Autoimmune Disease with Palmer Kippola: Rational Wellness Podcast 171
Podcast: Play in new window | Download | Embed
Palmer Kippola speaks about Autoimmune Diseases with Dr. Ben Weitz.
[If you enjoy this podcast, please give us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts, so more people will find The Rational Wellness Podcast. Also check out the video version on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/weitzchiro/]
4:28 Palmer reports that when she was 19 years old she woke up one day and had tingling in the soles of her feet. This tingling progressed and crept up her legs like a vine. Her parents took her to a neurologist who did a cursory exam and then told her that she has multiple sclerosis and there is nothing that she can do except go home and wait and eventually she would be destined for a life in a wheelchair. She essentially laid on the couch for 6 weeks since it was difficult to walk, but eventually, with the encouragement of her father, who told her “Honey you’re going to beat this thing,” so she decided to fight it and overcome her health challenge. But her Dad was also verbally abusive to both her and her mom and she recalls her dad yelling at her mom when they were age 3 or 4 for being overweight. She developed insomnia at around age 11 or 12. So she lived with chronic stress and this may have been the trigger for her autoimmune disease. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study shows that traumatic events in childhood can trigger autoimmune diseases later in life. Palmer considers herself cured of her multiple sclerosis and she pointed out that in the dictionary, the word cure means to restore to balance. She recognizes that she still has the genes for MS but she has altered the epigenetic expression of those genes.
13:52 Some of the keys to Palmer improving were developing a yoga and a meditation practice that enabled her to deal with stress better. Prior to that she would get symptoms whenever she felt stress building up. She tried following a low fat, vegetarian diet since this is part of the Roy Swank diet that was recommended for multiple sclerosis, but it did not work for her. She found that she did not do well eating gluten and she also found that it was important for her to include some humanely raised, grass fed, grass finished beef and wild fish and that such animal proteins and amino acids were helpful in her body being able to repair and heal.
19:12 Most patients with autoimmune diseases should give up eating gluten, since Dr. Alessio Fasano in 2015 discovered that gluten creates leaky gut and leaky gut (aka intestinal hyperpermeability) is the pathway to autoimmune disorders. And 70% of the people sensitive to gluten are also sensitive to dairy. The casein protein in diary is inflammatory, esp. from A1 cows. Palmer recommends her clients do a 30 or 60 or 90 day food elimination diet in which they avoid gluten and all grains, dairy except for ghee, sugar, eggs, soy, corn, night shades (tomatoes, white potatoes, peppers, eggplant, goji berries), legumes, nuts and seeds, coffee, and alcohol. They essentially do an autoimmune paleo diet until their symptoms resolve and then they test these foods back in one at a time to see if they create a reaction or are tolerated.
29:25 Gut health is a big factor in autoimmune diseases and if you have leaky gut then large protein molecules like gluten and casein will more likely get into your bloodstream and get attacked by the immune system. If you have leaky gut, you have genes that predispose you for it, and you have environmental toxins and other factors that create inflammation and cause the immune system to overreact, then you are more likely to end up with an autoimmune disease. In order to stop an autoimmune attack we need to remove the stuff that is breeching the lining of our gut, heal it, and seal it, so that we can arrest that process. Palmer said she likes look at a good stool test like GI Map or a stool test from Genova or Doctor’s Data to assess the gut health and then she will use the 4 R program (Remove, Replace, Reinoculate, and Repair) first pioneered by Dr. Jeffrey Bland, the Father of Functional Medicine, in her treatment approach.
Palmer Kippola is a Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach who specializes in helping people prevent and reverse autoimmune conditions. Palmer is the author of the best selling book, Beat Autoimmune: The 6 Keys to Reverse Your Condition and Reclaim Your Health. Her website is PalmerKippola.com.
Dr. Ben Weitz is available for nutrition consultations, including remote consults via video or phone, specializing in Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders like IBS/SIBO and Reflux and also specializing in Cardiometabolic Risk Factors like elevated lipids, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure and also weight loss, as well as sports chiropractic work by calling his Santa Monica office 310-395-3111 or go to www.drweitz.com. Phone or video consulting with Dr. Weitz is available.
Dr. Weitz: Hey this is Dr. Ben Weitz host of the Rational Wellness Podcast. I talk to the leading health and nutrition experts and researchers in the field to bring you the latest in cutting edge health information. Subscribe to the Rational Wellness Podcast for weekly updates and to learn more, check out my website drweitz.com. Thanks for joining me and let’s jump into the podcast.
Hello Rational Wellness podcasters. Today our topic is autoimmune diseases with Palmer Kippola. Autoimmune diseases are increasingly common causes of sickness and death in the United States. Autoimmune diseases have been on the rise for at least the last four decades. The immune system which we’ve all been learning a lot more about in recent times, it’s designed to protect us from viruses, sure. Bacteria and parasites and to repair our tissues from damage. Autoimmune diseases are diseases when the immune system, instead of attacking those pathogens, attack our own cells and organs and what this means is that the immune system is out of balance. This is often referred to as immune dysregulation. So there are at least 100 different autoimmune diseases and the list is growing and quite a number of other diseases that are suspected to have an autoimmune base. So if we include diseases that have an autoimmune basis, then autoimmune diseases are now the third leading cause of death in the United States, since most of these diseases are chronic and are often life threatening. So a little more common autoimmune diseases include Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s, Rheumatoid, Hashimoto’s Hypothyroid, Celiac Disease, Type one diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s Disease and what we have recently learned from Dr. Pimentel that Irritable Bowel Disease, the most common GI condition, also has an autoimmune origin in many patients. Conventional medical doctors treat autoimmune diseases either by controlling the symptoms, such as providing thyroid hormone in the case of Hashimoto’s Hypothyroid or by using medications that suppress the immune system such as corticosteroid, chemotherapeutic agents or the newer injectable TNF alpha blocking agents like Humira and Remicade. These drugs block the immune system and unfortunately this is a problem because we do need a properly functioning immune system and they have potential side effects like infections and cancer.
But functional medicine treats autoimmune diseases by looking at some of the underlying factors that lead to this immune system getting dysregulated such as leaky gut, food sensitivities, toxins, mold, heavy metals, infections, nutritional deficiency, stress, et cetera. This is very important. If I have a patient with Hashimoto’s Hyperthyroid and most women in the U.S. with Hypothyroid have autoimmune Hashimoto’s and all this patient is treated with is thyroid medication, it doesn’t do anything for the smoldering fire of the autoimmune disease that’s been attacking the thyroid gland and chances are will continue. So this patient may need higher dosages of thyroid or they may end up with another autoimmune disease. So not just regulating the thyroid, but also putting out that smoldering fire of autoimmunity is crucial for this patient’s long term health.
Palmer Kippola wrote an awesome book, “Beat Autoimmune The Six Keys to Reverse Your Condition And Reclaim Your Health.” She is a functional medicine certified health coach and she specializes in helping patients reverse and prevent autoimmune diseases and she’s here to bring some clarity to this topic and give us some more detailed ideas about what we can do about preventing and reversing autoimmune diseases. Palmer thank you so much for joining me today.
Palmer: It’s an honor and a pleasure Dr. Weitz. Thank you so much for having me.
Dr. Weitz: Absolutely. So, maybe we can start by introducing you to our audience by having you tell us a little bit about your life story, beginning when you were diagnosed with MS at age 19.
Palmer: Yeah, well I have to take you back a few years in time for that. In fact, I grew up in where you’re practicing right now in Southern California and I was home for the summer after my freshman year of college. I was your average 19 year old hardworking, hard playing young woman. I was home from school and I didn’t have any of the precursor symptoms. So this hit me quite out of the blue. I was working a summer job and one morning I woke up and the soles of my feet were all tingling. That feeling, that pins and needles feeling like when you sit on a limb too long. I shook my feet, but as hard as I shook my feet I couldn’t get the blood flow back to my feet. I headed off to work thinking this will just pass. But over the course of the morning the tingling progressed and it crept up my legs like a vine. By the time it got to my knees I knew something was wrong. So, I called my parents who called the family doctor who said, “Get her over to the neurologist at UCLA today.” So that afternoon we sat in the neurologist office and it was a woman who had me do the cursory exam which you know heel toe, heel toe. Touch your finger to your nose. That was really about it. Tested my reflexes and after about five minutes she said with what I consider to be a spectacular lack of sensitivity, “I am 99% certain that you have MS, multiple sclerosis.” My family and I had never heard of this. So this is in the mid-80s. I have to take you back a little bit. We didn’t have an internet, but like you said in the introduction, these are on the rise. These autoimmune conditions and when I was growing up and in the mid-80s nobody had heard of MS or multiple sclerosis. So the doctor continued if I’m right, “There’s nothing you can do except go home and wait. We have these immunosuppressive drugs. These steroids, which you could take and we have something called an NMR, a nuclear magnetic resonance image machine” which was the precursor to the MRI. “But other than that there’s nothing you can do.” So later I would learn that she actually pulled my parents aside and said, “You better get ready because she destined for her life in a wheelchair.”
Dr. Weitz: Wow.
Palmer: “So you need to really prepare for that.” I’m telling you like a mack truck just simply quite out of the blue and that day we went home just devastated. We had no idea what to expect. That feeling of uncertainty and the earth has shifted beneath your feet. That was what we felt and that night we got into bed, my mom crawled in with me and all the areas that had been tingling had crept up right underneath my chin, but now every part of my body had gone numb. My body would stay completely numb for a full six weeks that summer, 1984.
Dr. Weitz: Wow.
Palmer: A terrifying time. Yeah, so I’ll leap into, I won’t leave you hanging here. We started when I wasn’t despairing about the future, my parents were really rocks. They were really there for me and my dad, who really encouraged my can do attitude, would say to me, “Honey you’re going to beat this thing” which is how I got the title of the book was my dad’s encouragement, “You can beat this thing.” My mom started to plan for my future in a wheelchair. Could I got to school? Could I attend UCLA in a wheelchair for example?
Dr. Weitz: Wow.
Palmer: That was what we were feeling. So I lay on the couch because there was nothing else I could do that summer. When you’re numb, you can walk, but you don’t have any of that proprioception where you can feel your limbs in space. So it’s this really gangli walk. I would install myself on the couch everyday for six weeks. Friends who weren’t too scared off by this mysterious disease, would come and visit and some friends brought, what do 19 year old friends bring you? Cookies, books, movies, they hand out with you. This one family friend came to visit. She was into things metaphysical. She said, “Palmer why do you think you got this MS? Why do you think you got this?” I was literally stunned. I was really taken aback. I got mad. “Are you insinuating that I brought this on? Do you think that I did something to do this or deserve this?” She left, but the question wouldn’t leave me. So I sat there on the couch chewing on that question like a dog with a bone. I just lay there, “How did I bring this on?” So I need to take you back a little bit more in time. So I had been adopted as a baby and my parents were very loving. But my dad had been a fighter pilot and his way was invariably the right way. We used to butt heads quite a bit. It was this dichotomy because on the one hand super motivational, encourage my can do attitude all the time. But on the other hand, he was a yeller and he was really judgmental and really critical and he verbally abused my mom and me.
Dr. Weitz: Wow.
Palmer: I have to tell you Dr. Weitz that my earliest memory and this is unfortunate, but true. I’m maybe age three, maybe four my dad’s yelling at my mom who is overweight. She struggled with her weight perpetually. So she shut herself behind the bedroom door and she’s crying and my dad is yelling at her. I am standing up to my dad in the hallway with my little dukes up, “You call my mom names? I’ll sock your lights out” or some words to that effect, right? I had become a child warrior. I was going to protect my mom no matter what. I had become hyper vigilant. I developed insomnia maybe around age 11 or 12. I was always scanning my environment for safety, right? In that moment as I’m lying on the couch at age 19 I had no idea how this came to me. But I figured that if I didn’t have a real battle to fight my immune system, the concept of Don Quixote? I came up with that idea years later. But he didn’t really have a battle. He was fighting windmills. He was lunging at windmills right?
Dr. Weitz: Right. Yes.
Palmer: So there was nothing really to fight. But if I didn’t have a real battle to wage, I would turn those warriors, that immune system, that attack on myself. So that hypothesis, that initial hypothesis at age 19 that it was chronic stress from growing up in that environment where I didn’t feel safe. That still rings true for me today even though I know there’s vastly more to the story. But that was my initial hypothesis and now we have tons of research from the ACES study, the Adverse Childhood Experiences Studies powerful connecting what happens in childhood does not stay in childhood, but is profoundly linked to the advent of autoimmunity even decades later. So just to put a nice period on the story, I had the type of MS which is called relapsing, remitting. Meaning symptoms come and symptoms go. So that summer just in the nick of time for me to go back to college for my sophomore year, the numbness started to retreat. That would take a full two years for the numbness to completely dissipate, but I got off the couch and went back to school for my sophomore year and there I went off on my 26 year course of relapsing, remitting MS.
Dr. Weitz: So along this journey what have been some of the biggest keys to helping put your condition in, would you say it’s in remission now?
Palmer: I don’t like to use that word because remission makes you think that something is lurking in the background, ready to pounce forth.
Dr. Weitz: Okay.
Palmer: Okay. So let me step out boldly here and say that the word cure if you look it up in the dictionary, means to restore to balance.
Dr. Weitz: Okay.
Palmer: Okay, I believe that the larger forces like the pharmaceutical industry and I’m not a doctor so I’m not constrained by some of those American Medical Association rules that say you cannot say cure. So I believe that I am cured and I will say very, very clearly that I will always have the genes for MS. That’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about the expression of our genes and that is some of the most profound science that I discovered was the science of epigenetics which allows us to control the expression of our genes. That is what’s super empowering and ultimately how I healed.
Dr. Weitz: So what were some of the real keys that allowed you to overcome the expression of your genes?
Palmer: So, it just follows that because I intuited that chronic stress was my big root cause, then I needed to address stress head on.
Dr. Weitz: Right.
Palmer: I didn’t immediately do this. In fact, I went back to college and I was in denial for quite some time. Let’s call it for the next couple of years and probably for the next three or four years I just went on with my life. When I started having symptoms again I started to realize maybe there was something in fact, that I could do about this. Maybe my dad was right, I could beat this thing. So I noticed that when I was stressed out when I had exams at school or something that I was particularly stressed out about, I would develop symptoms, almost immediately within a day or a week of that stressful event. Conversely, when I started to relax more I noticed a dissipating of symptoms. I mean it really became clear. So in 1987 I started doing yoga and I found that that was a practice that I could actually do and become present. I wasn’t focused on the past. I wasn’t worrying about the future. I was just on the mat and I learned how to breathe in through my nose and man that shavasana of just lying there and letting things go, that was huge for me. So that practice was the first thing I did and subsequent to that I discovered meditation in the early to mid-90s and as long as I did those practices I noticed a reduction in symptoms. I mean it really became this little experiment that I was doing, not realizing that I was really doing it. But I could tell this cause and effect pretty early on that stress equals symptoms, relaxation equals a diminishment of symptoms. That was certainly number one and that is still true today. That was one of the biggies.
Dr. Weitz: Great. So if that’s number one, what were number two and three on your journey to health?
Palmer: So there was a lot of experimentation that went on. Since I had more than two decades with MS and I was really trying to do this and remember there was no internet at the time. So I was just doing things by going to the public library in Santa Monica or intuiting things and following that intuition. I tried diet for awhile. I just want to touch on this because I think it’s also important to pay attention. We try things, right? Our life is a series of experiments. Not all of them are going to work.
Dr. Weitz: Yeah, so let’s talk about diet. What’s the best diet for somebody with an autoimmune disease?
Palmer: Yeah, well-
Dr. Weitz: Or does it depend on the person?
Palmer: I think it depends. I will say what didn’t work for me was a low fat veterinarian diet. So it became very clear there was this book that was in the mid-80s called the Roy Swank Diet. Multiple sclerosis diet, something like that.
Dr. Weitz: Yes.
Palmer: He professed that you got to get rid of fat, that’s your enemy. So we were a super low fat house. Tried that. The advent of the inclusion of more healthy whole grains in my diet, not only didn’t make the MS symptoms better, it actually made things worse and I started experiencing more tummy troubles. So that for me was a failed experiment and it wasn’t until much later until 2010 that I discovered my biggest root cause or I would call it the linchpin root cause for me happened to be gluten. So, I have what’s considered to be non-celiac gluten sensitivity meaning I don’t have Celiac Disease, but I am sensitive to the protein in wheat called gluten.
Dr. Weitz: By the way do you think that that’s the case for most people? Can some people get positive results following a vegetarian diet with an autoimmune disease?
Palmer: It’s an interesting question and again I need to just convey not only my personal experience, but I’ve done a lot of research since as you’ve seen I have a very large book.
Dr. Weitz: Right and what have you found?
Palmer: I have found that not a single person that I have found or interviewed including Dr. Terry Walls, including Linda Clark who is a health educator, including lots of people that I include in my book, Michelle Corey, people who had been vegetarian or vegan could not heal from autoimmune disorders until they began to incorporate meat. We’re not talking about tons of meat, but I found from my studies that what I’ll call a paleo template diet appears to be the best for people with autoimmune disorders. Now that’s not to say that a short term vegetarian or vegan diet is not powerful in helping you to detoxify from things. I think as a cancer healing mechanism that can be helpful for a short term. But when it comes to building and repairing the proteins that we have in our bodies every single cell, we need those amino acids from animal based protein. I would certainly only advise and advocate for humanely raised, grass fed, grass finished, so 100% grass fed animals and wild fish.
Dr. Weitz: So, in terms of you mentioned gluten, so gluten is a food that you said you were sensitive with. You didn’t necessarily have Celiac Disease and so are there a set of foods that all patients with autoimmune disease should avoid, or should we be testing for food sensitivities or doing an elimination diet? How should we approach that?
Palmer: So this is huge and I didn’t answer one of your questions which was does everybody need to give up gluten? I want to really address this.
Dr. Weitz: Okay, yes.
Palmer: Because this is the elephant in the room. In 2015 Dr. Alessio Fasano who is now at Harvard Medical School, he and his team of researchers discovered that gluten creates a leaky gut in anyone who eats it. I want to be really clear because that sounds like a really big and bold statement and it is. Because we’ve also discovered that a leaky gut that is intestinal hyperpermeability is the pathway to autoimmune disorders. So if you are doing something that is causing your gut to be leaky and you’re continuing to do that thing and you have the proclivity, the genetic predisposition to autoimmune disorders, then you are setting yourself up for a bad path. So, I would say from my research, from the science, if you have an autoimmune condition or if you have the proclivity because you have the genes in your family which we know genes are a part of it. May only be five to 10% of the equation. Your lifestyle matters way more. But gluten happens to be the biggest baddie that I have seen in my practice, in my experience, in my research.
To add to that, it turns out that people who are sensitive to gluten, it turns out 70% of the people sensitive to gluten are also sensitive to dairy. So that goes hand in hand. We see a lot of people sensitive to gluten have the same sensitivity to dairy and it’s not the lactose. It’s the casein, especially in these inflammatory cows like A1 cows, these Holsteins. So there are varying degrees of this, but in my research and experience and work with people, the gold standard as they say in functional medicine and in my experience is to do that elimination diet. I call it a 30 day food vacation to make it a little more palatable in the book. But it’s really the same thing. Take the usual suspect foods out for a period of time and when we remove those inflammatory proteins it gives our immune system a chance to calm down so that when you add them back in slowly and one at a time you can really tell if you are reacting to something. That’s super empowering because my-
Dr. Weitz: So you’re saying essentially anybody with autoimmune disease, you should automatically give up all gluten and all dairy?
Palmer: I am saying that gluten needs to go for good and I’m saying that dairy most people need to get rid of it, now with the exception of ghee.
Dr. Weitz: Right, what if they say what about this one form of dairy? What about just yogurt? What about just non-A1 casein?
Palmer: That might be just fine.
Dr. Weitz: Right.
Palmer: So this is where experimentation comes in. I’m not dogmatic about my approach. You’re asking me for … I’m giving you the 80-20 rule.
Dr. Weitz: I know. These are some of the controversial areas.
Palmer: Right, right, right. But gluten isn’t controversial.
Dr. Weitz: We get really clear about it, you know?
Palmer: Right, people want clarity. But nothing tastes as good as feeling healthy feels. I like to say that to remind people that look, I can do this. I have been completely gluten free since 2010. So just about 10 years. I have not experienced a single MS symptom, not a tingling baby toe, not anything and we didn’t get into all of the ups and downs that I had over the years. But I had searing pain of optic neuritis. I really felt terrible MS symptoms for a very, very long period of time. So by removing some of these things, it can be a eureka moment for some people, but it’s not the only thing. That’s why I go into a great bit of detail about what the other categories are that we have to address.
Dr. Weitz: Okay, so when you put somebody on an elimination diet, what are the six, eight or 10 foods that you have them eliminate?
Palmer: Yeah, so we take out grains. I mean that’s really a starting point. Gluten is a grain, but many grains contain a form of gluten that is highly inflammatory. So we take out all grains. We take out all dairy with the exception with organic, grass fed ghee. We take out sugar. We take out soy. We take out corn, which happens to be a grain. We take out for a period of time night shade vegetables. People with pain or aches often are sensitive to night shades which include tomatoes, white potatoes, eggplants, even goji berries. So those have to go for a period of time. Let’s see what else is on that list? I don’t have them all.
Dr. Weitz: You take out nuts and seeds?
Palmer: Take out nuts and seeds and coffee and alcohol.
Dr. Weitz: You take out legumes?
Dr. Weitz: So essentially you’re saying follow an autoimmune paleo diet?
Palmer: That’s right. That’s right.
Dr. Weitz: Okay.
Palmer: I would say it sounds so restrictive and people are like, “What do I eat? What’s left?” I have that optimal food guide which we can share with people. They can go to my website and get this free download because I really want people to know there is a ton of stuff that you can eat. But the best you can do for this period of time, it might be 30 days, could be 60, might be 90. Some people never want to go back to eating these things. Eggs, oh, we forgot eggs. That’s a big one. It might actually be number three on the list and what people will notice across all of these foods, it’s the protein. These are protein molecules that can often be inflammatory in people with autoimmune susceptibilities, but not everybody is intolerant to eggs for example. So that’s why we call it a paleo template because sometimes there’s variability. You asked about dairy. Could you come back to goat yogurt for example or sheep cheese. I mean there is a world of things that you could try to experiment with. But we know enough now. There is enough data, there is enough research, you don’t have to go and do all this research on your own. I did it because it wasn’t out there. There was no Terry Walls when I was healing from MS, right?
Dr. Weitz: So they follow this autoimmune paleo very strict diet.
Dr. Weitz: How do you determine if it’s 30 days or 60 days? You’re waiting for a [inaudible 00:26:09] of symptoms?
Palmer: That’s right. that’s right. So people typically and I see and other practitioners and integrative and functional doctors agree that people can reverse symptoms of autoimmune conditions between 60 and 100% just by addressing food which is why it’s chapter one in my book, start with food because it’s such a high leverage category.
Dr. Weitz: Okay so you do that. Let’s say you do it for 30 days, your symptoms go away. Now they start putting foods back in one at a time. What if they put all the foods back in and they don’t notice any difference?
Palmer: Oh. I have to share with you that this was a story of one practitioner who is a friend of mine who overcame, completely reversed lupus and hashimoto thyroiditis. She had a hefty dose of traumatic stress in childhood. She had a ton of food sensitivities. She developed these autoimmune conditions. She finally discovered that food might be the path out. So she did this elimination phase, but she was so eager to go back to her favorite foods, guess what she had for her first meal after all this? She had a burrito. A burrito. So it’s got flour, there’s gluten in the tortilla. There’s cheese, so we’ve got dairy. There’s beans, so there’s beans and legumes, right? There’s tomatoes for the night shades or other people. Then she developed the symptoms, they came flooding back. So she had lost all this weight, that inflammatory water weight when she was doing the elimination phase, she had the burrito and everything swelled back up again. So she had to go through the whole process again.
So that’s one thing that can happen if you decide to introduce things, like you’re going to go have a pizza as your first meal. One at a time. There are other people that try this elimination, they go through it, they put things back in slowly. They do everything right and they still can’t tell their symptoms. This is when as you mentioned, doing food sensitivity testing can be helpful, although I’ve seen it go both ways in my own personal experience and with clients who get these tests done and it turns out that they’re sensitive to cooked pineapple and red dye number 32. Crazy things that they don’t even eat. So it’s less empowering when you get a test done and you don’t resonate with what I find.
Dr. Weitz: Or the test comes back and says they have no food sensitivities and they spend 800 bucks for it.
Palmer: That’s right. That’s right. So there’s more than just food and we need to talk about that because there are a number of root causes. I mean even stress can create a leaky gut. So I’m not sure that people are really aware of that. But, you can do everything right. You can get your pristine diet, you can exercise. You can get up in the morning and meditate. But if you’re still wrangling with a lot of stress, I would submit that you can have a really hard time healing or if you decide you’re not going to address that traumatic stressful childhood, it’s a tough road to get fully better.
Dr. Weitz: So let’s go into gut health next. Gut health is one of the chapters in your book. It’s obviously one of the big factors in autoimmune diseases and you mentioned leaky gut and there’s the term gut dysbiosis. How do we figure out what’s going on and how do we figure out how do address these issues?
Palmer: Great question. So we know that and I don’t know what your experience is in working with autoimmune patients, but I can say that if you have symptoms, mysterious symptoms or an autoimmune condition, there is almost a one for one correlation with a leaky gut. We can assume that your gut is leaking these large protein particles. Why? Because if you have symptoms that means that your immune system is attacking something in your body and it could be dysregulated. Sometimes it’s called molecular mimicry or mistaken identity. That gluten fragment if we want to use that inflames the lining of the gut, actually breeches the cut barrier, gets into the bloodstream where it doesn’t belong and that’s what sets off the immune system. So let’s start there, right? So it gets through the lining of the gut. Then your immune system doing what it does, what it’s supposed to do develops antibodies which are missiles. They’re actually bullets you can think of them to attack the invaders. That’s what the immune system is supposed to do. So it views gluten or that protein, that casing from dairy as an invader. Tags them, begins to shoot at them, right? But it develops so many antibodies in the process of trying to destroy that invader that it’s going around the bloodstream looking for a fight. Your human tissue and I don’t know how in the world this is possible, but our human tissue at a molecular level can resemble that gluten fragment. That gluten molecule looks like the thyroid tissue or in the case of MS, as the myelin sheath, okay? So that’s where the bullets are mistaken. They’re doing their job, but your thyroid or your mile in chief just gets in the way. So it’s not that your immune system has turned on you in some evil or malicious way. It’s just doing its job. So, in order to stop that autoimmune attack, we therefore need to remove the stuff that is breeching the lining of our gut, heal it and seal it, so that we can arrest that process. That’s central to the autoimmune equation that Dr. Fasano and his team discovered. We have an autoimmune equation which are, you have to have the genes for it, right? So it turns out that my birth father has MS. So I know that there’s a genetic connection. Number two, we have to have these inflammatory environmental factors that are either coming from the environment or within us that are toxic and causing our immune system to overreact and then we have the advent of this leaky gut. So the exciting thing about this autoimmune equation is that if you flip the equation, we can reverse the condition. Meaning, you find and remove your environmental triggers, remove them and heal and seal the lining of your gut and that is central to arresting that process. So, I wanted to share that mechanism of how autoimmunity happens so that people can really visualize every time you’re putting something into your gut that is irritating it, inflaming it, there’s a possibility that that autoimmune attack could start or it could be perpetuated until you stop that process of introducing those proteins.
Dr. Weitz: So how do we assess that’s going on in the gut? Do we assume they have leaky gut? Do we test for leaky gut? Do we do a stool sample? Do we do a SIBO breath test. What is your normal procedure with a patient to figure out what’s going on in the gut?
Palmer: So typically we can assume that leaky gut is going on and so people don’t necessarily need to spend money to figure this out. They can just do their own experimentation of just taking stuff out. We know what the biggest baddy culprits are for harming our guts and we’ve talked about food. I will also add that part of the food problem is how it has grown and how it is sprayed with lyphosate and that is one of and commonly known as RoundUp. This is something we know harms the lining of the gut. So people can take this stuff out and do their own experimentation. We know that antibiotics-
Dr. Weitz: But the container of RoundUp at the store has nice pictures of animals and butterflies and plants.
Palmer: Don’t be fooled people. Don’t be fooled. This is where it is incumbent upon us as consumers to really become the CEO of our own health and wellbeing. We have to do our job, our research to protect ourselves. The Europeans have or follow what’s called the precautionary principle and in their I forget the name of the body that tests for chemicals and whatnot. But they won’t let chemicals get introduced into the environment until they’re proven safe. Whereas in this country, we release the chemicals and then they’re only taken off the shelf when they’re proven guilty.
Dr. Weitz: Well because the goal is protection of the profits of big corporations. People’s health? Oh, well.
Palmer: Right. So I’m somebody, I’m a product of cheerios. I ate gluten with every meal, okay? I have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for every day of my life growing up. I had pasta or pizza or beer throughout my life. I did not realize, I did not put this together that I was inflaming and harming my gut and perpetuating the MS for more than two decades until I did that experimentation and removed it and voila. Again not to say that that’s going to be the standard that happens for people, you take one thing out and your good. No, no, no there’s a lot more than that. But-
Dr. Weitz: Okay, assume they have leaky gut. We assume they’ve gotten exposed to pesticides and other chemicals. Do you do a stool analysis? Do you put them through a gut healing protocol 4R, 5R, what’s your normal protocol?
Palmer: Yes. Yes, I’m a big fan of getting the data. We’ve got fantastic modern lab work that’s getting better all the time and even though nothing is perfect, we do have some good tests that we do and a couple of the tests that I like are the GI map test is fantastic. GI Effects from Genova has been around it’s probably the gold standard gut test. Doctor’s Data, all of these labs have comprehensive stool tests and we can tell not only what’s the state of somebody’s microbiome, but are there any infections present? Because it’s not just foods, they’re infections that could be at play here. They offer I think it’s called a zonulin add on. Zonulin is the marker.
Dr. Weitz: That’s for leaky gut, yeah.
Palmer: For the leaky gut, right? So, when you have that it monitors and manages the tight junctions in our gut in that lining. So our gut is supposed to be selectively leaky to let in nutrients, right? But when the doors are left open, that means there’s excess zonulin at play and zonulin gets into the blood stream and so forth. So we can test for leaky gut and I think that’s now considered to be more of a gold standard than the former-
Dr. Weitz: Lactulose mannitol test.
Palmer: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Dr. Weitz: Yeah. Okay. So, what protocol do you put everybody on besides you’ve already put them through a diet program, right?
Dr. Weitz: Do you change their diet again? do you put them on a specialized diet? Do you put everybody on probiotics? Do you use the four or 5R program?
Palmer: I really like that 5R program. I mean this has been around for decades now.
Dr. Weitz: Since Dr. Jeffrey Bland.
Palmer: Yes, yes. There were a lot of people-
Dr. Weitz: The father of functional medicine.
Palmer: Right, right. There were a lot of people involved with that and you’ll have to remind me of all the R’s, but the biggest one in a 5R program is the remove. A lot of people are they get a little miffed that, “Well why aren’t we talking about putting more stuff in? I just want to take probiotics and heal.” Well, the best thing, the biggest bang for your buck is taking the stuff out that’s harming you. So the first R of remove is what we’re already doing when we’re in the food phase. So these are often overlapping categories right? The next thing we want to do is maybe oh, my goodness. It’s not replenish, reinoculate. A lot of us are missing digestive enzymes.
Dr. Weitz: Replace, yeah.
Palmer: Replace. Thank you. So, we need to replace our digestive secretions and often people feel like if they have an acid tummy or acid reflux that they are experiencing too much acid when in fact it’s often a sign that they’re not producing enough acid. So by supplementing with hydrochloric acid when eating meals can be a game changer for people to be able to actually digest and absorb their food better. Maybe their enzymes that we want to include and a lot of people don’t have a gallbladder. A lot of people are having sluggish bile. So whatever you can do to improve your bile flow by maybe taking digestive bitters before eating, we definitely start to add those. So people can digest and absorb what they’re already eating and that is that phase, replacing those digestive secretions.
Dr. Weitz: Okay.
Palmer: Then and only when we address if there’s an infection present, like candida, we want to get rid of it, right? So we’re going to work to get rid of that with as natural a process as possible and other infections that might be present, H. Pylori and so forth.
Dr. Weitz: So you’re going to use natural antimicrobials in that case?
Palmer: Exactly. Exactly.
Dr. Weitz: Okay.
Palmer: And there are some helpful anti-yeast and anti-mold things that people can do.
Dr. Weitz: Right, combinations.
Palmer: Combination therapy is often very, very helpful and-
Dr. Weitz: How long does that usually take? Two weeks? A month? A few months? Many months?
Palmer: It can take three to four weeks. Excuse me, three to four months.
Dr. Weitz: Okay.
Palmer: I’m doing wishful thinking there. Because sometimes we find parasites too and if people find that on their stool test that parasites are present, there’s actually another test that I really like from Parawellness Research that can be much more specific about the types of parasites that are in there. So oftentimes we got to get that stuff out. I mean this is … We were designed to cohabitate with a lot of these critters that are in us. But I think what happens is that when we have all of these inflammatory foods and the sugar we’re eating and the simple diet, we start to feed those microbes of the pathogenic stuff and it starts to overgrow like the candida, like the parasites. So when we start with a diet, remove stuff, we address those parasites in yeast. It might take three to four months. People need to be patient with the process, right?
Dr. Weitz: Yep.
Palmer: And it’s only when we remove all of those pathogens that we want to start replacing with the, and reseeding with probiotics and prebiotics because we don’t want to be feeding the microbes that are out of balance. We want to be introducing probiotics at the right time.
Dr. Weitz: Right. So, the next chapter in your book is infections and so this is not somebody who currently has a cold or a fever. These are stealth, chronic infections that they often don’t know they have.
Palmer: That’s right. That’s right. Again, you’ll see the overlap here because a lot of the gut infections that I just talked about are the infections that are driving autoimmune conditions. But people here about Epstein-Barr and they want to point every finger at Epstein-Barr at being the problem. Well I’ll tell you, 96% of us in the United States have Esptein-Barr. So, we have coexisted with viruses for I don’t know how long. As long as we’ve been on earth. It’s when things get reactivated and when things get way out of balance that these things become problematic. So, infections could include viruses. It could include bacteria. We’re seeing much more Lyme Disease. What’s now called Persistent Lyme, I found out only in 2017 that I have Persistent Lyme and in fact, I might have gotten it when I was age 18 when I was romping around in the hills of Vermont. That may have preceded the MS. But I only learned about it recently. So, getting tested for Lyme and there are more and more good tests for Lyme Disease.
Dr. Weitz: Yeah, yeah.
Palmer: And many more doctors are recognizing that. I don’t know if you see Lyme frequently in your practice.
Dr. Weitz: There is a fair amount of Lyme. It’s not necessarily one of my specialties, but we’re learning how common it is. In fact, we have Dr. Darin Ingels speaking at our functional medicine meeting on Thursday who is a Lyme expert. He feels like a large percentage of patients with MS actually are undiscovered Lyme patients.
Palmer: That’s right. That’s right and not just MS. I mean this is why I didn’t call the book, “Beat MS” because what we’re talking about these healing principles-
Dr. Weitz: Goes to all autoimmune.
Palmer: All of them. It’s wholistic. Mind, body, spirit, but you got to look at food. You got to look at infections. You got to fix your gut health. You got to look at toxins in your environment. And you got to balance your hormones and last, but not least is that S for stress that we are all facing and that makes everything worse.
Dr. Weitz: Right.
Palmer: So all of it is part in partial of what we do. I’m not collaborating with a naturopathy doctor who specializes in infections and toxins. The other thing that we’re seeing much more of is mold. Mold and mycotoxins are just amplifying the problem. So it’s not just one thing. It’s I call it a toxin bucket. We all have one, right? We carry a certain amount of toxins and if we’re not excreting properly, if we’re not able to handle and let go of the toxins that come into us and it’s all of those things, then things start to build up until finally the leaky gut spills over and you start to have symptoms. Because autoimmunity happens on a spectrum. It goes from silent where you start to build those antibodies, right? That’s happening silently. So when I was 19 and the MS struck, I had been silently building antibodies to my own tissue and the gluten and other things. Not even knowing it and then the next phase is autoimmune expression where you start to feel symptoms. That is exactly where you want to … Well you want, ideally you want to prevent things. But most people are going to pay attention when they start having symptoms.
What you don’t want to do is get to the next phase of things which is full blown autoimmune disease where tissue damage starts to happen, right? So you have this window of it could be decades from the first silent autoimmunity all the way to full blown autoimmune disease. But the opportunity to address it is now. It is now.
Dr. Weitz: So for practitioners who are listening and maybe even patients who are trying to sort through some of this stuff themselves and they are saying to themselves, “Wow, look at all the things that could be affecting my potential autoimmune disease or the autoimmune disease of this patient sitting here in front of me and we could have food. We could have stress. We could have nutritional deficiencies. We talked about infections. We’re talking about gut problems. There’s hormonal problems. Oh, my God where do I start? Then where do I go next and how do I decide what to do?”
Palmer: Yeah I think the first thing to do is take a big, deep breath. I mean I really do and I’m not being facetious. I mean in through the nose, in the belly a big deep breath. Autoimmune problems did not happen overnight and they’re not going to go away overnight. This is a process and a practice. But now we have people that have gone through this that have a framework or a protocol. Follow people who have healed themselves or who have cured themselves. I mean that would be a really good place to start. There are books out there, not just mine. There are a lot of really good books on the subject. Educate yourself. Empower yourself. I would submit that the very first thing to do is to understand that these are reversible conditions. This is not a death sentence. This is not something that you should take what a conventional doctor tells you that all you can do is manage your disease. That is simply false. There is so much hope and it’s real, find people who have reversed their condition. I profiled 12 of them in my book. I didn’t want to write a memoir, because people would just pat me on the head, “Oh, look at you. You had a spontaneous remission.”
No, no, no. This is not a spontaneous remission. This is learning to control what we can control and you let go of the rest. But the people that I profile in there, Dr. Mark Hyman, Terry Walls, Susan Bloom, I mean there are a wealth of practitioners who used to be medical doctors who themselves had some debilitating autoimmune disease or condition. They did the work and then the wounded healer themselves, now they’re helping hundreds, thousands of people. So this is an exponential good news story. It’s not just my story. So my aim is to really help people to know this is possible. So the first step, understand that it’s possible, decide you’re going to reverse your condition and reclaim your life because you can. Then the next step is to get whatever book you’re going to get and then educate yourself. There’s lots of … My website is palmerkippola.com. I have got lots of free information on there. I’ve got this book which is about ten bucks on Amazon. People ask me, “I need more help than a book. I want help implementing this.” Because there’s a lot. As you said, it’s not just one thing, it’s wholistic. So I created this membership called Beat Autoimmune Academy. I’ve got a bunch of people in there who we’re taking step by step because it can be overwhelming. People get overwhelmed.
Dr. Weitz: I would say to the practitioner out there, the first thing you want to do is take a detailed history like they teach in the Institute of Functional Medicine courses and then you’ll start once you really go deep into someone’s history from birth and find out about their life story, you can start to figure out what direction, “Oh, this person had a lot of early life stress. This person took lots of antibiotics and had multiple ear infections and maybe more liable to have gut and chronic infections.” You’ll get a sense of what direction to go first. If nothing jumps out at you, always consider starting with the gut and then also doing some testing can give you an idea of what direction to go to as well.
Palmer: Perfectly said. That was beautiful. That history when you’re sitting with somebody and they’re sharing with you how they grew up. Were they breastfed? Were they delivered as a C-section. What kind of home life did they have growing up? What was that like? If they started to develop let’s call it juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, what happened before age seven that you developed rheumatoid arthritis at age eight? What happened when you were 11 years old and you developed lupus when you were 15? We really need to have other people tell us the story so that they can see how powerful it is that when I was asked that question, “Why do you think you got the MS?” I took it as an affront, right? But that question has become my north star for me and for the people that I work with. We always want to find out why. If you haven’t healed, if you’re still experiencing symptoms, those are just messages from your body letting you know that you haven’t dug deeply enough into root causes. You need to keep going.
Dr. Weitz: That’s great. So, any … I think we should wrap because we both have appointments coming up. Obviously there’s a lot more stuff we could talk about. We really didn’t get to toxins or hormones, but this is a huge topic and we could spend hours talking about it. So for now do you have any final thoughts for our audience?
Palmer: I do. I do. I want to help you shortcut the suffering because there’s an expression that pain is real, but suffering is optional. I think the faster that you can view what’s happening in your life as a gift, the faster that you can realize that this is happening for you and not happening to you. You move from a victim mode to an empowered mode. The faster you can get to the other side of this. So when I was 19 I didn’t have a crystal ball into the future. I don’t know that I would have had the where with all to think, “Oh, thank goodness this is happening to me.” I’m not trying to be [inaudible 00:52:01]. Of course you’re going to have grief and there’s going to be stress and so forth. But the faster you can realize that these things are actually happening for you to take a more close look at your life mind, body, spirit, the faster you’re going to get to the other side of this. I find it such a privilege to work with people when I do my one on one consulting and they tell me, “I want to get to that side too. I want to work with people who have autoimmune conditions. I want to help people. I know I can reverse my condition and I’m still working on it, but I can see that I’m going to view this as an opportunity and as a gift.”
So that’s what I would invite people to consider this as happening for you and not to you.
Dr. Weitz: That’s a great message, absolutely. It’s easy to play the victim or feel the victim and not see it as an opportunity.
Palmer: Yeah. I think every moment of every day we all have an opportunity. Health is not static. So I didn’t just beat an autoimmune condition and everything is roses. It takes daily work and practice. That’s why health is a practice. But when we view it in a certain way it can take a lot of that angst and deep level of stress away and when we remove the stress and we get into that relaxation response that’s where healing happens. So, it’s powerful.
Dr. Weitz: That’s great and you have a special gift for our listeners?
Palmer: Yes. So I mentioned when we were talking about food that it can be very, very frustrating and difficult to figure this out. So I have a gift. If you go to my website palmerkippola.com/gift, I have created an optimal food guide E-book and you can find out what your optimal foods are by following this process of what I call a 30 day food vacation and that’s just a little 12 page E-book that can be very helpful for people to see that there are a lot of things that you can eat. It’s not just, “Oh, I can’t have any of the foods I love.” No there’s a world of foods for you to explore and maybe many vegetables that you’ve never heard of or tried. So I invite people to take that step.
Dr. Weitz: And what’s the best place for people to get ahold of you?
Palmer: Palmerkippola.com is my blog and website and so I have a lot of information there. That would be a great first place to start. I lead people in Beat Autoimmune Academy, so it’s on website beatautoimmuneacademy. People can check out what’s in there. Those are two great places to find me and so thank you.
Dr. Weitz: That’s great, excellent. Thank you Palmer.
Palmer: It’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me Dr. Weitz.
Leave a ReplyWant to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!