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Autoimmunity - a perfect biochemical storm

Autoimmunity - a perfect biochemical storm. Credit: Shutterstock

Treating AUTOIMMUNITY successfully is like solving an equation with many variables. In order to cure, each variable should to be assessed, excluded and treated strategically. This is a Functional medicine approach which clarifies the root cause(s) of a disease and works on a deep level to do more than just suppress or manage symptoms.

But first, to understand how Autoimmunity begins, it is necessary to understand the design of a healthy immune system. You can get a quick immune system 101 by reading about it in my SMART IMMUNITY ebook.

To begin with, having the genetics for Autoimmunity confers the susceptibility to develop a host of inflammatory diseases, however, it only sets the scene. These genes can remain dormant and unexpressed or be 'woken up' by a combination of environmental and lifestyle triggers such as infections, stress, foods, toxins, inflammation etc.

Although having said this, many people develop autoimmunity even without testing positive for genetic markers such as HLA B27. We are all so complex and unique and just living in the modern world full of potentially harmful exposures we are at greater risk for disease. The high rates of autoimmunity in our society are a relatively modern phenomenon.

Even so, having both the genetics and some triggers are not always enough to produce a full blown auto-immune disease. You still need a disturbed intestinal lining aka 'leaky gut' and an inflammatory response that doesn't self-limit and calm down. This combination of genes, triggers, leaky gut and inflammation generates a 'perfect storm' on a biochemical level which generally culminates in the eventual presentation and diagnosis of an autoimmune phenomenon.

Infographic explaining how autoimmune condtions develop, Nicole Dawson Cullinan @wellnessplaceint
Figure 1. Autoimmunity - a perfect biochemical storm Graphic credit: Nicole Cullinan

The graphics explain how auto-immune conditions like Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Graves disease, Lupus, Coeliac disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, Vitiligo and many others can develop due to a large number of variables all interacting with each other to cause the 'perfect storm'.

The graphics also explain how the functional medicine model can decode your unique biochemical storm and reset your immune system. It is a bit like being a health detective, excluding all potential variables by taking a throrough and in depth case history, through biomarker testing and then applying a personalised approach to nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle modification. Health professionals trained in the functional medicine approach often spend more time with their patients and test more laterally than what is done in a conventional setting, to get an holistic understanding of the patient and their unique biochemistry.

Infographic explaining the Autoimmune equation, snow storm background, Nicole Dawson Cullinan @wellnessplaceint
Figure 2. Autoimmunity - a perfect biochemical storm Graphic credit: Nicole Cullinan

These are not my own ideas... I stand on the shoulders of autoimmune knowledge giants Dr Tom O'Bryan, Dr Alessio Fasano, Dr Terry Wahls to name a few who have influenced me. Further gratitute and respect goes to the many autoimmune patients who put their trust in me and taught me what I know today.

Infographic depicting the autoimmune food pyramid, foods to eat, foods to avoid, Nicole Dawson Cullinan @wellnessplaceint
Figure 3. Autoimmune food pyramid Graphic credit: Nicole Cullinan

This Autoimmune food pyramid infographic shows foods that promote healing and foods to avoid. It looks different from the standard food pyramid that we were taught in school. In fact, you may notice that there are many foods missing from it: GRAINS, DAIRY and EGGS! The recommended staple foods and the base of the pyramid consists of vegetables and fruits. It is a whole food, plant based paleo approach to eating and based on a protocol developed by Dr Terry Wahls.



Junk food





Green leafy vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables (see my other blogs and recipes)

Sulphur rich or Allium family vegetables like onions and garlic

Colourful fruits especially berries

Clean ethically sourced meat


Seeds and nuts

Good fats like olive oil and avocados

For more info about a Functional medicine approach including information on functional testing, to solving your unique Autoimmune Equation, book a free discovery call with me by clicking the link below.…/free-meet-greet-chat

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is for educational purposes only. It does not replace the advice of a qualified professional. If you have any concerns about your autoimmune condition please consult with an Intergrative doctor.


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