Autoimmune Repair Program at a Glance
People always ask me what is the quickest, most effective way to reverse an autoimmune condition. I have outlined the path that works the fastest most of the time. This is an overview that could make a tremendous difference in your health, but it comes with the disclaimer that there is a great deal of important information that can’t be covered in this short blog post; (or I wouldn’t have written a 500 page book on the subject!) I want you to get an idea of what is involved and get you a head start on your healing journey.
The process for healing autoimmunity begins with identifying and removing the triggers burdening the immune system so it has a chance to calm down. I call these triggers “splinters.” Once immune stress is removed, proper immune function will be naturally restored. Your body knows how to heal when you give it what it needs.
The Autoimmune Repair Program consists of three phases: The elimination diet, the Sensitivity Discovery phase, and the continuing phase of maintaining your vibrant health. I’ll make notes about the sections of The Thyroid Cure that contain more information on different aspects of this process.
Phase I: 30 to 90 Day Overview
Food is medicine, and it also can be poison. In my experience food allergies and sensitivities are a major trigger for many autoimmune conditions. The wrong foods (for you) may compromise your GI tract leading to a condition called “leaky gut syndrome,” a major autoimmune splinter. Because of this, Phase 1 of the Thyroid Repair Program is an elimination diet in which you avoid possible reactive foods until your symptoms go away. In Phase II you reintroduce foods one-by-one and see how you feel. I find this method to be more accurate than hit-or-miss sensitivity tests.
It’s important to stay on Phase I of The Thyroid Cure program until your symptoms have resolved. This can take anywhere from 30 to 90 days if you follow it 100 percent. It will take longer if you are unable to make all the healthy changes required to heal.
You can take as long as you like to work the program. Some people can’t, or don’t want to, make lifestyle changes that quickly. It’s okay. Just do the best you can. I always tell people that reversing autoimmunity is like taking a trip from California to New York. You can hop on a plane and get it over with quickly, or you can walk across country. It’s totally up to you how fast you want to get well. If you follow the program 100 percent for a full 90 days, I guarantee you will see a marked improvement in your health; in many cases, you may see a complete reversal. Remember, you are doing this for yourself, so do it at the pace that you can handle.
Start with a full panel of blood tests so that you have a baseline for your journey to better health. You want to know where you stand and how the program is working for you. If your most recent labs are from within the last 90 days, it’s okay to use those. You will be retesting in 90 days or when your symptoms have resolved, whichever comes first.
What to do first if you are hypothyroid due to Hashimoto’s: If necessary, normalize your thyroid hormone levels with the addition of thyroid replacement medication. Talk to your practitioner about aiming to reduce thyroid inflammation by lowering TSH to 1.0 or lower by using thyroid hormone supplementation, selenium, zinc, essential fatty acids and antioxidants. Reducing TSH makes the thyroid less active and less inflamed. I discuss this in Chapter 13 of the book, The First Steps Toward Reversing Your Autoimmune Thyroid Condition. Please work with a qualified practitioner as several factors, such as heart health, need to be considered. Compounded T3/T4 is optimum if you can afford it. This treatment may only be short term—3 to 6 months—after which you can reassess your condition and medication needs. This recommendation is only if you are hypothyroid. Note: Hyperthyroid patients do not need thyroid hormone replacement!
If you are hyperthyroid due to Graves’ or Hashimoto’s: Control hyperthyroid symptoms with medication (beta blockers, antithyroid) or botanicals (bugleweed, valerian root and lemon balm).
The following refers to sections of the book which detail specific information about the program:
Chapter 14 Optimize Your Nutrition: Follow Phase I—Eating for Your Good Genes, and for 30 to 90 days stop eating gluten, dairy, eggs, sugar, nightshades, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, ALL processed and junk foods, alcohol and over-the-counter medications (unless prescribed by your doctor). Start eating fresh organic berries, tons of organic veggies, fermented foods, healing fats such as avocados, coconut oil, fish oil, and borage oil, and small amounts of lean organic fish, meat or poultry. If you are adverse to animal protein you can try hypoallergenic rice protein powder. Cook with anti-inflammatory herbs and spices such as turmeric, cumin, fennel, parsley, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and garlic. Replace regular table salt with sea salt. Take a quality multivitamin that contains adequate B vitamins and methyfolate (Metafolin) such as Empowerment Formula. You can download the shopping list and recipes of Phase 1 of my autoimmune healing program for free here.
Chapter 15 Reduce Stress: Reduce stress and heal your adrenals by slowing down and reducing your stress and commitments. Try mindfulness practice or meditation. Connect with a higher power through prayer or spending time in nature. Try moderate exercise such as walking, hiking, yoga, swimming or Pilates. Lighten up with laughter! Get a minimum of 15 minutes of laughter a day (I’m not kidding – this works!) Commit to 8 to10 hours of sleep every night. Try a media fast and avoid the news and violent movies. If you have moderate to advanced adrenal fatigue symptoms please work with a skilled practitioner. Some people feel better with adaptogenic herbs such as such as Asian ginseng, eleuthero extract, ashawaganda and licorice. Talk to your health care provider before using whole adrenal cortex (bovine) or prescription medications such as Cortef (cortisol).
Our health has a strong emotional component, so I devote Part Three of the book to The Mind-Body Connection, and cover stress-busting techniques in Chapter 15.
Chapter 16 Heal Your Gut: Heal your GI tract if necessary and reduce inflammation by removing foods and substances that disrupt the delicate balance of microbes in your gut. Many people with autoimmune conditions have a condition called leaky gut syndrome. Just stay on Phase 1 of my program until your symptoms resolve. If you don’t improve within 90 days make sure to Test don’t Guess! Test for, and treat dysbiosis (imbalance among the colonies of microorganisms within your body), parasites, fungus, and other GI pathogens if indicated. My favorite test is the GI Effects by Metametrix/Genova Clinical laboratories. Support GI tract with medical foods such as GI Sustain, Ultra Inflamex 360, digestive enzymes with Betaine HCL, and probiotics.
Chapter 17: Restore Your Liver: Support your liver by staying on Phase I of the nutrition program and steering clear of harmful substances such as alcohol, sugar, caffeine, and over-the-counter drugs such as Tylenol. Improve your methylation and boost your glutathione (the body’s master antioxidant) by following the guidelines in this chapter.
Try my 14 day Liver Bliss Detox, available for free online here.
Chapter 19: Detox Your Life: Detox your home, garden, and office. Stop using products that contain chemicals that are hidden sources of toxic stress. Replace toxic chemicals with clean and green alternatives.
Try some detox treatments:
- 3- or 10-day detox
- Far-infrared sauna
- Epsom salt bath
Phase II: Sensitivity Discovery Phase
Once your symptoms have completely resolved, you can begin the process of reintroducing foods and track how you feel. Theoretically, if you’ve healed your GI tract, you may be able to reintroduce many of your favorite foods and find that you can now “tolerate” them fairly well. The universal exceptions are gluten, junk and processed foods. I recommend that everyone who is sensitive enough to have developed autoimmunity should consider letting go of gluten, junk and processed foods for life. Many people also report feeling better by staying off all grains, dairy, nightshades and legumes long-term.
If you’re still not feeling well…
If you’ve followed the program 100 percent for a full 90 days and you still don’t feel well, you most likely have some other splinters that need to be addressed, such as a stealth infection or a toxin such as a heavy metal. In that case, you will want to move on to the next step:
Chapter 17: Restore Your Liver: Test for heavy metals, especially mercury, and do a heavy metal detox if necessary.
Chapter 18 Clear Infections: Look for sources of hidden inflammation, such as infections. Treat any systemic infections, sinusitis, mycoplasma, Candida, etc. Check for and treat infections in your mouth.
Phase III: Vibrant for Life!
The lifestyle program is the custom mind-body program you create for yourself after following the guidelines in this book. Once you feel well, you’ll want to stay well. Most people find that they love the healthy changes they’ve made and want to stick with them for life.
At 3–6 months into the program or after your symptoms have resolved, you’ll want to retest antibodies and thyroid hormones. It’s very likely that if you feel good, your labs will have improved too. In this phase, you will work with your practitioner to adjust your thyroid hormone dosage if necessary.
Many people are able to stick with the lifestyle changes long-term by using the 80/20 rule, which means sticking to a healthy program 80 percent of the time. (Most people nee to stay off gluten 100 percent!) You will have to find the ratio that works best for you!
I hope this blog gives you an idea of what’s involved in reversing an autoimmune condition. You’ll find a lot more of what you need to know in The Thyroid Cure book, but I hope this information gives you a head start on your journey for better health.
This can be a lot of information to navigate on your own. If you need help customizing your program, call my office for an appointment. I’d love to work with you. 575-613-4369 or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org