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The Doctor's Farmacy with Mark Hyman, M.D.

Strategies To Reverse Autoimmune Disease

Fri Nov 17 2023
autoimmune diseasesfunctional medicineroot causesgut healthtriggersholistic approachsupplementslifestyle changes


This episode explores the causes, symptoms, and treatment of autoimmune diseases from a functional medicine perspective. It highlights the importance of addressing the root causes of autoimmune diseases and restoring balance in the immune system. The episode also discusses the role of gut health in autoimmune diseases and provides insights into prevention and management strategies.


Autoimmune diseases affect over 80 million Americans

Autoimmune diseases are a significant health concern, surpassing the prevalence of cancer, heart disease, or diabetes.

Functional medicine offers an alternative approach

Functional medicine focuses on understanding the root causes of autoimmune diseases and aims to restore balance in the body.

Gut health plays a crucial role

Imbalances in gut flora and gut inflammation can contribute to autoimmune diseases. Healing the gut is essential for managing these conditions.

Identifying triggers and removing them can lead to improvement

Identifying triggers such as toxic mold exposure, vaccinations, and certain irritants like gluten can help manage autoimmune diseases.

A holistic approach is necessary

Functional medicine takes a holistic approach to treating autoimmune diseases, considering factors such as diet, lifestyle, and environmental influences.

Supplements and lifestyle changes can support immune health

Taking immune-calming supplements and adopting healthy lifestyle habits like exercise, stress management, and adequate sleep can help prevent or manage autoimmune diseases.

Seeking professional guidance is important

Individuals with autoimmune diseases are encouraged to work with functional medicine doctors and seek professional medical advice for proper diagnosis and treatment.


  1. Autoimmune Diseases
  2. Causes and Symptoms
  3. Functional Medicine Approach
  4. Case Study and Treatment
  5. Gut Health and Autoimmune Diseases
  6. Prevention and Management

Autoimmune Diseases

00:00 - 06:24

  • Autoimmune diseases affect over 80 million Americans, more than cancer, heart disease, or diabetes combined.
  • Autoimmune diseases are not separate conditions but have common principles that can be addressed to improve health.
  • Traditional hunter-gatherer tribes and societies living in traditional ways have lower rates of autoimmune diseases compared to Western societies.
  • The main causes of autoimmune diseases are related to changes in our modern world.
  • Conventional medicine often focuses on suppressing symptoms with medication rather than addressing the root causes of autoimmune diseases.
  • Functional medicine offers a different approach to treating autoimmune diseases by addressing the underlying causes.
  • There is a need for more research and investment in alternative approaches to treating autoimmune diseases.

Causes and Symptoms

06:02 - 12:37

  • Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus, type 1 diabetes, Graves' disease, Ticumata disease, Multisclerosis, Crohn's disease, and colitis are caused by the body attacking itself.
  • The immune system becomes confused and creates autoantibodies that attack our own tissues, leading to systemic inflammation.
  • There is a rising epidemic of autoimmune diseases that often go undetected until symptoms become severe.
  • Elevated levels of an antibody called antinuclear antibody (ANA) can be an early sign of autoimmune disease.
  • Doctors often focus on treating symptoms with drugs rather than addressing the root cause of immune system dysfunction.
  • A case study of a young girl with dermatomyositis highlights the widespread destruction caused by autoimmune diseases and the reliance on medications to manage symptoms.
  • Despite being on multiple medications, the girl's condition did not improve significantly.

Functional Medicine Approach

12:14 - 19:03

  • Functional medicine doctors aim to understand the root causes of diseases rather than just treating symptoms.
  • Inflammation is a common factor in many age-related diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and dementia.
  • There are five main causes of almost all diseases: allergens (including food sensitivities), microbes (such as Lyme disease or hepatitis), imbalances in the gut microbiome, toxins (from pesticides, plastics, heavy metals), and stress/poor diet.
  • Functional medicine focuses on investigating these causes and restoring balance in the body.
  • Conventional medicine often fails to address the root cause of chronic diseases.
  • Functional medicine takes a systems approach to understanding the body and its interactions.
  • The goal is to find and treat the cause of illness rather than relying solely on medications.
  • Functional medicine can provide a fundamentally different way of solving medical problems by addressing disturbances at their root.

Case Study and Treatment

18:41 - 25:02

  • The podcast discusses the importance of finding the root causes of autoimmune diseases and restoring balance in the immune system.
  • Molecular mimicry is a theory that suggests certain insults, such as consuming gluten, can confuse the immune system and lead to autoimmune diseases.
  • The guest in the podcast had exposure to severe toxic mold, which can act as a trigger for autoimmune diseases.
  • The guest also had immunizations before 1999 when childhood vaccines still contained high levels of mercury. Flu shots may still contain mercury if they are multi-dose vials.
  • Other potential irritants for autoimmune diseases include antibiotics, sugar, dairy, gluten, and junk food.
  • The guest's lab tests showed high levels of muscle enzymes, liver function issues, and many autoimmune antibodies that were off-the-chart high.
  • Most autoimmune specialists do not check for antibodies after the initial check unless the cause is eliminated.
  • The guest had low white count and red cells, low vitamin D levels, high antibodies to gluten, and an extremely high mercury level.
  • Treatment included an anti-inflammatory elimination diet without gluten, dairy, sugar or processed foods. Nutritional support was provided with vitamins and supplements. Antifungal medication was given to treat yeast overgrowth. Liver support was provided along with adrenal gland support due to steroid use.
  • Two minutes after starting treatment, the guest reported complete resolution of symptoms including rash, joint pain, hair loss, and muscle pain. Autoimmune markers improved significantly within two months.
  • Probiotics were added to aid digestion and reduce inflammation. A drug called DMSA was used to remove metals from tissues. Herbs were given to help taper off steroids. One month later all lab tests were normal except for one autoimmune antibody called RMP. Mercury levels decreased over time and gut inflammation resolved.

Gut Health and Autoimmune Diseases

24:33 - 30:50

  • Gut inflammation can be a significant issue for autoimmune patients.
  • Stool testing, specifically looking at Calprotectin levels, can indicate gut inflammation.
  • Removing the cause of autoimmune disease can lead to improvement or even a cure.
  • Functional medicine doctors take a holistic approach to treating autoimmune diseases.
  • Hidden infections and imbalances in gut flora can contribute to autoimmune diseases.
  • Gluten is a major factor in causing leaky gut, which can lead to autoimmune issues.
  • Parasites and tick infections may also be linked to autoimmune diseases.
  • Testing for heavy metals and environmental chemicals is important in addressing autoimmune diseases.
  • Healing the gut through the 5R program (removing bad stuff, replacing missing nutrients, re-inoculating with healthy bacteria, repairing the gut lining, and restoring the nervous system) is crucial.
  • Screening for celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity is recommended for those with autoimmune concerns.
  • Trying an elimination diet or following the 10-day detox diet can be beneficial for managing autoimmune conditions.
  • Taking immune-calming supplements like vitamin D, fish oil, vitamin C, and probiotics may help prevent or manage autoimmune diseases.

Prevention and Management

30:23 - 33:52

  • The speaker recommends taking supplements such as vitamin D, fish oil, vitamin C, and probiotics to help calm the immune system and prevent autoimmune diseases.
  • Curcumin, basraelia, ginger, and a product called diplement are mentioned as potentially helpful for inflammation.
  • Regular exercise, stress management techniques like meditation and yoga, deep breathing, and getting enough sleep are suggested as ways to reduce inflammation.
  • The speaker encourages individuals with autoimmune diseases to dig into the root causes of their condition and work with a functional medicine doctor.
  • A stool test, mental test, and food sensitivity testing are mentioned as possible investigations for autoimmune diseases.
  • The speaker suggests reading their e-book called "The 10-Day Detox: The Autoimmune Solution" for a basic framework on how to approach autoimmune diseases.
  • It is emphasized that the podcast is for educational purposes only and should not replace professional medical advice. Seeking out a qualified medical practitioner or functional medicine practitioner is recommended.