Infections are a common root cause of autoimmune conditions. When these underlying infections are treated, symptoms of autoimmunity begin to improve significantly.
There is a scientific term called molecular mimicry that has been correlated with autoimmune conditions and shown to be a leading mechanism to induce autoimmunity due to parasites, bacteria, viruses, mycotoxins, chemicals and metals. It has long been linked to autoimmune disease but only most recently has gained attention. Molecular mimicry triggers an immune response against what is called autoantigens. Autoantigen is a protein that is recognized by the immune system for people with autoimmune disease. A person can obtain an infection, like Epstein Barr virus, Strep or Mycoplasma, that has antigens that look similar to the person’s antigens. This resemblance of antigens by bacteria or viruses can activate T cells and thereby become autoreactive. This continual series of events can begin to create what is a called a loss of self-tolerance and serve as initiating factor for autoimmune conditions. Many people have multiple infections and exposures over their lifetime. It is important to continue to create and maintain a healthy lifestyle through diet, exercise, sleep and supplementation, if needed, to allow your body to get rid of them in a timely basis. Persistent infections that are not managed well can increase the possibility of initiating autoimmunity.
For the past 60 years, proposed mechanisms of etiology for multiple sclerosis (MS) link MS to persistent viral infections. Close to two dozen viruses have been found in the brains of patients with MS including ones like herpes and retrovirus. Neurological lyme disease mimics many MS symptoms (e.g. headaches, stiff neck, memory and ability to process information, fatigue, coordination challenges) and can act to trigger MS.
Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), or herpesvirus 4, affects a majority of the population at large - over 90%. Research links its connection to systemic autoimmunity; particularly for conditions like lupus (SLE). Studies have shown patients with lupus having higher titers of EBV antibodies as compared to the healthy population. EBV causes T cells to produce more pro-inflammatory mediators (i.e. cytokines) for systemic autoimmunity. Studies have shown EBV antigen-1 having similar autoantigens in lupus which could possibly enable disease pathogenesis.
A more recently known autoimmune condition affecting children, pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS) and pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome (PANS) occurs due to an infection, like strep, that triggers an immune response that causes inflammation in a child’s brain. A child may have an acute onset of symptoms not previously seen like OCD, anxiety, tics, mood and temperamental changes, restrictive eating, declining abilities in math and writing, behavioral regression, sleep changes, urinary and sensory issues.
The presentation will review the use of natural antibiotics and antivirals to decrease infections that precipitate or aggravate autoimmune conditions. The presentation will also review utilization of low dose immunotherapy (LDI) in clinical practice. LDI helps the immune system restore balance by reducing inflammation caused by infections. LDI contains specific antigens like Epstein Barr, Lyme or Streptococcus and it diminishes the abnormally activated TH2 immune system and creates immune tolerance and acceptance, rather than suppression.
Dr. Jaquel Patterson is a nationally recognized naturopathic physician, success coach for integrative doctors, best-selling author, and sought-after speaker. She is also a contributor to Forbes Magazine and member of the Forbes Business Council and Expert Panel. She owns a successful multidisciplinary medical practice including naturopathic medicine, nutrition, internal medicine, physical therapy, and acupuncture in Fairfield, CT. She has over 13 years of clinical experience with a focus on autoimmune conditions, Lyme disease, allergies, anxiety/depression, and childhood developmental disorders. She is also the Past President of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and serves on the boards of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine and the Connecticut Association of Naturopathic Physicians.
Dr. Jaquel presents at large conferences like Annual World Congress Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M) Venetian, and has appeared multiple times on television, in publications, and on radio. She has been published in New York Magazine, USA Today, Real Simple magazine, Under Armour, Fitness Pal, Natural Practitioner, and Naturopathic Doctor News and Review. Dr. Jaquel is also the Medical Advisor for Zycal Bioceuticals Healthcare and Vermont Hemp Health. In addition to her naturopathic medical degree, she has her MBA in Healthcare Management from Quinnipiac University and has her undergraduate degree from Cornell University.
*Certified by the WANP for 1 Category 1 continuing education credit (including 1 Pharmacology credit) for Washington NDs*
(Originally presented October 15, 2021)