Health Care in Harmony with Nature
Dr. Arlan Cage, ND, LAc

Infectious Disease & Immune Disorders


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Infections and Immunity
Colds, Flu, Bacterial Infections, Viral Infections, Fungal Infections or Parasitic Infections in any organ or tissue -- conventional theory says that all of these are the result of virulent micro-organisms invading the body and causing disease. The overlooked part of this disease equation, however, is the strength of your Immune System.

Infectious organisms are only able to survive in hospitable environments. What that means for your health is that micro-organisms are NOT the primary causes of disease in most cases. Instead, it is a change in your body's internal environment which allows the micro-organisms to colonize your body and proliferate which is the most important factor. In some cases, these "pathogenic" organisms don't even need to colonize our bodies -- they live here already. One example of this is the organism Beta Strep. This bacteria is highly associated with Strep Throat, a painful inflammation of the throat. In more than half of healthy people, however, Beta Strep is a normal inhabitant of our throats and upper airways -- without causing illness! It is an alteration in our body's internal environment, usually becoming more acidic, that allows the Strep to proliferate.

This alternation in our internal environment, also called the Internal Terrain, is often accompanied by a suppression of the immune system. Various factors can cause a reduction in our body's ability to mount an immune defense. Both our internal environment and the strength of our immune system are most affected by the foods we eat and the stress in our life.

This concept of micro-organisms and the appropriate environment is important to understand, since according to Naturopathic principles, exposure to a pathogen does NOT equal disease! Another good analogy is this: throughout the world, where ever there is standing water, you will find mosquitoes living and reproducing in it. The key question is "Do the mosquitoes cause the stagnant water?"

Imagine a swift flowing clear mountain stream. Throw in mosquitoe eggs and larvae, and come back in a month. Will there be a pool of stagnant water and a thriving mosquitoe colony? Of course not!! A swift clear stream is an inhospitable environment for mosquitoes and even if they try, they can't live there. Rather than causing stagnant water, mosquitoes simple take advantage of and colonize it wherever they can find it. The same is true in our bodies with micro-organisms. They can only cause disease under the right environmental conditons.

Diet and Stress
The basic problems in our diet which suppress our immune system and alter the internal terrain into a more disease-promoting environment are the consumption of excess amounts of simple sugars and simple carbohydrates, along with the so-called Bad Fats - trans fatty acids and hydrogenated oils. Following consumption of sugar, for example, the levels of white blood cells circulating in our bodies will decrease for several hours. If you eat sugar every meal every day, your immune system will be constantly suppressed. It's no wonder, then, that Halloween, with its high sugar intake for at least a week following trick-or-treating, marks the beginning of cold and flu season.

High repetative stress, meanwhile, can also suppress our immune system. Events that we interpret as stressful, either consciously or sub-consciously, are processed by the body as a "simple" Fight-or-Flight response. In this state, our body automatically turns off every system and organ in the body it doesn't need to survive the next 5 or 10 seconds. This includes our immune system.

Natural Treatment for Infections and a Suppressed Immune System
The Naturopathic approach to treating all "Infectious" illnesses is to first, acknowledge that they are really diseases of an altered internal environment, or terrain. You can take all the "Anti-" drugs you want (anti-biotics, anti-virals, anti-fungals, etc.) but until the internal environment is corrected the "infection" will either not heal, or will repeatedly recur.

Going back to our mosquitoe analogy, this would be like living next to a swamp and trying to eliminate malaria causing mosquitoes by running around with a fly swatter and a can of bug spray. As long as the swamp full of stagnant water is still present, mosquitoes will be able to breed and will continue to cause malaria.

To correct the internal environment, nutrition and foods you eat are the most important aspect. In parallel with using diet and natural supplements to correct your internal environment, Naturopathic Doctors will also use a variety of methods to boost your immune system, control your symptoms and if necessary, deal with the overgrowth of micro-organisms. Herbs, homeopathic remedies, supplements, water, vitamins and minerals may all be employed, depending on the exact details of your individual case.

The exact herbs and supplements used are customized for your unique case. Factors taken into account include things such as - is the "infection" acute or chronic"? What organs are involved? What are your specific symptoms? When all this information is gathered and assessed, a long term treatment plan is developed to alter your internal environment, boost your immune system, and help prevent any recurrences in the future.

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is the name given to a constellaton of symptoms hallmarked by extreme fatigue and lethargy. The symptoms come and go, but can often be traced back to a time frame of extreme stress followed by, or in conjunction with, a particularly debilitating flu-like illness. After that time patients frequently state they have been "never better since".

Many Chronic Fatigue patients test positive for Epstein-Barr Virus, Cytomegalo Virus, or some other rare virus, though there is no one virus associated with all cases. In general, Chronic Fatigue patients need long periods of rest and intense, immune stimulating therapies. Often, patients respond favorably to intensive anti-viral treatment, usually a combination of herbal remedies with known anti-viral properties coupled with a type of homeopathic remedy known as "isopathic". These remedies are refined and diluted from viral cultures and have had success treating many of these so-called "stealth viruses".

For cases of Chronic Fatigue syndrome, it is often not the use of different therapies than any other immune/infectious disease which is the key, but rather, the intensity of the therapies that makes the difference. For whatever reason, in Chronic Fatigue patients the immune suppression is particularly strong and the infectious component is particularly deep-seated. Cases like these require the "Big Guns" of natural therapies. They usually require that more different individual therapies be used for longer periods of time, to increase the synergystic effects between the treatment methods. Likewise, rest and stress reduction are also more important than for other conditions.

General Types of Infections
Bacterial Infections
Viral Infections
Fungal Infections
Parasitic Infections
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Specific Infections
Cytomegalo Virus
Other Immune Conditions
Chronic Fatigue
Auto-Immune Conditions

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