Systemic lupus erythematosus is another one of those puzzling Twentieth century diseases without an obvious cause. Like arthritis, SLE, which effects at least one in a thousand patients (a figure that doctors believe is highly conservative), is an autoimmune
disease, where the body begins producing antibodies against itself, causing steady tissue damage anywhere in the body immune system meltdown in slow motion.Unlike arthritis, SLE attacks and destroys the body's connective tissues, the skin and eventually the vital organs. The aches and pains accompanying it can feel like arthritis of the entire body.
While orthodox medicine only knows how to throw powerful suppressive drugs at the problem (which slow down this destruction considerably, but often at great cost), a handful of unorthodox nutritional pioneers are achieving great success with lupus by treating it as an allergic reaction.
Perhaps the most interesting work is being done by an Australian, Dr Chris Reading. Dr Reading has postulated that most of our illnesses stem from certain inherited weaknesses. To make his diagnosis in individual cases, he asks his patients to fill out their family trees that is, the illnesses suffered by all blood relatives. In studying the family trees of more than 2000 patients, Dr Reading has discovered a number of family patterns which correspond with certain illnesses or factors, making family members vulnerable to certain illnesses. In the case of SLE, Dr Reading usually finds other evidence of autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, pernicious anemia, vitiligo, thryoid, depressive illness, leukemia and/or cancer. "When cancer, arthritis and depression keep bobbing up in a family," he says, "you think of SLE."
This is what he terms an "autoimmune pattern" which is mostly caused, he finds, by food allergy.
In the experience of Dr Reading and also our panel member Dr Jonathan Wright, the biggest culprits are grains, milk, eggs, beef and yeast. As with grains, each of these other substances contain subfractions like gluten which actually cause the disturbance. After years of consuming allergenic substances which interfere with digestion, patients often have serious problems with nutritional deficiencies, which eventually suppress the immune system.
Perhaps most exciting, Dr Wright and Dr Reading are discovering patterns invariably linking certain foods with certain diseases; grain allergies, for instance, seem to be linked such illnesses as learning difficulties in children, depression, diabetes, thyroid and SLE.
Although their information and results thus far are anecdotal, the success that doctors like Wright and Reading are achieving on a large number of patients argues for taking their work seriously and investigating it further.
It's time for medicine to lay the germ theory to rest. The reasons we get ill are complicated and individual, a combination of factors, and not simply a bug that we "catch." Increasingly, it appears that the biggest enemy out there is not a microbe but some of the food we choose to put on our table.