Treatment Approaches: Conventional Medical Practitioners

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Most patients of an autoimmune condition will see a rheumatologist to guide them through their treatment decision- making. Rheumatism is defi ned as, “any of various conditions characterized by infl ammation or pain in muscles, joints, or fi brous tissue.” Currently, most autoimmune condition treatments start at a rheumatologist’s offi ce who specializes in immune-mod- ulated infl ammatory diseases. The most common drugs include anti-infl ammatory steroids, immune suppressants, and biologics. Biologics target pieces of the immune infl ammatory cascade to stop infl ammation and tissue destruction. The side effects of these drugs include infections, cancer, nausea, vomiting, and anemia. While that list is quite scary to read, some patients require the drugs just to get to a stable place where they can begin digging deeper to fi nd the root of the problem.

Treatment Approaches: Naturopathic, Functional, and Integrative Practitioners

Naturopathic doctors are trained to look at the body as a whole instead of breaking it into unrelated pieces. The research shows that the immune system is not relegated to one small section of the body. Instead it reaches into every other system and interacts in a bi-directional way. A naturopathic doctor will assess and address a patient’s exposure to factors that can increase autoimmune suscepti- bility. These factors include: nutritional status, infections history, gut dysbiosis, metabolic dysfunction, stress and sleep status, endocrine (hormone) imbalances, and xenobiotic exposure. With this list a potential source or sources of autoimmune trigger(s) can be identi- fi ed; and through lifestyle, nutrition, and targeted therapies, the root cause of the autoimmunity can be addressed.

The work of a naturopathic doctor includes fi nding out what

is causing infl ammation. If there is dysbiosis in the gut, a protocol for restoring normal gut fl ora and healing the intestinal lining is in order. If the infl ammation is coming from exposure to xenoestro- gens in plastics, then the solution is to get rid of plastics in the daily routine, followed by clearing the hormones through diet, herbs, and regular bowel movements. If a patient is low in vitamin D, a nutri- tional supplement might be prescribed. If hostile relations between loved ones is at the root of the infl ammation, then counseling and effective communication techniques are recommended. Is lack of sleep an issue? Then getting to the bottom of crummy sleep is certainly a priority. Too stressed to cope? There are research papers that study the infl ammation-lowering effects of joy and gratitude. Is lack of exercise the culprit? Moderate exercise is showing a lot of potential for lowering infl ammation, benefi ting sleep, and soothing stress. Simply taking a pill and suffering the side effects is not on the naturopathic menu. With guidance from a naturopathic doctor each patient can more easily access the medicine within themselves.

This article is for educational purposes only and does not intend to diagnose or treat any diseases or conditions.

Dr. Sarah Buck is a naturopathic doctor working in Yarmouth, Maine. She was drawn to naturopathic medicine because of the ability to blend the science and art of medicine. Each patient requires a blend of select therapies, and Dr. Buck uses combinations of botanical medicine, nutritional medicine, pharma-

ceutical medicine, naturopathic hydrotherapy, counseling, and homeopathy to treat her patients. Gastrointestinal health, sleep, and autoimmune health are a few of her areas of interest. You can fi nd her on Instagram and Facebook @SarahBuckND. 207.200.6597. See ad on page 29.

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