Dr. Todd A. Born is in private practice with his wife, Dr. Lindsay Jones-Born, at Born Naturopathic Associates, Inc., in Alameda, CA (www.bornnaturopathic.com). He is licensed in California & Connecticut. He is also Product Manager at Allergy Research Group, LLC and a Thought Leader for UK-based “Clinical Education,” a free peer-to-peer service that offers clinicians a closed forum to ask clinical questions and receive evidence-based responses by experts in their fields. Dr. Born graduated from Bastyr University in Seattle and completed his residency at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health and its thirteen teaching clinics, with rotations at Seattle-area hospitals.
Dr. Born’s clinical focus is utilizing integrative medicine to treat chronic disease. He has a strong interest in difficult and refractory cases, gastrointestinal issues, neurological and neurodegenerative disorders, endocrinology, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, autoimmune disease, ADHD, Autsim, HIV/AIDS, and geriatrics. He has extensive knowledge and training in the basic medical sciences, physical medicine (osseous manipulation, craniosacral therapy, hydrotherapy and physiotherapy), botanical medicine, homeopathy, biotherapeutic drainage, Ayurveda, counseling, and diet and nutrient therapies.
Presented below are excerpts from the interview with Dr. Born on ways to identify and treat Autoimmune Diseases.
Q: How prevalent are Autoimmune Diseases in society today? Who are at greater risk?
The prevalence of autoimmune diseases depends on the region of the world, the age group and which autoimmune disease per se. In fact, there are over 80 different types known. Furthermore, a person may have more than one autoimmune disease at a time.
Women, particularly African-American, Hispanic-American and Native-Americans are at highest risk for some autoimmune diseases.
Q: How can patients differentiate whether they suffer from an Allergy or Autoimmune Disease, considering the physical manifestations in both are almost identical?
Autoimmunity is an immune response directed against an antigen within the body of the host. The definition does not distinguish whether the response is innate (born with) or acquired and, if acquired, whether it is induced by a foreign or a self-produced antigen. It usually involves both T-cell and B-cell responses. Autoimmunity only requires that the immune response be directed to itself. Autoimmune diseases are a pathological condition caused by an acquired or adaptive autoimmune response.
On the other hand, an allergy is the immune response or reaction to a normally benign substance.
The National Institutes of Health puts it simply as: “In allergies, the immune system reacts to an outside substance that it normally would ignore. With autoimmune disorders, the immune system reacts to normal body tissues that it would normally ignore.”
Q: What do you feel are the chief contributors to Autoimmune Diseases?
We don’t fully understand the cause of autoimmune diseases. Current theories center on transplacental transmission, genetics, environmental triggers and infections. The exact penetrance varies from condition to condition.
Q: Do our poor diet habits and sedentary lifestyle have a direct impact on contracting Autoimmune diseases or the quality of response to it?
I am not aware of specific studies showing that poor diet habits and sedentary lifestyles are a direct cause, but there are many studies showing that these exacerbate autoimmune diseases. Indeed, I have seen this clinically in my practice. It’s impressive how much a patient’s condition improves with an anti-inflammatory, whole foods, plant based diet and exercise.
Q: Which of the medical sciences has been the most effective when it comes to treating patients with Autoimmune Diseases?
Due to my training in Naturopathic and Allopathic medicines, my holistic approach to send patients into remission that I have seen work the best are diet modification, homeopathy, antimicrobial therapies (if gastrointestinal dysbiosis is positive via stool testing) and herbal inflammation modulators. I am also not adverse to medications. I have seen many patients benefit from allopathic medications, but when combined with natural therapeutics, do tremendously better and can use lower doses of their medication to mitigate side effects.
Q: Are Autoimmune Diseases completely curable?
No, for the most part, autoimmune diseases are not curable. The goal is remission and controlling flares when they arise. A key to long-term stable remission is finding the patient’s triggers and removing them. Another key component to remission is stress control.
Q: Are there any preventive remedial courses that one can take, if they are at risk due to hereditary factors?
Most autoimmune diseases have foundations or organizations, all of which have excellent resources, support groups, etc.