The hypothesis behind MS, FMS, CRPS, CFS, IBS, IBD and all the other syndromes we abbreviate

24 Apr

I noticed recently that many of the autoimmune disorders are identified not by their names, but by their corresponding abbreviations. Maybe we’re just lazy, or maybe we don’t think half these “syndromes” are worthy of much else. Don’t misunderstand, I’ve been labeled with a few of these myself over the years. In fact, if I were given the opportunity to sign my full name, most would assume I am quite highly esteemed with a wall full of certificates. Dare to dream…

I have been inundated by emails and private messages on Facebook lately asking “What are you doing??” The reason? I essentially went from functioning at a level 2 on a scale of 1-10 to a level 7. My energy has improved and many of my chronic symptoms have decreased – in less than 2 months. Before I get to what I’m doing, I want to cover a few basics on anatomy and the gastrointestinal tract. This might take a post. Or two. Or three. So hang on because you’ll be super well-educated about your GUT soon!

The gastrointestinal tract is the largest lymphoid organ in the body. What does this mean? Over 60% of your immune system is contained there. Think about it. Your gut is the gateway to all things nutritional, helpful, and harmful internally. When you ingest food, enzymes are already hard at work breaking your food down into proteins. The protein-making-process continues as the grub travels into your stomach before ultimately ending up in the small intestine. The goal of digestion is to convert the food first into proteins and finally into amino acids, which are the usable forms of energy that the body needs to do what it’s gotta do. The lining of the gastrointestinal tract is responsible for absorbing nutrients. It’s precisely for this reason why the mucosal lining in the gut needs to be protected. Worshiped, even. Think of it as an awesome border patrol guy who lets the good guys through and keeps out the derelicts (unless of course we’re talking about the US/Canadian border where it’s really rather hit or miss, but I digress…)

This lining is tough, has an outstanding surface area, and fully regenerates itself every 3-5 days. Now THAT is impressive! But what happens if something internally, or something you’re inadvertently putting into your body, causes the lining to become inflamed? If the lining of the GI tract is compromised, over time, small gaps begin to form in it. The lining weakens and the border patrol starts to slack off (hmmmmm….) permitting partially digested proteins, by-products and toxins from bacteria, fungi, and other normal inhabitants of the GI tract to leak into the bloodstream. Recognizing these proteins as foreigners, your immune system launches the attack, continuing to mount more and more defenses against the invader until it finally can’t take it anymore because the crisis has led to a state of constant inflammation. “Must. Let. The. Human. Know,” it whispers weakly as it crawls away for cover…

Allergies, dietary and chemical intolerances, dysbiosis (bacterial and fungal imbalances), stress, antibiotics, aspirin, and other medications can weaken the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.

So how DOES your gut let you know it needs help?

  • headaches
  • migraines
  • acne
  • rashes
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • bloating
  • heartburn
  • fatigue
  • mitochondrial dysfunction
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • joint pain
  • fevers
  • allergies
  • asthma
  • mood swings
  • muscle aches/pain
  • memory problems

Pretty much EVERYTHING, right? Well, aren’t those many of the things that the “catch-all” diagnoses of exclusion include too? Except allopathic medicine tends to label them according to which symptoms may be manifesting. For example, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gas, and heartburn may earn you the honorary “IBS”, while depression, anxiety, chronic pain, fatigue, and mental fogginess earn you “CFS” or “FMS”.

The American population collectively has the poorest dietary habits in the world. It is impossible to eat the Standard American Diet without health-related consequences. Is it any wonder that the incidence of autoimmune disease continues to skyrocket? Researchers are pouring money and resources into finding “cures” for complex autoimmune diseases instead of looking for and understanding the causes (remember the GI PA from last time?) Evolutionarily speaking our bodies have not yet evolved enough to handle all the chemicals, processed foods, and environmental toxins that we are exposed to day in and day out. So why does it come as any shock that our poor GI tracts can’t take anymore?! Look at that little guy in the picture above. See how sad he is? Restoring the GI tract completely may not be possible, but with a little understanding of how the system works and a LOT of patience, you can get some relief from some of your symptoms. Over and out, little guy! More to come…

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4 Responses to “The hypothesis behind MS, FMS, CRPS, CFS, IBS, IBD and all the other syndromes we abbreviate”

  1. Katherine April 24, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    Leaves me anxious to hear more!

  2. March April 24, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

    Really? Not a word about what you’re actually doing that took you from a 2 to a 7? Thanks for nothing. If this is an attempt to entice people to follow your blog, it is not working for me.

    • theprogressivepatient April 24, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

      Marcy,
      The purpose of this blog is not all about what I’m “doing”. It is meant to be more encompassing than that. Additionally, I do say in the post that it might take a few posts to explain everything needed…
      In order for people to understand what it is that I am doing right now, it is necessary to start from the the ground up explaining anatomy, physiology, and the cause of the problem. From your Facebook profile I gather that you are well-versed in areas of health and nutrition. That’s fantastic, but most people diagnosed with chronic illness are NOT. I could jump right in and explain my current nutritional and supplemental approach, but without giving the how and why, it would be of little benefit and not make much sense. I want people to understand WHY they are doing what they are doing and to develop an appreciation for just how hard the body works to maintain homeostasis. There is too much of “here, just try this” in allopathic medicine.
      I’m not at all focused on enticing people to read my follow my blog. My friends and support system look forward to my posts and already know and understand what’s being done. My hope is that chronicling the full journey will help others and encourage more patients to advocate for more all-inclusive care, but I can’t explain everything at once.
      Thank you for the comment and for letting me know your thoughts.

      • Marcy April 24, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

        Your method of sharing is a great way to keep people interested and get a lot of attention in the meantime. I’m glad you’re feeling better, and continued good luck to you.

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