My Autoimmune Solution–and Yours

January 30th, 2015

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My Autoimmune Solution--and Yours

My Autoimmune Solution–and Yours

Adapted from The Autoimmune Solution, by Amy Myers, MD

About ten years ago I developed an autoimmune condition–and conventional medicine failed me. I don’t want it to fail you too.

I’m an M.D. myself, so I don’t like to criticize other doctors, let alone their standard protocols, but the truth must be told: When it comes to the treatment of autoimmune conditions, conventional medicine has failed miserably. The typical weapons of choice are medications that might or might not ease your symptoms; that might disrupt your life with harsh side effects; that often keep you permanently anxious about the possibility of developing an infection; and that might stop working after a few years, causing you to take even more powerful medications. The accepted philosophy is that autoimmune disorders are inevitable, that they can be managed but neither prevented nor reversed. The result is that patients are reduced to complete dependence on their doctors and their prescribed medications, unable to live their lives without constant fear and often without pain.

I’ll show you how to use a healthy diet, lifestyle, and high-quality supplements to eliminate symptoms, get off your medications, and enjoy the kind of vibrant, total health you’ve always wanted. I’ll show you why changing your diet and healing your gut can make a world of difference, along with freeing your body of its toxic burden, healing your infections, and reducing your load of stress. I’ll help you take charge of your health, making the choices that support your body and keep you glowing, fit, and full of energy.

Why do I sound so confident? Because over the years I’ve treated thousands of patients with this approach–and I’ve also treated myself. Like I said, conventional medicine failed me, so I had to develop an autoimmune solution, one that would help me overcome the staggering side effects of conventional treatments and enable me to live a busy, healthy life.

If you give me just thirty days, I can help you take back your life too. If you suffer from autoimmunity, I can show you how to reverse your disorder, eliminate your symptoms, and even get off your medications. If you suffer from an inflammatory condition, I can help you heal that condition and keep it from turning into a full-blown autoimmune disorder. If you know someone who is struggling with autoimmunity, I can teach you how to offer your loved one the kind of support and guidance that could make a life-changing difference.

Sound good? Then let’s get started. I can’t wait for you to find your own autoimmune solution.

 

The Failure of Conventional Medicine

Before we look at the much-needed alternative, let’s take a quick tour of what most of you or your loved ones are dealing with, or of what you might be dealing with if your inflammatory condition turns into autoimmunity. You might start out bouncing from doctor to doctor because nobody can figure out what’s wrong with you. There are more than one hundred recognized autoimmune conditions and many are not well understood by conventional medicine.

As a result, most doctors and care providers are at a loss if you come in with a collection of autoimmune-like symptoms that don’t quite match a diagnosis they recognize. This problem is compounded by the way conventional medicine has been fractured into so many discrete specialties. If you are diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, you don’t go see an “immune specialist” (unless you come to see me!). You are more likely shuttled off to a specialist who focuses on the system that is being attacked: a rheumatologist for rheumatoid arthritis; a gastroenterologist for celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis; an endocrinologist for Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and diabetes; and so on. And if you have two autoimmune conditions, as many people do, you are likely to see two separate specialists; for three conditions, three specialists; and so on.

This fragmentation suggests that your problem is a disease of a particular organ, but in fact, it is a disease of the immune system as a whole. All these diseases–despite affecting different organ systems–stem from the same common cause: an immune system gone rogue. My approach is based on getting to the root of the problem: removing the elements that derailed your immune system in the first place and strengthening your immune system rather than suppressing it. That’s why using this approach enables you to reverse and prevent many different autoimmune conditions at once.

Because there is a genetic component to autoimmune disorders, your doctor might be especially concerned if you have a family history of autoimmunity that includes at least one parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, or grandparent. You might have begun searching for answers when you realized that one or more people in your family had a condition like rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, lupus, or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Whether or not you have a family history, you are likely to hear that your genes hold the key to whether or not you will develop autoimmunity, that there is nothing you can do to prevent it and no way to reverse it once it strikes. This can make the search for a diagnosis rather ominous, since at the end of the road is not a promise of health but only the prospect of an ever-worsening disease.

My Autoimmune Solution--and Yours

In most cases, your primary care doctor will send you to a specialist, either with or without a diagnosis–perhaps a rheumatologist, endocrinologist, gastroenterologist, or neurologist. If you have been diagnosed with a painful, debilitating condition such as rheumatoid arthritis–an inflammation of the joints–the specialist will likely tell you that this disorder, like all autoimmune diseases, is irreversible. The joint pain that sent you to the doctor in the first place? Well, that was just the beginning. Eventually it will become so severe, so disabling, that you’ll be in more or less constant pain, and you’ll find it very difficult to move. Forget about enjoying a romantic walk along the beach or taking your grandkids to the amusement park. You’ll be lucky if you can climb a flight of stairs or take a quick drive to the mall.

The specialist will offer you an array of powerful medications to combat your symptoms and ease your pain.

“What about side effects?” you ask.

“Well, yes, these drugs have significant side effects,” she replies. “They are something you are going to have to learn to live with.”

Or perhaps your diagnosis is a milder one, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid and keeps it from producing enough thyroid hormone. Now your specialist has far more cheerful news to share: You just have to take a thyroid hormone supplement every day for the rest of your life. But the medication is inexpensive, you won’t notice any side effects, and even though your dosage will probably keep increasing, life will basically go on as before.

You don’t really like the idea of your thyroid slowly, steadily being destroyed by your own body. Still, the doctor’s suggestions don’t sound so bad–until you go home and do your own research. You soon discover a fact that most doctors don’t share with their patients: Having even one autoimmune condition makes you three times more likely to develop another. What if the next one is something really debilitating, like lupus or multiple sclerosis?

My Autoimmune Solution--and Yours

You ask your doctor about this frightening prospect at your next visit, and she confirms that your research was correct: Having one autoimmune condition triples your risk of developing others. But she also tells you there’s nothing you can do to prevent that from happening. As far as conventional medicine is concerned, your genes are in charge of your sickness, and your doctor is in charge of your health.

Whatever your condition, appointments with a specialist are likely to be brief. Insurance reimburses doctors for fifteen-minute appointments, so that’s usually all they can afford to give you. You have a whole list of questions you’d like to ask, but in most cases, you’ll have just enough time to hear the specialist confirm that there is very little you can do to slow the progression of an autoimmune condition, let alone reverse it. You simply have to take the drugs required by the conventional “standard of care” and hope that they make some difference without causing too many side effects. If you’re one of the lucky ones, the medications will eliminate all your symptoms. Often, though, you can expect only limited relief. Even if your symptoms disappear completely, the autoimmune storm is still raging inside your body, and you have no idea what its next effects might be.

Then you learn that even if your doctor can find a drug that works, it might eventually stop working. Best-case scenario: Your doctor finds you another medication, and that too works for a while. Second-best: The new medication saddles you with some disruptive side effects, maybe even painful ones. Worst-case: You embark on an endless journey of frustration, pain, and despair, trying out one powerful drug after another, while your condition grows ever more painful and restrictive, and your life seems to be grinding to a halt.

As your treatment progresses, you learn that the worst side effects aren’t always the medical ones: There is also the personal price you pay for the disease. Perhaps you can’t play with your grandchildren because your joints hurt too much or because the immunosuppressant you’re taking makes you far too vulnerable to a potential cold or flu. Maybe you can’t take that second honeymoon or family vacation you’ve been looking forward to because your muscles ache, you feel exhausted, or you simply feel too weak. You might find yourself taking extra sick days at work or cutting back on your hours. Perhaps you even risk being fired or laid off.

Or maybe it’s your social life that takes the hit. After all, so much of the time you feel exhausted, cranky, and “not like yourself.” Your friends call, suggesting a dinner, a concert, a hike, or even just a long, cozy chat on the phone. But too often you just don’t have the energy. Maybe you feel too despondent to join in the fun. Or you fear you will become such bad company that your friends, family, and loved ones will eventually grow tired of being with you. Worst of all, you discover, is the disempowerment. You feel that your body, your health, and your life itself are essentially out of your control. You ask your doctor if there’s anything you can do to make things better–maybe alter your diet? You saw someone on a talk show who said that gluten contributes to autoimmune conditions. Maybe you should give up bread and pasta or try to go gluten-free? Recently a friend sent you the link to an article about a condition known as “leaky gut.” Should you be finding out more about that?

Again, conventional medicine is very clear. Autoimmune conditions concern the immune system, says your doctor, not the digestive system! Diet makes little or no difference. Demonizing gluten? That’s just a fad. True, some people do suffer from a gluten-related autoimmune condition known as celiac disease, but we’ve already tested you for that and you don’t have it, so gluten is nothing for you to worry about.

Your physician tells you the best you can do is accept your condition, learn to live with your side effects, and hope that your medications continue to work.

Fortunately, there is another way.

 

The Myers Way: A Solution

Conventional medicine seeks a diagnosis and medicates symptoms. The Myers Way, by contrast, is based in functional medicine, a medical approach that looks at how all the body’s systems interact and seeks to get them all functioning optimally. Diet, lifestyle, environmental factors, and stress are all seen as playing a huge role in either making you sick or keeping you well.

No approach, not even The Myers Way, can cure autoimmune conditions. In medical science, “cure” means that a disease has been definitely ended, as opposed to “remission,” when a disease is temporarily ended, or “reversal,” when a disease remains within your body but shows no symptoms.

Because no one has yet learned how to cure autoimmune conditions, The Myers Way offers you the next best thing: reversal and prevention. The Myers Way relieves your symptoms, helps you get off your medications, and enables you to live a vital, energetic, and pain-free life. It’s not about learning to live with a disease. It’s about creating a lifelong condition of health.

This approach rests on four pillars, each of which has been tested through experimental research and has seen amazing results over my own years of practice as a physician:
1. Heal your gut. After all, 80 percent of your immune system is in your gut. The gut is the gateway to your health, so if your gut isn’t healthy, your immune system won’t be either.

2. Get rid of gluten, legumes, and other foods that cause chronic inflammation. Inflammation is a system-wide immune response that, in small doses, can actually help you heal. But when inflammation becomes chronic, it stresses your entire body, especially your immune system. If you suffer from an autoimmune condition, inflammation provokes your symptoms and makes your condition worse. If you are on the autoimmune spectrum, increased inflammation can push you over the edge into a full-blown autoimmune disorder.

Gluten–a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and many other grains–stresses your digestive system, putting you at risk for a disorder known as leaky gut, which further burdens your immune system. Many other foods, including gluten-free grains and legumes, also trigger inflammation. That’s why on The Myers Way you will cut out gluten and clean up your diet, thereby healing your gut, soothing your inflammation, and reversing autoimmunity.

3. Tame the toxins. Every day we are assaulted by thousands of toxins–at home, at work, and outdoors–and our immune systems feel the burden. If you have an autoimmune condition, or if you’re anywhere on the autoimmune spectrum, the degree of your toxic burden can make the difference between health and sickness.

4. Heal your infections and relieve your stress. Certain infections can also trigger an autoimmune condition, as can physical, mental, or emotional stress. In a vicious cycle, stress can also trigger or retrigger an infection, while infections add to your body’s burden of stress. So when you lighten those burdens on your immune system, you go a long way toward reversing your symptoms.

The Myers Way is based in the latest cutting-edge research published in the most respected scientific journals. In fact, I just finished conducting interviews for my Autoimmune Summit with forty researchers, scientists, physicians, and teachers from around the country, all of whom agreed with the validity of this four-pillar approach. It is also based on my personal experience as both patient and physician. Unlike conventional medicine, The Myers Way is an empowering and optimistic treatment that offers you the chance to live a vibrant, energized, and pain-free life.

Yes, you can play with your grandchildren again. Yes, you can slow, stop, and even reverse the progression of your disease, eliminating your symptoms, freeing yourself from pain, and reducing or even eliminating your medications. Yes, you can become the vital, energetic person you used to be–or, if you’ve been suffering from your condition since adolescence, you can become the confident, healthy person you’ve always wanted to be. And, yes, you can manage your condition yourself.

I’ve used this approach with thousands of my patients, and I have seen it work. In fact, people come to me from across the country—often at considerable effort and expense—because they are so eager to find another, better way of treating autoimmune disorders. They are not happy with the conventional care their own physicians have offered them; they want an autoimmune solution. The Myers Way is that solution: an effective, long-term approach to reversing and preventing autoimmune disorders.

I’ve also used The Myers Way on myself. For years I struggled with an autoimmune condition that launched me into my own painful search for a better type of treatment. In the end, I had to invent my own solution.

Adapted from The Autoimmune Solution

To read the rest of my story and learn how you can prevent and recover from autoimmune disease, order your copy of The Autoimmune Solution!

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  • Natalie Wieneroider

    Thanks for the great book – I bought it straight after listening to a podcast about it. Do you include chia and hemp in the seed group? I use them as a protein source as I prefer not to eat meat (oh and a special thanks for putting the 7 day seafood section in)

  • Betty Yearty

    Dr. Myers- I have just finished your book and am excited to get on your plan. I am 60 years old and have had multiple health issues over the past 30 years (misdiagnosis of RA, non-hodgkins lymphoma, sjrogrens, and most recently diagnosed with “inflammatory myopathy” in 2011. I have been completely off all prescription meds (prednisone, methotrexate) for 1 year, thanks in part, I believe, to exercise and changing my diet to “clean,” real food (no sugar, no processed foods), then this past year focusing on being gluten free. I have not done dairy-free, nor totally grain free, nor legumes free, so this part will be new to me. The thing I’m most concerned about is losing weight on your plan. I am 5’4″ and weigh around 100 lbs. I do not need to lose weight. Do you have any suggestions on how I can do your plan and not lose weight?

    • set up a wellness coaching session wit Brianne if you are finding you are losing weight. She deals with this frequently.

  • Ann Smith

    Great book. Am now on the 30 day plan. Have you any feed-back with the diet and scleroderma?
    Many thanks.

  • Dawn Turnquist Kaseoru

    Dr. Myers, have you had anyone with Myasthenia Gravis come to you?

  • ChristineL

    What are your recommendations for those of us who cannot manage a completely grain free diet, but are completely gluten free? I have been completely gluten free for 10+ years, dairy free for close to 5 years, and following the low FODMAPS protocol for over 1 year. I have tried completely grain free a few times, but cannot manage it for more than a day or two.

    Also, why did you fail to discuss the low FODMAPs diet in your book at all? I have found it to be very helpful in identifying foods that irritate me. Unfortunately, most of your recipes and meal plans include those foods. How is someone in my situation supposed to cope?

    • The question is WHY cannot you not manage to be grain free for more than 2 days?

      I find I can get most people well without low FODMAPS and I wanted to appeal to the most people possible. I could not cover everything as much s I tried. I am glad you re having success on low FODMAP – I do find some of may patients need that to get well — but the vast majority do not.

      • CL

        I am unable to manage a grain free diet for more than a day or two because I feel absolutely miserable when on it. All of my symptoms get worse and I wind up feeling so tired and weak that I am unable to function and wind up staying home in bed unable to do much besides working the remote control.

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