You May Have an Autoimmune Disease But Don’t Know It!

May 12, 2012 in Categories: by

Print Friendly

Do you have an autoimmune disease that you are unaware of?  I’m not talking about the severe autoimmune diseases like lupus, multiple sclerosis, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and Grave’s Disease.  If you are unfortunate enough to suffer from one of these types of conditions, you are probably already aware that they are autoimmune in nature.  I’m talking about the conditions which are generally not life-threatening (although some of them can become so), for which the treatment may be as simple as a small dose of steroids or daily NSAIDS, and for which doctor’s typically shrug their shoulders like it’s no big deal.  Yes, a surprising number of those types of conditions, eczema and arthritis for example, are actually autoimmune in nature.

As I perused a list of confirmed and suspected autoimmune diseases, I was shocked by how many common skin conditions and gut health disorders are autoimmune in nature (to the point where I wonder if all digestive disorders and skin conditions will eventually be considered autoimmune diseases).  I was also surprised by how many autoimmune diseases are characterized by nebulous symptoms that could easily be ignored and attributed to not getting enough sleep (at least until they get bad enough).  Wikipedia has a comprehensive list of autoimmune diseases (here’s the link), but here are some that stood out to me as ones that many people suffer from without ever being told that they are actually autoimmune diseases (some of these are suspected autoimmune diseases rather than confirmed and some of them are certainly life-threatening serious diseases but maybe not commonly understood to be autoimmune in nature).

  • Alpopecia (spot baldness)
  • Arthritis (all forms)
  • Atopic Allergy (tendency to be hyperallergic)
  • Dermatitis (all forms)
  • Cancer
  • Type I Diabetes
  • Eczema
  • Endometriosis
  • Gastritis
  • Lichen Planus
  • Lichen Sclerosis
  • Morphea (localized scleroderma)
  • Myositis
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Narcolepsy
  • Polymyalgia rhematica
  • Psoriasis
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Schizophrenia
  • Scleroderma
  • Vasculitis

It is worthy to note here that there is a whole other group of diseases, such as anxiety and depression, asthma, allergies, Type II Diabetes and even acne, that are not considered autoimmune disease but for which the immune system still plays a part.  If you suffer from any of these conditions, it is worth while giving strong consideration to following the paleo diet Autoimmunie Protocol, especially if out-of-the-box paleo doesn’t address your health issues. 

The more I read about health and nutrition, the more I am coming to believe that autoimmunity acquired as a result of a leaky gut caused by the Standard American Diet is far more rampant than epidemiological reports would have us believe.  I suspect that autoimmunity is a spectrum with symptoms so mild in the early phases that we are generally unaware.  I suspect that autoimmunity is very common is people with metabolic syndrome (or even people who simply struggle with weight loss).  And I think that in many people those ethereal early phases of autoimmunity can last years or even decades.  The symptoms of autoimmune conditions can be nebulous.  They can come and go and not seem to be anything more than the result of the stresses of normal life and what we consider to be a normal part of aging.  But if you find yourself claiming that “I’m just not getting enough sleep these days” or “yeah, my knees have been bugging me” or “well, my mom had arthritis at my age”, take a hard look at these symptoms and consider the possibility that you are perhaps dealing with the very beginnings of autoimmunity. 

Symptoms which may be caused by autoimmunity:

  • Extreme Fatigue
  • Muscle and Joint Pain
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Swollen Glands
  • Susceptibility to Infections
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Unexplained Weight Changes
  • Resistance to Weight Loss
  • Yeast Infections
  • Digestive Problems
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Migraines
  • Recurrent Headaches
  • Memory Problems
  • Allergies
  • Rashes
  • Blood Pressure Changes (usually low)
  • Low Blood Sugar
  • Thyroid Problems
  • PMS

When dealing with these early symptoms of autoimmunity, you are unlikely to get a clear diagnosis from your doctor.  But, you are more likely to see rapid resolution of your symptoms by following The Autoimmune Protocol (you may even see resolution of your symptoms with out-of-the-box paleo).  And on the very bright side, if you “catch it early”, you may be able to eventually reintroduce nuts, seeds, eggs, nightshades and alcohol.  So, are you a person who needs to follow The Autoimmune Protocol?  Maybe.  I would make this suggestion:  if you don’t feel amazing after a couple of months on out-of-the-box paleo, try The Autoimmune Protocol.  It just might be right for you.


I’m on day 12 of the AIP. Have done GAPS a few years back, and also have been grain free (mostly Paleo) for over 6 months. I’m wondering if you have ever heard of heart rhythm issues being autoimmune or allergy issues? I get racing episodes and 2 years ago was diagnosed with atrial flutter which would not resolve without a cardioversion. Not fun! So curious if you have ever run across heart rhythm issues/ racing particularly being connected to auto-immunity.

I was diagnosed with POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia) which is associated with intense bouts of tachycardia and heart rhythm abnormalities that don’t necessarily have a heart structure cause . It has been linked to a variety of auto-immune disorders. I am starting the AIP in hopes that I will help heal the underlying cause of my POTS :)

My integrative medicine professional told me that the AIP is basically like the elimination diet…NOT something to do long term. What’s up with that?

my doc said my autoantibodies are slightly higher then normal but that it’s probably not a cause for concern… Could I have the beginnings of an autoimmune disease? Or is my problem something else? I have all of the symptoms….

2 1/2 months on autoimmune diet and haven’t sen changes in my psoriasis. Feeling discouraged. Maybe I haven’t given it time. Pressing on. Any advice would be greatly appreciated

Are you also following her article “Modifying Paleo to treat Psoriasis” from Paleo Mom?
I tried linking it, but it won’t let me. :(

Give it more time. You are battling years of negative inputs into your body. It may take up to a year to see significant improvement. But you also could have other triggers like stress, toxins or heavy metals that need to be addressed. Seek out a practitioner of Functional Medicine.

Have you heard/do you know anything about Sweet’s Syndrome? My 70 y/o father has developed it and I can’t find any studies about dietary changes helping it. But he’s just miserable with flare-ups

If cancer is an autoimmune disease and you’ve had chemotherapy to get rid of the cancer does this mean that your autoimmune disease is cured?

I have suspected an autoimmune disease for over a year now and my symptoms have just come to a head about 2 months ago, causing me to start on the AIP diet on my own and consult a doctor. He has tested me for everything he can think of as far as AI diseases are concerned and can’t find anything. I don’t want to be on this diet forever if I don’t have to, but shouldn’t it follow that if I’m finding some (frustratingly inconsistent) relief from AIP, that I must have some sort of AI disease? I really want a diagnosis to guide me in my healing path. What are your thoughts on maintaining this diet without an AI diagnosis?

Hello :) I was wondering if you consider Raynaud’s Disease an autoimmune condition, (no known contributing factors). Some doctors say it is, and some say it’s not. What are your thoughts on this?
Thank you very much!

Hi Sarah!

I follow your website and your diet a little bit over a year. I’m glad that I found it and the diet helps to give me relief.
I have a question about a disease that my friends son has.
A year ago he was diagnosed with Henoch-Schönlein-Purpura and he already has kidney problems because of a delayed diagnosis and mistreatment.
The doctors told my friend that her boy only has 2-3 more years to live . He is only 10. So, they gave up on him.
Do you think that the autoimmune diet could help him? Could you recommend a specialist in Germany since we live there?
It would be so great if anyone could help with an answer. Thanks so much for reading!


I am so glad i found you and all this great information. Over the holidays I had what I thought was the flu – but no fever. Really achy joints and muscles. I felt like I had been run over by a truck. Then a couple of days ago I woke up with a swollen knee, and I have not had an injury.

For many months now my morning headaches, stuffed up nose, post nasal drip and vertigo are more and more prevalent. I can’t remember the last time I woke up without a headache! I believe I have some autoimmune issues going on. I am going to follow AIP for a few months and see what happens. Because how I feel now – it sucks!

I was diagnosed with Seronegative Inflammatory Arthritis about 12 months ago. I have been on medication during that time i.e anti-inflammatories and two different types of drugs to help with the Arthritis itself but they don’t seem to be working. I am not a fan of the next drug or any for that matter that they want to put me on and the only thing that gives me any relief is the anti-inflammaries. I have been gluten free for 4 years and follow some of the paleo eating however I have decided I would like to give the AIP a go. It scares me and I am afraid as I am quite tiny already that I will fade away to nothing but was also wondering if I can still take the drugs whilst I am doing the AIP or is it pointless?

About A-fib, read Dr. Carolyn Dean’s book on A-fib (Kindle) and her book Magnesium Miracle. Go to her blog and you can download some free pdf’s on magenesium info. She sells on her website a magnesium supplement that does not cause digestive problems. I have A-fib, and using her products have eliminated almost all my symptoms. Her products are pricey. I buy my magnesium from Amazon (Good State brand) at a more practical price. But occasionally buy them from her site because she saved my life and I want to support her for all the work she has done. Paleo has also made a huge difference. Look into this and do your research.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *