Autoimmune diseases such as Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn's Disease, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and Grave's Disease, to name a few, plague millions of Americans.  The conventional medical approach is to suppress the immune system and use strong anti-inflammatory drugs to help decrease pain.  These patients are told that they will never get better and all that can be done is to manage the pain and try to keep the disease from acting up too much (through suppression of the immune system).  This approach is based on the autoimmune disease model of an immune system that is out of control due to unlucky genes.       

Much research has been done in this area and new thinking on the cause of autoimmune diseases has come about. The model of “molecular mimicry” has come from this research which explains why the immune system would attack normal tissues.  The model is as follows:            

Every cell is identified by the immune system by it's amino acid sequence whether that cell is an organ cell or a virus or bacteria cell.  Many of these pathogens (ie. virus, bacteria, parasite, amoeba) have a similar amino acid sequence as normal human cells.  For example, the Epstein Barr virus has a sequence of amino acids we'll call A-B-C-D.  The cells that line the human joints have a sequence of A-B-C-E.  The immune system fights off the Epstein-Barr virus that it reads as A-B-C- and starts also attacking the joint surfaces that read A-B-C- .  It just misses that last amino acid which differentiates on the molecular level between the Epstein-Barr virus and the joint cell.  But, why would an immune system not “see” the entire amino acid sequence, hence making this mistake?  The answer lies in a dysregulated immune system.  The immune system was first overrun and stressed by an underlying chronic problem that many times the person does not know exists.  The source of the chronic problem is most often a compromised intestinal lining called the gut flora  (this is the balance of friendly bacteria that live in the intestines that aid in normal breakdown and absorption of food).  Since 80% of the immune system arises from the gut, a problem here can cause big problems with the immune system.  This hidden immune system stress sets up the problem that occurs due to molecular mimicry.

Natural medicine and the approach taken by holistic practitioners who understand this mechanism can work miracles with autoimmune diseases.

Dr. Janice Piro, DC, DABCI


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