Autoimmune disorders are an unwelcome and relatively new set of health challenges that a growing number of people face in their lifetime. My family has had the unfortunate experience of having to deal with it firsthand, and it ultimately led to the loss of the family member. There are over 80 different autoimmune disorders to date, and as environmental stresses and chemical pollutants increase, it’s a logical assumption that the variety of these disorders will increase.

Autoimmune disease can be a remarkably complex phenomenon, but it shares a commonality with allergies: Inappropriate immune response. In fact, autoimmune disease could very accurately be colloquially described as “an allergy turned inward”. Whereas allergies involve an inappropriate immune response toward an external antigen, an autoimmune disorder involves an inappropriate immune response toward the immune system’s own host body.

Conventional medical approaches to both allergies and autoimmune disorders tend toward symptom management. For autoimmune issues, this can include medication to control inflammation and to suppress immune response to limit the damage to the host body. Steroids, such as predisone, may be used to control immune response. The side effects of these drugs can be non-trivial; moreover, managing dosages can be extremely difficult. People taking drug protocols to control inflammation and immune response should only adjust their medications under the strict monitoring and advisement of their qualified, licensed health care provider. Self-medication is not only ill-advised, it is potentially life-threatening. Follow your doctors’ orders.

When dealing with autoimmune disorders, it’s often a good idea to work with a natural endocrinologist along side conventional practitioners. A good endocrinologist will do proper medical testing for all hormone levels and work with you to adjust things accordingly. For some issues, such as Graves’ Disease, many practitioners automatically assume an overabundance of iodine and, therefore, recommend against any intake of iodine at all. This can be a disastrous mistake, as it can be just as possible that there is an iodine deficiency. The only way to be sure is to have your iodine level tested. If your medical practitioner refuses to test you completely, you need to find a practitioner who is unwilling to settle for guessing. Test, test, test! Dealing with autoimmune disorders leaves no room for uncertainty.

Alternative medicine has shown promising results with regard to helping clients resolve allergy issues. Practitioners of N.A.E.T., hypnotherapy, N.L.P. and various energy healing modalities have all documented successes with allergies. Due to the common aspects of allergies and autoimmune disorders, it may be possible for similar successes to be had in helping resolve immune response issues.

If you decide to work with a practitioner of an alternative healing modality, be sure to choose one who openly intends to work in cooperation with your existing treatment protocols as prescribed by your doctors. If a practitioner encourages you to adjust or stop taking your medications, find a different practitioner. The realm of alternative healing may be full of people with the best of intentions, but you must be extra careful to ensure that you protect yourself from bad advice. The world of allopathic medicine isn’t all evil, nor is the world of alternative healing all good. As with so much of life, the truth lay somewhere in the middle.

With the right combination of conventional and alternative health approaches, a vast improvement in quality of life can be expected. Don’t give up hope. Ever.

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