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Introduction to Autoimmune Diseases in Women
What Are Autoimmune Diseases?
As the guardian of our health, the immune system is responsible for the defence against foreign pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and fungi, but also against the body’s own degenerated cells (e.g. tumour cells). However, when the body reacts with an excessive and uncontrolled response against its own healthy tissue, doctors call it an autoimmune disease. This results in chronic inflammatory reactions which damage the affected tissue of the patient.
The causes for the imbalance in the immune system are diverse and complex and still not conclusively researched. It is assumed that genetic predispositions as well as environmental factors and lifestyle play a role. Autoimmune diseases often break out in key life transitions, and most of the affected are between 20 and 50 years old. Chronic exposure to viruses is also among the causes of autoimmunity.
Are Autoimmune Diseases More Common Among Women?
Around 80% of the world population suffering from autoimmune diseases are women. This leads to a question which is becoming increasingly common in immunological studies: Are there biological differences in the immune function of men and women? The more we advance the concepts of personalised medicine and precision medicine, the more we find that determinants such as age, sex and social factors have a major impact on biology, the incidence of certain diseases and life expectancy. The immune and endocrine systems play an important role in these differences.
Factors and Causes of Autoimmune Diseases in Women
Genetic Predispositions in Women: What We Know
Many genes important for the immune response reside on the X chromosome. For example those encoding Toll-like receptors, cytokine receptors, others involved in the activity of T and B immune cells, among others.
Women have two X chromosomes, each of which may contain around 1100 genes and the male has one X and one Y chromosome containing less than 100 genes. To compensate for this large difference between the genetic endowment of the two sexes, sometimes one of the female’s X chromosomes is silenced (X-inactivation), preferably the one containing defective genes. However, in recent years, studies have shown that a significant proportion of the genes on the silenced X chromosome are turned on, resulting in a much higher production of certain proteins in women’s bodies than in men’s. For example, X-linked genes, as the one for TLR-7 (Toll-like receptor 7), have been shown to be involved in autoimmune disease.
The Immune Response in Women: Defective Self-defence?
According to the available data, women have a greater innate and adaptive response to antigens. Specifically, there is a greater initial inflammatory reaction and increased antibody production. Subsequently, during the return to homeostasis, women may maintain high responses for a longer period of time, leading to immune pathologies, while men may have a lower response with a higher risk of virus persistence.
In general, women are less affected by viral, bacterial and parasitic infections, and for the same reason have a greater response to vaccines, but on the other hand they are more prone to suffering from autoimmune diseases.
Hormonal Influence, Aging, and Autoimmunity in Women
How Do Hormones Influence the Immune Response?
The differences between male and female immune responses can also be traced back to the hormonal composition in the body: while the female sex hormone estrogen supports the multiplication of specific immune cells, the immune response is inhibited by the male hormone testosterone. The more testosterone there is in the body, the more delayed or less effective the immune response can be. On average, the female immune system reacts faster and more intensively to various pathogens. There are individual differences here depending on the person and the exact hormonal composition in the body. Of course, other factors also have an effect on the immune system and thus on health.
Hormonal Changes and Their Impact on Autoimmunity
Menstruation, Pregnancy, and Menopause: Do They Influence The Female Immune Response?
In every organism, the interaction between the different systems is important for its proper functioning. In the case of women, there are different stages in which variations in the hormonal system (puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause) can lead to an imbalance that can have repercussions, especially on the immune response. In this sense, it has been observed that the onset of disease as well as variations in the intensity of symptoms in women suffering from autoimmune diseases correlates with hormonal changes linked to pregnancy or menopause.
Holistic Approach and Treatment for Autoimmune Diseases in Women
Holistic Approaches and Integrative Perspective for Women
Autoimmune diseases cannot be cured, but they can often be treated well, whereby the means of choice depend on each individual disease. In principle, a holistic treatment strategy that takes the whole person into account should be implemented for autoimmune diseases.
First of all, intensive research into the causes should be carried out. This definitely includes the search for hidden viruses, such as the Epstein-Barr virus. The gut should also be examined before anything else. It is assumed that every autoimmune disease is accompanied by a leaky gut syndrome, this is, increased intestinal permeability that causes substances that should stay in the intestine to leak out of the intestine and into surrounding tissue where they put the immune system on alert. This easily leads to an overreaction and its derailment – the autoimmune disease is there.
An intestinal cleansing, a change of diet (fresh, no convenience products, as little sugar as possible, no gluten) and the establishment of a balanced intestinal flora are the prerequisites for an effective therapy. Environmental toxins and heavy metal pollution can also play a role in the development of autoimmune diseases and should be taken into account accordingly in diagnosis and treatment.
Micro-immunotherapy: Targeted Immune and Hormonal Regulation
The implementation of these measures contributes significantly to the effectiveness of further regulatory medicine therapies. This also applies to micro-immunotherapy. In the treatment of autoimmune diseases, it directly targets the misdirected immune system through its immunoregulatory action. Micro-immunotherapy formulas contain immune messenger substances (cytokines) that are also used by the immune system itself. It therefore speaks the same language as the immune system. Their specific composition is designed to act against the immune dysfunctions present in each pathology. For example, there are formulas for multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis or chronic inflammatory bowel disease. In other autoimmune diseases, for example, anti-inflammatory or also, if needed, antiviral formulas are used to directly target the underlying causes of the disease.
Through micro-immunotherapy, risks for various diseases as well as their symptoms can be reduced, as the immune system can better fulfil its tasks again. Both in cases of chronic stress, autoimmune diseases and recurring infections as well as in cases of specific women’s diseases linked to hormonal changes, micro-immunotherapy provides complementary immune regulation that contributes to bringing the various body systems back in sync. Micro-immunotherapy is very well tolerated and is suited for all age groups.