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How Functional Medicine Helps People with Autoimmune Conditions

Researchers are still learning about the causes of various autoimmune disorders, but there are some things that are well-documented. For example, more women than men develop autoimmune conditions, and certain diseases affect various racial and ethnic groups more severely than others. Autoimmune disorders are on the rise, and affect around 24 million people in the United States. 

At Family Acupuncture and Wellness, Adam Learner, L.Ac. specializes in functional medicine, and the rest of our team is skilled in modalities that are often components of a functional medicine treatment plan. Many of our patients come to us afraid that there’s no solution for them, and are pleased to learn that a whole-person approach leads to fewer symptoms and a more comfortable life. 

Autoimmune conditions: varied and widespread

Your immune system is amazing. It guards your body, helps you heal, and protects you from a constant onslaught of bacteria, germs, and viruses. It’s often described as protecting your body from “foreign invaders,” and that’s a pretty good analogy. 

In some people, though, the immune system gets confused and begins to mistake parts of the “home team” — your own body — for those foreign invaders. In cases like that, you develop an autoimmune condition.

There are more than 80 different autoimmune diseases, and they affect different parts of the body. For example, if you have type 1 diabetes, your immune system attacks your pancreas. In rheumatoid arthritis, your joints are seen as the enemy.

Although the different autoimmune disorders have specific symptoms and there are various types of treatment, they also have things in common, such as inflammation. 

Functional medicine: a different approach to health

Conventional medicine is broken down into specialties, and each specialist looks at the symptoms affecting a certain part of your body. For example, if you have Celiac disease, you’d likely see a gastroenterologist, who would treat the damage to your GI tract.

Functional medicine works differently. An expert in functional medicine such as Adam Learner,  begins with a whole-person approach. Rather than looking at the symptoms of your autoimmune disorder in isolation, he considers your overall health and functioning. None of your body’s systems work in isolation, after all.

Your health is impacted by so many different factors. For example, things you encounter in the environment, such as the chemicals you use for cleaning, can make a difference to your health, especially if you have an autoimmune disorder. Your diet, the amount you exercise, your stress levels, and many other things affect your health.

When you come to us for help with an autoimmune disorder, we consider all of the aspects of your life and health that may be impacting your symptoms. We do blood work to discover any insufficiencies you may have, then we look at factors such as nutrition. In many instances, an anti-inflammatory diet can help improve autoimmune issues. 

Along with adjustments to your diet, we may suggest treatments that aren’t often used in conventional medicine, such as Chinese herbs, cupping, acupuncture, massage, or various relaxation techniques. Lower stress levels, decreased inflammation, and good nutrient levels provide your body with the tools it needs to begin to heal.

If you’d like to learn more about a functional medicine approach to treating autoimmune disorders, schedule an appointment at Family Acupuncture and Wellness. 

Author
Adam Learner, L Ac. Adam Learner, LAc, provides functional medicine and acupuncture for the residents of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, at Family Acupuncture & Wellness. In his practice, he uses a holistic approach to medicine and emphasizes addressing causes, not symptoms.

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