Autoimmune disease

Living Healthy series with Essential oils: Auto-immune disease- How to stop attacking yourself
By Dr. Stewart Gillespie*, Osteopath, Functional Medicine, Clinical Nutritionist, Medical Intuitive

Good Day everyone.  I was in the middle of writing the third article about the three root causes of disease. The first being Stress or adrenal fatigue, as most people I see report stress as there number 1 trigger of ill health. The second was the last article on poor gut health being the root of all inflammation.  My third was going to be on poor detoxification pathways, or simply the inability to rid yourself of toxins.  But we, Marie, Rusen and myself, have been asked a lot about auto-immunity, and what we can do about it. That third article will be up soon.

So here is an article on auto-immunity. First I will make you aware of this epidemic in society today, why it is so prevalent, and lastly how you can heal yourself from this terrible disease.

Autoimmune disease is a category of illness that affects 50 million Americans according to the Center of Disease Control, and includes rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and more.

Autoimmune disease is one of the top ten causes of death in women under the age of 65, it is the second highest cause of chronic illness, and is the top cause of morbidity in women in the United States. Additionally, autoimmune diseases have been reported to be on the rise in the U.S. and around the world, making this poorly understood category of disease a public health crisis at levels comparable to heart disease and cancer, costing this country $100 billion.

Autoimmune disease can affect various tissues in the body, making it difficult to diagnose. Autoimmune Disease Symptoms can vary widely based on which organ is being attacked and the severity of the attack. Unfortunately, as we have talked about, it takes quite a bit of damage at a cellular level for abnormalities to show up in lab work or imaging studies, leading to a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis.

Physicians  are then trained to shut off inflammation with aspirin, anti-inflammatory medication such as Advil or Motrin, steroids, and increasingly more powerful immune suppressing medication with serious side effects. But we are not trained to find and treat the underlying causes of inflammation in chronic disease. Hidden allergens, infections, environmental toxins, an inflammatory diet, and stress are the real causes of these inflammatory conditions.

These are often addressed by powerful immune suppressing medication and not by addressing the cause. That’s like taking a lot of aspirin while you are standing on a nail. The treatment is not more aspirin or a strong immune suppressant, but removing the nail. If you want to cool off inflammation in the body, you must find the source. Treat the fire, not the smoke.

Functional medicine is a different way of thinking about disease that helps us understand and treat the real causes of inflammation instead of finding clever ways to shut it down. Medicine as it is practiced today is like taking the battery out of a smoke detector while a fire burns down your house!  In other words even auto-immunity is a SYMPTOM of an underlying problem. Find the WHY!

So what are the underlying causes or triggers?

Causes of Autoimmune Disease

The development of autoimmune requires a triad of variables. These are:

1. Genetic predisposition or family history

2. Leaky Gut Syndrome: triggering your immune response

3.  A trigger:

Estrogen or hormonal imbalance

Gluten and Dairy



Stress- see adrenal fatigue article (

So yes most people have a genetic predisposition to autoimmunity but whether those genes manifest or not are down to the health of your gut, and the removal of triggers.

The gut barrier: the gatekeeper that decide what gets in and what stays out

Have you ever considered the fact that the contents of the gut are technically outside the body? The gut is a hollow tube that passes from the mouth to the anus. Anything that goes in the mouth and isn’t digested will pass right out the other end. This is, in fact, one of the most important functions of the gut: to prevent foreign substances from entering the body. Therefore your body is smart and is designed to prevent this from happening. Where is 80% of your immune system?   — IN THE GUT!

When the intestinal barrier becomes permeable (i.e. “leaky gut syndrome”), large protein molecules escape into the bloodstream. Since these proteins don’t belong outside of the gut, the body mounts an immune response, produces antibodies and attacks them. Studies show that these attacks play a role in the development of autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s and type 1 diabetes, among others.

All autoimmune conditions, and at their root they are connected by one central biochemical process: a runaway immune response also known as systemic inflammation that results in your body attacking its own tissues.

Your immune system is your defense against invaders. It is your internal army and has to clearly distinguish friend from foe — to know you from others. Autoimmunity occurs when your immune system gets confused and your own tissues get caught in friendly cross-fire.  To combat autoimmunity you have to repair the gut, go to the source.

Your body is fighting something — an infection, a toxin, an allergen, a food or the stress response — and somehow it redirects its hostile attack on your joints, your brain, your thyroid, your gut, your skin, or sometimes your whole body, fibromyalgia. Trouble is we go after where the problem is presenting, not where it is coming from.

Also many of the conventional treatments available can make you feel worse. Anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil, steroids, immune suppressants like methotrexate, and the new TNF-alpha blockers like Enbrel or Remicade can lead to intestinal bleeding, kidney failure, depression, psychosis, osteoporosis, muscle loss, and diabetes, not to mention overwhelming infection and cancer.

Let me give you a case study to try and understand this issue:

A young lady came to see me with skin rash all over her body, pain in her right side and fatigue and IBS. Her Doctors ran a conventional blood test that was “normal “of course, with the exception of a borderline high TSH indicating a possible thyroid disorder. But she had just given birth to her third child, so this stress as discussed in previous articles often affects the thyroid.  Without further evaluation or testing she was put on Synthroid or synthetic thyroid medication, and then promptly developed a skin rash and started to lose her hair, and then came to see me.

She did not have much money to order a lot of tests, but as 90% of my diagnosis comes from a proper history and evaluation I let her know that I was not going to not help her if she could not afford it. What sort of a Doctor turns someone away through inability to pay?

Her diet was not the best, but she was not overweight. But IBS was in her history (so many people have this), so I suspected a leaky gut scenario setting off her immune system causing the rash. Thorough testing would reveal this but money was low, but at least a simple test to reveal antibodies was important here. So I sent her to get a full thyroid panel including a test called TPO Ab, which assesses whether the body is producing antibodies to the thyroid gland.

A few days later her test came back positive for antibodies, she had a full blown autoimmune Hashimotos Thyroiditis and a urinary tract infection. Here is the thing though. This is not a thyroid problem, but an immune problem caused by an infection in the gut most probably due to her history of IBS and UTI (yes most UTIs are caused by a gut infection not a bladder infection).

I advised her to come off Synthroid and follow an immune and gut infection protocol. Within a week she felt more energized and her rash disappeared. After 40 days there was no symptomology and on retesting her antibodies were almost down to normal levels. Change of diet and lifestyle modifications are now in place to prevent this re-occuring. This would have been the same result had she presented with fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis or even rosacea, as they all would have come with the same source. Her family history of thyroid disease made her predisposed to this, but stress and poor diet were the triggers that made it manifest. This is a simple story but hugely profound in how we look and manage disease. Her results simply reflect the application of a new model of thinking about problems called functional medicine — it’s a way to get to the root of health problems and treat the underlying causes of what ails you instead of suppressing symptoms with medications.

If you have an autoimmune disease, here is what you need to think about and do.

Steps to Treating Autoimmune Disease:

–          Check for hidden infections — yeast, viruses, bacteria, Lyme, etc. — with the help of a doctor, and treat them, using oils and herbal remedies I will list below.

–          Check for hidden food allergens with IgG food testing or just try to follow an elimination Diet, which is designed to eliminate most food allergens.

–          Get tested for celiac disease, which is a blood test that any doctor can do.

–          Get checked for heavy metal toxicity. Mercury and other metals can cause autoimmunity.

–          Fix your gut especially with any history of irritable bowel syndrome.

–          Exercise regularly — it’s a natural anti-inflammatory.

–          Practice deep relaxation like yoga, deep breathing, biofeedback, or massage, because stress worsens the immune response.


Adrenals blend – 2-4 drops/day on the adrenals for 2 to 3 months

Immune up blend –2-3 drops/day on the wrists or stomach

Black Spruce oil, 2-4 drops/day on the adrenals for 2  months

Lavender oil, 2-3 drops/day on the wrists

Oregano oil, 2 drops on stomach

Galbanum oil, and Toxins Out for heavy metals detox.

*If you feel that you have been helped by this article but are still unsure how to proceed and how to get the proper testing please feel free to sign up for a free 15 minute consult on my website or email me at [email protected]

Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Anyone suffering from any disease, illness or injury should consult with a physician.