Put Autoimmune in Reverse: 5 Major Advances


    “You can’t change your genes. But if we’re even half right about all this, you can change the way your genes behave—which is almost the same thing. By adjusting your environment you can adjust your gene activity.” 

    – Steve Cole, Ph.D., Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences in the UCLA School of Medicine

    Some of the most exciting advances in autoimmune disease research, understanding and awareness have emerged in the past decade. As a result of these discoveries you now have enough information to help yourself reverse and prevent autoimmune conditions.

    Here are the top 5 advances that continue to help me keep MS and other potential autoimmune disorders at bay:

    1. Environmental Factors Are The Lion’s Share of the Equation

    There is now consensus that only a fraction of the risk for developing an autoimmune disorder is genetic, whereas the lion’s share — maybe 90-95% of the risk — for developing an autoimmune condition is due to “environmental factors” a.k.a. triggers or root causes. Even the CDC agrees!1CDC, Exposome and Exposomics, https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/exposome/ There is ample evidence that stress, gluten, casein (a protein in dairy), medications (even those provided to arrest autoimmune progression),2Drugs and autoimmunity–a contemporary review and mechanistic approach; Chang C, Gershwin ME; J Autoimmun. 2010 May;34(3):J266-75. doi: 10.1016/j.jaut.2009.11.012. Epub 2009 Dec 16.; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20015613 Bisphenol A (BPA), vitamin D deficiency, exposure to mercury, oral infections, viruses and even certain vaccines can trigger autoimmune disease in genetically susceptible people.3Infection, vaccines and other environmental triggers of autoimmunity; Molina V., Shoenfeld Y.; Autoimmunity. 2005 May;38(3):235-45; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16126512 Sounds daunting, but data suggest that the top factors can be grouped into 6 categories I call F.I.G.H.T.S.™ for Food, Infections, Gut health, Hormone balance, Toxins, and Stress.4Environmental Triggers and Autoimmunity, Aristo Vojdani, K. Michael Pollard, and Andrew W. Campbell; Autoimmune Diseases; Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 798029, 2 pages; http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/798029 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ad/2014/798029/

    What Can You Do?

    a. Identify your environmental triggers
    The “gold standard” amongst holistic and functional medicine practitioners is the 30-day elimination-provocation diet, I call a 30-Day Food Vacation. Remove the top allergens: gluten, grains, sugar, dairy, eggs, legumes (beans, soy, and peanuts are legumes), tree nuts, coffee, alcohol, and, if you have aches and pains, nightshades (tomatoes, white potatoes, eggplants, peppers, paprika, salsa, chili peppers, cayenne, chili powder) for 30 days, or until your symptoms disappear, which might be 60 or 90 days. For help dialing in your ideal foods, download the free Optimal Food Guide ebook.

    b. Remove your triggers
    Reduce your toxic load. Gather and dispose of all your chemically-laden household cleaning and personal care products & medications at a hazardous waste facility. Replace plastic food containers with glass or stainless steel. Check out the Environmental Working Group (EWG) for assistance in finding healthy replacement products. Consider getting your silver (mercury amalgams) fillings removed by a biological dentist. And, last but far from least, reduce your stress!

    c. Check out our Manifesto for Healing Autoimmune Conditions for a wholistic approach to nourishing your mind-body-spirit. You might want to print it out and put it on your fridge or bathroom mirror for beautiful daily reminders.

    2. Epigenetics Puts You in the Driver’s Seat

    The emerging science of “epigenetics” (which literally means “above the gene”) is rapidly revealing how we start with a certain genetic code at conception, but the decision of which genes get “expressed,” or “activated,” is mostly controlled by ‘environmental factors.’ The expression of genes can change rapidly, can be passed along to offspring, and can literally hold the key to health outcomes. The implications for your life and offspring are profound. Change your thoughts, your food and your lifestyle and you chart a new course, whether or not you have the genes for autoimmune or any other disease.

    What Can You Do?

    a. Learn more about epigenetics. A few resources include: NPR’s Science Friday epigenetics segment: and the article The Social Life of Genes in the Pacific Standard.

    b. Read The Biology of Belief by cellular microbiologist and author, Bruce Lipton, PhD.

    c. Be intentional about your daily habits. What you eat, drink, think and do are highly consequential. Even one nights of poor sleep turns on inflammatory genes!5Loss Of Sleep, Even For A Single Night, Increases Inflammation In The Body, Elsevier. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080902075211.htm

    3. Leaky Gut Is the Gateway to Autoimmune Disorders

    In 2012 Alessio Fasano and his team published their breakthrough research findings, revealing the third element in the equation necessary for the development and perpetuation of autoimmune disease: the loss of intestinal barrier function, a.k.a., a “leaky gut.” Now we know that three conditions must co-exist to bring on most autoimmune disorders:

        1. A genetic predisposition to autoimmunity
        2. Exposure to inflammatory environmental F.I.G.H.T.S.™ factor(s): Food, Infections, Gut health, Hormone balance, Toxins, and Stress
        3. Increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut)6Tight Junctions, Intestinal Permeability, and Autoimmunity Celiac Disease and Type 1 Diabetes Paradigms; Jeroen Visser, Jan Rozing, Anna Sapone, Karen Lammers, and Alessio Fasano; Ann N Y Acad Sci. PMC 2010 Jun 16.; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2886850/

    What Can You Do? 

    a. Determine if you have a leaky gut.
    If you have mysterious symptoms or an autoimmune diagnosis, it’s near certain you have a leaky gut too. If you’d rather get the data consider getting Diagnostic Solutions’ GI MAP™ comprehensive stool test which includes pathogens, potential autoimmune triggering microbes, and a zonulin add-on, a marker of leaky gut and a potentially leaky brain.

    b. Follow a “5R” gut repair program: Remove (“weed”) inflammatory foods and pathogenic organisms. 2. Replace missing digestive enzymes and stomach acid. 3. Reinoculate missing beneficial bacteria with probiotics (“seed”); and “feed” good bacteria with prebiotics. 4. Repair the gut lining with targeted nutrients like Vitamin A, L-glutamine, zinc, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), aloe vera, and essential fatty acids. 5. Rebalance your life with more movement, better sleep & less stress.

    c. Follow the autoimmune reversal equation which can be summarized by the simple and effective mantra: Detect. Remove. Repair.

    4. Cyrex Laboratories Focuses on Autoimmune Prevention

    In 2011, Cyrex Laboratories opened its doors to a world eager for early autoimmune detection. They offer several useful “arrays” of antibody testing to evaluate gluten and cross-reactive food sensitivities, common environmental toxins, leaky gut and autoimmune susceptibility.

    Elevated numbers of antibodies, known as “predictive antibodies,” are measurable up to ten years before clinical onset of autoimmune disease. Note that testing positive for antibodies associated with autoimmune disorders on Cyrex Array #5 does not equal a diagnosis or even likelihood that you will necessarily develop that disease in the future. Getting the data on your environmental triggers and the health of your gut empowers you to take the right action to prevent and reverse autoimmune conditions as early as possible.

    What Can You Do?

    a. Consider Functional Medicine testing to get the data on your personal root causes. Modern lab testing includes comprehensive stool tests, tick-borne infections, mold and mycotoxins, and delayed food sensitivities.

    b. Work with a root cause practitioner As a Functional Medicine Health Coach I collaborate with a skilled Naturopath to serve clients as efficiently and effectively as possible with the right testing and custom treatment protocols. If you’re ready to reclaim your health and you want my personal help, the starting point is a 30-min Discovery & Strategy Session. During this session, we will discuss your health situation and your goals. By the end of the call, you will have more clarity for best next steps. If we agree that my 1:1 support is a fit, I will apply the cost of this session towards one of my Functional Medicine Autoimmune Reversal coaching packages. If you’re ready to take control of your health and your life, I’d love to work with you!

    5. Your Microbiome May Matter Most

    Did you know that about 80% of your immune system is housed in the lining of your gut? A vast collection of diverse microbes called the “microbiome” is housed in our gastrointestinal tracts. The microbiome is central to immune function and gut barrier integrity, and is the star of recent health news. Imbalances in our microbial populations -– clinically called “dysbiosis” — caused by diet, overuse of antibiotics, hand sanitizers, and lack of getting our hands dirty, is linked to the explosion of autoimmune disease in the modern world.7Role of the Microbiota in Immunity and inflammation; Yasmine Belkaid and Timothy Hand; Cell. 2014 Mar 27; 157(1): 121–141.; Doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.03.011; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4056765/

    What Can You Do?

    a. Tend to your “inner garden.” Do a comprehensive stool test to screen for yeast overgrowth, parasites, or dysbiosis (imbalance of gut bacteria), and use herbal antimicrobials as needed. Eat a variety of greens and emphasize “prebiotic” (food that feeds “probiotics”) veggies: garlic, onions, artichokes and asparagus. Take high quality probiotics. Eat fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and coconut kefir; add collagen powder to beverages; and make and sip meat or bone broth which contains amino acids, collagen, gelatin and trace minerals.

    b. Follow the Human Food Project, a collaborative quest to understand modern disease relative to our ancestral microbes.

    c. Stay tuned for more research on the promising area of fecal microbial transplants (FMT).8Fecal microbiota transplantation broadening its application beyond intestinal disorders; Xu MQ, et.al.; World J Gastroenterol. 2015 Jan 7;21(1):102-11. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v21.i1.102.: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/255740839Medicine’s Dirty Secret: Fecal Transplants Are the Next Big Thing in Health Care; Byyn Nelson, May 20, 2014, Pacific Standard, http://www.psmag.com/health-and-behavior/medicines-dirty-secret-fecal-transplants-next-big-thing-health-care-81789

    Here’s hoping you now have greater awareness and actions you can take to put autoimmune in reverse — or ideally prevent it altogether.

    Want more help? I wrote Beat Autoimmune, The 6 Keys to Reverse Your Condition and Reclaim Your Health to help people just like you, who are seeking complete healing and optimal health. I am honored that Mark Hyman, MD, Functional Medicine pioneer and thirteen-time New York Times Bestselling author, wrote the foreword.

    Take good care!


    1. My daughter has chron’s disease. After seeing a Naturopathic Doctor, pretty much followed what you’re suggesting…always looking for new info and science on auto immune disease. May I add that high dose IV Vit C is very helpful for inflammation. Miraculous. She does take a biologic, IM injection once every 6 weeks. No other pharmaceuticals. No dairy. No gluten. Clean air, water, organic fruit and veggies. Follows paleo diet. Our goal is to get med free. MD’s did not suggest any diet restrictions….find yourself a good naturopathic doc!!

      • Irene, What a wonderful testimonial to natural approaches! I bet that in following these sage practices that your daughter is able to eventually get off all meds. Good info on the IV Vit C. Yes, here’s to naturopathic docs!!! And happy Mother’s Day to you 🙂

      • Hello Irene! I hope you and your daughter are thriving. Would you be interested in sharing her healing story for the benefit of our readers? We can keep names private, and help with writing. You can respond here or to me at palmer@palmerkippola.com. Thank you! Palmer

    2. Was on methotrexate and plaquenil for my rheumatoid arthritis…went to see a naturopath off gluten and dairy cut out as much sugar as possible and eating more organic and “clean” foods..upped some vitamins (omega 3, b12 and vitamin D as well as a probiotic ) and 6 months in and I am off ALL meds…feeling fabulous and healing more every day!

    3. ok so I have been sick about four years took three to get diagnosed with RA. I have been hospitalized almost twenty times in less than twenty years. I suffer from many issues related to my disease or the meds I take to function with my disease. I am without hope. I have just read this article so I am going to try some of these things. Hopefully they help me. I’ll keep a journal of my experiences. I’m am open to any and ALL suggestions! Bring on the advice!
      Ashley without hope at age 42

      • Hello Ashley,
        Have you had or do you still have silver amalgam dental fillings in your teeth? They are 50% mercury, a known neurotoxin which have been scientifically linked to autoimmune disease including MS,Lupus, Myasthenia Gravis and gastro intestinal disease including Crohn’s,Colitis and other inflammatory diseases. I was diagnosed with three autoimmune diseases 19 years ago after having an old mercury silver filling drilled out and replaced with another. I had all my fillings removed safely by a mercury-free dentist who followed the http://www.iaomt.org safe protocol for removal, which is crucial in protecting both patients and dental staff from mercury vapors. My story is readily available online if you do a google search – “Freya Koss, mercury”. Don’t give up, Palmer’s protocol will assuredly be helpful.

        • Freya, Thank you so much for weighing in. I just read your powerful story on NaturalHealth365. How great that you are taking a stand against mercury in our mouths! I would love to share your healing story on this website. Thank you!

    4. Ashley, thanks for your open & honest comment. You are already on the healing path by being here and learning what you can do to take care of yourself. More advice: find a holistic or integrative physician to help you find the root causes for your RA, etc. Much in the news recently about the link between gut bacteria (the microbiome) and RA. Check this out: http://www.paddisonprogram.com/how-gut-bacteria-influences-rheumatoid-arthritis/
      Take good care! Palmer (with Big Hope for you 😉

    5. Hi, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at age 16 and am now 50. I have had 2 surgeries and was on Remicade for severe joint pains along with Crohn’s for 8 years. I developed many infections and could no longer be on Remicade so I decided to take matters into my own
      hands, and since Jan 2015, I changed my diet completely to whole foods (Paleo) and my life has changed dramatically. I have been off Remicade for a year now and have been active (strength training) and still eating “clean” and feel amazing. I also take the probiotic VSL#3, I have added vitamin D as well as a multi vitamin called Mega Foods. I have removed sugar, processed foods and carbs from my diet. My stomach feels great, my joint pains are under control and I even lost 30lbs! I am convinced our food is making us sick!

      • Lona, I am thrilled for you and so glad you shared your experience here so people can learn from you. Keep up the great self-care and keep in touch! Palmer

    6. Hi Palmer, I just wanted some clarification. After all your hard work over the years to reverse your MS, right now you feel no trace of symptoms at all as if you were what you were feeling say when you were 18 before it all started?

      • Hi Eric,

        Thanks for asking. Yes, right now, and since 2010, I have never felt a trace of symptoms. My antibodies to myelin are all in normal range, and a recent MRI shows faded & disappearing lesions. So yes, feeling like I’m 18 (pre-MS) again — and today is my birthday, so a good day to reflect with gratitude. 😉 Take good care! Palmer

    7. Hi Palmer,
      I just bought your book and look forward to reading what you have experienced and how you handled your healing journey.
      I’m not sure what I’m experiencing at present. I have lost weight and my energy level is lower than usual. I’ve been told it’s hyperthyroidism (Graves) and that I should have my thyroid removed. I am familiar with Dr Bruce Lipton’s, The Biology of Belief and I am familiar with most of Dr.Joe Dispenza’s work. I found YOU through my work with Power of Eight groups as directed by Dr. Lynne McTaggart. My intention is that I am surrounded by knowledgeable and caring health practitioners and allies who will compassionately walk through this healing journey with me, guiding me through, helping me make important and wise health decisions for the restoration and the renewal of my thyroid gland, bringing me to optimal, vibrant, perfect health, strength and joy in my everyday life. I will appreciate suggestions, knowledge, resources you might share with me in my desire to heal my thyroid in place of destroying it.

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