This painful and life-altering condition is one of my favorite maladies to use while discussing the pathomechanisms of disease on this Website. It is also one in which the sufferers can enjoy rapid and lasting relief by applying The GARD.
First of all, I would have the afflicted Google “Doxycycline, rheumatoid” or “minocycline, rheumotoid” and read about the newest connections being made between this “autoimmune” disease (a term I never use anymore without quotes around it) and the pleomorphic bacteria about which I am writing more and more on the site. It makes more sense to treat a bacterial infection with antibiotics than it does cortisone, right? More on that later.
The trick in rheumatoid arthritis was realizing that, in many cases, this “autoimmune disease” is actually an immune response directed at a secondary infection with intracellular bacteria, such as mycoplasma. Apparently, doctors discovered this by accident in some cases of rheumatoid arthritis in which the person later developed mycoplasmal pneumonia. When their doctor treated the pneumonia with doxycycline, the rheumatoid arthritis improved or even disappeared. Yes, many great discoveries have been made purely by accident.
But we have known for years that a major class of triggers in rheumatoid disease is food protein. The lectins of the usual suspects- gluten, dairy, soy and corn- along with those from legumes and nightshades can all incite damage in the joints just as they do elsewhere in the body (brain, GI tract, liver, kidneys, nerves, etc.) When these sticky glycoproteins attach to the surface of cartilage in susceptible individuals, they can create inflammation (“arthritis”, or “”osteoathritis” once the cartilage surface is severely damaged and the bone is exposed). Once the inflammation is severe enough and/or if the affected individual harbors a pleomorphic bacteria (e.g. mycoplasma) that starts to replicate and emerge from those joint cells, then the immune system is attracted to that location to do its thing…housecleaning.
Most “autoimmune attacks” can be viewed as just that, housecleaning, a process in which the immune system makes a valiant attempt to remove both the inciting agents (food lectins, viruses, pollutants/free radicals/carcinogens) and the latent infectious agents (intracellular bacteria and viruses) that were hiding in the cells before all of this mess started. This is, after all, what the immune system was designed to do, not attack its own host.
The reader will find many instances on this Website in which I show my disdain for the word “autoimmune”, a term that implies the immune system has gone haywire, resulting in its attacking host tissues for no good reason. This is a ridiculously inaccurate notion and shows a significant lack of understanding of how the body operates. Why would we assume that our body has “gone crazy” rather than suspect that something harmful has entered it and that this invader is the thing causing the problems? Perhaps the horribly misguided notion that we should kill the fever our body generates to fight viruses and bacteria gives us a clue concerning our current level of ignorance/deception/lack of common sense in medicine. It’s hard to believe, in 2010, we are still (in many aspects) living and operating in the dark ages of medicine. The fact is there are no real medical mysteries anymore, simply ignorance and gross misinterpretation of what researchers have already told us. (Do we need to know the exact name of every virus, bacteria, fungus or parasite that can cause us harm?) I believe we actually know all that we need to know to properly treat disease states now that we understand food lectins, the true nature of viruses and bacteria, and the essential role of proper nutrition.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a great example. It is typically treated with powerful anti-inflammatory drugs, which not only fail to get to the root of the problem but can also have serious side effects, even worsen the disease. Scleroderma, sarcoidosis, COPD, asthma, and now rheumatoid arthritis all having been shown to frequently involve pleomorphic bacteria. My newest analogy for treating bacterial infections with immune suppressants (e.g. cortisone, methotrexate) is that we are ending a military battle by shooting our own men. Yes, it stops the fighting (the inflammation and pain) but the enemy wins the battle…and often the war. Most “diseases” are simply long-term symptoms that are worsening because we never got to the root of why they began. And as I like to point out, if we don’t like the early symptoms, we’re really not going to like the next set. And if we don’t like those warning signs, we’re really not to like what they are warning us of.
But once we see the true mechanisms behind this serious and often deforming arthritic condition, a more specific therapy can be instituted that not only resolves the issue but prevents it from recurring while postponing or even eliminating the next set of “diseases” that are waiting in the wings (e.g. cancer).
Celiacs are frequently afflicted by many of the forms of immune-mediated arthritis as well as everything else that befalls man and his four-legged companions. Gluten (along with casein, soy and corn) can do serious harm to joint surfaces just as it can to other tissues. Succinctly put, the resident organisms inside the cells don’t like gluten any more than they enjoy being bombarded by carcinogens. And when this “pollution” of their environment gets bad enough, they revolt. This is called “inflammation”, which can attract the immune system (the house cleaners) when it reaches a threshold level of severity. In the individual with unhealthy tissue (from malnutrition) and/or an incompetent immune system (once again, from malnutrition and acquired immune deficiency syndromes), this process escalates tremendously- and quickly- in many cases as the revolting organisms grow out of control, free from the normal checks and balances that were in place before the body became so unhealthy.
How do we prevent this inflammation from reaching critical mass? Rather simply, we do the same things we should have been doing all along to keep our bodies and immune systems from becoming so unhealthy: Basically, eat properly (nutrients), exercise (oxygen), sleep (regeneration), and avoid triggers (lectins, toxins, carcinogens). By avoiding the “big 4” damaging foods- gluten, dairy, soy and corn (along with legumes and nightshades if we are found to be sensitive to them)- we not only avoid their direct effect on joints but also the damaging effect they can have on the intestinal lining (villi). The latter sets us up for the malabsorption of nutrients necessary to maintain the integrity of every tissue in our body as well as the competency of the immune system. This should not be hard to understand.
But these same foods and their components (glutamate, estrogens, and chemical additives) also affect the brain and the way it perceives pain by lowering the pain threshold. What can you say? These foods are screaming out as us to stop eating them (heartburn, IBS, headaches, lowered pain threshold, and more)…until we fail to heed the warning and become addicted to them.
Avoidance is the key but, thankfully, there are other mechanisms in place that help us deal with the hidden sources of these damaging food proteins (lectins). One is called the innate immune system, a perfect example of how well we are put together. Simply put, it is a system of checks and balances that keep us healthy before the adaptive immune system needs to be called in for the tougher stuff. Part of this system is the protein-scavenging nature of essential sugars , such as glucosamine.
Many have heard that glucosamine can be of benefit in arthritis but most have never read how it helps. Glucosamine is a very important aid in the treatment of arthritis and works in two ways: It provides some of the important building blocks for cartilage to repair and it prevents the attachment of the harmful proteins mentioned above (e.g. the “big 4”) by coating the surfaces of these damaging lectins, thereby taking away their ability to stick. In other words, glucosamine is the antidote to their poison in a similar fashion to the way antioxidants neutralize free radicals and lignans protect against isoflavones. Yin and yang.
Glucosamine is also converted by the liver to sialic acid (neuraminic acid), another essential sugar that helps to protect cells from invasion by infectious organisms and lectins by acting as a coating around cells (including neurons). For example, mother’s initial milk is loaded with sialic acid, which serves to protect the baby’s cells (e.g. brain!!!) from the insults it will invariably be receiving in the future (e.g. viruses, bacteria…and cow’s milk proteins, gluten, soy, and corn. Errrh!).
Hopefully the reader now has a better idea of what is truly going on in rheumatoid arthritis and other “autoimmune” diseases. Our immune system is not “going haywire”. We are not “becoming allergic to ourselves” as one doctor explained it to my client with Lupus. It is a process of escalating inflammation- sometimes gradual and other times rapid and overwhelming- brought on by our own actions, namely the consumption of foods to which we have become sensitive, biologically-inappropriate diets, harmful food additives, environmental pollutants, and known carcinogens, some of which we can readily avoid while others are ubiquitous in our environment. For the latter, we must rely on the immune system- both innate and adaptive (antibody system) along with proper nutrition, exercise, rest, and the appropriate supplements (e.g. glucosamine, D3, omega three fatty acid, B complex, magnesium, selenium, and antioxidants such as vitamin C, E and grape seed extract). This is covered in my paper How to Start Treating Just About Anything. Essential oils can also help and will be the subject of my next study.
We can reverse this horrible trend of purely symptomatic care. The reader does not have to be formally trained in medicine to take charge of their health or that of their pet. There is nothing dangerous about The G.A.R.D. because there is nothing we derive from the trouble foods that we cannot acquire from multiple other sources that are healthier and less problematic. Who could argue against a diet of fresh protein (meats, eggs), fruits, berries, vegetables, rice, sweet potatoes, gluten-free grains (millet, flax, sorghum), tree nuts, and purified water and one devoid of fast food, harmful food additives (e.g. MSG, aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats), excessive refined sugar, and the most damaging food proteins to all species who consume them- gluten grains, dairy, soy and corn? I certainly couldn’t.