A Frustrating Set-Back

July 30, 2012 in Categories: by

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I have been following the Autoimmune Protocol to the best of my ability since January with the hope of curing an autoimmune disease called lichen planus.  I have the occasional bite of something with egg and/or nuts in it (for the good of the blog!) and seem okay with small amounts of chocolate and seed-based spices as long as they aren’t nightshades.  I have enjoyed slow, gradual improvement in my lichen planus lesions, most noticeable since the end of April.  I have also noticed an increased tolerance to those occasional small doses of eggs or nuts and even to starchy vegetables in the last month, which has given me the hope that I will eventually be able to reintroduce these foods.  While I have no doubt that I would heal faster if I had the ability/motivation to stick with the Autoimmune Protocol100%, I’ve been pretty happy with how things have been going.

And then I did something that I regret.  I decided to challenge tomatoes.  Two weeks ago, I made a supper that included half a can of crushed tomatoes in the whole pot.  There were leftovers so we ate this meal two nights in a row (this means I ate maybe the equivalent of a single tomato).  Two days later, my lichen planus flared.  I developed new lesions for the first time since starting the Autoimmune Protocol.  And they itch like crazy!  Oh, and that increased tolerance to nuts and eggs has disappeared.  Grr!   

The only other time I have eaten tomatoes in 2012 was once in February, where I certainly noticed a reaction.  But this seems even more exaggerated (probably because I had healed so much since then).  Tomatoes contain a saponin called α-tomatine, which has strong adjuvant activity in the body (more on this in a future post).  This means that it exaggerates an immune response (adjuvants are added to vaccines to get your body to form more antibodies against whatever you are being inoculated against).  This is the reason that many with autoimmune diseases are able to reintroduce some nightshades into their diet, but not tomatoes .  I am starting to suspect that tomatoes will be permanently excluded from my diet.  Which is too bad, because they are pretty tasty. 


And thus science progresses.

I’ve come to a similar conclusion about myself and wheatish grains. Even tiny amounts cause immidiate suffering.

But I’m far happier knowing what’s going on and missing cookies than the inverse… It’s a welcome trade-off.

Wow. This may explain some things I have been experiencing… I had not realized that tomatoes could be problematic even if other nightshades are tolerated.

Very sorry for your suffering, but thanks so much for this post!

I would be upset if I had to eliminate tomatoes from my food choices, however, with each thing we discover that causes problems for us, the better we feel, which is worth it. Still, I understand.

Thanks for helping me decide to put tomatoes on the very bottom of my food challenge list. I probably won’t try them before next summer and by then, it will be 2 years of avoidance. It is difficult at this time of year when ripe tomatoes are everywhere, and I have been craving them, so thanks for the information that helps to galvanize my resolve.

I appreciate you using yourself as a guinea pig for our benefit (and your own too, of course!) and sharing the results with us. You’re still a super hero to me!

Thanks everyone. I’m sad about tomatoes (I miss so many foods that include them), but it is good to have conclusive evidence that I shouldn’t eat them (at least for now). And I’m always glad when something I share helps someone else figure things out for themselves. 🙂

Thank you for your always informative and helpful posts!
Do you know if tomatillos have the same components? I have been experiencing lots more pain and limitations the past couple weeks, after going through a tomatillo salsa phase, along with a few other little cheats from AIP.

I’m sorry about the problem with tomatoes. I hope you feel better soon.

I have a different sort of problem with tomatoes and this is what I’ve learned thus far:
-Canned tomatoes are worse than fresh tomatoes. I’m not sure why.
-I don’t have a problem with most non-red tomatoes. They have so much less of the acid and the other compounds that cause stomach irritation. I can eat the yellow, white, and some of the orange tomatoes by the handful without experiencing a reaction. Most of the green and bicolor tomatoes are also okay for me.

I’m saying that you’ll find this is true for you, but if you ever decide to try tomatoes again, you might want to try some non-red fresh tomatoes.

The alpha-tomatine is even more concentrated in green tomatoes compared to ripe, which is why I’ve stayed away from them so far. But, it is potentially lower in some heirloom varieties, so when I’m ready to try again (in months or years), that’s definitely the way I’ll go. It sounds like you must be sensitive to something else in tomatoes if the riper ones cause more problems. Or something in the packaging, like BPA from the can? How do you handle jarred tomatoes?

The green tomatoes I eat are naturally green, such as Green Zebra or Aunt Ruby’s German Green, not green versions of red ones. I can only tolerate the heirlooms and not the modern varieties.

As for canned versus jarred, I have a reaction to both (I’m assuming you mean home-canned by jarred), but my reaction is noticeably worse to the store-bought canned tomatoes.

Strangely, of all the red tomatoes, I can handle the sun-dried tomatoes the best. I’m not certain if it is the variety used or it the level of the irritants are better.

When I was first diagnosed, my doctor prescribed the following diet for me: 20 grams of fiber per day, whole grains only, no caffeine, no red meat, no raw vegetables, no tomatoes. I had trouble for years on this diet, but when we switched to paleo 6 weeks ago and I started eating much of these things again, I immediately got better. I’ve eaten three steaks in the past month and have been not only fine, but great.

It is so discouraging! I have an evil relationship with tomatoes, too, and I really miss them. I’m also following the strict protocol as best I can, but I mess up on little things along the way. It’s tough to follow this diet so strictly and some days I just want to cry, but the alternative is to eat badly and then really pay for it. It’s what gets me through! Sigh.

I have another autoimmune disease (Graves) and have noticed these red, itchy spots on my ankles when it was not under control. They itch so much! I thought they were bug bites. I had no idea they were actually another AI condition until reading this (and your other LP) post. I have been on anti-thyroid drugs for the past 8 months while also going almost-Paleo and had not seen one of these since last year. The last few months, I’ve tried to get with the AI version (I cut out eggs, nightshades & most nuts/seeds though I still have dairy, and slips). Yesterday I had Korean food which had lots of spicy nightshade action and an egg. By the time bedtime rolled around, I had a familiar red itchy spot on my ankle and, because of your posts, I made the connection. I’m learning to appreciate these ‘setbacks’ – they help me know I am on the right track and give me hope that I will eventually be able to ditch the pharmaceuticals. I wanted to thank you for writing about these issues. I’ve learned so much from your blog and love that you are finding time to write even more. Paleo Mom rules!

Can you tell me what I might be doing wrong. I have lichen planis too along with HT. I started with the AIP as strict as possible. I was “sucked” into this new food world (as I call it) because I had been stung by something. I’m guessing that it was most likely a yellow jacket. My right ankle where I was stung and up past my knee swelled up hugh. The only thing that worked to alleviate the swelling which was so severe that it caused me knee and hip joint problems was AIP. But unexpected and interesting events began to happen to me. My swelling quickly began to diminish so I knew that it was working. Next I happily began to quickly loose unwanted weight. But then the amazing results blew me away. My sinus allergies were bearable without meds and my lichen planis recurring leshions were no longer full blown episodes. But here’s the thing. I have been experiencing severe diarrhea since I started with this and I don’t want to go backwards with the other improvements I’ve made.Any ideas on what to do. Oh btw I don’t do any dairy and haven’t for years. It caused me severe migraines and sinus infections. Molds and mildew does the same thing. For this reason I also eliminated nightshades. I also just tried eliminating high fodmap. But the diarrhea seems persistent. Any ideas on what to try? Apples, bananas are out with the HT as well and rice out on the AIP. I’m stumped.

Have you tried using probiotics? Diarrhea can sometimes result from an imbalanced gut flora. -Kiersten

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