Arthritis can be debilitating. In fact, arthritis and rheumatoid conditions are the leading cause of disability among US adults for the past 15 years. So when your doctor is assessing your spine and joints and makes mention of ‘normal degenerative changes,’ that should be a clue to find another doctor.
There’s nothing normal about arthritis and join degeneration. For your body to be in an active destruction of a joint, especially when not trauma induced, there’s a whole mess of ‘not normal’ going on.
The major problem with traditional healthcare is that they see the arthritic changes and resultant pain as the problem. I would argue they are the effect of many other processes in your body giving you a repeated fighting chance of survival and a breaking point happens. But for 98% of us, it’s not random chance and we’re not part of the unlucky club.
There are 3 ‘I’s’ that your primary or rheumatologist fail to address when assessing and treating arthritis. Actually, they talk a lot about one of them, but their solutions actually cause more imbalance and worsen the condition long term.
Your rheumatologist may compartmentalize your gut as just a function of digestion. And if that’s the case, find a new doctor. The point being is that your gut is one of your first line of defenses in your immune expression. This is mediated through an expression of one of your immunoglobulins, SIgA (Secretor IgA).
If you were a child of the 80s and 90s like myself, you will remember this commercial. “This is your brain. This is drugs. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”
With the ever rising incidences and diagnoses for ADHD, Autism, Depression, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s and nothing to resolve them in the medical world, I think we can change the 80s drug slogan to make it more applicable for today. After all, the more we ‘early diagnose and manage/treat’ a condition, the more disability associated with that condition rises. The best case scenario your doctor provides is to ‘manage’ the symptoms.
But here’s the reality. Symptoms aren’t stupid. Your body never does anything stupid. Symptoms are nothing more than your attempts at buying time to escape what is potentially dangerous or harmful. That potential danger could be something you ate, a lack of movement, a poor relationship, or chemical influence. One of those symptoms is inflammation, regardless of the condition or disease process.
“This is your brain. This is inflammation. This is your brain on inflammation. Any questions?”
If there’s a commonality of brain inflammation to all these mental/emotional conditions, then how does the brain get inflamed? Don’t think of inflammation as an isolated event. Inflammation is a byproduct of an immune response due to trauma. And again, don’t look at trauma as just an event. Trauma is a persistent pattern of dysfunction. It could be physical, chemical, or emotional/social/spiritual.
Our immune system (inflammation) gets activated for 2 main reasons.
A trend that I have noticed on my intake forms from new clients over the past 4-6 months is that there are 2 questions answered that breaks my heart. Both are yes/no questions.
Question #1: Did you feel safe growing up?
Question #2: Have you ever been abused?
I can say more often than not, I have seen more ‘Noes’ when asked if they felt safe growing up and I have seen more ‘Yeses’ when asked if they have ever been abused. And a common ailment in those answers are autoimmune conditions. Is there a direct correlation? I wouldn’t rule it out but that’s just based on my observation.
I’ve had conversations about this with colleagues as well as I’ve talked about these similarities in my workshops. But what I didn’t know, is that my speculation has already been quantified.
I was recently introduced to the ACE study. I hadn’t heard of it but as it was described, I had to go find it. The ACE Study (Adverse Childhood Experiences) was conducted between 1995-1997 and eligible for follow up through 2005. ACEs included childhood physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; witnessing domestic violence; growing up with household substance abuse, mental illness, parental divorce, and/or an incarcerated household member.
In an autoimmune analysis based on those results, the outcome was hospitalizations for any of 21 selected autoimmune diseases and 4 immunopathology groupings. 64% reported at least one ACE. First hospitalizations for any autoimmune disease increased with increasing number of ACEs. Compared with persons with no ACEs, persons with >or=2 ACEs were at a 100% increased risk for rheumatic diseases.
My last post was about MTHFR. If these letters are new to you or you think I just called you an insult, please go back and review before proceeding.
Letters like MTHFR, COMT, MTRR, and today’s topic of VDR have to do with your DNA code. Genetically, the human race is virtually identical. You can take a female from Sri Lanka, mate her with a dude from Alaska, and they will produce a gorgeous baby with all the right parts and capacities for that human to become a world leader someday.
The goofy letters I listed above fall into the category of what makes us unique. MTHFR is used in how we process folic acid. MTRR is used on how we process B12. COMT has roles in breaking down neurotransmitters like dopamine and epinephrine. Regardless of your stance on creation and/or evolution, the one point of agreement is that today’s modern human has been around for 10,000 years. This means your DNA code has been unchanged from classic hunter-gatherer type populations.
What has changed immensely is our environment. That’s why this has the greatest factor on your overall health expression. With that same DNA code being passed from generation to generation for 10,000 years, there’s potential that the basic blue print over time can have a typo here and there or even a little fading at times.
It’s these ‘typos’ that may create challenges the more your environment is compromised in your eating, movement, thought, social, and spiritual patterns. They are called SNPs (snips). Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms.
One I want to highlight today is the VDR.
Vitamin D Receptor
I’ve been getting a very similar question/story lately. It goes something like this.
I’ve been eating paleo for months, doing high intensity exercise, doing everything right, and I still can’t drop the weight.
They often add fatigue into the equation as well. That statement in itself could mean a lot of things but for the sake of this post, I want to focus on the high intensity exercise piece.
I LOVE high intensity exercise. I do high intensity workouts in a CrossFit manner. But exercise is actually one of the poorest interventions for you to lose weight. Why? Because most measure exercise in terms of calorie expenditure. This mind set is when high intensity harms as it leaves you in the mental state of more it better. I don’t really want to get into the calorie-in, calorie-out falsehood of activity and weight. Instead, I’m going to focus on the bigger picture.
At a workshop I gave over the weekend I had a woman come up to me afterwards to ask about her auto-immune disorder. She ate amazingly clean but was still having many ups and downs with her progress and symptoms. I could tell in the first minute of this conversation that she was someone that always had to be in control of her life.
So I asked about her home life and marriage. “They’re great but my husband and son won’t do what I tell them to improve their health.”
Would you say you are often frustrated and irritated by their lack of drive to seek health like you do? She said, “yes, they just don’t get it.”
I said, that’s why your symptoms go on roller coasters. You like control and the easiest thing to control is what you put in your mouth. You can’t control other’s motivations, especially grown men and children.
Your immune system has 2 basic branches. TH1 and TH2. Simplistically, the TH1 side is more responsible for the symptom side of sickness like coughing, runny nose, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. The TH2 side is more for antibody formation.
In times of stress (physical, chemical, emotional, social, and spiritual), your body, via Cortisol, will suppress the TH1 side. It’s not going to be efficient to your survival if you have to stop and throw up or stop to fill your pants if there is a lion chasing you down. Short term, no problem.
Long term, you suppress your first line of defense (TH1) enough to the point that the antibody side (TH2) gets over enhanced and makes your auto-immune progress up and down. I know this first hand.