eliminating those dying or worn-out cells, you would be at more risk for developing cancer. Our immune system is important to have balance and tolerance in the right balance for us to be ultimately healthy.
Allergens. Things like proteins that get into your body but do not recognize and thinks are foreign are considered allergens. Toxins. Lead, mercury, arsenic and alcohol are all toxins to us. There are over 5,000 new chemicals coming into our environment every year by companies developing new chemicals that are not thoroughly tested to be safe for the human body. Toxins are an environmental trigger. Infections are another trigger. Stress, trauma, drugs, whether they be recreational drugs or medicines and prescription medicines are also toxins. Food sensitivities. You can have a food allergy that may cause an immediate response. You can also have food sensitivities that take longer to present themselves.
All of these could be triggers to inflammation and autoimmunity. If you are having an autoimmune or an inflammatory disease process, have any of the symptoms in the list or feel like you may have an autoimmune or an inflammatory condition, you need a coach or a mentor to help you be a detective to figure out which or how many of these triggers might be causing the dysfunction of your immune system. If you correct and avoid these triggers, you could reverse your autoimmunity and your inflammation. It’s simply pointing out that if you have an excess immune response and boundaries dysfunction, you can develop any type of disease process. Autoimmune disease which can affect your heart with cardiovascular, your nervous system with MS or Parkinson’s disease, allergies, hypersensitivities, recurrent infections or cancers.
The standard medical treatment has been based on a 50-year-old model, prescription bottles with pills. With everything I’ve presented in this talk about how complex this all is, do you think that taking one pill is going to solve all of this complex imbalance that’s going on? It isn’t and that’s what we have to understand. It takes looking, being a detective, changing your lifestyle, avoiding the triggers that are identified to be in your environment, healing leaky gut and improving your barrier function to reverse autoimmune disease or inflammation.
In summary, traditional medicine for the several years has been based on sick care. It is not based on healthcare and it needs to change. The traditional medical model today is not helping you learn that environmental triggers and the barrier dysfunctions in your body are the problems. They are what’s causing your autoimmunity and inflammation. Functional medicine is the form of medicine that has brought this all to the forefront. It is considered medicine that looks for the root cause of your inflammation in your autoimmunity. It individualizes your care. Any functional medicine practitioner’s job is to help you as a mentor and coach identify the root causes of your disease processes or dysfunctions and help bring back balance, melt the icebergs and bring health back into your system. Number three is pointing out what we’ve talked about in this talk. Barrier dysfunction, environmental triggers and immune system imbalance are the underlying causes of inflammation and autoimmune disease. It can be hiding below the surface like an iceberg.
The company I’ve developed called Discover Health and the I’ve developed, which is an acronym that stands for Diet and Detox, Exercise, Nutrition and Treatment, will help you put a dent in your autoimmune disease or inflammation. These have been created by me in order to change the way we do medicine and to create a system to provide you with the education, the community and the support to help you optimize your whole health.
I hope this podcast has empowered you because that truly is my mission, to help educate people so that you can learn more about how to find your way to health and wellness and feel as optimally healthy as you possibly can. Please go to my website and learn much more about the information you need and about the services we offer at my office, www.TMurrayWellness.com. I offer weekend conferences where anyone in the world can come and learn about how to put a dent in your chronic disease processes. Please go to my website, TMurrayWellness.com or give my office a call at (603) 447-3112 and learn more.