In June 2019, I went to Asheville (about 4 hours from Raleigh, in the mountains) to attend the annual Southeast Regional Integrative Medical Conference (organized by the NCIMS, North Carolina Integrative Medicine Society).
This conference regroups the best Integrative practitioners of NC as well as from other States. We had the chance to hear Dr David Brady (from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut), Sachin Patel (from the Living Proof Institute in Ontario), James LaValle (from the Integrative Health Resources), Dr Mark Houston (from the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Science), Dr Samuel Yanuck (from Cogence in Raleigh North Carolina), Dr Andrew Heyma (from the George Washington University in Virginia) and Dr Terry Wahls (with the Wahls Foundation, Defeating MS without drugs in Iowa). An incredible list of speakers when you think that most of them are listed in the top 50 functional and integrative medical doctors... Read the article here.
With Dr David Brady, we learned more about the connection between the GI microbiome and autoimmunity. Several pathogens overgrowth in our GI tract are associated with an increasing risk of developing autoimmune diseases, like H. pylori (cancer, Hashimoto), Yersinia (Graves, Hashimoto), Porphyromonas gingivalis (RA, Alzheimer), UTI infections by Proteus (RA). He also highlighted the use of predictive auto-antibodies to diagnose autoimmune diseases as early as possible, before the apparition of symptoms and tissues damages. You can read his article here if you are interested to know more details: Open Journal of Rheumatology and Autoimmune Diseases, 2013, 3, 33-39doi:10.4236/ojra.2013.31007 Published Online February 2013 (http://www.scirp.org/journal/ojra).
James LaValle gave us a great speech about the importance of sleep and circadian rhythm and their impact on food cravings, cortisol & serotonin regulation (adrenal fatigue), thyroid function and gut permeability. Yes, everything is interconnected... He also emphasized the importance of checking our urine pH (you can buy easy and cheap tests in Pharmacy) and to keep it alkalized (around 6.8-7.0).
Did you know that medicinal mushrooms have a lot of benefits? Sachel Patel explained to us that mushrooms share 50% of our DNA and in the nature they are detoxifying the forest. The same thing happens when you ingest them. There are 5 legal medicinal mushrooms: Turkey Tail (Trametes veriscolor), Cordyceps Militaris, Chaga (Innotus obliquus), Lion's Mane (Hericium erinaceus) and Reishi (Ganoderma Lucidum). They all increase the immune system, can be cytotoxic to cancer cells, reduce oxidative stress, moderate blood sugar and are anti-inflammatory. However, due to their ability to stimulate the immune system, they have to be taken with precaution if you have an autoimmune disease with a lot of inflammation. You have to calm down your autoimmunity before taking them with moderation.
Dr Mark Houston's presentation was amazing! So much information that it is hard to summarize! He debunked the myths about Dislipidemia (i.e., an abnormal amount of lipids (e.g. triglycerides, cholesterol and/or fat phospholipids) in the blood). The role of lipoproteins in our body is to prevent infections, protect against toxins and inflammatory nutrition. These are part of the immune system. However if these lipoproteins are modified due to chronic inflammation, infections and toxins, they become vasculotoxic (damages occur to the vascular system and the heart). He highlighted that, in reality, Dyslipidemia is an autoimmune disease... Therefore the main problem is to resolve the inflammation! He also explained that the common LDL measurement per volume is not a good marker to evaluate the Dislipidemia, it is the size of the LDL molecules that matters. The risk is higher if there is a lot of small LDL molecules for the same volume... And drugs typically provided in case of Dislipidemia are not addressing that issue. He demonstrated that nutritional changes and specific supplementation have a greater impact on the LDL size and inflammation than conventional drugs. Moreover, Statins drugs are inducing nutrients depletion, which increase inflammation (among other side effects)... If you want to know more, Dr Houston published a lot of articles and books on the matter. Go check them out.
Dr Samuel Yannuck discussed an interesting perspective about Autoimmune disease (AID) flares. His perspectives is to focus on avoiding flares, because it is when you flare that the immune system is triggering new antigen auto-antibodies due to tissue damage during the flare (=mechanism of "epitope spreading"). Therefore by focusing on "how far from the flare are you" and managing fundamental parts that will keep you away from the flare, he said it can reduce the risk of developing another autoimmune disease when you already have one. The fundamental part is to understand the role of the immune system cells linked to inflammation which are responsible for the flare. A flare will occur when your bucket is full, it means you reached the limit of your body tolerance to external and internal insults (stress, lack of sleep, inflammatory food, traumas, dysbiosis, overtraining, hormones imbalance... -> trigger inflammation, NFkB, STAT3, TH17 cells, destruction). The main immune system cells involved are TReg, TH1, Th2 and Th17, they all work in balance in a normal state, TReg is managing immune tolerance, Th17 fight extracellular pathogens (if too much, can trigger AID), Th1 fight intracellular pathogens and Th2 kill big parasites and expulse them mechanically. We need TReg and Th1 in balance, with low level of Th17 and Th1 to promote tolerance and reduce inflammation.
It is not simple to summarize all this amazing information without overwhelming you... I hope you learned something. Contact me if you have any questions.