Women are generally more susceptible to autoimmune disease than men.
The development of an autoimmune disease may be influenced by a triad of factors: genetic vulnerability, immune system response to environmental exposures — toxic chemicals, antigenic foods, infectious agents, (current, ongoing sympathetic nervous system hyper-arousal and/or unresolved traumatic experience/Adverse Childhood Experiences*) etc. — and intestinal permeability. There is a higher chance for developing autoimmunity with intestinal inflammatory conditions (and with highly dysregulated/hyper-aroused autonomic nervous systems – stuck on on*). Proposed mechanisms of autoimmune endocrine disease involve a sequence of immune, inflammatory events in a genetically susceptible individual. In most cases, the immune response to the target cell progressively destroys the tissue, and hypofunction is the main clinical manifestation. (*Unresolved trauma/early adverse experiences are now understood to drive later dysregulated immune reactivity/autoimmunity.)
Moreover, the close relationship of intestinal integrity with the immune system plays an important role in maintaining oral tolerance, which if compromised, can lead to autoimmunity. Oral tolerance is a complex immune phenomenon that eventually helps the body identify friend from foe (in what we eat), and therefore, not react against antigens found, for example, in regular dietary foods.
There is a close correlation between developing autoimmunity and the presence of inflammatory conditions in the gastrointestinal system. Furthermore, in genetically susceptible individuals, certain dietary proteins and peptides (e.g., gliadin, or casein from milk) can trigger the autoimmune process in the GI tract itself or in other tissues in the body, such as the bone, joints, heart, thyroid, brain, etc.
In this respect, data supports that gluten reactivity can increase the prevalence and incidence of many of autoimmune conditions, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA), Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), Diabetes Type1 (DM 1), idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy, neurological autoimmune issues, and more. (reference: Cyrex Labs: Antibody Array 5 – Multiple Autoimmune Reactivity Screen.)
* Why healing early trauma is important: The ACE study: how Adverse Childhood Experiences can predispose us to later health challenges, from inability to lose weight and keep it off to addictions to cardivascular disease to autoimmunity. The ACE study is ongoing collaborative research between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA, and Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, CA.
More information on autoimmunity and the nervous system:
The Autoimmune Epidemic – Bodies Gone Haywire in a World out of Balance and the Cutting Edge Science that Promises Hope by Donna Jackson Nakazawa donnajacksonnakazawa.com/autoimmune-epidemic/ Nakazawa lays forth the disturbing ways that “autogens” — a term she’s coined to denote chemical, lifestyle, and other triggers of autoimmune disease — are wreaking havoc with the human immune system.
Her most recent book: The Last Best Cure: My Quest to Awaken the Healing Parts of My Brain and Get Back My Body, My Joy, and My Life describes the unseen link between early adverse experiences and autoimmune disease and, most importantly, the therapies that gave her ways out of the immune, neurological, behavioral and emotional binds she, like many of us, found herself in. donnajacksonnakazawa.com/about-donna/ “As both a science journalist and someone struggling with serious health issues, Donna Jackson Nakazawa offers clarity, heart, and hope for recovery and well-being. Funny, fast-moving, honest, insightful, and always helpful, her story of her journey to wellness brings together mind and body, East and West, solid research and the upper reaches of human potential.” –Rick Hanson, Ph.D., author of Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom
Recognizing, understanding and reversing the ongoing patterns that develop from early developmental challenges or trauma may be crucial for resolving major health syndromes like chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, IBS, migraines and autoimmune disease.
• The Adverse Childhood Experiences score calculator: ACE_Score_Calculator will let us know if extremely challenging or traumatic early difficulties may have disrupted the coordination of immune, endocrine, nervous, cardiovascular and digestive systems.
These can be improved, though it may take a longer course of treatment. Understanding this at the outset can provide appropriate expectations for the depth of work that may be involved. It is never to late to reclaim our inherent capacity for self-regulation and healing.
Apologies that this website’s program doesn’t allow me more control over the formatting. I’m sorry I can’t make this easier to read.