By naturopath Margaret Jasinska
Autoimmune disease is a significant cause of health problems among Australians. In fact according to the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, one in 20 Australians has an autoimmune disease. The vast majority of them are women.
Autoimmune diseases are a broad range of conditions where a person’s immune system launches an attack against their own cells, tissues and/or organs. This results in inflammation throughout the body, and significant damage to specific parts of the body. There are officially 81 different autoimmune diseases, with around another 20 or so diseases considered to have an autoimmune component. Increasingly, diseases that were once considered idiopathic (of unknown origin), are now being labelled autoimmune.
Autoimmune diseases range from very common to extremely rare diseases.
Some autoimmune diseases affect mainly one part of the body (such as autoimmune thyroid disease, multiple sclerosis, vitiligo and type 1 diabetes); others affect many parts of the body (such as systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma).