Call (503)408-0790

To schedule an appointment

Lee Dennis, ND

Naturopathic Physician

Call (503)408-0790

To schedule an appointment


Namaste Natural Healing Center
12616 SE Stark St
Portland, OR 97233

Autoimmune Conditions

Autoimmune conditions are caused by an abnormal reaction of the immune system towards the body. Cells of the immune system either directly attack other cells in the body or they produce antibodies which then attack other cells or proteins in the body. Examples of autoimmune conditions include hashimoto’s thyroiditis (autoimmune hypothyroidism), grave’s disease (autoimmune hyperthyroidism), rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, crohn’s disease and many other conditions.

While the cause of an autoimmune disorder often isn’t clear, there are several triggering factors that are recognized in Western medicine. Proteins in our food that are similar to proteins in our body can sometimes cause cross-reactivity in the immune system. An example of this is celiac disease which causes intestinal damage because of cross-reactivity with gluten, which is found in wheat products. A similar thing can happen with bacterial or viral proteins. An example of this occurs in rheumatic fever which can occur after strep throat. In rheumatic fever, the body’s immune system responds to the foreign bacteria by producing antibodies to various proteins in the bacteria. Some of the antibodies, however, cross-react with other proteins in the body that are found in the heart, joints and skin. Drugs can also induce autoimmune reactions if they bind to proteins in the body and cause the immune system to react. An example of this is drug-induced hemolytic anemia, which causes the destruction of red blood cells. Genetics is also usually involved in this process. Everyone’s proteins are slightly different because of our genes which means that one person may get rheumatic fever after a strep infection, while another may not.

In naturopathic medicine, we recognize the above triggers of autoimmune conditions, while adding other possibilities, such as heavy metals, environmental toxins and food additives. It is also important to remember that the body is a complex system that is fully integrated with our mind and emotions. Because of this, many conditions, including autoimmune conditions, can be triggered by mental/emotional stress or trauma. In naturopathic medicine, we take a holistic view and look at the whole person, including the mental/emotional aspects. While Western medicine recognizes the effects of gluten in celiac’s disease, naturopathic doctors recognize that other foods can trigger reactions as well. It is therefore important to look at one’s diet in many diseases, including autoimmune conditions, as a poor diet or the presence of food reactions may be contributing.

But the real difference between the standard Western medicine approach to autoimmune conditions and the naturopathic approach is how we treat it. The standard of care for autoimmune disorders is to suppress the immune system. This would make sense, right? If the immune system is attacking the body, we should attack back and suppress it. While this may seem logical, it leads to a whole host of complications. Suppressing all or part of the immune system can lead to an increased risk for various infections, worsening of common infections and many types of cancer. Not to mention, that some of the drugs themselves often have very unpleasant side effects.

Fortunately, naturopathic medicine has a different approach. We use gentle, yet powerful, natural medicines to help modulate the immune system rather than simply suppressing it. This means helping to redirect an inappropriate immune response to a more appropriate one. Because we do, after all, still need a functioning immune system to prevent & fight infections. The long term goal in any treatment, however, is to find the underlying cause whether it lies in the purely physical realm or in the mental/emotional, or even spiritual, realm. Dr. Dennis uses a gentle, holistic approach that accounts for all aspects of an individual’s health to more accurately treat the underlying cause of autoimmune conditions using nutrition, herbal medicine, homeopathy and even pharmaceuticals when necessary.

Thyroid Disorders

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped, endocrine gland that sits at the base of the throat. It is an immensely important gland as it produces hormones that affect our entire body and can actually speed up or slow down our metabolism. Problems with the thyroid gland are fairly common and affect a large percentage of our population. Unfortunately, thyroid problems often go undiagnosed because of a lack of agreement regarding what proper... - read more -

Heart Disease

There are a number of problems that can occur with the heart, but heart disease generally refers to coronary artery disease, which occurs when one or several of the coronary arteries becomes occluded or blocked by one or more plaques. Since the coronary artery is responsible for supplying blood to the heart muscle itself, you can imagine that this might be a problem. Coronary artery disease is generally begins long before there are any... - ream more -