Autoimmune Disease, Women’s Health, and Big Pharma Myths Dispelled
DISCLAIMER: Always consult a doctor before undergoing treatment of any kind.
Men and women differ in terms of the physical presentation of the autonomic nervous system and they also experience differences in terms of function. In this book, we talk in depth about the autonomic nervous system as a part of our bodies that “decides” how and when the body responds to the presence of a pathogen, toxins, or stress. It is the autonomic nervous system that senses danger and responds to it either appropriately or inappropriately. It is the autonomic nervous system that tells the immune system whether a potential threat is rated as severe, moderate, or non-threatening. And this autonomic nervous system response can be viewed macroscopically from afar as painful trigger points in certain muscles or it can be viewed under a microscope as the Cell Danger Response that Dr. Naviaux has studied and worked with to overcome using a Pine Tree Medicine that we talk about later in this book.
Decades ago, I remember reading about how men and women differ in terms of how their brains are connected to their guts. That idea resonated with me. I had noticed, for example, that if my stomach was upset, I was totally debilitated. I couldn’t think and I would usually feel exhausted. On the other hand, my husband’s stomach was almost always upset, but despite this, he was still able to go to work and continue on with daily life through the stomach cramping, diarrhea, or nausea.
There’s an episode of King of the Hill, a cartoon comedy sitcom, where Hank counsels his son Bobby to just “swallow his emotions”, which is another way of describing a difference between men’s and women’s autonomic nervous system. It is, after all, the autonomic nervous system that translates our emotional responses to both conscious and unconscious stimuli that we encounter in our daily lives into a physical response. Women do not and mostly cannot swallow their emotions. And, in fact, scientific studies have documented a vast array of differences between men and women in terms of how they’re autonomic nervous systems are arranged in the body and in terms of how they function in applied situations.
But, if you don’t know anything about the autonomic nervous system now, don’t worry. You’ll know a great deal about the autonomic nervous system by the time you finish reading this book.
Nonetheless, if you’ve ever wondered why women are more likely to get an autoimmune disease, a brief study of the gender differences in autonomic nervous system structure and function can explain the reasons. And these differences also serve to substantiate the science that proves that autoimmune disease is caused by pathogens (or sometimes toxins) that hijack the autonomic nervous system, creating an imbalance between the functioning of the Sympathetic Nervous System branch and the two Parasympathetic Nervous System branches. Once an autoimmune disease sufferer realizes that they are not going to recover from autoimmunity with the same trajectory that one might expect from taking an antibiotic to get over a lung infection, it gets easier for autoimmune disease sufferers to heal. You see, the trajectory of healing for someone with an autoimmune disease is going to involve a back-and-forth, teeter tottering oscillation to restore balance. With a respiratory infection or with food poisoning, a patient expects to receive a treatment and then experience daily health gains that involve a slow, but steady upward trajectory of healing. But healing from autoimmunity, or rather, healing from a colonizing pathogen or toxic overload in the body will involve an oscillating trajectory wherein patients should strive to find balance between two symptom sets:
- Symptom Set 1: Sympathetic Nervous System Dominance
- Pain the joints
- Back pain
- Stomach pain
- Poor digestion
- Feeling wired and tired
- Panic attacks
- Mental chatter
- Feeling constantly rushed
- Lowered immunity
- Shoulder or neck tightness
- Sugar or salt cravings
- Symptom Set 2: Parasympathetic Dominance / The Play Dead Response / Cellular Danger Response
- Pounding Headache
- Rashes, skin problems
- Swollen lymph glands
- Generalized achiness
- Balance: Parasympathetic Rest-and-Digest Mode
- The Rest-and-Digest Mode can be triggered and “practiced” through breathing exercises that stimulate both the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous System branches.
- It can also be triggered through exercises to realign the cranial bones.
- And it can be triggered through pleasant social experiences.
If the autonomic nervous system imbalances in one direction, the patient must administer certain treatments. If the autonomic nervous system imbalances in the opposite direction, the patient must administer other, different treatments. The goal is to bring the autonomic nervous system back to center and to recognize that the healing trajectory is oscillating.
Knowing this fact about autoimmune disease treatment can help restore hope in autoimmune disease sufferers who may already be working with healing alternative treatments for autoimmune disease, but who have given up hope in treatments that are working because they didn’t realize that the trajectory of healing would oscillate around a central point of balance rather than moving steadily upward.
Men with autoimmune diseases often experience their symptoms differently than women with the same diagnoses. In my view, women today are more likely to be diagnosed with autoimmune diseases because of a lack of understanding by a male-oriented medical system that requires physical symptoms to legitimize emotional needs.
Recently, I re-watched the film Fight Club and, though I’ve probably seen this movie over a hundred times in my life, I was struck on this particular viewing at how the movie failed to capture an important message: that it is not women’s fault that generations of men have been raised by women. Women would prefer to have a man at their side helping to raise the kids. But men have not fathered their children and have not been fathered by fathers because men have had to, instead, cater to corporations. Big Corporations have become substitute families and men have spent their energies to care for these surrogate families while neglecting their own sons and daughters who needed them at home as fathers. In a sense, Big Corporations and governments that have spun out of control might be viewed as a syndrome of a fatherless society.
Or a fatherless society might be viewed as something that’s occurred as a result of bloated corporations.
And women have to adapt to a male-dominated world because of the differing nature of men and women. I’m not talking about gender identity or sexual orientation, but rather, the physiology of the autonomic nervous system. And of course, I acknowledge that some men may be more feminine in regard to how their autonomic nervous system functions and women, sometimes, may be more masculine in terms of their autonomic nervous system functions too. But these autonomic nervous system differences between men and women are governed by things like male and female reproductive hormones, so I present these ideas according to certain facts about male and female physiology with acknowledged exceptions, of course.
Gender differences in the prevalence of autoimmune disease may occur as a result of any of the following:
- Developmental differences between men and women
- Differences in terms of male and female reproductive hormone levels
- Differences in afferent receptor stimulation
- Differences in central reflex transmission
- Differences in efferent nervous system stimulation
- Difference in post-synaptic signaling
- Differences in terms of the size or number of neurons
- Differences in neurotransmitters or in the metabolism of the neurotransmitters
- Differences in receptors
- Difference in terms of how the reflex arc functions in men vs. women
A discussion regarding men’s vs. women’s autoimmune disease symptoms is important because, it’s possible, if not likely, that men and women need to approach the balancing act of healing an autoimmune disease in different ways that reflect and embrace the differences between men’s and women’s autonomic nervous systems.
The Autonomic Nervous System Response to Emotional Trauma, Toxins, and Colonizing Pathogens
At the cellular level, pathogens are able to cause something called the Cell Danger Response. This response to stress or “danger” basically amounts to a state of cellular dormancy. Resignation Syndrome is one of the most powerful examples of the Cell Danger Response that has been able to captivate the attention of scientists. Resignation Syndrome in Swedish refugee children, who were told that their families would have to return to their war-torn countries of origin, is also sometimes known as Traumatic Withdrawal Syndrome, Traumatic Refusal Syndrome, or Abandonment Syndrome.
Children who have developed this syndrome did so without knowledge of other children who had also developed this syndrome under similarly hopeless immigration-related conditions. The children first become depressed, then they socially withdraw, they stop moving and stop speaking, and eventually they fall into a catatonic, comatose state of significantly reduced levels of consciousness, often requiring a feeding tube and other forms of life-support. The children can stay in this condition for years. Once the family informs the child with Resignation Syndrome that they have been allowed to stay in a safe country, the children often recover fully, though recovery can take months or even years.
Resignation Syndrome demonstrates clearly how hopelessness affects biology and health. But Resignation Syndrome has also been used as a model to describe autoimmunity, specifically fibromyalgia and autism, and how a similar cellular and autonomic nervous system response can occur when human cells begin to feel hopeless against constant perturbation by either toxins or colonizing pathogens.
One child who recovered after a long period of time in a comatose state of resignation, described the experience as being trapped underwater. He said that it was like he was trapped in a giant glass box that was filled with water. He was afraid to move for fear that the glass would break and he would drown.
Unfortunately, many citizens of developed countries have a very difficult time reconciling the idea that an emotional trauma can cause a person to disconnect from the conscious world and go into a completely different state of consciousness in an effort to survive, but the oldest system of medicine in the world, shamanism, is quite familiar with this problem. In shamanic medicine, Resignation Syndrome is viewed as soul loss.
But fast forward from antiquity and today scientists have been able to link the Cell Danger Response (cellular dormancy) and the “Play Dead” parasympathetic nervous system response with what’s happening when children fall into a state of Resignation Syndrome. Studies into how the body stores traumatic experiences that are too intense for our conscious minds to work through have started to inform theories regarding autoimmune disease and how the body and human cells might physically be responding to the trauma of being exposed to certain pathogens or toxins like heavy metals in a similar way.
And it is with these alternative thoughts regarding autoimmune disease, that we are writing this book. The authors of this book have been diagnosed with five different autoimmune diseases between them, and as people who have overcome those disease states to regain our health using the theories presented in this book as explanations for why autoimmune symptoms look and feel the way that they do, we feel confident that readers will be able to do overcome their autoimmune diseases too.
Synthetic Hormones, Birth Control, and Autoimmune Immune Disease in Women
In addition to the natural differences between men and women, there are other compelling reasons why women tend to develop autoimmune disease more often than men. One of the most common reasons is birth control pills and synthetic hormones. About 14% of American women aged 15 to 49 years of age are currently on The Pill. And 10.4% of American women currently have either an intrauterine device or an implant that releases synthetic hormones into the body. In other words, right at this moment, about one quarter of the female population of the United States is being pumped full of synthetic hormones. This percentage does not include women who have previously taken birth control pills but who no longer take the pill. And it doesn’t include women receiving synthetic hormone therapy for reasons other than birth control (for painful menstruation, spotting between periods, menopausal symptoms, etc.). This number also doesn’t include women who are being given bioidentical hormone treatments which can also lead to autoimmune disease symptoms.
Most women, at one time or another, are offered some kind of hormone therapy. Young, adolescent girls who are just starting their periods may be diagnosed with asthma (because hormonal shifts that happen naturally during the menstrual cycle causes young girls to cough or experience other transient, but recurring symptoms of asthma) for which they are prescribed steroids, which disrupt a young woman’s normal hormonal trajectory. While the cure for asthma is Lugol’s iodine, a nutrient that balances women’s hormones naturally, steroid medications actually damage the body and cause the bones to weaken such that both males and females who take these asthma medications regularly over time are at high risk of developing osteoporosis in their teens. Often, steroid medications for asthma is a girl’s first introduction to hormone treatment that disrupts her natural estrogen and progesterone levels in the body.
Later, young women are encouraged to take The Pill as a responsible way to prevent pregnancy. These young women are not counseled regarding the well-documented negative health effects of synthetic hormones. Most women wish to stop taking The Pill shortly after they start due to the side effects caused by birth control, but women believe there are no alternatives.
It’s hard to argue with the fact that the health problems caused by women’s synthetic hormones impact a huge segment of the female population. One of the major problems caused by synthetic hormones and the pill is lupus, a common autoimmune disease that disproportionately affects women.
Women who take birth control pills have a 50% higher risk of developing lupus. When I researched this fact online, I was really struck by how WebMD and other Big Pharma-sponsored sites downplayed this risk as though it’s no big deal. The argument used by WebMD is that the increased risk of developing lupus, which is quite high and significant according to scientific circles, is still small. WebMD provides a very deceptive discussion of birth control pills and lupus and they appeal to “experts” who urge women not to worry about it. But women need to know in no uncertain terms that when they take birth control pills, their risk of developing lupus goes up by 50%, which is a big increased risk that might make many women reconsider taking the pill.
So even Big Pharma can’t use its usual conduits to wiggle out of this problematic relationship between autoimmune disease and birth control. All they can do is try to downplay the problem using subtle linguistic tricks and an appeal to authority figures who assert that women who develop lupus due to birth control pills should just not worry about their situation because “it happens”.
I’ve read articles asserting that women’s hormones generally predispose them to developing autoimmune disease, but in my view, because synthetic hormone use is so widespread, it would be hard to find a woman who isn’t being exposed to these substances somehow through the environment (other women’s synthetic-hormone-laced pee ends up in the environment and in the water supply for example) which means that even women who have never taken asthma medications, birth control pills or implants, or synthetic hormones might be exposed to hormone-altering substances through other means. So, before we talk about women’s hormones as a predisposing factor in the development of autoimmune disease, it seems that the problem of synthetic hormones should be studied first. After all, this increased risk of lupus caused by birth control pills is the most common autoimmune disease diagnosed by doctors today. This should give us all pause and make us rethink synthetic hormone therapy in general for women.
In the scientific studies regarding lupus, birth control pills, and autoimmune disease, oral contraceptives are able to induce immune system reactions in women who were otherwise healthy. Anti-ethinylestradiol antibodies have been detected in 25-30% of healthy women who take birth control pills. About 57% of women taking birth control pills who have lupus have these anti-ethinylestradiol antibodies as well. In other words, when women take birth control pills, the synthetic hormones known as ethinylestradiol cause the body to produce antibodies that then attack areas where the ethinylestradiol is located. This would include estrogen receptor sites on cells and in the bloodstream, which could, in theory, cause a wide range of different symptoms of autoimmune disease.
Yeast Infection Medications and Autoimmunity
Autoimmunity is often caused by medications or toxins in the environment. In fact, in the scientific literature, drug-induced autoimmunity is as common as autoimmunity caused by colonizing pathogens in the body. Indeed, the problem of toxic overload and pathogenic colonization tend to take place in the same organs of the body (often the liver) so, for many patients, it’s hard to know which came first, the toxic overload or the colonizing pathogens. In any case, organs like the liver are negatively affected by toxins and by pathogens, so patients with autoimmune disease symptoms should always treat the body using Reactive Oxygen Species medicines as antibiotics while also doing a powerful detoxification program as their first steps toward healing.
At any rate, while many sources claim that autoimmune disease medications cause yeast infection by lowering immune system activity, the relationship between yeast infection and autoimmunity can also go in the other direction. Antifungal medications like terbinafine / Lamisil can cause lupus symptoms, for example. In other words, people who have no autoimmune disease symptoms who take Lamisil for a yeast infection can develop symptoms of autoimmunity. Women who have recurrent yeast infection and autoimmune disease symptoms may also experience a worsening of symptoms due to their yeast infection medications.
Women, of course, are the most likely patients to use a product like Lamisil / Terbinafine and other antifungal agents to treat a vaginal yeast infection. While Terbinafine / Lamisil is the most studied in terms of its ability to cause autoimmune disease symptoms, other antifungal drugs may also cause lupus symptoms or symptoms of other autoimmune diseases. Because women are disproportionately affected by these medications and because they often treat themselves with yeast infection medications repeatedly, it’s important for women to be aware of this yeast infection-autoimmunity relationship so that they can make informed choices.
There are a number of strikes against women that can easily explain why women are disproportionately affected by autoimmune disease. The most important strikes are invoked by Big Pharma. Birth control pills and antifungal yeast medications are two Big Pharma products that affect a huge proportion of the population and that cause the body to produce autoimmune disease symptoms. Though many discussions on this topic tend to blame the women themselves for developing autoimmune disease symptoms in response to taking these toxic pharmaceuticals, women should know that it is not a personal weakness that leads to drug-induced lupus or other forms of autoimmunity caused by medication. Patients are typically not given information about the real risks involved in taking drugs like birth control pills or other forms of synthetic hormones.
Women who have developed autoimmune disease symptoms as a result of being exposed to a drug or toxin, should detoxify their lives to allow the liver and other organs of detoxification to heal completely. Detoxification strategies that remove as many toxins as possible give the liver a chance to regenerate itself and recalibrate in those with autoimmune disease. Meanwhile, a course of treatment with powerful Reactive Oxygen Species medicines can be used to kill pathogens that have taken up residence in tissues that have been suffering with toxic overload. Supplementation with iodine, vitamin K2, vitamin B17, and other nutrients that are deficient in the food supply help in the rebuilding of tissues and the strengthening of the immune system as well.
Other Important Links:
National Cancer Institute (n.d.). Autoimmune Disease. Retrieved July 26, 2022 from https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/autoimmune-disease
Dart, A. M. et al. (2002). Gender, sex hormones, and autonomic nervous control of the cardiovascular system. Retrieved July 26, 2022 from https://academic.oup.com/cardiovascres/article/53/3/678/328102
Wikipedia (2022). Resignation Syndrome. Retrieved July 26, 2022 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resignation_syndrome
Pressly, L. (2017). Resignation syndrome: Sweden’s mystery illness. Retrieved July 26, 2022 from https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-41748485
Gonzalez, D. A. et al. (2010). Sex hormones and autoimmunity. Retrieved January 7, 2023 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20637236/
CDC (2023). Contraceptive Use. Retrieved January 7, 2023 from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/contraceptive.htm
Doheny, K. (2009). Birth Control Pills May Raise Lupus Risk. Retrieved January 7, 2023 from https://www.webmd.com/lupus/news/20090413/birth-control-pills-may-raise-lupus-risk
Beaumont, V. et al. (1989). Antiestrogen antibodies, oral contraception and systemic lupus erythematosus. Retrieved January 7, 2023 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2805575/
Gupta, D. (n.d.). Lupus and Yeast Infections. Retrieved January 7, 2023 from https://www.steadyhealth.com/topics/lupus-and-yeast-infections
Dyall-Smith, D. (2010). Drug-induced lupus erythematosus. Retrieved January 7, 2023 from https://dermnetnz.org/topics/drug-induced-lupus-erythematosus
Hindosh, N. et al. (2022). Terbinafine Induced Lupus Erythematosus With Progression to Lupus Nephritis. Retrieved January 7, 2023 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35530818/