Immune Mediation: Key Insights for Reversing Autoimmunity & Chronic Inflammation
In recent years I have developed a deeper understanding of how to successfully treat cases of chronic illness involving inflammation, immune deficiency, and/or autoimmunity (some people have elements of all three).
As a practitioner, I focus on clearing the underlying drivers of disease. Unfortunately, this process can be obstructed by an immune system that is out of balance. Rather than alleviating symptoms, efforts to eradicate infections can actually lead to even greater imbalance in the immune system, and greater inflammation, pain and exacerbation of symptoms as a result. This is stressful and discouraging for both the patient and the practitioner.
In Chinese medicine, we evaluate the immune system from the perspective of a person’s Qi (life force) energy as a measure of their innate capacity to heal. Yet while most people with complex chronic illness have qi / immune system deficiency, blindly adding qi tonics to the treatment plan often does NOT result in a tangible increase of health, energy or immune strength. Instead, ironically, it may lead to a greater sense of stagnation and fatigue, or a flare-up of symptoms.
This clinical enigma has been a source of frustration for years, especially with our most challenging cases which so desperately need some relief and evidence of true healing. So I took a deep dive into the workings of the immune system. What I discovered was this:
- The immune system is incredibly complex, driven by multiple feedback loops, and has inherent self-regulating mechanisms that are FAILING in most cases of complex chronic illness.
- The healing process can be greatly enhanced by treating these self-regulating mechanisms DIRECTLY.
- The immune system involves 4 major branches of activity, that when functioning optimally maintain a dynamic yin-yang balance (e.g. when 1 is heightened, another is diminished). These arms of immune system activation include:
- Th1: The 1st line of rapid defense against bacteria and viruses. Depletion is reflected in low CD 57 count, low Vitamin D, and an inability to prevent or recover from viral or bacterial infections.
- Th2: Responds to allergens, parasites, mold; chronic exposure to stress and/or environmental irritants leads to unresolved inflammation. Many chronic illnesses involve Th2 dominance, such as asthma, MCAS, chronic fatigue, chronic inflammation and adrenal exhaustion.
- Th17: particularly activated by mold and toxin exposure, in excess leads to autoimmunity and other inflammatory diseases.
- T-reg: Regulates immune response, supports tolerance to foods, and prevents autoimmunity. Too much suppresses the immune system and may cause vulnerability to cancer, and too little leads to persistent inflammation.
The good news: there are many ways to naturally support immune system course correction. To do so effectively you’ll want to clarify the nature of your patient’s immune system imbalance.
One way to do this is by using labs. I often recommend to patients that they get some basic blood work to measure and compare their white blood cell counts and percentages. I also suggest looking at other immune system markers such as Vitamins D and A, reverse T3, inflammatory markers such as C3a, C4a, TGF beta and MMP-9, and auto-immune markers such as ANA and rheumatoid factor to name a few.
More specialized testing is often very helpful, and in many states can be self-ordered, including mycotoxin urine testing and industrial chemical testing. Many people are surprised to discover what is lurking in their body’s cells and tissues!
Once you know the nature of your immune system imbalance, you can layer the immune mediation strategy into your treatment plan. Here are some of my favorite botanical and nutrient remedies for immune system course correction:
- Th1 Deficiency: cordyceps (dong chong xia cao), Vitamin D / sunshine, and astragalus (huang qi)
- Th2 Dominance: Immune Calm Liposomal Essential Oil Remedy, Japanese knotweed (hu zhang), and Chinese scutellaria (huang qin)
- Th17 Overdrive: red sage (dan shen), milk thistle (high dose), and shepherd’s purse (ji cai)
- T-reg Insufficiency: reishi (ling zhi), antioxidants, green tea
Adding this layer of clinical insight and treatment into my practice has been a game changer for many of my patients.
Hillary Thing, LAc.
Do you have patients with symptoms of immune deficiency, autoimmunity or chronic inflammation – or a mix of the three? Want to learn how to use immune mediation techniques to enhance your clinical success with these patients?
Join me for my newest Practitioner Masterclass: Immune Mediation for the Treatment of Inflammation, Autoimmunity, and Immune Deficiency. In just 1 day you can receive the information that took me many years of clinical practice to piece together!
I hope you’ll join me for this special workshop in which I show you how, so that you can treat your patients with greater depth and effectiveness than ever before.
Can’t make it live? Register now and the recording will be yours to learn from at your own pace.
Not a practitioner? Taking the class will enhance your personal healing process, but this workshop is intended for practitioners and will be taught at a professional level.