Saturday, September 19, 2009

"Common Cause" Hypothesis for Autoimmune Disease

I had heard the words autoimmune disease or disorder before 2/08 but it didn't impact me until I had a child diagnosed in a very dramatic way with type 1 diabetes.
Autoimmune Disease-disease in which the body's immune system, which normally fights infections and viruses, is misdirected and attacks the body's normal healthy tissues, through inflammation ( swelling ).
Examples of autoimmune diseases are:
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Type 1 Diabetes
Multiple Sclerosis
Inflammatory Bowel disease
Autoimmune Thyroid Disease
What causes autoimmunity disorders?
The cause is unknown, but there is growing evidence of the " Common Cause " Hypothesis.
As in , several autoimmune diseases could have one common factor, trigger, cause that manifests in a variety of diseases that all have autoimmunity in common. Now I have to tell you that I didn't personally know that this was a legitimate hypothesis but it was MY personal, gut feeling. Naturally when someone you love is diagnosed with a devastating disease you look for answers and a reason why. I have a cousin with type 1 diabetes, he has it on his mother's side but she is not my blood relative, so Ayla's diagnosis seemed to come out of left field until,I slowly started doing more and more research on autoimmunity and came up with the conclusion, that while there isn't a strong family history of type 1 diabetes, there is significant history of autoimmune diseases.
My maternal grandmother had Rheumatoid Arthritis. My Paternal grandmother, my aunt, and my older sister have hypothyroidism. Dante and our son, Jude, have allergies. Dante also has extrinsic asthma. ( triggered by exposure to allergens ).I don't know much about Dante's family's medical history but I do know most of his siblings have allergies of differing severity's.
While these diseases are different, affecting different body systems what they share in common is that " over reaction of the immune system" that causes it to destroy healthy tissue or over react to harmless stimuli in the case of allergies.
Large genetic studies repeatedly find that autoimmune diseases can be linked to the same region of a chromosome as genes involved in training the immune system to recognize " self " tissue. Can you see how a defect in this region could be the " common cause " for many different disorders?
Maybe it is a genetic predisposition and then some environmental trigger sets it off? I have noticed when reading accounts of diagnosis of type 1 in children it seemed to have followed a bout with the flu or some other virus. Not the case with Ayla, she has always been extremely healthy. I don't even remember her having so much as a cold even though she had 3 other siblings who definitely exposed her to every illness they had. Trust me we don't match the theory that a highly sterile environment causes allergies and a poor immune system either. Our house is NOT sparkling clean, Ayla was born here and has grown up on a farm. My sister swears she came down with hypothyroidism after battling mononucleosis.
A couple months ago, I heard the phrase , " You are what your Grandma ate " meaning that some of the disorders we are plagued with could even be linked back a couple generations to what your parents and grandparents ate. Their good nutrition or lack thereof. So if that's true eat your veggies now, and take your cod liver oil, your children's unborn children will thank you! Cod liver oil is rich in Vit A+D, and is a known natural antiinflammatory. All our kids have taken it on and off over the years, but we now take it religiously.

You can read more about the "Common Cause" Hypothesis here:


  1. This is the conclusion I came to about my hubby's chronic disease. His mother has had severe RA since she was a young adult, he has finally been diagnosed with Crohn's (after 40 years of his problem's being blamed on stress, stern teachers, food, etc.) And now his family blames his Crohn's on me because I am a proponent of raw milk. However his doctor with the correct diagnosis said he has had this for years, long before he ever met me and was "forced" to ingest raw dairy. Crohn's is the same as Johne's in cattle, which can be corrected sometimes with balanced mineralization. Meanwhile my in-laws continue to condemn an natural approach to any of their maladies and thus have found no relief.

    My cattle herd has been the most helpful, inherited traits in them have shown us a clearer path to understanding our health and/or inherited unhealthiness. And a good ND helps too!

    Great post Jessika!

  2. Thanks for your personal story of your husband! This is what I'm looking for. I felt really confused why these things would happen when we have lived such a healthy life.

  3. Jessika, my DH's doctors say he would be in worse condition if we DID'T eat the way we did. Just a note on Dante's milk intolerance. My DH was thought that may be the case, but actually the dairy was fine, it was other things he was eating that he couldn't tolerate. The milk just was part of the meals. A blood work up came up with very interesting things - yeast, cane sugar, wheat, oats, potatoes in any form (even baking powder can contain potato starch), tomatoes. So for instance he would have oatmeal at breafast and feel bad afterwards - the milk was blamed. Or cream of potato soup, the milk was blamed. It may not be Dante's case but just a thought. My husband was conceived in a very toxic mining environment, but moved as a toddler. No one but us and the ND's have made this connection, or will entertain thoughts about this connection. He is also of Serbian descent and I have found numerous sites about autoimmune issues concerning that too. So hard to unravel the mystery - keep up the quest!