According to the National Institute of Health, there is no known cause of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA). Also known as juvenile chronic polyarthritis, Still’s disease and juvenile idiopathic arthritis, this debilitating disease is thought to be an autoimmune illness that causes the body to attack and destroy healthy body tissue by mistake. However, if your doctor merely looks at blood work, x-rays and your joints for the answer, then he or she might be looking in the wrong places.
Take 13-year-old Kristina for example. She was a typical case of polyarticular JRA, which involves many joints. This form of JRA can turn into rheumatoid arthritis and involve five or more large and small joints of the legs and arms, as well as the jaw and neck.
Kristina’s disease progressed rapidly and without mercy over the years, causing her to be drug dependent and often wheelchair bound. Her lengthy list of pharmaceuticals included nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, and even chemotherapeutic agents like methotrexate, but never once was there a quest to find a root cause.
When the patient came to my office, I knew that she wasn’t born broken, so there had to be an explanation. When your immune system is going haywire, that’s a sure sign that it is being attacked from an outside invader. After an in-depth exploration, exhausting every possible breech that could have caused her immune system to become so hypervigilant, I was at a loss. Her skin was intact, her eyes, mouth and ears had no infiltrates. Her sinuses and respiratory tract were clear. So I knew it had to be in her gut. Needless to say, this is not what Kristina and her family were expecting, as she had never experienced any typical gut problems.
This is how it commonly happens: a genetically at-risk individual like Kristina eats gluten, causing the gut to become permeable, which I liken to a screen door with holes. When your gut is filled with holes, large molecules and toxins in the gut can leak into the blood stream. This is commonly referred to as “leaky gut.” The result is system overload, as your immune system declares a war within your body to fight these foreign invaders. Unfortunately, if some of these molecules look genetically similar to your joint tissue (a phenomenon known as cellular mimicry), then the immune system believes your joints to also be the enemy, and attacks them as well.
This is exactly what happened to Kristina. As it turned out, she had a genetic predisposition to gluten, and so did the other members of her family, although they were completely unaware of this and had been eating gluten their entire lives. After a leaky gut test, the results were unequivocal and quite demonstrative. There was no question at that point that the root cause of Kristina’s JRA was gluten. So she adapted a gluten-free diet and I set out to fix the damage.
Had we not found the root cause of her JRA, Kristina would have been sentenced to a life of chronic pain, drug dependency and disability, as well as possible complications, including: the wearing away or destruction of joints, the uneven growth of an arm or leg, a slow growth rate, loss of vision, anemia, swelling around the heart, and chronic pain which can lead to poor school attendance.
Thankfully, Kristina is now a healthy, vibrant young girl living a completely normal life. To see the happy ending of this story, please watch this short video of Kristina’s amazing transformation.
If you’ve enjoyed this story, please feel free to comment and share with anyone you know who is seeking the root cause of their disease.