Autoimmune disease

Posted by Melissa Callaghan on

Autoimmune disease is where the immune system has a case of mistaken identity and thinks your body is the enemy and begins to attack your health body.  There are presently around 80 recognised autoimmune diseases with the number on this rise.

When looking for underlying triggers of autoimmune gut health and inflammation are major factors.

Your gut is your like your body's life support system, you need a balance of bacteria, yeast, and all the components for digestion.  If this balanced ecosystem is out of balance, then problems arise.  It is one of your major defence forces against toxins and pathogens from the outside world.  Basically, if things aren’t going right here then you are opening yourself up to all diseases including triggering Autoimmune diseases. It is designed to keep you safe and protected but the food you eat and the environment you live in are affecting it.

Everyday we punish out digestive system with triggers that cause it to be continuously inflamed without a break, (it’s like having a permanent sprained ankle).  We add in additives, colours, preservatives, chemicals, flavours, genetically modified ‘foods’ all of which can trigger an inflammatory response.  Then we pile on environmental toxins, skin care products, hair care products, laundry products, cleaning products, radiation from phones. It’s no wonder we are struggling to stay healthy.

In addition to this our mental health status plays a major role in the processes that occur in the gut. Running on adrenalin is NOT good for you and isn’t a badge of honour that needs to be worn.  You are NOT proving anything to anyone by burning the candle at both ends and sacrificing mind/body balance.

When your stress is increased then your digestive juices go down.  When digestion is affected so too is your defence force.  When your defence force is on stress leave then you open yourself up to EVERYTHING!!!  Including Autoimmune Disease triggers.

When your immune system doesn’t have the right nutrition or the ability to breakdown and digest the nutrition from your food and is then continuously exposed to toxins and different stressors that it can no longer defend itself against and then it gets a bit exhausted and can’t cope. HOWEVER, it keeps trying to do its job and continues to work even though it is struggling.  The downside of this is that it can’t do its job effectively and looses its ability to differentiate between an enemy and your body.  This triggers autoimmune disease.


Some types of Autoimmune disorders:

  • Diabetes (type 1) – affects the pancreas
  • Graves’ disease or Hashimotos – affects the thyroid gland
  • IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) – Ulcerative Colitis & Crohn’s disease – affect the intestine
  • Multiple Sclerosis – affects the nervous system
  • Psoriasis – affects the skin
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – affects the joins
  • Scleroderma – affects the skin and other structures forming scar tissue
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Coeliac disease – a reaction to gluten
  • Alopecia – sudden hair loss in one or more circular patches
  • Vasculitis – affects blood vessels
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Endometriosis

This list is not exhaustive, and the sad part is that more and more autoimmune diseases are being labelled each and every day.

Your body is always looking for an out.  When it is overloaded with toxin exposure it will do everything it can to eliminate it otherwise it will have to store it. Toxins can be stored in joints, but the main place that environmental toxins are stored is fat tissue. The more toxins you are exposed to the greater the weight gain.  They also affect the body’s ability to balance blood sugar and metabolise cholesterol leading to insulin resistance. This is another reason to have good gut health as when your body is trying to eliminate these toxins and has trouble you will reuptake them again.

There are many symptoms that you may be experiencing that could indicate you may have the start of an Autoimmune disease and they include:

  • Anxiety
  • Brain fog
  • Headaches
  • ADD
  • Body rashes, bumps on face and flaking skin
  • Acne
  • Rosacea
  • Eczema
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Dry mouth
  • Frequent colds
  • Thyroid issues
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Muscle pain and/or weakness
  • Stiffness and pain – could Rheumatoid arthritis or Fibromyalgia
  • Digestive issues – diarrhoea or constipation
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Feeling wired but still tired
  • Exhausted
  • Stomach cramps


Your body is designed to heal itself.  One of the first solutions often given is immune suppression but this then leaves you open to exposure of more toxins and enemies of the body.  As a naturopath we work on calming down the antibodies and balancing the immune system, repairing and supporting your gut health (your defence force)

Disease is usually caused by more than one trigger. It is not possible that one specific thing or behaviour caused it.  Disease is always multifactorial and so too should be the approach to treatment.  It too needs to be multifactorial.  Gut health which includes underlying infections from viruses or bacteria, and your body's stress response are two of the major areas that need to be addressed. Along with nutrition, toxin exposure, sleep or lack of, movement, mental health, hormone balance, plus much more.  All of which form part of your treatment plan for the underlying causes in addition to providing some symptomatic relief eg calming systems down and relieving pain and inflammation.  An autoimmune diagnosis is not the end, it is just the beginning, you can move forward and feel better. 

Who am I?

I am a Bachelor qualified Naturopath who specialises in improving metabolic processes in the body. Major areas for improvement include gut, thyroid, kidney, skin and liver health. Conditions such as hypothyroidism, fatty liver, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, & irritable bowel conditions. I help my patients by giving them symptomatic relief while working on repairing the underlying causes of metabolic stress and waste accumulation. Patients experience amazing results which are seen in their blood tests with improved thyroid markers, cholesterol, and liver markers.  As well as lower blood pressure and see relief from improved gastrointestinal symptoms like the ones that mean you need to know where every single toilet is before you leave the house. 

Melissa Callaghan ND, BHSc, BTeach
Clinical Naturopath


To book an appointment click here 


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