Natural Autoimmune Support
Welcome, on this page you can view Dr. Shook’s presentation on the functional medicine support of autoimmune conditions. Autoimmune conditions have their roots in very similar causes which allows all autoimmune conditions to be supported similarly. There is a very individualized approach from person to person, but the method to look and identify why, is very similar. This presentation will cover Dr. Shook’s initial approach and analysis of autoimmune conditions.
Please let us know if you have any questions.
The Natural Autoimmune Support – A Natural Approach to Autoimmune Conditions
Hi, I’m Dr. Brad Shook, and I like to welcome you to this presentation.
Today what I’m going to talk with you are basically the natural approach and treatment of autoimmune conditions.
What we’re going to get into in particular are some of the drivers or causes of autoimmunity. I’m going to talk about how you can do testing to determine what some of those drivers of the process are, then we’re going to talk about how you naturally can support the autoimmune condition by dampening it, by removing some of those drivers, by supporting the body naturally in a science and evidence-based way.
Now classically autoimmune conditions have been treated using steroids, using anti-inflammatories, and immunesuppressing drugs. We are not going to talk about that because that model fails to look at why is the autoimmune condition happening in the first place. What we’re going to do is we’re going to look at what’s driving the process. My goal is to help you figure out how to be healthy and to do that in the most natural way possible.
We’re not going to discount the medications because they’re valuable to have, they’re valuable to use whenever you’re in a crisis situation. But there are evidence and science-based ways to dampen and decrease an autoimmune condition naturally to make it dormant so that you don’t have tissue destruction and basically on testing, you will look like you’re negative and that you don’t have an autoimmune condition. I’ll talk more about that in more detail as we get into the next few slides here.
Why I Work with Autoimmune Patients – Natural Autoimmune Support
What I want to share with you is why work with autoimmune patients, and basically it comes down to the fact that I’m autoimmune. When I was in my early teens, I started to develop what would be diagnosed today as irritable bowel syndrome. I know through what I’ve learned that that is likely where I became sensitive to some of the foods that I was consuming and there are a lot of triggers that initiated that. I had this basically what we called irritable bowel syndrome started in my teens. I know that I had episodes with that until I was in my late 20s when I really started learning about the approach that I take now.
After I would say 27, 28 years old, I started to develop psoriasis and this time, I was in my doctoral program. When I developed psoriasis, I was like, “Wow! I wonder if my family has it, if anyone in my family has it.” I knew it was autoimmune, but I really didn’t know what I can do about it. At the time, I just thought, “Well, you’re autoimmune and all you can do is deal with it symptomatically.” I never really had any concerns with autoimmunity because I didn’t have it affecting me or as far as I knew, it wasn’t affecting anyone around me, so I just never had any reasons to really delve into it deeper.
I started asking around. I started asking my family, and I talked to my mother and she explained to me, which I had no idea, she has large plaque psoriasis. If you have ever seen someone with large plaque psoriasis, they have these large plaques, huge plaques like you see this on the elbow, on their legs, on their arms, mainly on what we call the extensor surfaces of the elbows, the knees, but she has it a lot of places.
I was really surprised because I have never seen it because she’d covered it up, and she told me that she’d had it on and off throughout her life, but it had gotten worse, and now here’s a woman who is very unhealthy and your family make the worst patients. It’s just a fact because they don’t see you as a doctor. I’ve done everything I can do to help her, and she’s making progress today, but the fact is that she has this raging autoimmune problem. What she was doing was putting a tar-based cream on these spots, taking steroids, and using steroids topically.
I explained to her why is this problem occurring because the body just doesn’t attack its own tissues unless there’s a reason. Now granted we have genetic susceptibility to develop an autoimmune, in particular psoriasis, my mother does. She passed it on to me, and then the environment and the things I was doing, environmental triggers, which we call the environment plus your genes equal your phenotype. The environment can turn the genes on and off, and that’s what happened with me. I was under a lot of stress. I was not eating good. I was not sleeping well, and it triggered and turned on those autoimmune genes, the autoimmunity for psoriasis and then it expressed itself.
She was doing all these things and I was like, this doesn’t make any sense. Why is the problem there, and she didn’t know. I started asking around. What I learned was that most people had no idea. Autoimmunity was kind of a mystery. We don’t know why our body attack ourselves, so I started researching and I was like I’m going to figure this out. I want to know why because I know that that the body is self-healing. It has the capacity to heal itself, and I refused to take the fact that it is what it is. Let’s just use a tar-based cream, which by the way is carcinogenetic, cancer causing. Let’s use steroids to force changes to our physiology and chemistry. It just doesn’t make sense.
Our body is self-healing. You scratch your hand; you don’t have to do anything to it. It will scab. It will heal, and it will scar itself. It is self-preserving. Your body is self-healing. I want to know what was going on. I searched and I found functional medicine and integrative medicine. It’s changed my life and changed the way I practice, and it’s my passion because I have my own problems. Now through this investigation process when I discovered functional medicine, I also learned that I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
I have antibodies or my immune system is basically attacking my thyroid gland, and it’s something that I learned within the last year, so I know that my autoimmune condition is expanding, and it’s expanding to other tissues, which is what autoimmune conditions do and not many people are aware of that. If you have one, you’re likely to have another one. This is something I’ll talk about a little bit later.
This is what motivates me. I live this every day, and this is why I want to help people with autoimmunity because I know where you are. I know. I’ve seen it in my family members because it’s more than just my mom. I have numerous family members with autoimmunity. I mean how many of us don’t know somebody with an autoimmune condition. If you don’t know what they are, just Google it. There are hundreds of them, and it literally any tissue in your body your immune system can attack and that’s autoimmunity.
My Professional Background – Natural Autoimmune Support
I want to talk about my background a little bit because what got me to where I am today is a long process of searching for things to help myself but then also people I’ve come in contact with and I’ve been fortunate enough to find have given me guidance and I’ve learned from. Just very fortunate to be able to do what I do today.
For one thing, I am a board certified chiropractic physician and I’m board certified in integrative medicine. A lot of people ask me. They’re like, “You’re a chiropractor. I didn’t know chiropractors did this stuff.” It’s a very good point. As chiropractors, we tend to be pigeonholed into back pain and neck pain, and that’s what the musculoskeletal chiropractors can do very well is help people with back pain. But here’s the thing: chiropractic as a profession is a natural healing profession. It’s not just about back pain. I mean there are a lot of chiropractors like me that almost do no musculoskeletal care, and they do functional medicine. They do nutritional medicine. They work with patients naturally to help them heal, and that’s what I do in my clinic.
When I graduated from chiropractic college that was an 8-year process. I had 4 years of undergraduate with organic chemistry, biochemistry, and college-level physics. I mean it was a pre-medicine curriculum. It was not an easy curriculum at all. Then I had 4 years of chiropractic college with biochemistry and heavy in nutrition, anatomy, and physiology where we had gross lab. We did cadaver dissection. We had histology. We had laboratory analysis. We had endocrinology class. We had just name it. We had all the physiology classes – the fluids.
We basically had the same thing that a medical curriculum. It’s a medical curriculum except that medical doctors study pharmacology more than we study pharmacology. We study neuroanatomy and anatomy more than they do because we work in the physical medicine world primarily, and they’re working with prescribing medications.
The thing is the scope of practice is very broad, and when I learned that I had an autoimmune condition, I was motivated to help myself, and I discovered functional medicine. Here’s kind of a little rundown on some of the things I’ve been doing and I’m continuing and constantly educating myself. Hundreds of continuing education hours per year, hundreds. Twenty-four is the required to renew your license and I’m getting hundreds. It’s because I want to make a difference.
Some of the things that I’ve done, I’m currently in a diplomate program, which is a 3-year board certification process in clinical nutrition, and that’s something I’m doing right now. I’ve got over 200 hours towards that. I’ve studied functional blood chemistry; functional endocrinology; functional neurotransmitters, and brain health under Datis Kharrazian. Dr. Kharrazian is a world leader in teaching functional medicine. He’s a lecturer. He’s on the panel. He has done a lot of things with the Institute for Functional Medicine. I mean I’ve been very, very fortunate to learn from Dr. Kharrazian, and I continually study his work and his material.
I’m attending Functional Medicine University right now for a diploma in functional medicine. I studied genetic testing and genetic snips, which is basically a new branch of looking at the individual person and potential flaws or problems with their chemistry, how their biochemistry works. That’s influenced by genes because we have sequenced the human genome, and now we can do these tests to look at your genes, look and see if you have what we call genetic single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs, the SNP that you see there. We now that those influence gene expression. It can influence basically your biochemical processes in your body. If you have a genetic SNP, it can cause problems with your biochemistry. If we know that information, we run tests to see the biochemistry, then we can learn a lot about how we can specifically support you uniquely as an individual. That’s really customized when you’re really 1105 getting stuff and it’s very customized.
Autoimmunity – Natural Autoimmune Support
What we need to talk about in particular is autoimmunity and the one thing that I want you to know is that autoimmunity is autoimmunity. It doesn’t matter if you have lupus, or if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, or if you have rheumatoid arthritis, or if you have celiac disease, or ulcerative colitis, or Sjogren’s, or if you have sarcoidosis, or if you have any other type 1 diabetes or your immune system is attacking your pancreas. Autoimmunity is autoimmunity. The mechanisms within the body are the same. The only thing it’s different is what tissues are being attacked and targeted.
It’s really important that you know that because the mechanisms and the things that occur in the body are very similar. It’s just that your immune system is attacking a different tissue, but the mechanisms underlying why your body loses self-awareness and self-tolerance and attacks itself are very, very similar.
How do we determine what’s going on, we use testing. The testing that we do just depends on really your history and a thorough understanding based on what you’re experiencing and then typically a comprehensive metabolic panel, which is the first thing that we’ll order to kind of kind further testing.
Autoimmune Disease in the United States – Natural Autoimmune Support
Autoimmune disease in the United States right now – this is kind of a scary statistic – 1 in 6 people are diagnosed with an autoimmune condition. That’s like 27 million people that have an autoimmune condition, and of those people, a number of them have things like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune condition against the thyroid itself.
There are so many people that are not diagnosed because you’ve got to understand that to get diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, medically you have to have changes to the actual structure of the tissue being attacked. For example with rheumatoid arthritis, which is where the immune system attacks the joint cartilage, you have to have visible damage to the cartilage itself on an x-ray. For that to show up on an x-ray, you have to have over 50 percent destruction of the cartilage.
Here’s the thing: we have the ability to test and to see if you have antibodies to tissues that are outside of the normal ranges. If you have these antibodies, they’re called predictive antibodies, and that’s what it means. It means that when you have antibodies to tissues, then it is predictive for tissue failure or organ failure in the future. Why wait until the organ fails or until the joint is completely destroyed to diagnose it? I think it’s a really big problem on how autoimmune conditions are diagnosed in the United States today and that’s not how we work with them. We look for predictive antibodies, and we look to see what’s going on and we start to work immediately.
Parts of the Immune System – Natural Autoimmune Support
The basics of how your body works and how your immune system is regulated and can lose regulation are that you have barrier systems and you also have white blood cells. Okay, so the barrier systems are your blood brain barrier, your lung barrier, your skin, and your gastrointestinal or your GI barrier. You have mucus and other types of secretions that help protect and keep things from getting in your body that should stay outside of your body. They are these barriers.
The white blood cells are divided basically into two different groups. You’ve got these different groups that are part of the blood itself that are responders to an immune system trigger, so you’ve got these TH1 side – just follow ME here. I’ll keep this simple. The TH1 are like the soldiers. You got cell-mediated response, and it’s an immediate response where the cells come in immediately. If you get a splinter in your finger, soon after you develop pus, and those are the white blood cells around there. They’re destroying and they’re killing any kind of bacteria or anything that’s potentially getting in your bloodstream.
Then you have this TH2 side of your immune system, which is a delayed response, the humoral response, which is where your blood cells, these B cells travel around the bloodstream. When they see something, like let’s say this is 3 days later. They see something that’s foreign, they tag that like you’re carrying around sticky notes, and they stick that sticky note onto something that’s foreign. Let’s say it’s bacteria, and when those tags are stuck to that bacteria, your immune system as these other cells come around and circulate through the body, they see those tags, and they know, “I’m going to eat that. I’m going to gobble that up because that is something that shouldn’t be here.” That’s what your TH2 system does.
TH1, they go kill stuff immediately. TH2, they circulate around; they tag the bad guys, and then your immune system comes around and eats and destroys what has been tagged with a sticky note. There’s two different parts that we’re going to talk about with the blood cells themselves.
In a well-regulated immune system, your body has balance here, so you’ve got the seesaw. On one side, you’ve got the TH1 system and on the other side, you’ve got the TH2 system. Okay, now remember TH1 those are the soldiers; TH2 those are the cells that go around with the sticky notes on things to be killed later.
In the sphincter, you’ve got this thing called the TH3 system. I’m going to keep this simple. The TH3 system helps to balance the TH1 and TH2. It produces these cells called regulatory T cells that help to balance the systems. There’s also this thing that we’re going to talk about in a minute called TH17. The TH17, when it’s activated, it produces a lot of inflammation and it would destroy and cause tissue destruction. The main thing you need to keep in mind, TH1 and TH2 are balanced by TH3.
In autoimmunity, what happens is one of this is polarized or is a lot more active than the other. This is when you have tissue destruction and your body attacks itself. That’s the main thing you need to know here: when one is high, it promotes autoimmunity and tissue destruction. When one of those is polarized, you have an increase in something called cytokines. Cytokines are inflammatory chemicals. They’re inflammatory chemicals that your immune system creates and what happens is they cause a lot of problems in the body.
The question that you really need to ask yourself is, why is my immune system polarized? Why am I developing autoimmunity? What is causing this? That’s the thing that’s really neglected in the typical medical workup. I mean unless someone is practicing functional and integrative medicine like I’m doing and they’re medical physician, this is not even considered because you got to understand they mean well but it’s not in their toolbox.
They’re seeing people every day that they’re dealing with flus and cols and these other issues, and that’s not how they practice. A lot of them aren’t even aware of this side of medicine or practice and that’s just because they haven’t been exposed to it. It’s not what they get in their continuing education seminars. It’s really not what’s published in their journals.
If any of you know Mark Hyman, who’s been on Dr. Oz and a number of other shows, he is the president of the Institute for Functional Medicine, which is the leading functional medicine educational group in the United States. You got to ask yourself why is this happening to my immune system.
Triggers for your Immune System to Lose Normal Regulation – Natural Autoimmune Support
Here’s the thing: you can break this really into two different categories: what’s going to trigger your immune system to lose its normal balance and regulation. You’ve got these things called dysregulators, so things that cause your immune system to be lopsided where you’ve got higher TH1 or higher TH2, and then you’ve got these things called active antigens.
The antigens are things that basically your body is trying to kill or that are stimulating your immune system improperly. You’ve got these things that cause it to be thrown out of whack. They’re dysregulators because you to lose regulation, and then you’ve got these others things that cause your body to respond and have an immune response – antigens, things that they’re going to kill basically.
Dysregulators. As far as dysregulators go, we’re going to talk about a few. These are dysregulators, things that cause you to lose balance.
(1) Inflammation from poor diet. Inflammation from improper diet is one of the major things that can cause dysregulation. We look at stuff like this, this plate of bad fats. We’ve all heard of trans fats and omega-6s and omega-3s. Typically in the standard American diet, you have omega-6 overload. If you’re eating fries and all this fried food, you’ll typically get a high concentration a real high concentration of omega-6s and a low concentration of omega-3s, and that throws you into a proinflammatory state.
Then there are trans fats. Trans fats, you’ve heard a lot about these in the news. Trans fat is a type of fat that basically in all the cells of your body. Every single cell in your body has a membrane or a wall on the outside of it. That wall is made up of something called phospholipids or fats. If you consume trans fats, trans fats become incorporated into that cell membrane wall and they cause it to dysfunction and lose normal function because the cells, all the walls touch one another in your body. When they touch one another, that’s how they signal and communicate through the cell wall. If you have trans fats, which are extra stiff and they cause problems with the ability of the cells to communicate with one another, you’re going to have big problems. Dysregulation is one of those.
(2) Bad blood sugar and stress. If your blood sugar spikes and dips, you’re going to have problems regulating your immune system. Blood sugar is a foundational thing. There are several things that are foundational. For building a house, you’re going to have to have a foundation to the house or these other things that depend on a good foundation will never be right.
Blood sugar is one of those foundational things. If your blood sugar is high or low, you’re going to have problems with the regulation of your immune system. I’m not going to get into a physiology class here. I just want to really highlight some of the reasons and some of the things that are really important and that we focus on.
(3) Hormone imbalances. Now hormone imbalances, these are things that can sometimes be foundational issues, but a lot of times hormone issues are they’re secondary to other foundational problems like blood sugar. For example, a hormone imbalance, if you are under chronic stress, and your body is producing excessive cortisol, the stress hormone that’s released by glands on top of your kidneys called the adrenal glands, then that cause you to have a thinning of those barrier systems that I talked about.
If these barrier systems become thin, it causes them to be permeable or leaky. In your intestinal tract, there’s something you can develop called leaky gut. We’re going to talk about that in a minute. High cortisol can cause a leaky barrier system, problems with leaky barrier systems. If you think about that, the blood brain barrier can be leaky, which is not a good thing. Your gut barrier can be leaky, and also your lungs. We’re going to talk about that. Hormone imbalances, there’s a number of different things here. Again, I don’t want to go into physiology because I want to cover a lot of things with you today.
(4) Neurological imbalances. Here’s an issue, too. I mean a lot of people these are things that you just don’t know until you get trained on them. I mean I went all the way through my doctoral program and I didn’t realize the things that would cause neurological imbalances. When I talk about neurological imbalances, I’m talking about specifically when it comes to inflammatory conditions like autoimmunity is the ability of your autonomic nervous system to run your body.
That’s the autonomic nervous system is involuntary. It’s the stuff that runs the glands, causes your heart to beat, allows you to salivate so you can chew and digest. It allows your entire production of your stomach acid, the release of enzymes from your pancreas and your gallbladder, the functions of your liver, everything involuntary.
One of the things that can happen is your brain it can lose normal function. We’re not talking about a pathological process. We’re talking about a process here that is subclinical. What that means is basically the impulses, the electrical impulses, the firing of nerves within your brain can become dysfunctional and for a lot of reasons.
One of the main reasons that that happens is because of inflammation within the brain itself. All you need to know is this: when that occurs, that’s when people say, “I have brain fog. I have these other issues.” When that occurs, you will lose normal impulses and firing throughout the circuitry of the brain. The autonomic nervous system is dependent upon optimal and efficient stimulation and firing of the brain itself. I can’t get into a long lecture on this, but you have to have optimal firing neurologically.
That’s why whenever we look at someone that has an autoimmune problem, I’ll have you fill out brain health assessment questionnaires, metabolic assessment questionnaires because I want to know about your brain health. There are things that we can do, but we just have to look at the whole picture first and then say, “Okay, where do we start? What’s our top priority?’
(5) Poor absorption of fat. Another dsyregulator is poor absorption of fat. In the intestinal tract, if you’re not absorbing fat, one of the main reasons is because of inflammation to your GI tract. If you have an inflammation in your GI tract, then you will not absorb your fats well, and if you don’t absorb your fats, you’re not going to absorb your fat-soluble vitamins which are A, D, E, and K.
All of those fat-soluble vitamins act like hormones in the body and are critical to everything. Vitamin D is absolutely critical to immune system function, and those are just absolutely critical hormones. We want to know you have to have good fat absorption. This can cause you to lose regulation of your immune system.
(6) Methylation problems and genetic SNP. Number 6 is one that is something that we have and I’ve really started doing recently because I think it’s really the future of looking at someone and giving customized healthcare to them and that is looking at something called genetic SNPs, and that’s what the SNP stands for here. We know that genetically, you can develop something called an SNP or a single nucleotide polymorphism. I know it’s a mouthful. Just call it SNP.
What that comes down to is that in that case, your body will respond differently and it will cause problems with your biochemistry, the way your body processes and works, eliminates chemicals, converts B vitamins, makes hormones, breaks down your neurotransmitters. I mean literally anything that goes wrong and any symptom, if you have a problem with something called methylation, which is directly related to the genetics here, you can have that due to an issue with your methylation and due to a genetic SNP.
This is really something that we do, and I do it almost on every patient. Everyone with their unique considerations we have to take in. We have to take things into consideration with every patient but this is something that is really the future of looking at any kind of dysfunction.
Active antigens ‑ things that flare up your immune system. These are things your immune system basically works at trying to kill these things, and if they’re present and they’re not eliminated, then it keeps your immune system overly stimulated.
(1) Food sensitivities. The first thing is food sensitivities. A lot of people are like, “Well, you know I don’t really feel bad if I eat any food.” Well, you don’t have to and there’s a reason behind that because if you’re constantly stimulated to low levels of something, then what ends up happening is that you no longer really perceive inflammation because it’s really low-grade but it causes major issues with your immune system and your immune system function. Food sensitivity is a big, big thing that we start with. It’s foundational.
(2) Hidden chronic infections. The next thing are hidden chronic infections. You would not believe how many people we find have parasites in their GI tract or they have H. pylori. That’s one of [unintelligible 0:27:24] that cause ulcers in their stomach. They have dysbiosis, which is an overgrowth of bad bacteria in their GI tract. They have yeast infections. A lot of people have chronic yeast infections in their gut and they can’t get rid of them. That causes chronic inflammation. These are all things that drive, and exacerbate and cause the immune system a lot of stress.
(3) Environmental toxins. Environmental toxins are another thing that will cause your immune system to be overly stimulated. These are really becoming major issues. Some new research have come out with environmental toxins. We know that some of these like PCBs, which are plastics, and a number of other types of environmental compounds, they’re used in a lot of industrial processes, they are actually in the stuff that we eat and drink with, that they can cause a lot of issues with the immune system itself. Some of them have been identified just recently to cross-react or it’s called molecular mimicry.
When they get into your body, they look similar to some of your own tissues, and they look for example like the thyroid gland itself. If your immune system sees this foreign compound and tries to attack it, what happens is it will launch an immune response and it can mistakenly attack your thyroid for that compound. It’s one of these things called molecular mimicry and cross-reaction. I actually have a lot of videos where I talk about this. I’m not going to talk about it in great detail here because we just don’t have time, but there are a lot of issues with environmental toxins. We can do testing for that. Again, it just all depends on the individual and what you need.
(4) Leaky gut (intestinal permeability). You know I talked about this thing called leaky gut or breakdown of the barrier system just a minute ago. This leaky gut, this is what I think triggered my autoimmunity and actually I think it’s what triggers almost all the other autoimmunity that I see.
Leaky gut is where your intestinal tract, the wall which is you know is a tube, is where it becomes porous or leaky. It develops little holes. It becomes thin, and it lets proteins from your food, it lets bacteria, it lets things that are inside your intestinal tract to leak into the bloodstream that shouldn’t be there. It lets things that are really molecules like proteins that are bigger that are not usually in there leak in.
When your immune system sees that, it’s like what is this and it attacks it and destroys it. That can cause you to have just like I mentioned this thing called molecular mimicry where your immune system sees something, and because it looks similar in structure when you look at it as a molecule, it will attack your own tissues, and that’s called cross-reactivity or molecular mimicry. That’s something that we have to identify and address with autoimmunity. I mean it’s a big issue.
Intestinal permeability is a driver of that, and scientific literature is now telling us this. Just like the water is running through this colander and it’s pouring through, can you imagine if that was the wall of your intestinal tract and it’s just letting things pour through into your bloodstream? Because what the literature tells us is that leaky gut syndrome is a prerequisite to an autoimmune disease. It means you have to have it to develop autoimmunity. It’s very powerful.
Autoimmune Disease – Natural Autoimmune Support
An autoimmune disease, it’s basically what I said when your body attacks itself and it causes polarity or an increase in the TH1 or the TH2 system. What that would do is that will stimulate the release of interleukin-17. Remember we talked about TH17? This is a more specific cytokine or inflammatory chemical called interleukin-17.
What it does is interleukin-17 activates something called cytokine inducible nitric oxide system (I-NOS). You don’t have to know this stuff. I just want you to understand some basics here. I know this is not basic really but the fact is I want you to realize there’s some mechanisms here that when we identify them and because we know about these, there are things we can do to help regulate them. When your immune system becomes polarized, you have more interleukin-17 produced. It stimulates this I-NOS, inducible nitric oxide synthase system.
What that does is that triggers severe destruction. This entire autoimmune process really pushes tissue destruction, and what it does it causes a lot of inflammation and this is where you get the negative side effects from autoimmunity is the tissue destruction itself. Whatever is being targeted will eventually be destroyed. If you have these antibodies to your thyroid, to your cerebellum, which is part of your brain, to your transglutaminase, which is an enzyme in your intestinal tract to your pancreas, to your joints, to your skin, to your hair follicles. I mean all these things are major tissue destruction events and that’s what autoimmunity is.
Let’s look at the little pieces here. I know this is a diagram. I’m going to just follow my cursor here. With leaky gut, leaky guts starts, that’s where we’re going to get permeable intestinal tract. What happens is you have poor TH3 poor regulation. Remember that’s right n the middle of the seesaw. Because you don’t have your regulation, that can cause your TH1 or TH2 system to become polarized, and that will really push the autoimmune process. What that does is that leads to tissue destruction. Whatever is being targeted gets destroyed.
As a consequence of that, you get interleukin-17 produced. Interleukin-17 itself will cause more tissue destruction. Interleukin-17 also stimulates this inducible nitric oxide synthase system, which causes severe tissue destruction. This all works together. This is a cascade of events that just promotes tissue destruction. It’s one of the most important things that we have to dampen and stop and we can do a lot of this. We know the mechanisms behind these processes, and we can do a lot of it naturally.
Seventy percent to 80 percent of your immune system is in your gastrointestinal tract and a lot of people don’t know that. I mean I know when I heard that the first time, but you have all these bacteria, all these good things and nerves in your GI tract that are the majority of your immune system.
This is one thing that’s very important. There’s this thing called the gut-brain axis, and basically what it means is they’re connected. It means that one influences the other. Your digestive tract and in particular your colon, your small intestine, and your large intestine are directly related to your brain. You do have a direction connection called the vagus nerve. I’m not going to get into too much detail here, but gut inflammation equals brain inflammation.
We know that when you have inflammation in your body, it’s not just in one spot. It actually circulates systemically through your body, and it’s not going to stay. If you have bowel inflammation due to food sensitivities, due to chronic infection, that stuff, that inflammation doesn’t stay there. That swelling and inflammation circulate through the body and will go to the brain and will circulate in the brain and cause a lot of issues that will trigger a lot of problems with your brain basically. We’re going to talk a little bit about them here.
Gut inflammation equals brain inflammation. If you have a lot of GI distress and problems with digestion, you may have some brain fog and some other problems that are signs of issues with the brain that you need to address.
The way that all this works is that basically you develop gut inflammation that causes an immune reaction. The immune reaction is where you develop those cytokines. Remember I was talking about that as inflammatory chemicals. They promote leaky gut and leaky gut let’s all the stuff into your bloodstream. The worse the leaky gut gets, the more food sensitivities you develop, the more that the autoimmunity progresses.
The cytokines also cross into the bloodstream. When they get into the bloodstream, they can cross into the blood brain barrier, so those cytokines, those inflammatory chemicals, they get into the brain. When that happens, they activate the brain’s immune system, which are these things called microglial cells and that fires off. The brain’s immune system is very protective so it would destroy whatever comes into the brain, even if it destroys some healthy tissue.
It’s very powerful and those inflammatory chemicals will simulate the brain’s immune system, and that will cause brain inflammation. That can cause a lot of problems with brain health as you age. We know that Alzheimer’s and a lot of these neurodegenerative diseases are reaching epidemic levels, and people are being diagnosed younger and younger.
It’s really important that you understand there’s a relationship. I know it’s a little bit technical, but the fact is you just got to follow it along. It’s a cascade of events, and if you don’t understand this, then you have no appreciation for how your intestinal tract can actually affect your brain. That’s huge!
Medically what we do is we break every system into different pieces and we have a specialist for everything for every different system, but they don’t necessarily know this stuff. If they do, they definitely don’t treat it or know how to treat it unless they’re specifically practicing functional medicine and integrative medicine from a way that promotes self-healing and that is not dependent upon a pharmaceutical.
If you need a pharmaceutical, thank God, we’ve got them, right? There are cases where you need that for sure, but that’s something that I don’t get into that. What I do is I work with the person holistically and I help you to identify these drivers and see what we can do naturally.
Medical Approach to Autoimmunity – Natural Autoimmune Support
A typical medical approach for these problems is most of the time is to use steroids, antiinflammatories, and immunesuppressing drugs. You just got to ask yourself why do I have the autoimmune problem? I mean it’s surely not because you have a deficiency of steroids. That’s ridiculous! But when you look at these problems, you’ve got to ask yourself why do I have it in the first place.
Alternative Options for Supporting Autoimmunity – Natural Autoimmune Support
There are other options, and I’ll tell you that some of the things that we do is we focus on this. We focus on the foundations of your health, and this is all science-based approach to working with chronic conditions. This is how I work with my own autoimmunity.
(1) Decrease inflammation.
(2) We support you if you have anemia. We look to see if you have subclinical anemia, which would be a B vitamin anemia or an iron deficiency anemia. A lot of people have what we call frank anemia where they’re anemic and it just hasn’t been addressed. That’s important because that means you don’t have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to all the tissues of your body.
Every single cell in your body has to have oxygen to function. It is vital to our health. Again if you’re going to build a house, we’ve got to grade the land. You’ve got to get it ready to pour foundation. This is absolutely foundational.
(3) Then, we look at improving blood sugar regulations. If you have low blood sugar or high blood sugar, we got to address that because everything above that, a lot of your hormone production is dependent upon good blood sugar.
(4) We decrease intestinal inflammation. We just talked about why that’s so important.
(5) We support optimal liver function. Your liver does so many chemical processes, we don’t even know them yet. It detoxifies. It converts your T4, which is your not very active form of thyroid hormone, into T3, which is the active form. The liver is critical.
(6) We want to improve absorption of fats. We want to do that so that your cells can be healthy. Remember I was talking about the membranes? you get all those fat-soluble vitamins into your diet – the A, D, E, and K.
We do this. How we approach this is we look at first of all a health history. My health history is I think 14 pages long now, and it is what it is because that’s what I need to do the best work and that’s why this is a very in-depth way to look at you as a whole person.
How this is Done – Natural Autoimmune Support
What we do and a lot of things that I do today is genetic testing for those SNPs that we talked about because if I do genetic testing for the SNPs, I don’t necessarily use that information immediately. But what I’ll do is I’ll have that in case you don’t respond to addressing some of your foundational problems. Without getting too much into it and have a specific case I’ll review, but we hold that. We have that information so that we can utilize it.
Then we determine if there are nutrient and mineral deficiencies. So people have nutrient and mineral deficiencies, we call them nutrient and mineral potholes, so you just don’t have enough. You fill that stuff in so that your chemical processes can occur.
Then we’ve got to determine if there are problems with the methylation pathways, which basically those are processes that turn on and off chemical reactions in your body, that turn on and off genetic expression. This is really, really an important thing that we look at that is a way to truly customize what we do to the individual person.
Then what we do is we’re going to look at how can we balance the immune system. We want to support that TH3 system so that we get that seesaw level, and there’s ways to do that. We know that vitamin D for example is a great regulator of the TH3 system, but there are a number of different compounds and things that we’ll use. We want to suppress the interleukin-17 so we don’t have tissue destruction and we don’t want you to have progressed damage to your tissues. We’re going to suppress that inducible nitric oxide system. We’re going to do all this naturally. Your body is going to do this. We’re going to give your body what it needs, take out what’s bothering it, and it’s going to do it naturally.
We’re going to focus on healing the barrier systems – blood brain, the gut, and the lung, depending on what the issues are.
We’re going to focus on killing the bad bacteria in your gut so the good bacteria is there. We’re going to focus on getting rid of parasites and any type of fungi that might be in there like yeast overgrowth.
We’re going to remove environmental chemicals and triggers.
We’re going to improve lifestyle and really focus on getting those dietary triggers and whatnot out of your diet.
I mean those are the things that we got to do. Now, lifestyle I don’t want to minimize it. These aren’t really in no particular order, but your lifestyle if you’re stressed and quite frankly you have a bad attitude and you don’t have people that support you in your life, and you personally feel like your life is terrible and you’re always upset, I will tell you that chemistry produces and promotes interleukin-6. That will produce and promote autoimmunity and inflammation.
What you think it changes your chemistry. I tell people that because we require people to submit their intake packets before I ever see them because I can review them sometimes and know that I can’t help you.
One of the things that I look at is this personal opinion questions that I ask you, and I really look at that because I don’t want to take on a patient that’s not going to succeed, and I don’t want you to fail. If I can pick up on that, just opinions. I mean I give people as much as I can give them, and I try to help them as much as possible, but I can tell you that your attitude makes a huge difference in your ability to recover. I can look at health histories and almost tell you if one person is going to succeed or the other one is not. A lot of it has to do with those personal opinions, and sometimes we can work on those things and improve them.
The Importance of Doing the Right Testing – Natural Autoimmune Support
You got to do the right testing. I mean it comes down to we looked at your health history, but then we got to do some testing. I mean we have to do testing. If not, you’re not going to get good results. Even if we do testing, you got to do what I tell you. This isn’t the easy approach. I mean if you want to have good health, you’ve got to work at it.
There’s no easy way to do this. You can take medications and cover up your symptoms while your tissues continue to be destroyed. You can take in an autoimmune suppressing drug and suppress your immune system, and develop all kinds of secondary problems, and have a number of other issues.
The only way to really be healthy is to really be healthy, and that is your body is a self-healing organism. It heals itself. You just have to get out what’s causing problems, give it what it doesn’t have, and do the right things for it. I mean that’s it. This is taking a science-based approach to do that.
Supporting the TH3 Immune System – Natural Autoimmune Support
Supporting the TH3 immune system, remember that’s what balances the immune system. It decreases inflammation and helps you to have the right type of immune response, so you’re not destroying tissue.
Supporting the Methylation – Natural Autoimmune Support
We’re going to support the methylation, which I talked about. Methylation is huge, and with the new advances in DNA and our understanding of our genes and these genetic SNPs, I mean it’s unbelievable what we can do. I order organic acid tests, which look for deficiencies basically. It gives me a lot of information. I can get methylation panels, which tell me a lot about these biochemical processes and if you have issues where you’re not methylating properly, which is something that’s a whole another conversation, but it’s critical to proper function of your body because those methylation, basically it triggers enzymes.
Enzymes are kind of like keys. Chemistry can’t happen in your body unless that key turns on the process and it also turns them off. If you’re not methylating properly, you won’t have normal biochemistry. It’s really important and it’s something that not many people at all are doing and it really makes a difference in a lot of the cases that we work with.
Normal Lab Tests – Natural Autoimmune Support
If you’ve been told that like a lot of my patients have that your labs are normal, I want to share something with you that’s really important. Lab ranges are very misleading because they’re based on unhealthy people. Who gets their blood work drawn on a regular basis? I mean it’s not the person that’s healthy because they don’t doesn’t have any symptoms.
If you go get your blood drawn, you’ll see that there is a man on oxygen. There is someone being drug tested. There is someone that has cancer. There is someone that’s obese that has hormone issues. Their blood and their averages for their blood are put into a database and you are compared to them. That’s where these numbers come from. It’s based on averages. If right in the middle is the average of the sick people, when you start deviating, do you have to get to the lab higher or the lab low to have a problem or is there something that’s a narrower range that’s more sensitive to optimal health and to potential problems. There are, and that is actually what we use. That’s what I’ll share with you here. I mean basically, what we do is we use a narrow range that’s called the functional range and that’s more sensitive for declining health and problems in different systems.
Here’s an example. Someone comes in and they have fasting blood sugar. They say the standard lab ranges are 65 to 110. If they come in and see me, let’s say their blood sugar was 73. While in the lab, they’re going to say, “Okay, that’s fine.” But if they come and see me, I’ll look at the blood sugar from 85 to 100, so you will be hypoglycemic by my standards. We’re going to support blood sugar. We’re going to look at your diet. We’re going to do some things there to help you.
TSH, thyroid stimulating hormone, is a very commonly ordered test. A lot of times with thyroid disorders, it’s the only one that is ordered by your healthcare provider. I will tell you that is horribly inadequate. We order about 10 to 12 markers for thyroid by itself. For example, someone goes in. Their TSH is 4.2. The lab range is 0.3 to 5.7, and they’re different in slightly different areas – 4.2 by my standards and by the functional ranges, 1.8 to 3 is what we want to see.
At 4.2, that person is functionally hypothyroid. We can’t call you hypothyroid or that you have a low thyroid unless you’re outside those lab ranges, but you can’t say functionally hypothyroid. That means that we want to make some changes and really look at the thyroid gland and some of the factors that influence that and see what we can figure out, see if we can optimize that. Then there’s a lot of different examples. I mean every marker just about has a functional range, and we look at cholesterol, triglycerides, hemoglobin. There’s a lot of other things that we want to consider.
Lab Tests Based on Patient’s History – Natural Autoimmune Support
Based on your history, we’re going to run a lot of different tests possibly. I will say that possibly. It really depends on what your funds are to run tests. I mean you want to run a lot of tests, we can get a lot of information, and we can figure a lot of times better what to do with you. There are cases though that I’m working, helping someone with their budget. I will tell you this and it is what it is. I don’t take some cases if you can’t run testing because I have to have it. I mean I absolutely have to have it in some cases.
We do what we have to do, but these are some of the things that we run.
The very basic thing that I run on every patient is a complete blood chemistry panel. It’s a metabolic panel that is very, very expensive. I guarantee you never had an expensive panel like this.
Then we look at the genetic SNPs, so we’ll order a genetic test. We look at organic acids and methylation panels. I got this in red because they’re really the next thing that I’m ordering typically with my patients because they give me insight that I didn’t have before, that I can really, really make some differences in the way that you’re functioning.
Then we can do some salivary and urine hormone testing, which are fantastic for cortisol and for male and female sex hormones.
We could look at the stool profile where we take some of your stool and we have it analyzed for parasites, for yeast, and for dysbiosis, and overgrowth of bad bacteria.
Cyrex Labs Testing – Natural Autoimmune Support
Then we use this lab. I use Cyrex Labs, they are one of the most cutting-edge immune system testing labs in the world. They’re located in Phoenix, Arizona. Some of the tests that I get from Cyrex, I just can’t get them from anyone else. Even if can’t order them through LabCorp or through Quest, or through another lab, Cyrex they combine antibodies. Their tests are more sensitive.
What we look for is we look for food sensitivity testing to gluten in a lot of cases and multiple other foods where they’re cross-reactive. They’ve just done some research. Some research has been published that for example with Hashimoto’s we can now get a panel of about 180 foods or so, maybe more than that. I don’t remember off the top of my head, but those foods we can now identify foods that cross-react or mimic, look similar on a molecular level to thyroid tissue.
They’ve been shown in labs to cross-react. Meaning if you consume those foods, you have a greater chance of once to the bloodstream if you have a leaky gut basically cause an immune response that will not only cause an attack against that food that leaked in but against your thyroid tissue. This is cutting-edge. I mean this is new stuff, about a year or two old tops. This is really leading-edge immunology.
Leaky gut syndrome, we can check you for leaky gut through Cyrex, which is intestinal permeability we talked about. Autoimmune testing to include 24 different tissues.
A lot of times people will come in let’s say with a thyroid tissue and we’ll diagnose them or we’ll be curious if they have Hashimoto’s. We can get this 24 tissue antibody panel done, and it will come back with their thyroid, but it will also show us these other 23 other tissues that your body maybe attacking and you may have antibodies to. That’s due to autoimmune conditions are expansive.
If you remember my history, I developed psoriasis first, then I developed Hashimoto’s, and so it’s expanding. I don’t know when that happened, but what we can do is we can get a baseline with this. We can see if you have other tissues being attacked.
A lot of people with Hashimoto’s also have attacks against their cerebellum. Let’s say that they’re dizzy and they have some other issues, one of the things that I want to rule out is I want to know how bad it is, how the other tissues are being damaged. Now we can look to see if the cerebellum, which is the back of the brain involved with voluntary movement and you can have dizziness with autoimmune attacks and inflammation there. I want to see if that’s occurring because it shows us progression and expansion and if we get this test, we run this test again in a year or however long, we can see if the autoimmune attack is expanding.
What Makes Our Office Different than Other Doctors – Natural Autoimmune Support
What we do and what I do different is I live this.
I look at every person that comes in the door from a neurological perspective. What’s their brain and their nervous system, their autonomic system like because you have to have optimal function there to have health.
Then we look at you metabolically. What’s going on with your biochemistry, with your immune system.
Then we look at you genetically. I mean that’s something that we get this genetic testing done and then we can look at these methylation pathways. It’s actually biochemistry and order some tests that will show us what’s happening there.
The genetic testing in combination with those pathways can really give us some insight that I’ve never had before. I mean this is something that I’m doing new this year because it’s cutting-edge. I mean it’s just something that I think is the future of this type of approach to healthcare, I think healthcare in general. We’re going to learn a lot from this.
What I want to do is tell you thank you. Thank you for hanging in there with me. Just to let you know that if you have any questions or you need anything, just let us know. You know you can learn a lot more about my approach to treating autoimmune conditions and some different specific autoimmune conditions. I go into some details and some things that are specific to those on my website. You can go to DrBradShook.com to learn more.
If you have any questions or you need anything, just let us know. I’d love to hear from you.
Learn more. Become your own advocate. That’s where you’re going to find more true health. I mean that’s what the real goal this year is to help people to be healthy. It’s a process. You have to be a scholar. You have to learn. You have to be your own advocate because in today’s healthcare system, no one else is going to be.
You’re going to go to your primary care physician or to your healthcare provider and they’re not going to know a lot of this stuff. They’re not going to know about natural approaches because that’s not allopathic medicine, and they mean very, very well. That’s not the system.
Become your own advocate. Ask us any questions. Let me know if you have any questions, and I appreciate you taking time to learn more about your health and watch this video. I hope you have a wonderful day.