Many patients that we see have one or multiple autoimmune conditions. These can create a complex web of symptoms that can affect the digestive system, the central or peripheral nervous system as well as the immune system.
Most commonly the complaints are
Intolerance to certain foods
Lack of focus or motivation
With every patient even though the symptoms might be similar the driving force might be different. In one scenario it could be Mold, Lyme’s, Epstein Barr, that is driving the inflammation exacerbating the autoimmune. In another patient it could be neuroglial inflammation arising from a head trauma that occurred 20 years prior.
A complete and thorough examination must be performed to evaluate not only the patient’s labs but their brain and central nervous system to assist with proper treatment and diagnosis.
Stress, physical, emotional, or chemical, can drive an autoimmune disease or even cause a flare up of the symptoms. Since there are multiple systems involved it can be very difficult to control. These stressors will drive the expression of NFkB in the body and eventually the Central Nervous system. This is an inflammatory response that will then affect the brain by minimizing the frequency of firing of the prefrontal cortex. The threshold of the neurons become affected making them more sensitive and limiting their production of neurotransmitters. A good example of this is an increased sensitivity to sound, light and even in some cases tinnitus.
When the prefrontal cortex of the brain becomes impaired its role of keeping the brainstem active is diminished. The consequences of this are autonomic impairment and a reduction of Vagal Motor outflow. As we might know the Vagus nerve has an impact on gut motility, production of HCL by the gastric cells in the stomach. It helps control and regulate the immune cells in the liver called Kupfer cells. If unregulated symptoms such as inability to tolerate smells and or jewelry can occur.
Most importantly, from an immune standpoint, diminished vagal tone increase the cytokine interleukin 6 and TNF alpha. These are very inflammatory and help control the aggressiveness of the antibodies associated with the autoimmune disease. More specifically, it drives the body to make TH22 cells which drives the autoimmune flare-up.
Essentially all the symptoms listed above will be driven by this mechanism that we see in our office multiple times in a day.
Stress will drive the sympathetic nervous system, fight or flight, (anxiety and insomnia) this will increase inflammation in the body and the brain, (joint pain, brain fog lack of focus and motivation), diminishes Vagus nerve motor output, (bloating, constipation, intolerance to foods, sensitive to smells), increases cytokines creating more aggressive autoimmune flare-ups.
Frequently, when the Vagus Nerve Motor Output is affected, this can have numerous effects in the body. Most common is SIBO. As the motility in the colon slows down and bacteria is not being broken down due to lack of HCL these microbes colonize and flourish in the small intestine causing symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea and constipation.
When treating SIBO if the only mechanism of treatment is to kill the microbes in the small intestine and replace them with good flora and enhance the microbiome, SIBO will return since the original cause, inhibition of the Vagus Nerve was not properly addressed.
Clinically, we must consider a multiple systems approach targeting the immune system, support the metabolic system, adrenals, liver, colon, kidneys, eliminate stressors, the brain, so the cortex can perform its function and maintain the integrity of the brain stem, and in some cases the genomic profile of the individual must be addressed.
Our treatment includes:
- Downregulation of the stress chemistry
- Downregulation of Interleukin 6
- Minimize the impact of intense exercise on interleukin 6
- Enhance Vagus Motor activity
- Provide Support for the cholinergic mechanisms that the Vagus nerve impacts
- Downregulate NFkB, to minimize the inflammatory loop
- Address inflammation of the brain by enhancing Cerebral blood flow
- Downregulation of Mast Cells and the histamine response if TH2 dominance is prevalent.
- Provide brain-based therapy to improve and enhance neuronal activity in the various lobes of the brain.