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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Natural Solutions for Autoimmune Disease: More Americans suffer from autoimmune diseases than cancer and heart disease combined, says Dr. Peter Kan.

Aug 30, 2017 06:03PM ● By Peter Kan

Our immune system is designed to protect us from foreign invaders such as microbes and toxins. Autoimmune disease occurs when our immune system attacks our own body. Common autoimmune diseases include Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, celiac disease and approximately 120 others.

According to American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, up to 50 million Americans suffer from autoimmune diseases, and this number is on the rise. Putting this in perspective, heart disease affects 22 million and cancer affects 9 million, so there are more Americans suffering from autoimmune disease than heart disease and cancer combined.

Conventional medical treatment for autoimmune disease is limited to powerful immunosuppressant drugs that have serious side effects. Most autoimmune patients are not prescribed these drugs because the risk outweighs the benefit. Moreover, this approach does not address the root cause.

Current medical practice looks at autoimmune disease at the organ and tissue level. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is treated as a thyroid disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is treated as a joint disease. Multiple sclerosis is treated as a nervous system disease. However, all autoimmune diseases are the same disease. The commonality is the immune system attacking its own body, so successful management of autoimmune disease must address the underlying triggers and root causes of immune system hyperactivity.   

Autoimmune disease is a multifactorial condition. There is no one smoking gun, but rather a complex interplay between genetics and environmental factors. By addressing key leverage points in the body that affect the immune system the most, we can tip the odds in our favor. Because at least 70 percent of our immune system resides in the gut, focusing on gut health will give us the biggest bang for the buck in terms of improving gut-immune axis function and reducing inflammation.

Leaky gut is a state in which the intestinal lining becomes too permeable. Undigested protein and toxins may leak out of the hyper-permeable intestinal tract on a cellular level, leading to malabsorption and inflammation. This can become a vicious cycle of an overactive immune system and sets the stage for autoimmune disease. Leaky gut can be healed by removing processed foods, sugar and gluten, among other reactive foods. Nutrient deficiencies such as vitamin D and glutathione may also need to be supplemented. Environmental toxins and underlying infections may also need to be identified and eradicated so they do not continue to trigger autoimmune flare-ups.

Dr. Peter Kan, DC, DACNB , FAAIM, CFMP, the host of the online Ask Dr Kan Show, offers free autoimmune workshops in his Gilbert office, located at 3336 E. Chandler Heights Rd. To register, call 480-988-6269. For more information, visit

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