Claudia Machado Cooke, MD, FACP, MPH  |  Health Through Understanding

Autoimmune Disease

Broadly speaking, autoimmune disease is a situation in which the body fails to distinguish between “self” and “other”, and as such, makes antibodies against its own cells and tissues. These diseases span a gamut of organ systems, ranging from autoimmune disorders of the connective tissues (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosis), to those affecting the gut (celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s colitis), the endocrine system (Type1 diabetes mellitus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Addison’s disease of the adrenals), the skin, the blood, and more.

Conventioanlly, treatment is aimed at either immunosuppression (e.g., methotrexate in rheumatoid arthritis), anti-inflammation (corticosteroids or nonsteroidal antiinflammatories) or simply to reduce symptoms - palliation. In other instances, replacement therapy is the key (eg, insulin replacement in type 1 diabetes).

Dietary review and assessment of gut function is primary in Dr. Cooke’s assessment of autoimmune disease. An elimination diet is introduced and the patient is monitored. Also, stress reduction techniques tailored to the patient’s needs are helpful here. The approaches espoused by functional medicine (detoxify, restore, rebalance) are utilized by Dr. Cooke through the use of diet and nutraceuticals.