Autoimmune Disorders and Chinese Herbal Medicine
Our bodies have many amazing types of defense mechanisms that work together to protect us from anything coming from the outside that may be a threat. They are constantly defending us against bacteria, viruses, toxins, fungi and parasites, as well as environmental pollutants. These protective mechanisms consist of the skin, which forms a physical barrier, the lungs which filter dust and pollutants, the liver which clears up any toxins, and many others. The immune system also consists of many different types of microscopic cells that mobilize to attack invaders. These immune cells are very intelligent. They are able to recognize the difference between our own body cells and organisms that are coming from the outside our body by means of certain chemicals that communicate this information to them.
Occasionally, problems arise when our own immune system fails to recognize our body’s normal healthy tissue as our own, but sees it as something foreign. When this happens, our immune system attacks our own cells, resulting in dysfunction or death of those cells. This is called an autoimmune disorder. It is similar to allergies, when the immune system attacks substances from the outside that it would normally ignore. With autoimmune disorders, it attacks our own cells, which it would otherwise ignore.
There are many types of autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, celiac disease, thyroid disease, and some others that are difficult to diagnose.According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), these disorders affect up to 50 million Americans. It is not entirely clear what causes autoimmune disorders. Drugs, bacteria, viruses, hormone imbalances, stress, vaccinations, and nutritional deficiencies are all thought to be possible contributing factors, although there is usually not one specific cause. In most cases, a combination of different factors is most likely involved.
One of the great strengths of Chinese herbal medicine is its potential to balance the immune system, by working with the body’s own innate healing ability. Chinese herbs achieve this balance by either giving the immune system more strength to protect the body, or they can balance the body in such a way that it may stop attacking itself. Chinese herbal medicine is able to correct the root cause of the disease, and at the same time it can directly address the symptoms. Eventually, when health is restored, the body is able to heal itself, and the symptoms will naturally disappear. That is the way of holistic healing methods – the health of the entire body system is addressed, so that the power of its own innate healing capacity is able to take over. Even though we live in a modern world, our bodies are still part of the natural world. Because Chinese herbal formulas are able to bring us back into harmony with nature, the result is a healthier, stronger body that is less prone to developing disease.