Recently, I discovered an article that discussed an upcoming conventional medicine conference in rheumatology which will provide insight of an upcoming study that combines the concept of using personalized medicine, genomics, and unique protein markers in the blood (antibodies). I was so excited about this, I almost fell out of my chair! It sounded a lot like what we have been taught in functional medicine pertaining to autoimmune diseases.
In functional medicine, it is believed that autoimmunity requires 3 things to occur. These factors are a genetic predisposition, intestinal permeability, and a trigger (gluten, infections, environmental, etc.). This list of three is becoming a framework to explain what used to be considered “idiopathic” or “unknown causes.” For example, I was amazed to learn in the digestive sessions that small intestinal bowel overgrowth may be an autoimmune response related to a specific microorganism that causes gastroenteritis (aka stomach flu) attacking the small intestinal lining!
This concept of infections cross-reacting with our body tissues is known as molecular mimicry, a case of mistaken identity. This can be triggered by various pathogenic bugs in our bodies that are have made a home in our tissues and create havoc. One of my mentors, Dr. David Brady, published a paper on this topic in the Open Journal of Rheumatology & Autoimmunity in 2013 titled: Molecular Mimicry, the Hygiene Hypothesis, Stealth Infections and Other Examples of Disconnect Between Medical Research and the Practice of Clinical Medicine in Autoimmune Disease.
I’ve discussed in the past how bacteria in our mouth can relate to our immune health. Now, conventional medicine is digging into the research in more depth, according to this same article (emphasis mine):
Meeting delegates will learn more about the role of the microbiome in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. A plenary will discuss how Porphyromonas gingivalis, present in the mouths of people with periodontal disease, appears to stimulate the production of anti-citrullinated antibodies linked to rheumatoid arthritis.
One of the oldest adages in naturopathic medicine is, “when in doubt, treat the gut.” Now, it seems like this adage is getting validated by modern research connecting everything back to these littler critters.
The goal of naturopathic and functional medicine practitioners is to empower the client or patient and treat the cause. We look at the whole person as a system. Naturopathic doctors use the term, “vital force” to explain the body’s innate ability to heal and be healthy. Another word for this could be, “resilience,”which is a common term in functional medicine. Check this out:
“I am excited about our focus on patient resilience this year,” said Afton Hassett, PhD, chair of the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals program subcommittee. She said she is also looking forward to “related abstracts that reflect a trend toward reaching our patients more effectively and empowering them to use self-management techniques that are part of ehealth — apps, social media, and telemedicine.”
Functional and naturopathic medicine language seems to be slowly integrating into conventional medical “jargon.” Could we have these little bugs to thank for this upcoming merger?
Read my homepage blog on this subject here.
Sources and Links:
Dr. Brady’s Paper: http://drdavidbrady.com/media/drbrady/Molecular Mimicry-Stealth Infection-Autoimmunity-Brady D-Open J of Rheum Autoimm 2013.pdf
Goodman, Alice. New Treatments, Guidelines, and the Microbiome at ACR 2014. Medscape Medical News > Conference News. American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 2014 Annual Meeting . Medscape.com. November 7, 2014. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/834584?src=wnl_edit_tpal
Links to Past Articles:
The Link Between Essential Oils and the Microbiome, my latest post on training: http://dr-lobisco.com/essential-oils-are-they-an-overlooked-power-house-of-polyphenols/
Mouth and Health- https://www.saratoga.com/living-well/2013/08/post-9.html
Gluten and Autoimmunity-https://www.saratoga.com/living-well/2014/08/a-celiac-sufferers-dilemma-i-dont-eat-gluten-and-i-still-feel-lousy.html
Intestinal Permeability- http://dr-lobisco.com/gluten-on-the-brain-and-body/
Toxins and Triggers- http://dr-lobisco.com/how-toxic-exposures-toxic-mold-and-unhealthy-food-choices-affects-your-health-immunity-hormones-and-healing/