Why would anyone with autoimmune come to me for help?

Yesterday I was asked why anyone would come to me for help with nutritional and autoimmune diseases when I am not a doctor. People come to me because in 1999 I became sick with an esophageal ulcer due to eosinophilic esophagitis which turned squamous. The doctors told me there was nothing they could do and it would likely turn cancerous. Then natural yeast walked into my life and healed my ulcer completely. I co-wrote a national bestselling book. Tens of thousands of people came to me for natural yeast starts. I had become angry when I discovered some doctors knew that nutrition could have healed and prevented what I had if used early. My doctor said he didn’t tell people like me how to use nutritional healing because people find it too hard to make nutritional changes and he didn’t have the time to educate them because it take many hours and insurance won’t pay for it. Meanwhile, after seeing results from the natural yeast they got from my kitchen, people came to me more and more for help and I helped them. I got certified as a nutritional specialist, then I created the first program in the nation specializing in nutritional healing specifically for autoimmune diseases. Today I see patients in two clinics and I teach a six month long course certifying students as Nutritional Autoimmune Specialists. My students learn about each of the more than 100 autoimmune disorders and how to use nutritional tools for each disorder. We are not associated with but adopt the goals and concerns of the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, the group that decides what is an autoimmune disease:

Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis can result in damage to vital organs.

Commonly used immunosuppressant treatments (steroids like prednisone) lead to devastating long-term side effects.

Doctors can struggle to correctly diagnose and treat autoimmune disorders. “Medical education provides minimal learning about autoimmune disease”.

Physicians are generally unaware of interrelationships among the different autoimmune diseases or advances in treatment outside their own specialty area.

We exist as Certified Nutritional Autoimmune Specialists primarily to help people alleviate their suffering. Above all else, we help our clients advocate for their own health, whether they are dealing with autoimmune, functional disorders, lack of nutritional education, or other issues. We do this by providing education about what science knows about specific autoimmune and functional disorders. Having autoimmune conditions can often be like have the pieces to a puzzle. We can help patients put the puzzle pieces together, then take the puzzle to their doctor. We know from patient experiences that many people who have autoimmune disorders suffer from misdiagnosis or misguided treatment, sometimes for years, before getting a diagnosis and a path toward healing. Many people who are sick with specific autoimmune disorders are initially told for years they have “fibromyalgia.” The work is difficult because no two autoimmune patients are alike. Each requires a lot of time and custom-tailored nutritional intervention. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. The typical person who comes to me has been through a half-dozen doctors and specialists and has gotten worse instead of better and has gotten lots of pharmaceutical prescriptions but no healing.

How we advocate:
Provide education about autoimmune disorders to the client in written form and in counseling.
Provide education to the client’s doctor by writing writing a patient advocacy form which reports the patients symptoms and diagnostic possibilities for the client to take to their doctor.
Provide written information and counseling to clients about holistic options.
Educate clients about the dangers inherent in taking prescription immunosuppressant drugs that can have devastating long-term side effects. Prednisone and other corticosteroids are among the top treatments used by doctors to treat autoimmune disorders. Patients have a right to understand how these drugs might affect them long-term, and whether holistic and nutritional options help.

According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association:

Approximately 50 million Americans — or one in five people — suffer from autoimmune diseases. Women are more likely than men to be affected; some estimates say 75% of those affected are women. Still, autoimmunity is rarely discussed as a women’s health issue.

The lack of knowledge and awareness surrounding autoimmunity result in untold suffering for people affected by these diseases. A collaborative approach to research, funding, and early detection is essential to finding eventual cures and preventative measures for all autoimmune diseases. To encourage such collaboration, there needs to be a national focus on autoimmunity as the common factor in all autoimmune diseases.

Autoimmune symptoms cross many specialties and can affect all body organs.

Initial symptoms are often intermittent and nonspecific until the disease becomes acute. Research is generally disease-specific and limited in scope. More information-sharing and crossover among research projects on different autoimmune diseases is needed.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates up to 23.5 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease and that the prevalence is rising. The specialists at AARDA disagree, saying that 50 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease. Why the difference? The NIH numbers only include 24 diseases for which good epidemiology studies were available. Researchers have identified 80-100 different autoimmune diseases and suspect at least 40 additional diseases of having an autoimmune basis.

These diseases are chronic and can be life-threatening (3).
Autoimmune disease is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in female children and women in all age groups up to 64 years of age.

A close genetic relationship exists among autoimmune disease, explaining clustering in individuals and families as well as a common pathway of disease).

The Institute of Medicine reports that the US is behind other countries in research into immune system self recognition, the process involved in autoimmune disease..

For all these reasons, “getting a diagnosis can be a challenging journey,” according to AARDA. Our job as certified nutritional autoimmune specialists is to advocate for patients on this journey.

Part of nutritional counseling is to listen to the client’s concerns and symptoms. Because we specialize in autoimmune disorders, we are trained to recognized which symptoms might point toward specific autoimmune disorders. Autoimmune disorders often go undiagnosed by physicians because of lack of time on the part of the physician to spend hearing client’s symptoms, and lack of education to recognize the symptoms. One important part of what we do is spend time with clients, time that no one else has spent, to listen to them reporting their symptoms. We have a long list of questions we use to help clients report symptoms. We use this information to assist in patient advocacy. This is done by writing the patient a note to take to their physician reporting symptoms if we believe they point to a specific undiagnosed autoimmune disorder. This allows the patient to be their own advocate with their doctor by having specific information on their own health. We work directly with their doctor when needed.

When patients have advocates, it encourages doctors to look more specifically and carefully at autoimmune disorders. My personal advocacy on behalf of my clients has led to major changes and attention by their doctors.

Because most physicians do not specialize in knowledge of the various autoimmune disorders, it is important to be a catalyst encouraging awareness about autoimmune and nutrition, and to encourage the client to keep their physician in the loop.
In addition, most doctors are not aware that when one autoimmune disease is left uncontrolled it almost always gives rise to a second, then a third, and so on. It is critical that patients be monitored for these “multipliers” and doctors are not doing this. When caught early, these multipliers can often be reversed but when left until symptoms are severe, the damage is often permanent. We know how to monitor for the smallest signs of autoimmune, and we advocate directly with their doctors to make sure these patterns of symptoms are getting attention.

If any of this sounds familiar to you or someone you love and you would like to see if a certified nutritional autoimmune specialist can help you, contact me and I will have someone contact you. You can email calebwarnock@iyahoo.com and someone will get in touch with you.

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