Autoimmune Disease: Stop Your Body’s Self-Attack

by

THE INCIDENCE OF AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE has tripled in the last few decades. 24 million Americans are now affected. In fact, it affects more women than heart disease and breast cancer combined. But autoimmune disease isn’t just one condition.

You’re probably familiar with the most common autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, type-1 diabetes, hypothyroidism, and psoriasis. But there are many more autoimmune diseases that affect the nervous system, joints and muscles, skin, endocrine gland, and heart.

Simply put, autoimmune diseases are conditions where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues rather than a foreign molecule like bacteria. This happens when something confuses the immune system. Increasingly, that “something” appears to be the enormous load of environmental toxins to which we are all exposed.

The groundbreaking book, The Autoimmune Epidemic, by Donna Jackson Nakazawa is a breath-taking piece of investigative journalism that seeks the real causes for this epidemic. Her desire to find answers was fueled by her own struggle with autoimmune disease.

Donna lays out very clearly a radical, but unfortunately very true, picture of what’s happening. But she also provides clear solutions for changes in diet, supplements, and our environment that can help people deal with and even reverse autoimmune diseases.

Donna calls the environmental toxins that are, in part, driving the autoimmune epidemic “autogens” — foreign compounds that create an “auto” reaction, a reaction against the self. The fact is, these toxins may be the most important cause of autoimmune diseases.

In today’s blog I will review how these toxins influence your health and lead to autoimmune diseases, share some of what Donna explains in her book, and provide 9 tips to help you address autoimmune disease.

Environmental Toxins: The Leading Cause of Autoimmune Disease

We are exposed to astounding amounts of pollution. Over 80,000 chemicals have been introduced into our society since 1900, and only 550 have been tested for safety. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), about 2.5 billion pounds of toxic chemicals are released yearly by large industrial facilities. And 6 million pounds of mercury are poured into our air every year.

In fact, a recent government survey – “The National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals” issued in July 2005 — found an average of 148 chemicals in our bodies. And those were only the ones for which they tested. (i)

It gets worse …

The Environmental Working Group examined the umbilical cord blood of children just as they emerged from the womb. They found 287 industrial chemicals, including pesticides, phthalates, dioxins, flame-retardants, Teflon, and toxic metals like mercury. And this was before these infants even entered the world!

That’s not to mention the toxins found in our foods and other chemicals typically found in the home, like certain cleaning agents or pest control products – all of which add to the total toxic load on our bodies.

One wonders what all of this poison is doing to our children …

In his foreword to The Autoimmune Epidemic, Dr. Douglas Kerr, M.D., Ph.D. professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, says that “there is no doubt that autoimmune diseases are on the rise and our increasing environmental exposure to toxins and chemicals is fueling the risk. The research is sound. The conclusions, unassailable.”

That environmental toxins are a major cause of autoimmune disease is clear. Yet conventional medicine doesn’t take that into account when treating autoimmune conditions.

Instead, it tries to shut down the immune response with powerful medications including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil and Aleve, steroids like prednisone, anti-cancer drugs like methotrexate, and new drugs like Enbrel and Remicade that block the effects of a powerful inflammatory molecule called TNF alpha.

But those new drugs shut down your immune system so powerfully that they increase your risk of cancer or life-threatening infections. And they have frequent and serious side effects and often give only partial relief. These drugs may be lifesaving for some in the short run — but in the long run they do NOTHING to deal with the causes.

There’s a better way.

I have successfully treated hundreds of patients with autoimmune diseases by addressing the underlying causes, including toxins, infections, allergens, poor diet, and stress. The roadmap of functional medicine takes us right to the root of the problem.

I have even seen the results of using functional medicine to treat autoimmune disease in myself, in my wife, and in my patients.

Using Functional Medicine to Heal from Autoimmune Disease

Years ago, I had chronic fatigue syndrome. This condition has autoimmune features and my blood tests clearly showed that my body was attacking itself. Getting rid of my mercury poisoning reversed my chronic fatigue and autoimmune problems.

Similarly, my wife developed debilitating autoimmunity with joint pain and fatigue. Getting rid of the heavy metals in her body with an intensive detoxification program cured her, too.

And this has been true of so many of my patients.

For each one, I have to find all the causes — toxins, allergens, infections, poor diet, and stress — and deal with all of them while adding back the things the body needs to function optimally, like whole, clean food, nutrients, exercise, stress management, clean water and oxygen, community, connection, and meaning. When I do this, the results are amazing.

One of my patients had crippling psoriasis and related arthritis. She was 42 and couldn’t walk up and down stairs, get into a bathtub without help, or properly care for her children. Yet just nine months after we started treatment — including eliminating gluten and other food allergens, removing her heavy metals, and balancing her immune system — she walked back in my office, not only 30 pounds lighter (remember, being inflamed makes you fat), but completely free of pain and psoriasis.

She’s not alone.

Another man suffered for years with the bloody diarrhea and pain of ulcerative colitis. Dietary changes and various kinds of digestive support helped but he never got better — until we removed the toxins and mercury from his body.

And a recent patient with debilitating fatigue and scars on her brain from multiple sclerosis got nearly complete relief of her symptoms after she had the mercury fillings removed from her teeth and went on a comprehensive detoxification program. When she repeated her MRI, all of the scars from the MS were gone!

So there are ways you can address autoimmune disease if you or someone you love is suffering. Here is what I recommend.

9 Tips for Addressing Autoimmune Disease

  • Read The Autoimmune Epidemic. This book will tell you why we have this problem, and how to fix it.
  • Find a functional medicine doctor who can help you address autoimmunity.
  • Get tested for mercury and other heavy metals.
  • Get tested for celiac disease (an autoimmune reaction to wheat and other gluten-containing grains), which causes over 60 autoimmune diseases. And consider eliminating other inflammatory foods from your diet such as dairy, eggs, corn and animal fats for a few weeks to see if it makes a different your symptoms.
  • Take immune-balancing nutrients and supplements, including vitamin D, essential fats (like EPA/DHA and GLA), and probiotics.
  • Practice deep relaxation daily through yoga, meditation, biofeedback, or anything that reverses the stress response.
  • Practice the precautionary principle, which says that we should avoid anything with the potential for harm. In the US, something has to be proven harmful before it is taken off the market. In Europe, something has to be proven safe before it is allowed on the market. This is also known as “better safe than sorry.”
  • Learn how to boost your body’s own detoxification system.
  • By addressing the root causes of autoimmune disease, you can start feeling better and getting well today.Now I’d like to hear from you …Have you been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease?How have conventional treatments worked for you?Do you plan to try any of the lifestyle approaches mentioned here?Please let me know your thoughts by adding a comment below.

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63 Responses to Autoimmune Disease: Stop Your Body’s Self-Attack

  1. Grace Johonson February 6, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    I have ankylosing spondilitis, and the are checking me for temporal neuralgia, I have tried, NSAIDS, pain medications, Simponi, Humira, plaquinel, methotrexate, sulphates. All butSTNF blocker upset my stomach. Simponi is giving me cataracts. I do plan to try natural methods, as these meds are making me sick, i found your site helpful.

  2. Gerald Thomas Stills February 7, 2013 at 1:36 am #

    I have been dealing with reactive arthritis for 25 years,I have been on every medication there is,and still no relief…I would love to try to detox my body and see if that makes any difference to get rid of these swollen joints….I know it sounds crazy but sometimes I think coffee is doing it to me I drink 3 to 4 cups a day..

  3. Sandra Hiser February 10, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

    Dr. Hyman ….Bravo!

    It took years, my life savings, going from doctor to doctor, and thousands of hours of my own research to find relief from the broad spectrum symptoms of an autoimmune crisis triggered by CO2 poisoning. Even after solving the CO2 source, my body was still in an autoimmune reaction. I also needed to heal the damage the CO2 and immune system had already done to many vital organs. This takes commitment, patience, money and courage.

    The immune crisis triggered celiacs disease, adrenal fatigue, food allergies to dairy, gluten and soy, skin rashes, arthritis, hair loss, brain fog and depression.

    The good news is, the protocol that Dr Hyman recommends works! The arthritis, hair loss, rashes, brain fog and depression are gone. I still have to manage the celiacs and adrenal fatigue, but it’s just that, managable. I no longer feel that my body is out of control and on a downward spiral.

    If you’re out there wondering if there’s reason to hope, have faith, dig in and do the work, there are big payoffs!!

    Wishing you all good health and a soft place to nurture your Being.

  4. katlin February 15, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    I am 20 and have had hashimotos disease for 6 years. I just finally figured out what it was however a couple months ago. I am exhausted, medication doesn’t work, GF diet alone isn’t working, I’m trying to work on sugar gluten and dairy.

    • Melissa November 10, 2013 at 11:56 pm #

      Katlin, I am in the same boat!! Any new news or relief since February?

  5. Heather February 16, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

    I was recently diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. It seems to be under control for now, although I am on medications that my GI Specialist required (and I am not fond of them). I have done my own research and want to take other healthier approaches to handle this disease. But for now I am in debt due to medical bills and cannot see a functional medicine doctor until I get a job and pay off some bills. Sad but true. So far I have changed my diet completely and practice yoga, meditation and have recently discovered the Tapping Solution. I wish something would change in our healthcare system, so we could afford to get the treatment we wish. I am too young to be on such unsafe medications. I want to be healthy all the way around and LIVE!

  6. Patty Johnson February 20, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    My sister was diagnosed with primary biliary cirrhosis 5 years ago and is in need of a liver transplant. My question to you is this…Is there any way to repair her autoimmune system?

    • Avatar of Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff
      Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff February 20, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

      Hi patty,

      Fortunately there is a lot she can do to work with her body’s immune response. Careful attention to diet and lifestyle as well as wise use of supplementation are key players in keeping triggers at bay. Many of the tips shared here are really simple and accessible for all of us to employ.

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happyhttp://drhyman.com/wp-admin/edit-comments.php?comment_status=moderated#comments-form to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

    • ty May 30, 2014 at 11:21 am #

      …………..fresh fruits and vegetables….

  7. Kari February 25, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    Last year in July I started developing pain in my big toe joint. It came and has never left. I also have pain in my fingers and recently lower back. I am tired quite a bit more than I think I should be. I have muscle aches and weakness at times. I get slight tightness in my chest at random, which is scary.
    I went to the doc and after tons of testing they say I have a positive ANA and high levels of RNP. The rheumatologist suspects that I have Mixed Connective Tissue Disease, but because I don’t have all of the symptoms they are calling it Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease. He gave me a prescription for plaquinel, but I haven’t taken it yet because I read all the side effects. I don’t want to poison myself with drugs if I can control the disease in a natural way. Will not taking the drug allow the disease to progress more and become worse?

    • Avatar of Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff
      Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff February 27, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

      Hi Kari,

      Thank you for your interest in Dr Hyman’s work. Unfortunately Dr Hyman cannot provide personalized medical advice in this forum. For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

      Or, to make an appointment at Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA please go to: http://www.ultrawellnesscenter.com/becoming-a-patient/ When you are finished reading through the material you may call the office at After you have reviewed this, please contact our office to make an appointment. By phone, (413) 637-9991; by email, office@ultrawellnesscenter.com

    • Lizzy January 6, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

      Hi Kari,

      What you describe is remarkably similar to what I experienced starting about 6 or 7 years ago. In fact until this moment of reading your history I did not even include the Big toe pain as part of my autoimmune issues. But I wonder now if that wasn’t the start of it all. ( a bit of hope for you is that the pain in my toe joint is gone and the swelling has lessened to the point that the toe has almost returned to normal)
      But every other symptom you listed happened to me…. and since I refused to pay them any heed at the time, my body went into shut down mode about four years ago. I could barely walk for the pain in my muscles and joints and it felt as if a Mac truck had parked itself on my chest. Then strange red hard quarter sized nodules started appearing on my limbs and torso and were extremely tender to the touch.
      Same diagnostics for me… first lupus then the Rheumatologist refined the diagnosis to be the same as yours… UCTD…. and has treated me with Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquinel) ever since.
      BUT ….and I share this as hopeful news to you… I went to a Naturopath and started researching Whole foods based diet….went to Kripalu…started meditation, restorative yoga and have lessened my stress ( which unfortunately meant I had to leave my job…also because of extreme fatigue)…. and I am beginning to see some light at the end of a very long tunnel.
      I am closely monitored for ill effects from the anti-malarial drug…. and I declined the offer of methotrexhate…. simply by asking the specialist if in the same circumstance would he use it ( and he admitted he would avoid it if possible too)… and so far, so good in that department.
      But as long as I pace myself and set boundaries as to what I am needing to accomplish in a day, I have a reasonable quality of life. I can’t do what I used to do in terms of amount of activities, work and socializing but still I am grateful for what I can do.
      I believe what Dr. Hyman and staff recommend because it has been of great benefit to me… and I wish you well with your journey.

  8. Scottie Stewart February 26, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

    I am 49 years young and all my life I’ve enjoyed a vigorous fitness routine and had a pretty healthy diet. I was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid in 1997 and RA in 2008. I have been taking a synthetic thyroid and methotrexate every since. Even though I don’t feel like I’ve been beaten with a baseball bat, I still have flare ups that shut me down and last for days at a time. Currently I am doing a full body detox (not sure it will work) and slowly eliminating certain foods from my diet. I definitely plan to follow the recommendations made in this article. Any other suggestions are greatly appreciated.

    • Avatar of Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff
      Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff February 27, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

      Hi Scottie,

      The suggestions here are a great place to start. There is so much you can do with your diet to address AI conditions so it is important to follow the proper detoxification protocol!

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to: http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  9. Angela February 27, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

    My name is Angela and I have been diagnosed with Palmer pustular psoriasis, Hashimotos Disease and chronic fatigue. I am currently taking high doses of thyroid medication and have started losing my hair. My gut tells me the reason for this is the medication being increased. It was not a problem until my dr. increased my dosage, I am about to try a diet program called Isagenix which is Gluten Free with a mix of supplements a cleanse and weight loss system. Can I stop the hair loss through diet? I really want to stop taking this medication but Im afraid it would make my symptoms worse. Any suggestions?

    • Avatar of HymanStaff
      HymanStaff February 27, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

      Hi Angela,

      Thank you for your message and your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. We are unable to answer your question in a responsible manner over the internet.

      Wishing You the Best of Health!

      Dr. Hyman Staff

  10. Vanesa March 2, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    At 14 I would get flu-like symptoms co-occuring with painful bruise-like spots alll over from my waist down. At 17 I suffered from joint pain, joint locking, stiffness, and energy problems. At17 I was diagnosed with autoimmune hepetitis. At 18 my gallbladder was found to be diseased and had to be surgically removed. I suffered from depression starting at age 9 through 18, then at 18 was diagnosed with Bipolar II. At age 27 I was diagnosed with Sjogren’s. I ran fevers for month long periods, occasionally not able to keep food or liquids down. I test severly allergic to all pollens, plants, and animals except ironically molds. The only clear thing throughout the testing is the autoimmune nature of my health problems. I have had several symptoms (besides those listed). At age 30 my bipolar went away. At that time however my metabolic issues became very prevalent. I am currently being diagnosed with thyroiditis. The way I manage to function is by eating a completely unprocessed vegan diet with no refined sugars. I stay away from gluten because it causes . unpleasant inflammation. I meditate daily, have never smoked or drank and have no vices, and am working on a chemical free environment. I still have very low energy, but I fit in wirkouts. I am on disability and am struggling with under 9000 dollars a year (disability) so I don’t spend money except where it is needed and any extra goes to suplements (currently maca powder, vitamineral green, hemp protein, and bee pollen. With my budget I can afford conventionally grown (non-organic). I am struggling but have improved my health to the point of fuctioning and being able to. exercise 2 to 4 times a week, have lost weight, and though I’m in pain I can move. I still have to rest during the day but I use that time to do research, meditate, and recuperate. I cannot hold a conventional job, but I am constructive even so. I still have symptoms but feel that if I was able to switch to organic I may be able to heal. I am currently working on finding honest unconventional means to be able to afford to improve my diet and my health.

  11. Pradeep March 4, 2013 at 8:48 am #

    Hi,

    I’m suffering from AIED. It started with my left ear and and moved to right. I’ve taken intratympanic injections and it has helped my right. Left is still bad. I’ve been on low salt diet, No coffee/tea, No chcacolates.

    My left ear improves sometime and goes back. I have started multivitamins also. Any help is appreciated to improve my condition.

    • Avatar of HymanStaff
      HymanStaff March 26, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

      Hello Pradeep,

      Thank you for your message and your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. Your question and constellation of symptoms represents a complex medical condition. Questions regarding conditions like these cannot be answered in a responsible manner via the Internet.

      Wishing You the Best of Health!

      Dr. Hyman Staff

  12. Michele March 4, 2013 at 10:44 am #

    In the last 13 years, I’ve had hypothyroidism, alopecia, shingles, lichen planus and now an ulcerative cornea due possibly from the same virus that causes shingles. I have seen an autoimmune specialist who said to me “Who sent you, I don’t see any reason that you should be here”. Any advice?

    • Avatar of HymanStaff
      HymanStaff March 26, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

      Hello Michele,

      Thank you for your message and your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. Your question and constellation of symptoms represents a complex medical condition. Questions regarding conditions like these cannot be answered in a responsible manner via the Internet.

      Wishing You the Best of Health!

      Dr. Hyman Staff

  13. Toni Turpin March 5, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis two years ago but have suffered for the last three (took them a year to diagnose it). The pain has been unbearable and I’ve read that food intolerance and leaky gut are at the root of the problem. I have started to implement some of your points but have found for me that the triggers seem to be dairy, onions, coffee, tomatoes, mushrooms. I’m fine with wheat but understand that eating gluten is not good for me anyway so will cut that too. Finding a functional practicioner here in Belfast is difficult and so I’m trying to go it alone. I did a home IGg test and tested positive for dairy so that’s a definite no no. However, with regard to the other tests for heavy metals I’m not sure where I can get that done. I so wished I lived in the US as I’d be at your clinic yesterday!! Thanks for all your imformative information and any other information you print will be extremely gladly received.
    Best wishes
    Toni

    • Avatar of HymanStaff
      HymanStaff March 26, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

      Hi Toni,

      Thank you for your message and your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. Not sure if you have checked this site, to locate a practitioner of functional medicine in your area see the “Find a Functional Medicine Practitioner” link at the Institute of Functional Medicine website: http://www.functionalmedicine.org/practitioner_search.aspx?id=117.

      Wishing You the Best of Health!

      Dr. Hyman Staff

  14. Denise March 10, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

    I have alopecia areata, started at age 18 then I was DX with hasimotos in my 30′s and now have chronic idiopathic urticaria, I had it 3 years ago and it lasted for 8 months and it has started again and is much worse this time with angioadema. I have used a gamit of drugs, steroids, antihistimines, doxipen and they just keep coming. I am now in my 60′s do you think a diet change can help at this point?

    • Avatar of HymanStaff
      HymanStaff March 26, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

      Thank you for your message and your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. Your question and constellation of symptoms represents a complex medical condition. Questions regarding conditions like these cannot be answered in a responsible manner via the Internet.

      Wishing You the Best of Health!

      Dr. Hyman Staff

  15. Avatar of Esther
    Esther March 11, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    Hi! My name is Esther. I am a 42 year old mother to 7 children and was diagnosed with postpartum hypothyroidism recently. Through diet and homeopathy, my TSH has come down from 28 to 5 and t3 and t4 are also now in range. Along with this I have a very high TPO and have also tested positive for ANA and lupus antibodies. I am very thankful that things are moving in the right direction and that I have remained for the most part with very few symptoms -mostly stubborn weight that I would love to release. I exercise and do yoga and eat very well.I am not 100% gluten free but feel like I might need to be and am checking for celiac this week. My question is what diet should I be following? I am confused if the BSS diet is for diabetics or also for auto immune? What more would you suggest? Thanks!

  16. Mandy March 11, 2013 at 11:38 am #

    Hi, I found your blog particularly intriguing. I am a work-in-progress. I do not have a definitive diagnosis. I actually see my 2nd rheumy today. I am ANA+, SSB9la)+, and am really having alot pain in my neck, back, hips, and pelvis (mostly bilateral groins). I am educated and almost completed my MSN-FNP with a strong interest in autoimmune disease and rheumatology. My pain is worse when immobile, and improves with movement. However, the main reason I am commenting is because of my strong interest in healing without medication. I have tried several methods on my own. I have eliminated dairy, beef, pork, and alcohol. I have failed both plaquenil and MTX. My PMD is leaning toward IBD related arthritis. I was dx with Crohn’s disease as a teenager. I am very foucsed on feeling better, I am too young to hurt this way. This condition controls my life. I cannot stand at the sink and do dishes, cook, or throw the football with my son. I cannot take long car rides due to horrible neck and back pain. I am ready to be free. I am definately going to try harder!
    Thank you for this wonderful information.

    -Mandy

  17. Ian March 26, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

    My Girlfriend has dealt with autoimmune her whole life as she has said. But for the past year or so she has betting getting worse and by worse I mean the attacks are to the pont where I cant even hold her. I eould love to say its going to be alright but I know its not. She has been to many doctors and specialist but they all say the same thing “her body is clearly attacking herself but they dont know what it is specificely”. To this I am asking is there any way I can help her so that I can truthfully say shell be alright?

  18. Norma Hemberger March 28, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    I am 36 and have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I had a positive ANA was told I had Lupus and Rhuematoid Arthritis, but since I didn’t have any inflammation I was then diagnosed with Fibro. I have changed my diet by eating alot of veggies and fruits. I don’t eat red meat but I feel I still have a long ways to educate myself on how to eat foods that help eliminate toxins. I need help, I experience pain and fatique on a daily basis. I have 5 children that I can no longer take care of cuz I’m always tired and with pains. Please help

  19. kwb April 10, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

    Hello,

    Four years ago afterhaving the opportunity to breast feed my daughter for almost a year, I was positively diagnosed with MS. In the last seven days I have been diagnosed with Tachachardia, Graves Disease (may be what is causing the tachachardia) and optic neuritis as the MS is affecting the eye tissue of my left eye. I am very interested in taking an active approach to working on my health. My children are not quite 2 1/2 and 4 1/2 and I want to be the best me I can be for them. I will do whatever it takes. I am taking your advice above, and plan to call your office for an appt.

    Thanks,

  20. Janet April 14, 2013 at 5:07 am #

    Thank you, Dr Hyman, for your wonderful commonsense approach to medicine. I have been a vegetarian for many years and had absolutely no health problems that required continuous medication. Then out of the blue came these strange headaches and a diagnosis of Temporal Arteritis? The palliative? Prednisone, of course.
    I went into that unknowingly and suffered horribly: Hair loss, weight gain, mood swings, leg pain, swollen feet, even breast cancer, glaucoma, and last but not least, it affected my high soprano solo singing. In my estimation, the effects of the prednisone were much worse than the symptoms it was meant to “cure”. I even told my doctor “I’d rather die if this is what I have to suffer to get “better”‘.

    This started two years ago. Late last year, I was eventually weaned off the medication. But now the TA symptoms are back and I am devastated. For many weeks I ignored the headaches, but I can’t any longer. Yesterday, I succumbed to another ritual of daily steroids.

    I will certainly do everything this good doctor has advised here to rid myself of this health problem and of the advice I’m now following. I only wish we were blessed with more of your ilk, dear Dr. Hyman.

    • Avatar of HymanStaff
      HymanStaff April 17, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

      Hi Janet,

      Thank you for your kind words and your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. If you would like to locate a practitioner of functional medicine in your area please see the “Find a Functional Medicine Practitioner” link at the Institute of Functional Medicine website: http://www.functionalmedicine.org/practitioner_search.aspx?id=117.

      Wishing You the Best of Health!

      Dr. Hyman Staff

  21. Gin April 18, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

    Great tips, Dr Hyman. I have your books, you make perfect sense and I didn’t listen, and now I’m paying the price. Had my hair dyed with semi permanent dye 3 weeks ago (thinking safer than permanent). Couple days later hair falling out by the hundreds and is still falling out (i have 1/4 the volume I used to have). Going from dr. to dr. this week, blood work all beautiful. except for the ANA antibodies, which nobody explained to me. I have a good diet, i exercise, do everything else right. So far nobody can figure it out (it was suggested I put a popular hair growing chemical on my head–the last thing I want to do). Now that I read, I’m fairly convinced it was the toxic chemicals. You’re so right Doctor. Keep getting the word out. To everyone else – be an informed consumer know what you’re ingesting and putting on your skin.

  22. Klaudia April 24, 2013 at 8:37 am #

    However, it does contain some very healthy fatty acids.
    In these areas of the world, there is usually less access to meat, but people do have access to virgin coconut oil.

    Saturated animal fats are notoriously linked to
    obesity, heart disease and cancer.

  23. Babette May 16, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    Hi there,
    My 27 year old sister has been diagnosed with idiopathic gastroparesis. She is also experiencing chest pains and has had shingles. She’s done all kinds of allergy tests and is not a coeliac. She’s tried eiliminating all kinds of foods from her diet to little avail. The doctors think she may have an autoimmune disease. She lives in a rural area of Ireland. Any advice on where we should go from here?

    • Avatar of HymanStaff
      HymanStaff May 30, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

      Hi Babette,

      Thank you for your message and your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. To locate a practitioner of functional medicine in your area see the “Find a Functional Medicine Practitioner” link at the Institute of Functional Medicine website: http://www.functionalmedicine.org/practitioner_search.aspx?id=117.

      Wishing You the Best of Health!

      Dr. Hyman Staff

  24. Shelley Buhler August 14, 2013 at 11:45 pm #

    Hi,

    18 months ago I took my 16 year old daughter to a nutritionist because of recurrent headaches and stomach aches. Blood testing showed inflammatory reactions to eggs and dairy. When she mostly cut those out the headaches and stomach aches stopped. However, in the past year she has had other symptoms which have lead to a diagnosis of probable Behcet’s. She gets mouth ulcers, skin rashes, and eye floaters and the eye doctor just identified retinal vasculitis. Because of this vasculitis, he is putting her on Prednisone followed by immune suppressants.

    I believe there is a link between the auto immune symptoms and her food intolerances, but as I am simply a mother she won’t buy in to my theory. She loosely avoid eggs and dairy, believes they are linked to the stomach and head aches but no the the rest of her symptoms. Does one of Dr. Hyman’s books address this directly? Would his nutrition specialists online help? I need to understand the link, need her to understand it, but she will only give it credence if the information is coming from a doctor.

    The eye doctor has a national reputation as an expert in this area, but he seemed focused only on treatment, not on what could be the root cause. I mentioned the food intolerances but he didn’t really seem concerned about them.

    Thank you

    • Avatar of Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff
      Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff August 16, 2013 at 11:49 am #

      Dear Shelley,

      Thank you for your interest in Dr. Hyman’s work. Yes, auto-immunity is linked to diet. Have you seen this article? http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/07/30/how-to-stop-attacking-yourself-9-steps-to-heal-autoimmune-disease/

      Have you seen this book? http://store.ultrasimplediet.com/

      Functional medicine includes personalized lifestyle medicine. This is an individualized approach to health and nutrition. Specific treatments will affect each person’s system differently, based on their unique “terrain” or constitution. In order to treat the symptoms and get to the root cause of what’s making someone sick, we first need to know what specific imbalances are occurring in the individual’s body. Because of that, there is no single diet or therapy available to everyone. We need to address the person’s unique health status and medical history in order to provide the ultimate diet therapy for that person. As you can see, there are a lot of options to treat your daughter.

      Due to this Dr. Hyman cannot provide personal medical advice in this forum. If you would like to make an appointment at Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA please go to:http://www.ultrawellnesscenter.com/becoming-a-patient/ When you are finished reading through the material you may call the office at After you have reviewed this, please contact our office to make an appointment. By phone, (413) 637-9991; by email, office@ultrawellnesscenter.com

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s virtual nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to:http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.
      In Good Health,
      The Nutrition Team

  25. Millicent Blum November 7, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    I have been diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis for about 15 years now and take 10mg of prednisone daily. Over the last 4 months I have had pain in both shoulders and arrms, sometimes extremely painful, keeping me awake at night and full of tension throughout my body. I have been to a reumatologist, my primary care doc (a recent blood test shows that I have a dramatic loss of iron, we’re not sure why and has me on an iron supplement), an endocrimologist has me scheduled for a coloscopy and upper GI screening for 11/20 and 11/25 respectively, and an orthopod (received a cortisone injection to no avail). I am seeing a nutrionist now that believes I have celiac (not confirmed) and has me on a regiment of shakes and is planning on adding supplements to balance out the insufficiencies.

    I’m desparate to find a solution, soon!! Please help!

    • Avatar of Team Hyman
      Team Hyman December 30, 2013 at 10:59 pm #

      Thank you for your interest in Dr Hyman’s work with IBS. Unfortunately Dr Hyman cannot provide personal medical advice in this forum. If you would like to make an appointment at Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA please go to:http://www.ultrawellnesscenter.com/becoming-a-patient/ When you are finished reading through the material you may call the office at After you have reviewed this, please contact our office to make an appointment. By phone, (413) 637-9991; by email, office@ultrawellnesscenter.com

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to:http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  26. Jeannine November 13, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

    I’ve had sarcoidosis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and have been living with a diagnosis of celiac disease for nearly 18 years. Over the years I have developed multiple food allergies. In fact, the list of what I can’t eat is probably longer than the list of digestible foods for me. I am now being evaluated for autoimmune hepatitis. How can someone like myself get proper nutrition when the good, wholesome foods incorporated in most peoples diets are toxic to me?

    • Avatar of Team Hyman
      Team Hyman December 30, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

      Thank you for your interest in Dr Hyman’s work with IBS. Unfortunately Dr Hyman cannot provide personal medical advice in this forum. If you would like to make an appointment at Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA please go to:http://www.ultrawellnesscenter.com/becoming-a-patient/ When you are finished reading through the material you may call the office at After you have reviewed this, please contact our office to make an appointment. By phone, (413) 637-9991; by email, office@ultrawellnesscenter.com

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to:http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

  27. Syrus ofnava November 25, 2013 at 5:42 am #

    Hi Dr. Mark Hyman. Thanks for the knowledge and the insightful teaching. My wife is 52, and recently, specially during the past week, started to complain of stiff joint on her left shoulder. It is very painful for her to raise her left hand. The night before she woke up and complained of pain. sometime she feels a sharp pain in the left shoulder. Her most regular diet is milk and feta cheese as breakfast. Its about 3 months that she eats red grape every morning. She eats fish about two times a day, usually fried perch,Mullet or carp. ( I do not know of these fishes, but I know mahi-mahi, mackerel and salmon have less mercury). She eats basmati rice once a day, and bread and feta cheese and avocado(since last 7 years) with her hot tea as breakfast. she also uses about two or tree eggs in a week. Mostly the whites. Since last year she complained that she can not raise her left hand to her head, due to pain. The first 40 years of her life she lived in Iran, and for the past 5 years she spends the 3 months of summer in there. After a short search I concluded that her case may be Rheumatoid Arthritis, which as you know is an Auto immune disease. We are not employed, and can not pay a visit to you, but are willing to pay for few minutes of you advice. Her only other two problems were A: Irregular and elongated bowl movement which fortunately for the past three months there has not been any issue. B: She has sensitive skin against chemicals and during the spring becomes allergic to pollens. I know you do not give advice, but in case if you have made a safe comment in regard with the probability of the case, it will try to call your office to donate a humble amount. By the way I like your philosophical and creative mind. Best Regards: Syros Ofnava

    • Syrus ofnava November 25, 2013 at 6:21 am #

      Correction: Fishes are taken two times a week and not two time a day!

  28. Lee Dror December 8, 2013 at 6:11 pm #

    Hi,
    I wonder if Dr. Hyman and his team is treating teenagers with Type 1 Diabetes . Could you please refer me to any articles or ant information he wrote regarding T1D.
    Thank you in advance,
    Lee

    • Avatar of Team Hyman
      Team Hyman December 27, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

      Hi Lee-While TII is vastly different from TI, the kind of medicine we practice here drastically affects the quality of life for TI diabetic. So the answer to that question would be yes.

  29. Teresa December 9, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    I’ve been sick for about 3 years. It started when I was 17 and I am 20 now. At one point the doctor told me I had iron overload even though I was vegetarian at the time and taking nothing with iron it. Later another doctor tested my autoantibodies and found that my anti-RNP antibodies were through the roof (at a value of 8.0 when supposed to be between 0.0 and 0.9). My face is twitching all the time for three years whenever I smile or talk too much. All my muscles feel weak. My fingers/toes don’t wrinkle in water anymore (controlled by the autonomic nervous system). It just seems like all the doctors think I’m crazy. I just don’t feel right and the twitching is really getting to me. I don’t understand how my rheumatologist could just dismiss the RNP value because “I have good muscle tone.” I don’t feel right.

  30. shelley anne halpin December 10, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

    i was just browsing sites to try and find out why the immune system attacks itself because i was just diagnosed with a chronic condition. im 49 and the medicine they gave me (did not take them) are cancer prevention drugs that have chemotherapy in them. no at my age to start taking these would cause more harm than good. now coming across your site has not only filled with joy but hope that i will regain my health, through dentist,diet, and detox.
    thankyou

  31. cancan December 21, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    Stunning ѕtory there. What happened after? Take care!

  32. Michael December 24, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    Hi, I was told by a neurologist recently that I have myasthenia gravis. About a year ago i was a very fit active fairly healthy guy. Im only 24 years old and am not nearly as active or fit lately since I have found out that I have this and since it has been affecting my face muscles in chewing smiling talking and my muscles for working out. I went to see a naturopathic Dr because I did not want to take all the drugs the neurologist prescribed for me i.e. steroids and others and also because I heard if you have an autoimmune disease you should always go see a naturopathic Dr because there can be so many underlying issues a neuralogist would never see. The naturopathic Dr prescribed me with copper and histamine and vitamin B1 that I take every morning and night, Ive been taking it for about a month now but havent yet starting seeing any results. I want to start getting my life back and excercising again, This website has encouraged me to do that, as well as eating healthy again. Do you have any other tips and or advice for me in beating this myasthenia gravis or whatever I may have? Shoud i go an get blood work done for something else that may be causing these symptoms? Thankyou very much.

    • Avatar of Team Hyman
      Team Hyman December 27, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

      Thank you for your interest In Dr. Hyman’s work. Unfortunately he cannot provide you personalized medical advice in this forum. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to http://www.functionalmedicine.org/practitioner_search.aspx?id=117 and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.
      You can also make an appointment to be a patient at Dr.Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA. Please go to: http://www.ultrawellnesscenter.com/becoming-a-patient/
      Did you know you can work with Dr. Hyman’s nutritionists virtually? For personalized nutrition coaching, please see: http://store.drhyman.com/Store/List/Coaching-Programs
      In Good Health,
      Dr. Hyman’s Wellness Staff

  33. halina April 28, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

    What are you thoughts recommendations for treatment, survival on autoimmune disorders such as systemic capillary leak ranging into fibromyalgia, RA, Lupus, etc all the way to tumors from the xenoestrogens that may be produced post foreign body implants such as polypropylene mesh or oxidized cellulose meshes made with metal catalysts? What labs would you recommend be run to get to the root of the issues?

  34. bucket May 17, 2014 at 11:43 pm #

    It’s impressive that you are getting ideas from this piece of
    writing as well as from our discussion made at this time.

  35. Mrs Sandher May 26, 2014 at 4:54 am #

    Hi I’m 41 years old and have been suffering from rheumatoid arthritis for many years I have tried different medications methotrexate and now on Enbrel injection , which has kept inflammation pain at bay however I have noticed tiny white patches on my skin and I’m really concerned. Could you advise what type of foods should I avoid eating to help reverse my immune system attacking my organs. any other advise from you would help.

    Thank you

  36. Iftikhar Shaffi June 13, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

    My granddaughter, Khadija, (now seven years old) was diagnosed type 1 diabetic at the age of 10 months and is since on insulin, diet management etc.
    A few months ago we noticed white spots on corner of lips — diagnosed vitilgo – blood tests also showed deficiency in vit-d as well as some thyroid problem — proper medication for vit-d and thyroid is now being administered. For the vitilgo we need adivice.

    • Avatar of Team Hyman
      Team Hyman June 29, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

      Thank you for your interest In Dr. Hyman’s work. Unfortunately he cannot provide you personalized medical advice in this forum. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to http://www.functionalmedicine.org/practitioner_search.aspx?id=117 and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.

      You can also make an appointment to be a patient at Dr.Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA. Please go to: http://www.ultrawellnesscenter.com/becoming-a-patient/

  37. Donna June 22, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

    So happy to have found this site. My 14 year old son has recently been diagnosed with Ulcerative colitis. We were desperate to find an alternative to heavy chemical drugs and surgery and I think we are doing some of the right things. He is currently taking the commonly prescribed drug Asacol but I would REALLY like to get him off of that. For now, we are practicing a vegan diet, mostly starch based while he’s sick (rice and potatoes) with some cooked veggies. I make a smoothie every morning with cooked blueberries and spinach (he is still in a flare), banana, psyllium husk and organic aloe gel and either rice, flax or almond milk. He is taking turmeric, oregano and peppermint supplements to name a few as well as heavy probiotics. We have to get this flare under control before we see the doctor again next week or he will likely move us up to the next level of treatment. I realize that we have the right to decline but as a layperson I don’t feel comfortable taking his health into my own hands knowing that some of the complications can be quite serious if not fatal. We don’t know which foods are triggering it but at least sticking with this bland starchy diet for the past week or so, has resulted in no sign of red in the bowl. We’ve already paid so much money to traditional medicine and organic foods and supplements…. I don’t know how we could afford a functional Dr. at this moment. I know that you and your staff don’t work for free…. but is there any additional help you could offer us? It would be so, so appreciated.

  38. EmilyAnn Haygood July 15, 2014 at 12:09 am #

    Hi there,

    I am 24 and was diagnosed last year with sjogrens, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus. I don’t want to be on all the pills I am and want some relief. Willing to try anything! I want some more info about detoxing and changing my diet. I am also trying to have children but need to get healthy to ensure a safe pregnancy. Thank you God Bless!

    Emily

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