Many of my clients endured years of illness and many unsuccessful consultations with doctors and specialists before establishing the root cause of their condition. In traditional medicine, immunologists and autoimmune doctors here in Arlington tend to categorize them as individual diseases, unrelated to the other ailments you may have.

Functional medicine – a holistic approach to autoimmune disease

At (Company name?), I practice functional medicine, which is sometimes known as integrative medicine, or alternative medicine, combined with Ayurvedic medicine, and Energy medicine. My consultations consider the whole person, including any lifestyle and general health problems. My clinic’s 360-degree Functional Health Scans have helped many clients connect the dots between their seemingly unrelated symptoms.

As a functional medicine doctor, I believe our mind and body are interconnected, and by treating secondary conditions, we support the treatment of the primary one. This approach gives you a well-rounded plan whose goal is to make your entire life better – augmented by the technology, knowledge, and resources that modern medicine affords us.

What is Autoimmune Disease?

To simplify things, autoimmune disorders and immune system diseases happen when there is an imbalance in the system. Healthy immune systems function by defending the body against invading viruses, bacteria, and toxins. However, if you have an imbalance, your immune system may start attacking its own tissue, seeing it as a foreign invader like viruses, bacteria, and toxins.

The potential cause of these autoimmune conditions varies, with your allergies potentially having different root causes than someone else’s. These inflammatory diseases can affect other parts of the body, including the joints, the gut, or the nervous system.

Some possible causes for autoimmune diseases include heavy metals, mitochondrial toxins, endocrine system disruptors, vitamin and mineral shortages, dysbiosis, infections, environmental hazards, aerosol microparticles, stress, microbial imbalances, and more.

Factors vary by individual, requiring a customized approach that only thorough testing and analysis by a functional medicine doctor can reveal.

The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) recognizes more than 100 autoimmune diseases, including Meniere’s Disease, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Type 1 Diabetes, Celiac Disease, Psoriasis, and many others. Today, some 50 million Americans suffer from an autoimmune disorder, making it more prevalent than cancer or heart disease. According to some estimates, women are disproportionately affected, accounting for up to 75% of all cases. There is some evidence to suggest that certain people are genetically susceptible to these illnesses. However, as cases have risen sharply over the last 20 years, genetics is unlikely to be the main reason, as our genes take many generations to evolve.

What are the symptoms of an Autoimmune Disease?

While these disorders may have many different symptoms, they all begin with a faulty immune response, which triggers an attack within your body. This immune response can produce symptoms as diverse as:

  • Allergies/Food Intolerances
  • Inflammation/Joint Pain
  • Brain Fog/Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia/Fatigue
  • Anxiety or Depression
  • Psoriasis/Eczema
  • Gut issues/Bloating

What are the most common Autoimmune conditions?

These conditions can share many common symptoms, so it’s vital to get a full health assessment and a proper diagnosis. Some of the more common conditions include:


The most severe consequence of allergies is that they increase unnecessary inflammation in the body, weakening your immune system and making you more susceptible to viruses and infection. Common allergies include seasonal allergies, food allergies, drug allergies, pet allergies, mold allergies, and insect allergies such as bee allergies.

Having a resilient, well-calibrated immune system is critical to overall health, and by addressing any imbalances, you can alleviate allergic responses.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis can develop when the immune system starts attacking joint tissues. The causes can include environmental toxins, genetics, dietary problems, and microbial infections. Everyone is different, and my goal is to find and treat your condition’s underlying cause, not just the symptoms.


The thyroid produces hormones that help regulate the body’s metabolism. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid produces too much of the hormone thyroxine and can result in many problems, such as increased fatigue and weight, cramps, memory loss, constipation, dry skin, depression, and more.

With a functional medicine approach, we find and treat the underlying causes, not just the symptoms. Successful treatment can help you lead a more vibrant life, filled with energy.
As a functional medicine practitioner, I will work with you to make this a reality.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease that is caused when the immune system attacks pancreatic β cells. As a result, the body isn’t able to naturally produce insulin, which is necessary for regulating blood sugar.

If you are experiencing excessive thirst, urinating often, have extreme unexplained hunger, unexpected weight loss, weakness, blurred vision, and mood swings, there is a chance you have Type 1 Diabetes.

Your risk of getting Type 1 Diabetes increases if you happen to be diagnosed with other autoimmune diseases, such as thyroid issues (for example, hypothyroidism). More evidence that autoimmune diseases are not isolated conditions, as suggested by traditional medicine.

I can help you manage and sometimes reverse these interconnected problems with my integrated approach to treatment.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a common disease that impacts about 1% of the global population.
This common disease has some pretty extreme effects on people’s lifestyles. While many of us can consume pizza, pasta, beer, and bread without issues—Celiacs cannot tolerate these food products at all. For them, gluten causes an autoimmune response, resulting in damage to the lining of the small intestine.

However, Celiac doesn’t present itself exclusively in the gut as pain and bleeding. It can manifest in other ways as well, including irritability and depression. If you start noticing troubling symptoms after ingesting gluten, it may be wise to consult my functional medicine clinic here in Arlington, VA and Dana Point, CA, so that I can help you with a full treatment plan.

Some other common autoimmune disorders:

Multiple sclerosis (MS) – where the immune system attacks the central nervous system. Symptoms include loss of balance, muscle spasms, numbness, and weakness.

Addison Disease – where the immune system attacks the adrenal glands, and they do not produce enough hormones. Symptoms include abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, low blood sugar, and low blood pressure.

Chronic thyroiditis (Hashimoto disease) – is caused by an attack on the thyroid gland by the immune system. Symptoms include an enlarged neck, hair loss, dry skin, constipation, and an intolerance to cold.

Why are Autoimmune diseases on the increase?

We don’t know precisely why cases are on the rise, but many researchers believe it is linked to our modern industrialized society, including:

  • High levels of Antibiotic use
  • Exposure to environmental pollutants and chemicals
  • Increased consumption of processed foods.
  • High stress levels

Another theory links the rise in cases to the increasingly germ-free world we now inhabit. This ‘hygiene hypothesis’ suggests that a lack of exposure to germs and bacteria, particularly in childhood, has inadvertently left us more prone to severe reactions when we do get exposed to them.

Many people suffer years of misdiagnosis before they discover the real cause of their illness. Some doctors will address the symptoms without delving into the root cause of the disease. This approach can lead to unnecessary medications that create their own side-effects.

If we look back at the history of medicine, we can see that it was very focused on anatomy. Doctors began to specialize in areas such as the skin, the heart, or the joints. While this specialization has been beneficial in treating some conditions, autoimmune disorders require a more holistic approach that looks at the patient’s complete ‘being’, including diet, environment, mental health, and lifestyle.

As a functional medicine doctor, I work with you to uncover the source of your illness, which tends to be highly individualized. Potential triggers for disease include:

  • Dysbiosis (an imbalance in the gut microflora)
  • Chronic Infection
  • Heavy Metal contaminants
  • Mineral & Vitamin deficiencies

Real Healing – Naturally

Unfortunately, the stresses and deficiencies created by our industrialized society have also damaged our medical system, which now has an over-reliance on pharmaceutical solutions and standard, off-the-shelf treatments. A ‘treat-the-symptoms’ approach often includes the use of steroids and immunosuppressants, which only serve to mask the underlying cause. We need to recognize that every human is uniquely individual—with different genetic and metabolic traits from everyone else.

Functional medicine acknowledges each person’s inherent ability to heal themselves, given the right environment. In my consultations, I take the time to hear your story, explore your unique health history, and develop a wellness program tailored to you as a person, not a patient. I like to think of it as skills rather than pills.

Our immune systems are part of a complex network that is closely connected to our brain function, microbiome, and nervous system—in ways we’re only just beginning to understand. There is compelling evidence that natural therapies such as exercise, meditation, and nutrition can help the body reverse the damage caused by autoimmune disorders.

If you haven’t already, I recommend you book a Caregiver Clarity Call to begin the healing process. Together, we will find the source of your illness and create a holistic healing program that puts you and your body back on the path to a healthy and fulfilling life.

If you’re looking for a certified doctor who treats your entire being – seeing you as an individual, not a set of symptoms, then book an appointment with my functional medicine clinic here in Arlington, VA and Dana Point, CA.