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Suite B, Flagstaff, AZ 86001

What is Autoimmune Disease?

“Autoimmunity by definition is when self attacks self. While this is typically viewed as a physical response by the immune system, I have seen it also manifest when a person loses sight of who they are.”

~ Dr. Paul Despres at Aspen

Specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of

Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmune disease can affect anyone at any age. The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) estimates that autoimmune disease is affecting over 50 million Americans and appears on the rise. Many patients suffer from years of autoimmune symptoms, like fatigue, joint pain, constipation, diarrhea, and cognitive decline, without proper diagnosis or treatment. Our skilled physicians Amber Belt, ND, Paul Despres, NMD, and Alexandra Mele, ND, at Aspen Integrative Medical Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, specialize in the diagnosis and treatment to drive your autoimmune disease into remission. Our treatments improve your health and well-being without putting you at risk of serious side effects. To get evaluated for autoimmune disease, call the office or schedule an appointment online today.

What is autoimmune disease?

Autoimmune disease typically begins when your immune system starts identifying your own bodily tissues as a threat and forming antibodies to them. The immune system normally protects you by attacking and eliminating bacteria, viruses, and other foreign objects that cause sickness and disease. But with autoimmune disease it starts attacking your own tissues causing inflammation and tissue destruction.

What can cause autoimmune disease?

A key step in recovery from an autoimmune disease is to identify triggering events and aggravating factors, so your doctors can prescribe the right treatment plan and stop the progression of the disease. Our naturopathic physicians specialize in looking at the whole person and identifying potential causes of your autoimmune disease, so you can get your life back. Anything that is an insult to your immune or nervous system can be a cause especially if you are susceptible genetically. Some of the causes include: 

  • Acute and chronic infections
  • Persistent inflammation
  • Genetics and epigenetic changes
  • Environmental toxins – heavy metals, pesticides, insecticides, plastics
  • Trauma, PTSD
  • Stressful life events
  • Diet and lifestyle 
  • Vaccines & pharmaceuticals

What are the most common autoimmune diseases?

More than 80 autoimmune diseases have been identified and if you have one autoimmune disorder, you’re more likely to develop a second one. A list of the most common autoimmune diseases includes: 

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • Irritable bowel disease (IBD) – Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, Celiac Disease 
  • Autoimmune thyroiditis – Hashimoto’s, Graves
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis 
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Psoriatic arthritis 
  • Addison disease
  • Scleroderma
  • Sjögren’s syndrome
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Addison’s disease
  • Pernicious anemia 

Remember, if you have one autoimmune disease, you’re more likely to develop a second one, so it is common to do regular screenings for the development of other autoimmunity. 

What symptoms do autoimmune disorders cause?

Autoimmune disease symptoms can vary, based on the type of antibodies produced and the location of the abnormal immune response. Symptoms frequently occur due chronic inflammation and tissue destruction, which can present as:

  • Fatigue
  • Skin rashes
  • Dry mouth and eyes
  • Inflammation and swelling
  • Recurrent fevers
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Difficulty concentrating

Your symptoms may flare up, go into remission, and keep repeating that cycle. If not properly treated you can have constant symptoms and progressive tissue damage. 

How are autoimmune disorders treated?

The naturopathic physicians at Aspen Integrative Medical Center perform in-depth assessments to find the cause of your symptoms. 

Your provider evaluates your physical and emotional health, reviews your lifestyle habits, and learns about potential exposure to environmental toxins and infections. They also do functional lab testing to learn what’s happening at the cellular level, finding information beyond what’s available from standard blood tests.

Conventional medical care involves medications to reduce inflammation and suppress your immune system. These medications work for some (but not all) patients. They can also cause serious side effects.

While the naturopathic doctors at Aspen Integrative Medical Center can prescribe medication if needed, they begin your treatment with natural therapies that treat autoimmune disorders without causing side effects.

A few examples of naturopathic treatments for autoimmune disorders include:

  • Anti-inflammatory diet
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Homeopathic medicine
  • Botanical medicine
  • Detoxification
  • Physical activity
  • Intravenous (IV) therapy
  • Infrared sauna
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • Stress reduction
  • Mindfulness meditation 

If you need help finding the cause of your symptoms or getting safe, effective treatment for an existing autoimmune disease, call Aspen Integrative Medical Center or schedule an appointment online today.

Invest in your health!