Hello everyone and welcome to my blog. My office is devoted to helping patients who are stuck in their health. Either you’ve not been properly diagnosed or the treatment was ineffective and you are still sick. One common mistake I find is the root cause of a patient’s problem is that they are autoimmune. Typically the patient doesn’t know they are autoimmune, or they know it and nothing has been done about it. This happens frequently with thyroid disease as over 90% of hypo and hyperthyroid is the result of immune system based problems. However, autoimmune happens with dementia, fibromyalgia and joint pain, chronic fatigue and other conditions.
If you’ve read Dr. Kharrazian’s thyroid book “Why do I still have thyroid symptoms when my lab tests are normal?”, he goes through a short discussion of the immune system. I would also say this is the section of the book I get the most questions about. I believe this happens simply because the concept is so new. Most patients have never really heard about balancing their immune system or the different parts of their immune system and anything is confusing the first time you encounter it.
Immune System Break Down
In the book Dr. Kharrazian talks mainly about the TH1 and TH2 sides of the immune system.
I. The TH1 side is the hand to hand combat, direct killers of the immune system. The TH1 is called the “cell mediated” immune system. When this is dominant people tend to be more prone to autoimmune diseases, have them in the family, and you tend to be highly reactive to things in the environment but you generally do not get sick. This also tends to correlate with a R hemisphere deficiency in the brain. Things that enhance or support the TH1 side of the immune system :
iii. Maitake Mushrooms
vii. Panax Ginseng
viii. Melissa Officinalis (lemon balm)
ix. Probiotics and Colostrum (There is some debate on these two)
II. The TH2 side is the antibody producing side of the immune system. Antibodies markers placed on tissues which tell the immune system to leave something alone or to kill it. When this is dominant people tend to be extremely sensitive to their environment and have many “allergic” type reactions. They typically also struggle with frequent, stubborn illnesses. They often “catch everything” and it takes longer for them to recover from illnesses than other people. This tends to correlate with a L hemisphere deficiency in the brain. Factors that tend to support the TH2 side of the immune system are:
x. Green Tea
xiii. Pine bark extract
xiv. White Willow Bark
III. The TH3 system is the balancing component between 1 & 2. In my office I draw a teeter totter with one side being TH1 and the other being TH2. Mom (the TH3) stands in the middle of the teeter totter and tries to balance to two sides. In many autoimmune diseases the balance has been lost and a person has become TH1 or TH2 “dominant”.
There has been some writing about the TH1 and TH2. I will link a blog from Chris Kresser (who has a ton of great information) and another non-doctor blog from a little more of a lay person perspective.
Basically treating patients using the TH1 and TH2 model typically involves avoiding one side and supporting the other. A safe approach also involves supporting the TH3 modulating system. If you are doing other reading the TH3 system is made up of T-regulatory cells. Support for the TH3 system involves:
ii. Vitamin D
iii. Vitamin A
iv. Fish Oils (EPA & DHA)
v. Short Chain Fatty Acids (from healthy gut bacteria and fiber)
vi. Opiod Receptors (being happy is helpful!)
What we have learned since Dr. K published his thyroid book?
In the three years since Dr. K published his book on thyroid and began teaching doctors how to begin modulating and balancing the immune system we have learned a ton from our patients and from further research. There is more to the immune system than TH1, 2, and 3!
IV. Introducing the TH17 & NF-kappaB: The TH17 system is the chief way that autoimmune diseases and inflammation cause self-tissue destruction. As far as damage goes, this part is the big damage dealer. TH17 uses nitric oxide to cause this destruction. There are three different forms of nitric oxide enzymes and they are the following.
xvii. Inducible Nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) = creates autoimmune destruction
xviii. Endothelial Nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) = beneficial cardiovascular effects
xix. Neuronal Nitric Oxide synthase (nNOS) = beneficial nervous system effects
In order to help autoimmune patients, this has been one of the best systems to aim at for quickly decreasing the immune system destruction. A nice side effect is that some compounds can lower the iNOS, while raising the other two forms of NOS creating beneficial effects for the cardiovascular and nervous system. Compounds to support the TH17 system are:
xx. Vitamin B3
To summarize the immune system has many parts. Different nutrients and lifestyle choices will affect separate parts of the immune system. In my office, one of my chief duties is helping each patient wade through their immune system imbalance. The details are particular to each person! Some people do well in the TH1/TH2 system. Others really need a lot of attention to the TH17 & NF-kappa B system. Other patients have immune system imbalances I did not have time to go over for everyone (like TNF-alpha or IL-6). Balancing a leaky gut or removing a chronic infection is often involved in a patients care.
The take home point from this article is that balancing the immune system can be an extremely valuable endeavor in recovering your health. While it can get complicated, the first step to solving the problem is knowing it exists. Pull back the curtain on your immune system. Open that black box and begin to understand how it is affecting your health.
Thank you for reading. Dr. Warren