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Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmune disease is another category of widespread immune system disorders which can be quite difficult to resolve.

Some of the most common autoimmune disorders include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis – affects the joints and causes pain, stiffness, swelling and limits overall motion
  • Diabetes – affects the pancreas causing issues in the body’s ability to produce enough insulin
  • Crohn disease – affects various parts of the intestinal tract causing inflammation, pain and general discomfort
  • Celiac disease – affects the small intestine causing a breakdown in it’s lining and protective layer
  • Ulcerative colitis – affects the digestive tract causing inflammation and ulcers
  • Multiple sclerosis – affects the central nervous system causing a large variety of symptoms
  • Psoriasis – affects the skin and is characterized by intense itching, inflammation and scaling

The Cause of Autoimmune Diseases

Overall autoimmune diseases are the result of a breakdown in the immune system’s ability to properly differentiate foreign substances from the body’s own cells. This breakdown causes a surge in the production of defense cells which incorrectly target the body’s own healthy cells.

Yet even with all the recent scientific advances, researches are still unable to pin-point the exact cause of these defects in the immune response. And most of the research remains inconclusive.

For example, Crohn’s disease is most commonly believed to be caused by genetic abnormalities which lead to excessively aggressive T Cell activity against common bowel bacteria [1]. But researches still struggle understanding what causes these genetic abnormalities and why the disease can often go into remission for long stretches of time.

Vitamin D appears to play a big role
Adequate Vitamin D levels have been shown to enhance innate immunity and assist in the proper regulation of adaptive immunity. Many recent publications suggest a strong link between the Vitamin D system and autoimmune disease [2, 3].

Autoimmune Disease Treatment Options

Generally, autoimmune diseases appear to be embedded into immune function and are considered incurable. Nonetheless, various treatment approaches can produce significant results and improve overall quality of life for sufferers.

Most commonly, treatment options are aimed at reducing immune function and stabilizing inflammation. But since these treatments aim at reducing immune function they can have some scary potential side effects and could even significantly increase the risk of cancer.

Section Summary

This section briefly examined the two major ways the adaptive immune system combats pathogens. Key points include:

  1. A large variety of autoimmune disorders exist and they can be extremely challenging to resolve and live with
  2. Generally autoimmune diseases are the result of immune system malfunctioning which causes it to attack the bodies own healthy cells
  3. Though researchers have a good general understanding of the underlying mechanism of these diseases, their underlying cause remains illusive
  4. Many recent research papers highlight the importance of Vitamin D in helping maintain balanced immunity and it’s role in the prevention of autoimmune diseases
  5. ​Most current treatment options reduce symptoms by restricting immune function and targeting inflammation, but this approach comes with it’s own set of potential issues


  1. R Balfour Sartor "Mechanisms of disease: pathogenesis of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis." Nature clinical practice. Gastroenterology & hepatology 3.7 (2006): 390-407. PubMed
  2. Luciano Adorini, Giuseppe Penna "Control of autoimmune diseases by the vitamin D endocrine system." Nature clinical practice. Rheumatology 4.8 (2008): 404-12. PubMed
  3. Michael F Holick "Sunlight and vitamin D for bone health and prevention of autoimmune diseases, cancers, and cardiovascular disease." The American journal of clinical nutrition 80.6 Suppl (2004): 1678S-88S. PubMed
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About Michael Anders

After being affected by seborrheic dermatitis, I have made it my goal to gather and organize all the information that has helped me in my journey.

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