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Autoimmunity: The Immune System Gone Wrong

By HERWriter
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Dr. Randy Horwitz is particularly interested in complementary and alternative therapies for immunological diseases. Here he simplifies the complexity of the immune system when it is functional and when it is dysfunctional as in the case of autoimmunity. The immune system that is operating well protects us from toxins and disease. But when the immune system has an autoimmune reaction, it cannot identify the true foreign invaders, or the non-self, and attacks the self instead.

(Transcribed from video interview)

Dr. Horwitz:
In order to understand autoimmunity it’s important you understand the immune system. The immune system is designed to protect you from foreign invaders and germs and it does that by recognizing self and non-self. The purpose of the immune system is to attack foreign invaders whether they be germs in the form of bacteria, viruses or other agents, even tumors, and that is how the immune system works.

In autoimmunity that differentiation between self and non-self is blurred and your immune system starts attacking your self, either organs or certain parts of the body or parts of cells. So that’s the basis of the autoimmune reaction. It can be systemic, as is the case with lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. It can be organ-specific as is the case with diabetes, but they all operate at the same principle and that is your own immune system, your body’s defenses have turned against itself and interestingly, we used to think that it’s a hyperactive immune system and now in the past year it’s become clear that what’s going on is a suppressor cell that normally suppresses these autoimmune reactions, this reactivity, has been mutated somehow.

About Dr. Randy Horwitz, Ph.D., M.D.:
Dr. Randy Horwitz, Ph.D., M.D., received a B.S. degree in biochemistry from the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. in Immunology and Molecular Biology from the University of Florida. He received his medical degree from the University of Illinois, and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at University Hospitals (Case Western Reserve University) in Cleveland.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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