ITP is the acronym for a rare blood disorder called idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. “Idiopathic” means that the cause is unknown. “thrombocytopenic” means an abnormally low platelet count. “Purpura” means bruising, which is one of the most common symptoms of this blood disorder. 



Even though the cause of the disease is unknown, in 60% of cases the source of the low platelet count is actually related to an autoimmune condition, and then the ITP is more commonly referred to as immune thrombocytopenic purpura. In the autoimmune form of ITP, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the platelets. This can lead to a number of symptoms, the most common are:



Nose bleeds

 

Bleeding gums

 

Excessive menstrual bleeding

 

Frequent, often spontaneous, bruising.

 

Petechiae, tiny bruises often on the extremities

 

Abnormally long bleeding time on minor cuts and abrasions



If the case has an extremely low platelet count, some of the serious risks include internal bleeding. If the person suffers any type of blunt trauma, a hard fall or a car accident for example, this can cause internal bleeding and may be fatal. 



The condition predominantly affects children. Of the approximately 65 new cases per one million people per year in the USA, 50 of them are children. The majority of childhood ITP cases, approximately 70% will go into remission within 6 months. There are approximately 60,000 people in the US with chronic ITP, two-thirds of which are women.



One of the most daunting tasks of ITP is getting a confirmed diagnosis. ITP can often imitate many other diseases and blood disorders and is most commonly diagnosed through a process of elimination. Typically, the doctor has to rule out all other possible causes of the low platelets. A number of conditions can cause low platelets, HIV, leukemia, hepatitis C, lupus, as well as various medications like quinine.



While the causes of ITP, and all autoimmune diseases, is a disputed subject the factors are typically considered to be some combination of genetics, environment, and, to a greater or lesser extent, diet.



To those with a firm understanding of autoimmune conditions often recognize the very strong correlation with chronic inflammation and the development of autoimmune diseases. There can be many potential sources of widespread inflammation, which may manifest into ITP. Food allergies, heavy metals, bacterial infections, chemical toxins, etc. can cause inflammatory responses in the body including organs. It must be said, however, that there are many in the mainstream medical community who would disagree and say that there is no confirmed dietary or environmental cause of ITP.



While it may very well be true that the ultimate cause of ITP, and in fact any autoimmune disease, will not be known for decades to come, there is enough empirical evidence to suggest that diet, environment, and lifestyle have a strong impact on the disease and that if these areas cause or exacerbate the disease, their modification can lead to prevention and/or remission.



When it comes to ITP, it is critical that another important immune modulating factor is mentioned, and that is stress. This is not to say that stress causes autoimmune diseases, but rather that controlling the body’s stress responses is an important step in bringing the condition into remission.



There are probably thousands of websites advertising “stress management”, but it is important to recognize that first and foremost stress is a mental and emotional state. What causes stress from one person to the next varies in almost every possible way. One man’s relaxing hobby is another man’s stress nightmare.



When the body is under stress it activates the adrenal glands to produce a number of chemicals. One of the most important chemicals is a steroid called cortisol. Cortisol is a very powerful anti-inflammatory. In fact, synthetic cortisol (prednisone) is the prescription of choice in treating ITP conventionally. But stress is not the only time that cortisol is produced, it is also produced in response to inflammatory triggers.



In people with ITP, and other autoimmune conditions, chronic inflammation is a strong contributor to the condition and the body is constantly demanding cortisol to help counter the inflammation. Constant bombardment of cortisol on the body also has the unfortunate consequence of desensitizing the body to cortisol, meaning that it requires more of it in order to produce the same effect over time.



When stress is then added to the cortisol demand, the body then has a higher likelihood of experiencing adrenal depletion, where the body can no longer produce enough cortisol to meet demand, and now the inflammatory responses have very little biological inhibitors to rein them back under control. ITP patients are particularly sensitive to this type of adrenal exhaustion and it is critical to keep their stress under control in order for other therapies to work properly.     



Currently, the therapy of choice for most ITP cases is steroids like prednisone. These steroids are used to suppress the immune system and prevent the destruction of the platelets. While in many cases the immune suppression does increase the platelet count, there are often side effects, as well as difficulties and complications that arise when the patient tries to come off of the medication. Between 60-90% of patients experience a flare-up while weaning off the steroids. Also, depending on which steroid/s are prescribed, some of the side effects of the steroids can include: abdominal pain, osteoporosis, cataracts, severe joint pain, long-term migraines, fatty liver, bone tissue damage, and others.



When ITP cases do not respond to any of the standard medications, one of the options of last resort is a splenectomy, or removal of the spleen. The reason for this is because often platelets in an ITP person have an autoimmune anti-body on them. When the platelets reach the spleen, the immune cells of the spleen see the antibody and immediately destroy the entire cell. In fact, splenectomies were the therapy of choice for ITP all the way up until the 1950s when steroid therapy was developed.  



Because of the aggressive and toxic nature of these conventional therapies, many people are searching for more natural and gentler alternatives. For the past 10 years, we at the Wellness Center have been using a dynamic program for ITP (as well as other autoimmune conditions) that has an incredible track record of success.



It’s a multi-stage process that utilizes very advanced testing. Blood testing, stool sampling, hormone testing, as well as genetic testing to allow us to determine what your specific inflammatory triggers are. Each person’s triggers are unique and very specific. This in-depth testing is critical in order to determine if the inflammation is being caused or exacerbated by, hormonal imbalances, toxins, food or environmental allergens and so on.



Once the triggers have been identified, a very specific individualized program is developed that addresses the exact triggers outlined by the testing. Some of the more common elements of such a program may include:



Anti-inflammatory diet

 

Allergy elimination diet

 

Detoxification

 

Essential fatty acids

 

Gastro-intestinal balancing



Not every element above is appropriate for each person. Because of each person’s unique genetics and lifestyle, each program is equally unique in order to address each person’s exact needs.



Our method is very successful simply because it utilizes information that the conventional therapies ignore, individuality. The efficacy of our program is evidenced by our track record, which speaks for itself.



ITP does not have to equal a life of misery and disability. You should treat it as a red flag that there is something you are doing, eating, or being exposed to that is making your body extremely unhappy. If you can find and identify those dietary, lifestyle, or environmental factors, you can regain control of your body and take back your life.