We are now seeing that oxidative stress is chronically linked to autoimmune disease. While many health care practitioners say that we do not know the cause of autoimmunity, new research shows that this same oxidative stress is to blame. I recently attended a seminar on this subject and we looked at over 100 recent peer reviewed studies showing that oxidative stress was the cause and the great news is that the doctors who started doing this research have thousands of patients with amazing results when oxidative stress is controlled.
What is Oxidative Stress?
Oxidative stress is the damaging of atoms and molecules by external sources such as radiation, pollution, pesticides, chlorine, cell phones, smog and more. This happens when the atoms lose an electron and spin out of control thus damaging our cells.
An example of this would be when you see paint oxidizing on a car. It starts in one small area but then a chain reaction starts and spreads everywhere. Metal starts to rust in the same way, it starts in the middle and then the rest starts to deteriorate, and when it is fully oxidized, it falls to dust.
This type of oxidation happens in the human body to some extent during normal processes. The amount of oxidative materials in our atmosphere has however become catastrophically high and thus its effect damages all of our cells to a much greater degree than before which causes serious health problems today.
What do Antibodies Mean?
If you or someone you know has an autoimmune disease, you probably know that measuring antibodies such as ANA with lupus and TPO with Hashimoto’s disease is a way to determine the severity of the condition. In the recent past, practitioners looked at these antibodies as the attacking bodies or “the bad guys”.
This research however, shows the concept that these antibodies are attacking the tissues does not seem to be correct. We are seeing that these antibodies are actually there to help you because there are not attacking the cells, but they form to protect your cells from something else that is attacking them. That foreign invader is oxidative stress. Thus testing for the antibodies can not only be a good test in finding the autoimmune disease but also a good way of looking at the amount of actual oxidative stress.
How Do We Combat Free Radicals?
Since free radicals are the culprit, combating and neutralizing them is the key to success and we can do that with the use of specific antioxidants. This process has shown not only to lower but even completely eliminate antibodies in patients with autoimmune diseases.
To give you an example, a 49 year old woman with TPO antibodies of 500, diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism was able to lower her antibodies to 50 after ninety days on antioxidant therapy. The antibodies went to 20 and in ninety more days of treatment.
Another patient with lupus ANA antibodies and a history of skin issues and joint issues is now negative on the ANA antibodies and completely symptom free after 3 months of antioxidant use.
The exciting thing is that when following the protocol designed by these studies, we are seeing multiple cases of resolving or fully resolved autoimmune disease. This is truly exciting because up to this point, the only thing the medical community could offer is slowing down the immune system with the use of steroids, which have many damaging effects.
What Antioxidants and What Doses?
This is where it gets interesting. The antioxidants we need are not just the typical A, C E that we all probably know about. While these are ok, they do not have many electrons to donate to quench the free radicals and when these are given in high doses, they tend to oxidize themselves and can actually make the situation worse.
The antioxidants that work best are things that have more electrons such as CoQ10, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Green Tea extract and Lycopene to name a few. However it’s not as simple as just taking more of these. Many of these antioxidants are very hard to absorb molecules so we need to get them in their most pure form. Reduced and oxidized forms of these are actually available and there are huge differences of using each and blood plasma levels. For example, regular CoQ raises levels only slightly while the reduced form raises them 2 to 3 times. Unfortunately the oxidized form is what is used in most of the health food store supplement brands. This is one of the reasons you sometimes hear people tell you that they read about certain vitamins, went ahead and started taking something on their own without fully understanding it and did not notice a difference in how they felt. There is a lot of science and research that goes into developing each protocol and it is very individual so it important to be monitored to make sure you are taking the right things to get optimal results.
We also need to make sure GI function is up to par to guarantee their absorption.
If someone is suffering from dysbiosis, (yeast or bacteria overgrowth or deficiency of good bacteria and enzymes) absorption of nutrients is greatly reduced and these antioxidants would not do their job properly. So first, we would address GI function and then based on that level assign the appropriate antioxidant dose. These doses are normally higher than what a normal 100 % RDA would be, however remember the patients with autoimmune diseases have more free radicals than people without the disease so it would make sense that they need a higher amount.
It is imperative to test blood and urine levels of these nutrients to figure out if the dose needs to be further increased. For example, CoQ10 levels in someone affected by an autoimmune disease need to be at least 6 and ideally 8 to see results. I just had a patient tested before starting treatment and the level was .85 so for this patient, a higher dose would be needed to achieve the desired level. The doses also vary depending on dry or liquid form of the vitamin and always need to be taken at least twice per day with a meal that contains a little fat for the best absorption.
Oxidative stress is also related to cancer. Did you know that free radical mutation of DNA is said to cause 95% of cancers today? It is also linked with heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. High dose antioxidants are just as helpful with these conditions. In addition to antioxidants, we also have to look at our environment because it would be impossible to keep taking antioxidants every minute of the day to counteract all the damage.
Sources of Oxidative Stress in the Environment
Microwave ovens – They heat food by causing friction which then excites the electrons and create high free radicals. Furthermore, testing foods after heating in microwaves shows their nutrient levels are greatly reduced. Try to not use the microwave when possible, not even for water.
Not enough saturated fats (from plants) – Oils like coconut oil and avocado are much more stable and cannot oxidize quickly whereas oils such as flax are much easier more fragile and cause many free radicals when oxidized.
Overuse of Antibiotics – Their mechanism of killing the bacteria is through oxidative stress which also damages your cells at the same time.
Car pollution/smog – When in traffic put the car vent on recirculation. Also if you drive in high traffic often consider a car air filter.
Not getting enough sun -DO NOT completely hide from the sun. Sun keeps our antioxidant defenses high. If you look back to the evolution of skin cancer the people who were the first to practice medicine in Egypt were writing on the pyramid walls and there is no mention of skin lesions as something they ever treated and yet this was a population that was in the sun in the desert all day long. There is no evidence of skin cancer in those times.
When we want to give a rat skin cancer in the lab, it takes a really long time with just UV light, but if you put chemicals on the rats it induces cancer almost immediately. A very large part of the skin cancer problem we are having today is because of all the chemicals we are putting on our skin. This is further accelerated by going in the sun and having the UV light transform those chemicals on the skin into something even worse.
The sun is not only creating beneficial vitamin D from cholesterol but probably many other positive things as well that we have not even discovered. Obviously do not go out and bake in the sun and have your skin burn, but going out for 10-15 minutes a day without sun block is very beneficial. When out for prolonged periods of time, use a natural non-paraben sunblock.
Immobilization – When you do not move and exercise oxidative stress is increased. Physical activity increases antioxidant defenses.
Cell phones – While there are no proven studies that cell phones cause free radicals, it is a problem. Since most of the world uses cell phones, the companies are not in a hurry to study potential bad effects, however electromagnetic radiation is definitely at issue. Of course you cannot get away from using your phone, but there are a few things you can do. Turn it off at night when you are not using it. Use speaker phone when talking and keep further away from your body, the emissions are much lower that way. Try not to use blue tooth or a wired headset because like an antenna it actually attracts the rays directly to you. Also do not use it at times where it says “searching for service” as the phone is at its maximum frequency during those times.
Chlorine – This is a very strong oxidant. That is why it’s in pools and tap water, oxidizing everything to kill the bacteria, but also harming you. Filter your water.
Other things to try
Check your skin care products at skin deep cosmetic database to make sure the chemicals are limited
Try to avoid pesticides because they kill bugs through oxidation
Avoid smoking and second hand smoke
When going for x-rays, MRI’s, cat scans etc.. make sure to take antioxidants before and after the procedure
Avoid very burned and charred grilled foods
Hashimoto’s, MS, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Rhenoids, ALS, Sjorgen’s, are just to name a few of the conditions that we see are caused by this free radical stress. The oxidative stress seems to also correspond with the severity of the disease. For example, if someone has MS, but the patient is not having a flare up, when oxidative stress is measured (which can be done with a simple urine test) the levels are just slightly out of range. However when that same person is measured during a downturn or flare-up, the oxidative stress levels come back extremely elevated.
Controlling this stress is the key to eliminating these conditions. If you or someone you know if suffering from an autoimmune condition, please contact our office and we can answer any questions you have and get you started on the right protocol for your condition.