An autoimmune disorder is a condition that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue. There are more than 80 different types of autoimmune disorders.
Restoring intestinal integrity is a consideration in autoimmune disease. Intestinal permeability becomes a problem when there is excessive inflammation. This process impairs the intestines ability to digest and absorb food, transport vitamins and minerals, and act as a first line defense against antigens. With this inflammatory process, the spaces between the cells lining the intestinal tract become hyperpermeable, which allow larger particles to pass. These larger particles are recognized by the immune system as foreign and an antibody is often created for them. These antibodies are theorized to cross react with other cells of the body, including the cells of the thyroid gland. When this happens, the gland is destroyed and an eventual hypothyroid condition develops (Rogers, pg 1-6).
Autoimmunity is a modern disease rarely seen in primitive societies following traditional dietary and lifestyle patterns (Bergner, pg 3). It is seen in our modern society because of our poor diet high in refined products. Other attributes to the condition include our over-the-counter non-steroidal inflammatory drugs that inflame the intestinal lining. Wide spread antibiotic use wipes out the competitive bacteria leaving antibiotic resistant fungi to over populate the intestines. We have extensive repetition in our diets that may contribute to food allergies and thus inflammation. In addition, our food is not as nutritious due to mass production without crop rotation and over fertilization. This means we often suffer from deficiencies in our diet, which jeopardize our health and further reduce our absorptive capabilities.
The role of gut hyperpermeability and autoimmune disease is often overlooked as a cause for many of our health problems. The mechanism of autoimmune disease and antibody formation to particles that leak into our bodies should be examined with all autoimmune conditions.
Environmental Medicine: Healing from the Inside Out; The Leaky Gut Syndrome. By Rogers, Sherry A. Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients, 03/31/95;p26-28.
Leaky gut, molecular mimicry, microchimerism, and autoimmunity. By Bergner, Paul. Medical Herbalism: A Clinical Newsletter For the Herbal Practitioner; 12/31/97;V.9N.4;p14-17.