Dr. David Clark, DC leading Functional Neurologist, explains why the standard medical approach to ANA antibodies makes no sense.
I have to tell you what bugs me about ANA Antibodies.That stands for "anti-nuclear antibodies." Doctors will run a blood test for this on someone who they think might have a rheumatoid disorder--- some type of arthritis or even lupus. The problem is that doctors don’t seem to really care much about the results.
I have a patient named Kathy who, four or five months ago, tested positive for ANA antibodies. What does that mean?
Once you’ve got ANA antibodies at a level that’s high enough to be flagged as HIGH by the lab---that means you have an autoimmune condition.
It means that your immune system is making little strobe lights (the ANA antibodies) to help your immune system find the nucleus inside your cells and kill it. Your immune system has laser-sighted onto a part of your body, the nucleus of your cells and shouted, “That needs to be killed.”
What’s funny to me is that most doctors that I’ve run into (and the patients that have seen these doctors), they don’t do much about ANA antibodies.
They have a "wait and see how you do" policy. That's the medical approach to autoimmunity....
Wait and see...until your tissues become completely destroyed, and then the doctor can give it a name (as if the name, really mattered):
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Type 1 Diabetes
See, it’s the difference between kind of the pathological way of looking at this and the more functional nutritional way of looking at this.
If you have high ANA antibodies, you have an autoimmune tissue reaction.
You don’t have an autoimmune condition yet---because there’s no name for it.
For the autoimmune tissue reaction to have a name, enough of your tissue has to be destroyed so that--for example---
....your TSH is high and you get diagnosed with Hashimoto's.
...your joints are permanently deformed and you get diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
...your skin hardens and you get diagnosed with Scleroderma.
THEN the doctor can look in a book and say, “Oh, you’ve got lupus. You’ve got scleroderma. You’ve got, [ insert name of condition here.]”
But the name doesn’t change what’s happening underneath--- your immune system has turned on you. All of those Names have one thing in common--your immune system is attacking you.
The next question should be "Why did that happen?" Why did your immune system turn on you? Why does it continue to attack you?
Answering that question takes real detective work. Unfortunately, that work is not something that most doctors in the medical mainstream or most doctors in the (not-so) "alternative" model are going to do.
Most of the time, the doctor will wait until your ANA antibodies climb even higher....or wait until you have more symptoms until you meet some criteria on a checklist to qualify for a named diagnosis. Then the doctor feels like they have permission to give you steroids...and wish you good luck.
I think that model stinks. It's inefficient and ineffective.
Kathy, for example, she’s had this pain in her foot, and neck, back. She goes to this doctor, who means well by the way. I’m certainly not trying to demonize him. He runs an ANA antibodies test. Kim is positive (high levels) and then...he doesn't do anything about it! This test result is screaming to this doctor that Kim's immune system is trying to kill her.
The doctor doesn't do anything, because Kim doesn't fit into a neat little box. Plus, the only thing he can offer her is steroids. The doctor doesn't know how to help Kim naturally, without drugs.
So when she comes to me with that test, I look at that and immediately say ...
"Here’s the problem. You have an autoimmune tissue reaction. There’s some detective work we gotta do to figure out how to help get your body back into balance and support you, to figure out how we can manage this problem."
Here's 2 more examples of how ridiculosu "wait and see" is.....
You have islet cell antibodies to your pancreas. Well, if you have islet cell antibodies, the research shows that it is predictive that you’re going to get diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
You have antibodies your cartilage. No one cares until you’ve got deformity in your knuckles and in your hands and they say, “Oh, you’ve got rheumatoid arthritis.”
That's the problem this wait and see approach to autoimmune problems. Autoimmune conditions are the largest health epidemic that we face, and in my opinion no one’s doing anything about it.
If you’ve got high ANA antibodies (positive), you have a problem. You have an autoimmune tissue reaction. If you or your doctor ignore it, and you don’t find someone who can help you figure out why this is happening.....
....it could be five years, maybe five weeks....
You will eventually have enough permanent tissue damage that the doctor will pat themselves on the back and say, “I know what you have now. It’s [insert name here.]”
What you really had the whole time was an autoimmune tissue reaction that desperately needed attention long before your doctor could finally give it a name.
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THE PLACE FOR ANSWERS™
Dr. David Clark, DC
Diplomate College of Clinical Nutrition
Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist
Vestibular Rehab Specialist