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Autoimmunity

Related Terms

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Background

  • The immune system protects the body from potentially harmful substances (antigens), such as microorganisms, toxins and foreign blood or tissues from other organisms.
  • When an antigen enters the body, the immune system produces antibodies that bind to the antigen. Then sensitized lymphocytes (specialized white blood cells that recognize and destroy specific antigens) engulf the foreign substance in a process called phagocytosis.
  • Autoimmune disorders are conditions caused by an immune response against the body's own tissues. The immune system mistakes its own cells for antigens. Autoimmunity is present in all healthy individuals, to some extent. However, healthy individuals are able to suppress defective lymphocytes (immune system cells) that mistakenly destroy body cells.
  • Autoimmune disorders can destroy body tissues, cause abnormal organ growth or impair organ function. Autoimmune disorders commonly affect blood components (like red blood cells, connective tissues and blood vessels), endocrine glands (like the thyroid or pancreas), as well as muscles, joints and the skin.
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Causes

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Risk Factors

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Symptoms

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Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Integrative Therapies

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Prevention

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.