Rheumatoid arthritis, type-1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, asthma, eczema, cardiovascular disease—you’re probably familiar with these autoimmune diseases. But did you know that there are over 100 recognized autoimmune conditions? Perhaps you are one of the 50 million Americans afflicted with some form of autoimmune disease. And, perhaps you have bounced from doctor to doctor in search of a cure, only to be told there is none and subsequently handed a cocktail of potentially toxic treatments for your symptoms. But what if there was a natural, nontoxic way to heal and even reverse these illnesses?
Dr Amy Myers has provided just that in her most recent book, The Autoimmune Solution, which offers an alternate approach to prevent and reverse the full spectrum of inflammatory symptoms and diseases. Reversal means a disease remains within your body but shows no symptoms.
Myers, no outsider to the subject, became enmeshed in a fight against her own failing immune system over 10 years ago while in her second year of medical school. An overactive thyroid had left her with sudden panic attacks, alarming weight loss, tremors and insomnia: Graves’ disease. But she was even more terrified by the conventional medical treatments available. The drug propylthiouracil (PTU) carried potential side effects such as abnormal hair loss, vomiting, loss of taste and even a decrease in white blood cells bringing infectious lesions of the throat. Alternatively, she could have her thyroid removed either surgically or by ablation, swallowing a radioactive pill to destroy the gland.
Functional medicine: the nontoxic healer
Consequently, the PTU started to destroy her liver and she developed toxic hepatitis. A turn to ablation resulted in Myers developing severe mood swings and IBS. Today, she says she regrets her choice and had she known then about functional medicine, which views the body as one integrated system, she might still have her thyroid. In functional medicine, Myers says, “health is achieved not by medicating individual symptoms or even individual diseases. Instead, you treat the entire body, mindful of how all your body’s systems are constantly affecting one another.”
Four pillars supporting health
The Myers Way, a prescriptive 30-day program, is based on four pillars:
1. Eliminating toxic foods, such as sugar and caffeine, and inflammatory foods such as dairy, gluten and grains, which disrupt our digestive systems. Gluten, Myers warns, is not the same protein our ancestors, or even our grandparents, may have known; modern hybrids are “a new substance that is far more dangerous to our health.” Myers serves up some scary gluten facts: More than 55 diseases have been linked to gluten, and some 30%, or more, of the population have gluten sensitivity.
2. Introducing restorative ingredients and supplements, such as quality proteins, healthy fats and probiotics to repair the gut. Myers notes that 80% of your immune system is in your intestinal tract, and “in order to heal your immune system, you first have to heal your gut.” Diet, toxins, stress and medications can all contribute to a leaky gut, a condition in which intestinal walls become too permeable, permitting partially digested food to pass through and toxins and unfriendly microbes to enter the bloodstream and fire off inflammatory chemicals.
3. Identifying environmental toxins in everyday beauty and household products. Toxin exposure at home, at work and in our environment has stressed our immune systems to an unprecedented state. Myers offers a comprehensive guide to identifying and eliminating hidden toxins.
4. Healing autoimmune-related infections while relieving the mental, emotional and physical stress. Stress has been shown to trigger and intensify autoimmune disorders. Myers provides a number of stress-relieving strategies to quiet the mind and relax the body.
Eat your way to health
The Myers Way stresses that food is medicine and includes healthful recipes along with a 30-day meal plan. But before you embark on the meal plan, she recommends that you answer a series of questionnaires to self-test for yeast overgrowth, small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and parasites. Myers offers tailored dietary recommendations, including supplements, based on your results. (Vegans or vegetarians take note: Myers says that yours is likely not the right diet if you have an autoimmune condition. She, however, offers a modified version of the meal plan, which includes seafood.)
30 days to a restored and balanced system
So, what can you expect in 30 days? Myers claims “you should notice significant improvement in gut health, energy, mood, brain function, and even appearance, with clearer skin, healthier hair, and perhaps even some weight loss. You’ll sleep better, you’ll find pain relief if you need it, and you’ll feel the relief as well as your inflammation being soothed and your system returning to balance.”
Whether you’ve already been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease or are somewhere on the spectrum, the choice to choose either a conventional or an alternative treatment remains one only you can make based on your diagnosis and personal situation. However, if you’ve found that conventional treatments have failed you, you may find The Myers Way to be an alternative to conventional medicine; something you should discuss with your doctor.