The causes of autoimmune diseases are diverse. Doctors assume that there is not a single pathogen, but many triggers that come together.
- Genetic predisposition is frequently decisive. There are known familial accumulations in rheumatism, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis..
- In addition to genetic factors, lifestyle also influences health. This includes nutrition above all else, as the intestinal flora has a substantial effect on the immune system.
- In addition to genetic predisposition and lifestyle factors, particularly diet, environmental factors are suspected of overstraining the immune system. Studies from around the world indicate that chemical substances can trigger autoimmune diseases.
Poisons as a trigger for autoimmune diseases
Specifically, the following relationships are known:
- People who come into contact with silicone dust or mineral oil at work could develop rheumatoid arthritis as a result.
- Additives in cosmetics could cause systemic lupus with redness.
- Plasticizers in plastic could trigger Hashimoto’s thyroid disease.
- Vitamin D deficiency due to insufficient sun exposure can also increase the risk of an autoimmune disease, as can certain infections.
Those who are affected, on the other hand, do not notice the effects for years or decades. Because the first antibodies directed against yourself can form years or decades before the autoimmune disease manifests itself.
Autoimmune diseases often break out in particularly eventful phases of life.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a common condition that affects 20-50 year olds. It is caused by stress, and it is important to avoid or reduce negative stress as much as possible.
Patients can do a lot: they should try to live as stress-free as possible, resist excessive external pressure, and perhaps plan their lives more structuredly. Many patients suffer from sleep disorders. It is critical to have good sleep hygiene and to follow certain rituals, such as not sitting in bright light for too long in the evening. Relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation can also be beneficial.
Negative stress is a sure factor influencing disease flare-ups.
Lupus, also known as inflammatory rheumatism, is a common autoimmune disease that affects young women. According to the Mainz-based rheumatologist and autoimmune expert, this is frequently done before high school, when stress levels rise. This negative stress causes relapses. Experts use the term neuro-bio-psycho-immunology to describe how the interaction of mental and physical factors influences whether and how the disease can be stabilized.
Autoimmune diseases cannot be cured, but many can be treated effectively.
Typically, autoimmune diseases manifest as flares. Inflammation cannot be avoided. The illnesses are long-term and fatal. Many of these conditions can now be effectively treated: cortisol slows down the typical inflammatory processes, and painkillers containing anti-rheumatic and anti-inflammatory active ingredients alleviate symptoms or pain.
Some autoimmune diseases seem untreatable. Scleroderma, for instance.
Sometimes only an immune reset helps.
This therapy tries to destroy the immunological memory in order to stop the autoimmune disease. A backup is created, and two days of chemotherapy stimulate the bone marrow to form more stem cells. Five days of high-dose chemotherapy with a mixture of cell division inhibitors and antibodies reset the immune system to zero. On the last day, the frozen stem cells are thawed and returned to the bone marrow, with the goal of dividing again and building a new blood system.
The immune reset is very risky; you can also die doing it.
Stem cell therapy has been successful in the treatment of multiple sclerosis patients in the USA, with more than three quarters of the patients surviving in the first four years without a relapse. In Germany, stem cell therapy has only been permitted in cases of hardship for autoimmune diseases if no medication is helping.