About Eileen

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About Eileen | Phoenix Helix

My Story

In 2012, rheumatoid arthritis hit my life like a wrecking ball. I went from a fit, healthy woman who worked full-time as a massage therapist and hiked on the weekends for fun, to someone who limped crossing her living room and didn’t have the strength in her hands and wrists to wash dishes. I was introduced to a level of pain so unlike any I had experienced before that I think it deserves its own word. I woke up in the morning feeling 90 years old, and that was the good part of my day. Every night like clockwork, a joint would flare so extremely that I would have to immobilize it or I would be gasping and crying with pain. If it was my wrist, it went into a brace. If it was my shoulder, it went into a sling. If it was my knee, I could no longer support my weight. And if it was my jaw, I couldn’t open my mouth to speak or to eat. Painkillers barely took the edge off. I was terrified and didn’t know how I could survive it.

I am eternally grateful to the internet for putting information at our fingertips and allowing me to read about the GAPS , Paleo & Wahls diets. They taught me how to use food as medicine, with powerful results. The GAPS diet took me out of crisis, and the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol stopped my flares for over 2 years – all without the help of steroid or immunosuppressant medication. I was able to return to working full-time and the mountain hikes that I loved. However, I wasn’t cured, nor was I in complete remission. But the blessing was that RA was just a whisper in my body where it used to be a scream.

In 2016, RA raised its voice in my body again. I hit perimenopause and simultaneously, I started having miniature RA flares. They reminded me of RA onset but they were much less severe (thankfully). The inflammation moved around my body from joint to joint, but  I didn’t need to immobilize joints or take additional painkillers. However, something else happened which was new and very scary – I started experiencing rapid joint changes simultaneously. I lost my ability to make a fist as well as significant range of motion in my left shoulder. I took steps to try to balance my hormones, but that takes time, and my joints were getting damaged immediately. I decided to start immunosuppressant medication.

I now manage rheumatoid arthritis with the best that paleo and conventional medicine have to offer. I follow a personalized version of the paleo autoimmune protocol, and prioritize healthy life choices (like plentiful sleep, stress management, self-love and time outdoors). I’m also experimenting with medication to see if it can halt my joint changes and ideally put me in remission. Here’s the important thing: I don’t allow myself to be a victim to my diagnosis. My goal is to thrive and live a vital life with autoimmune disease. Through my blog and podcast, I hope to inspire others to do the same.

About Eileen | Phoenix Helix

Read the Details of My Journey Here

My Blog, Podcast and Books

This website is dedicated to anyone whose autoimmune disease knocked them down so hard they feared they would never rise again. Never underestimate your ability to rise. We all have a phoenix within us!

About Eileen | Phoenix Helix

I started this website to share all I’ve learned (and continue to learn) about living an empowered and healthy life with autoimmune disease. I am honored to be the Autoimmune Columnist for Paleo Magazine, host of the Phoenix Helix podcast and author of the book A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. I’ve also written two e-books: Reintroducing Foods on the Paleo AIP and 85 Amazing AIP Breakfasts. However, I’m not a doctor or dietitian. I’m just one woman among many, for whom food has become medicine. Before embarking on a healing diet yourself, please consult with your healthcare team. On this website, I’ll be writing more about:

Thank you for visiting my website, and I hope you’ll come back often. You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and by Email. Wishing us all healing on every level!

P.S. Everything tastes better if you wear purple when you cook.

Eileen Laird

About Eileen | Phoenix Helix

  Have you checked out my books?   Books By Eileen Laird | Phoenix Helix

107 thoughts on “About Eileen

  1. Wonderful post comparing the three diets — thanks so much. I started the GAPS diet about only about 8 weeks ago, so am still in an intensive learning stage. I will definitely try the wearing purple while cooking hint! 🙂

      • I always feel better in purple! I am on AIP for a month. I am still on infusions and Arava for RA. Do you recommend to reintroduce foods while on or off meds? If I get a flare up after I stop meds, how will I know reaction is due to stopping my meds or the food sensivity? I may have asked you this already.

        • You are right that you want to control the variables any time you’re doing a self-experiment for autoimmune healing. Were you on the meds before going AIP or did you start them together? Have you seen enough improvement that you’re ready for reintroductions or would it be better to wait a little longer? If you feel ready for reintros, I recommend doing them without making any changes to your medication, and follow the instructions in my guide. Then, further down the road, work with your doctor on safely tapering your medication if possible.

  2. I found you on Allergy Free Wednesdays. I have a link on this week’s linky too.
    I am so thankful that I found you. My husband was diagnosed with dermatomyositis in 2003. We knew very little about it and the doctors did nothing to inform us other than say “he has an autoimmune disorder and needs to be medicated”. Ugh. We now have him down to a very minimal dose of prednisone and no other meds. I have researched his disorder for years. I’ve come to the conclusion (as you have) that the best medicine for him is putting the right nutritious foods in his body. I discovered that gluten increases Cortisole levels…Increased cortisol is a major trigger for a flare up for myositis. I’ve also discovered the benefits of eating an anti-inflammatory diet. We have dramatically changed how we eat (cutting out 99% of processed foods and gluten containing foods…focusing on veggies and lean protein). I look forward to reading more of your blog and learning from you!
    While my site does not address WHY we eat the way we do, I do include recipes on it (most fall within our new way of eating…some are older and still contain some foods we no longer eat). Check it out when you have a minute. http://www.NoSkinnies.com

    • Hi Tammy! Thanks so much for sharing your story. It’s inspiring how powerful food can be, isn’t it? I’ll look forward to checking out your site.

  3. Would appreciate comments and suggestions for those of us with polymyalgia rheumatica and accompanying elevated CRP and SED rate.

    • Hi Karen. Since I’m not a doctor, I can’t speak to specific conditions. However, an elevated CRP & SED rate is common to many autoimmune diseases, since they are both signs of inflammation in the body. The healing diets featured on this website (and all the lifestyle measures) are anti-inflammatory, so really, every article I write applies to you. Many people find that their CRP & SED rates decrease as they begin to heal. If you’re new to my blog, a good place to start is this article: Comparison of 3 Healing Diets.

  4. Eileen,
    Hello from Pittsburgh. I found your site when researching Kombucha tea (my latest batch is fabulous). I then took the time to read your advice on Paleo diets and am in total agreement – partly because I am native and sugar is a huge issue with my native side of my family. Obviously the benefits must include general anti inflammatory effects as well – this means almost everyone can benefit.
    I think what you’ve put together here is wonderful. Thank you

  5. Good on you – I have been doing the same for Crohn’s – started with GAPS and have now incorporated Macrobiotic which has been extremely healing for me. Love seeing more and more of us sharing our stories. You are very organised. I just started a facebook page – my health my choice.

  6. Hi,

    I found your website while searching for information on nightshade fruits and vegetables. I have fibromyalgia and was wondering if you’ve received any information about success when removing these fruits and vegetables from a diet.

    • Absolutely I’ve heard of many people with fibromyalgia feeling better after the removal of nightshades. Everyone’s different, though. The best way to learn if that’s true for you is to eliminate them for 30 days and then reintroduce them, and see how your body responds.

  7. At my wits end.. I have been doing paleo since Jan 6th …no cheats and still do not feel better. Discovered AIP Protocol and started that on the 20th(except nuts) Realizing I’ve had way too many salicylates and became very sick I am trying to make my own meal plans.
    I have been diagnosed with: Celiac,anemia,hypoglycemic,hypothyroidism, endometriosis,degenerative disc disease, autonomic disfunction, leaky gut and had a mild heart attack 3 years ago and I am 50.
    Everything I eat makes me feel bad. I have told the Drs.I am autoimmune to food. They laugh. I have tried every diet, therapy, vit/herb and nothing gives. I have a far infrared sauna.(makes me tired)
    My symptoms besides the obvious are MS like.(so fatigued and brain foggy) The AIP diet has too many triggers for me so I have taken out so much…I took salicylates, darkgreens, cruciferous veges, not to much left.
    Seriously what should I do ..where to start???

    • First, take a deep breath and know you’re not alone. Then, understand that healing takes time. You’re going to flare while you heal, and continue to have pain while you heal. Some people start to feel better right away, but for others, it takes a few months to feel the improvements. This doesn’t mean everything you eat is a food trigger; it simply means your autoimmune disease is active and takes time to calm down. You need nutrition to heal, and the more foods you remove from your diet, the less likely you’ll heal at all. That means you need to choose one diet, and stick with it, breathing through the fear and trust that you’ll improve in time. I know this is hard, but it’s essential. Lifestyle factors also play a huge role, so stress management (and fear management) is really important. Since your situation is so complex, I recommend working with a nutritional therapy practitioner. They can provide the guidance and support you need. Two well respected ones in the paleo community are the Mickey Trescott and Katy Haldiman.

  8. Wow, Eileen! Your story is so inspiring! I’ve always believed that food is our BEST medicine. How sad that we’ve lost that knowledge in these modern times. I’m wondering if you would be willing to share your story and some of your recipes on freedible.com? Freedible is a brand new social site for people with eating restrictions of any type (from allergies, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and more). You can share blog posts with the community, and you can add your recipes to the community cookbook which makes them searchable by over 50 different keywords. I hope you’ll check it out! Thanks for sharing all that you’ve learned here. I’m sure your story is encouraging to so many! All the best! -Rebecca

  9. Watching your video about why paleo might not be working and the autoimmune protocol might with the three other paleo bloggers and it’s been so helpful. Firstly, because the thing that’s depressing me at the moment is that things aren’t happening quickly – things are happening but there’s no quick fix and just having you say that was so encouraging. Also, that you, too, are still going through healing. That’s encouraging.

    Also, in the video you just mentioned Tara Grant’s Book “The Hidden Plague” and I went and looked it up and it’s exactly the condition I have been struggling with over the past few years. I didn’t even know it had a name and my doctor is despairing of me ever getting over it. It’s fantastic to have more information on it and now to know there is some hope. THANK YOU! 🙂

    And, yes, everything looks better in purple.

    • Wow. I’m so glad you found that video. Sometimes we are given exactly the information we need, exactly when we need it. Thanks for commenting. P.S. Purple lovers unite! 🙂

  10. I’m so happy to have found you on the Internet. I feel the same way about RA treatment, just finding out in January I have RA, preferring to eat my way to better health with food as medicine.

    I can hardly wait to start, and…..I have a ‘purple’ house coat. 😉

  11. Hi! Thanks for all the great info. I am a kombucha “newbie”. Just started a few days ago before reading all this great info. Tasted so good…I think I drank a little too much :-/ Two days later I am suffering from nausea, dizziness, bloating and gas. Hoping it is just my body adjusting, or could this be some type of adverse reaction. Just wondering if I should continue….

    • It just sounds like you overdid it and are going through a detox as a result. Lay off the kombucha until the symptoms pass and then start again with a small amount – maybe a 4 ounce serving daily? That’s a medicinal amount. It isn’t recommended that anyone drink more than 8 ounces daily.

    • Hi Kelly. There is hope, and there are lots of ways to begin:

      • You can browse the articles on my site, beginning with the Healing Diet Details page. Then be sure to subscribe to my blog, to get weekly articles about autoimmune healing, and recipes.
      • Paleo is a good place to start. If you’re a reader, there are two books I recommend. It Starts With Food is a great overview of the paleo diet, and Whole30.com is their website, if you want to jump in with both feet into a 30 day paleo challenge. If you’re someone who prefers a slow transition – making changes one step at a time – 3 Phase Paleo is a great resource.
      • If you want to dive into the paleo autoimmune protocol, there’s a great online class called SAD to AIP in SIX.

      Choose an option that sounds do-able to you. There is no wrong way to start. Just take that first step.

  12. I’ve had RA since 1980. I have not been eating sugar, grains, gluten, dairy, or soy for the past 30 days. I want to try the AIP and see if that helps with the inflammation. Can you have egg yolks on the AIP? How do you handle breakfast? I’m overwhelmed by all the things I can’t eat, the things I can eat that don’t sound appealing, buying food that’s more expensive and wondering what I do now for breakfast… Do you have some advice and or suggestions?

  13. I have been trying to do the AI protocol for one week. I’ve discovered that if you don’t have food in the house that you can eat and have no meals planned, you’re screwed. Today, I had some diced tomato in a salad. My jeans are now in the washing machine. I need this plan because of RA, but I am miserable. Tell me it gets easier…

    • Patricia, you are so right! Planning is essential. It does get easier, but you need support and you need to prepare. Definitely follow the tips in the podcast episode I linked to above. You can do this!! I believe in you!

  14. Hello Eileen, this is Jose, greetings from Peru. I found your blog just today and I think you have a lot of great information. In my case my mom is suffering from arthritis and osteoarthritis pain, I’ve just suggested her to try with AIP and identify the food that make her sick. I was just wondering, is it ok for a 60 year old to try this diet?. Thank you.

    • You’re never too old to feel better, and I know many people age 60 and up who have done this diet with success. However, if your mother has osteoarthritis, not rheumatoid arthritis, I recommend she start with a regular paleo diet. Since osteoarthritis isn’t an autoimmune disease, she may not need to do the intense restriction of the AIP. I recorded a podcast recently called Paleo 101, but here’s a quick overview. If after a few months, she isn’t feeling better, then she can consider the AIP.

  15. Thank you for your site and especially your podcast. I found both doing a simple search. I don’t have a defined disease, but suffer from a multiple assortment of seemingly unrelated symptoms (migraines, soreness, unexplained infertility, and recently digestive issues). I had heard about leaky gut and dismissed it on the name alone. After listening to your podcast, I am giving the idea much more credibility. Please continue the good work you do!

  16. Hi Eileen

    Thanks so much for your awesome website. I have had rheumatoid arthritis for 20 years or so, with all the usual consequences. I discovered the autoimmune diet when I read Tara Grant’s book The Hidden Plague early last year. I adapted the elimination diet for arthritis (much longer time periods for everything!) and with the benefit of this and Sarah Ballantyne’s book, my CRP improved gradually over last year but then worsened again towards the end of the year. Its really great to read your experiences and get some fresh ideas specifically from someone that has the same condition as me – I am devouring all the articles and other information you have – thank you so much for all of it.

    Much appreciated!!

    Craig Mundell
    Durban
    South Africa

  17. Hi, I am learning a lot about AIP and Paleo recently, I was diagnosed just 2 months ago with Psoriatic Arthritis, it was to the point of not being able to walk. I am slowly eliminating things from my diet and plan on hopping on the AIP train soon, I am really overwhelmed by all of this.. One thing I wanted to ask about blending, I read juicing should be limited to 1 cup, but I am blending everything together, more veggies than fruit each time I blend, so I guess my question is; What method is better, juicing or blending? I did try juicing for a while at first but lost too much weight too quickly and thats not what I was going for. Any input would be greatly appreciated!

    • Hi Vicki. The goal is to eat your vegetables as much as possible, rather than juicing or blending them. A big part of healing is stimulating/correcting/enhancing your body’s digestion. Chewing stimulates digestion and the release of necessary enzymes. Juicing/blending bypasses this process. So, if you want to supplement your meals with a glass of juice, to get more veggies in your diet, that’s fine. But I recommend you start cooking vegetables and eating them daily, as well as incorporating more salads into your diet.

  18. Praise God I found this site! I am so ready to dig in. Hubby has psoriatic arthritis and Von Zumbusch psoriasis that attacks the lining around his internal organs. He is currently on Humira, steriods, and chemo pills. (aka slow death by pharma.)
    We are clean eating but I get overwhelmed b/c all the info. is not in one place.
    I am so encouraged by your site, the info. success stories, and especially how to get started.
    I am so thankful we are not alone in this battle for life through food!!! 🙂

  19. Hello, I have Hashimoto’s and have been trying to learn all I can. I have really enjoyed your site, thank you. My question is, I am interested in making some fish broth and wondered about adding Miso into it. I realize it is fermented soybeans but I was wondering if it is good for my thyroid, being fermented, or not, due to being made from soybeans. Can you help me understand this?

  20. Hi Eileen, I was diagnosed with RA about a year ago. It seems very aggressive as I cannot make fist with my hands anymore, my ankles are very sore and I have problems walking. I was a very active person and a goldsmith and now I’m unable to do the things I love doing. I’m on the AIP since about a month and hope to reverse these handicaps. How bad was your RA and others on this forum and can these handicaps be reversed? It is so frustrating at times and I don’t want to lose hope. Thank you for all your postings they are very helpful.

    • Hi Connie. I experienced a similar aggressive form of RA that was excruciatingly painful, terrifying and disabling. I’m so sorry you’re experiencing the same. The AIP helped me immensely, stopping my flares, stopping the progression, alleviating most of the inflammation, and I regained many (although not all) of my abilities. Most of my joints restored to full range of motion, but a few of my fingers didn’t. However, the pain in those fingers went away. For the details of my story (where I started, and where I ended up), read this article: My Experience on the AIP. Gentle hugs to you, and wishing you healing on every level!

      • Thanks Eileen! I’m looking forward every day to your postings and get a lot of hope from it. It is so scary and exhausting. Hugs to you too!

  21. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis the month of my 18th birthday (but had it at 17, just didn’t know what it was). After prednisone treatment I went into remission which lasted for about a year and a half. A year ago a flare began and it got worse due to antibiotics I took because of the removal of my wisdom teeth and then even worse when I got the c-diff infection in the hospital. I have not gone into remission since. I’ve been coffee-free for about a year, gluten-free for 7 months, dairy-free for about a year (but I cheat the most with this…), and egg-free for about 7 months also (I’m very sensitive to eggs). I’ve been on Remicade for 6 months but have flared twice since then. The first time was two months after I started it, and the second time is right now. My GI told me that I’m getting close to talking to a surgeon. However, I’ve finally mastered the art of inner peace and not worrying about my flare so it has not worsened to the point of missing work or being hospitalized which is different than the other times. Also, I’m much more strict with my diet, not cheating with dairy any more (I’m sensitive to casein), haven’t been eating any type of sugars (including honey) and haven’t been drinking any caffeinated teas either. It can be so frustrating to not get better even when I’m trying so hard to stay consistent. However, I remain calm and reading people’s testimonies and comments about how it takes a long time for the body to get better with diet gives me a lot of hope to not give up and keep moving forward. I can’t wait till I’m stable enough to incorporate more food into my diet and be able to get off all meds completely. Thanks for this site!! And all the amazing recipes..they seriously make cutting things out so much easier and actually kind of fun sometimes :).

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Gabriela! I’m so impressed you’ve changed your diet at such a young age, and you are so wise to cultivate inner peace during a flare. Not easy to do, but so much better when/if we can! Have you listened to the Young, Single and AIP podcast? I think you’ll relate to my guests very much. Sending healing wishes your way!

  22. When reintroducing foods, if you get digestive distress, how do you know whether this means you have a food intolerance or simply a normal body reaction to adjusting to the new food? For example, if a vegetarian resumes eating meat, their body isn’t used to producing the enzymes needed to help digest this protein and may react initially but then calm down as the adjustment is made. Other protein foods such as dairy and legumes can also cause this. So, how do you know if the distress is adjustment or a sign of food intolerance?

    • Hi Amy. I think you’re confusing healthy digestion with food intolerance. When vegetarians have trouble digesting meat, it’s usually due to low stomach acid. In fact, that’s the cause behind most digestion issues, so it’s important for all of us to make sure we have enough. Here’s a good article on natural tonics to stimulate stomach acid production at mealtime. My 2 favorites are apple cider vinegar and kombucha. When we have enough stomach acid, our body triggers the release of all the digestive enzymes we need (most of the time). It’s a myth that we lose the ability to digest specific foods if we stop eating them for a while. The goal with the AIP is to heal your gut and accompanying digestive issues before starting reintroductions, to give you a clear baseline. If you have chronic digestive issues, it’s important to troubleshoot their cause. Some people do need digestive support supplements which should be prescribed by a practitioner, and others have infections like SIBO that need treatment. If your digestion was strong prior to a reintroduction and becomes distressed afterward, that is most likely a food intolerance reaction. To confirm this, you can eat a little of that food for the next few days and see if the symptoms get worse or better. (Intolerance reactions get worse cumulatively).

      • Okay, thank you. One experience I had recently was with accidentally eating something that contained soy sauce. (Waiter error) Anyway, I had a reaction after I got home. My stomach felt distended and uncomfortable. I never had a problem with gluten before giving it up (though I was probably unaware of damage it was causing), no stomach distress or anything. So, since I had this reaction, does this mean I definitely have gluten sensitivity? Of course, I intend to continue to exclude it from my diet anyway but I’m just trying to make sure I understand.

        • Since it was a restaurant meal, there’s no way to know what caused the reaction. It could have been gluten or soy or something else they added to the food, like MSG (very commonly used in almost all restaurants). But, I will say the “gluten belly” you describe is a common reaction. You’ll often see people post photos where they actually look pregnant after accidentally eating gluten. You are right that food reactions are stronger after we give up a food. That’s not because we weren’t intolerant before. It’s because the chronic inflammation (that we never connected to food) has cleared and our body’s immune response has calmed down without those food triggers. A few immune cells continue to circulate like little guards (they’re only there if we’re intolerant to a food). When we eat it again, they set off the alarms. That’s how elimination/provocation diets like the AIP work. It’s a clear communication with your body, which is really empowering in the long run (although uncomfortable short-term). You will be able to reintroduce some foods with no reaction, because no one’s intolerant to everything. For example, I’ve reintroduced eggs, chocolate and white rice myself. But gluten’s a tough one. Most people don’t reintroduce that one successfully.

  23. Eileen- you don’t eat any sugar, yet you drink Kombucha? Do you find that the body’s reaction is different due to the fermentation? Or do you not drink kombucha?

    • Hi Sharon. Fermented sugars are allowed for two reasons: the fermentation process breaks the sugar down, making it easier to digest, and fermented foods are very beneficial to the healing process. That said, I brew my kombucha for about 3 weeks, so it’s more sour than sweet, and I drink it in small quantities – 4-8 ounces maximum daily. Some people go overboard and drink bottle after bottle, and I don’t recommend that. You can definitely drink too much kombucha. The best way to know if you personally tolerate the sugar in kombucha is to test it. Try a small amount, and see how your body reacts. My body loves kombucha. I drink it after dinner and find that it aids digestion, and I even noticed a small anti-arthritic benefit. But I also know a few people who have a negative reaction, too, so it’s all n=1 (self-experimentation).

  24. Hi Eileen, I’m now 12 weeks into the AIP and noticed in the last few 2 weeks that my back is very itchy. Has anybody else experienced something like it? I would be happy to hear from you or anybody from the forum. Thank you for all the great postings and receipts, I feel I’m not alone anymore. Love and light to all.

    • Hi Connie. Everyone’s unique, so I can’t say for sure what’s behind your rash. Three things that pop into my head: (1) Too much sugar – even natural sugars or fruit – can cause skin outbreaks. (2) Have you introduced a new food, supplement, beauty product or cleaning product, to which you might be reacting? (3) Histamines are a problem for some people and can cause rashes. Here’s an article with more information.

  25. Hi Eileen, Did you have issues with your eyes? I had mine checked quite thoroughly in the Spring and they were fine according to the doctor. Mine feel gritty and dry, is there something I can take to make them better, besides eating the AIP diet?

    • A condition that often comes with rheumatoid arthritis is something called Sjogren’s Syndrome, and it involves extremely dry eyes and mouth. Whenever my inflammation spikes, I experience those symptoms. That might be what’s happening to you – a rheumatologist would be the one to diagnose, rather than an eye doctor. However, a simpler possibility might be that you aren’t eating enough carbohydrates, because it can cause dry eyes as well. So, my first suggestion would be to increase the amount of starchy carbohydrates in your diet. Many people find reintroducing white rice especially helpful, if this is the case. Lastly, a symptom relief measure are artificial tears. Here’s an article about all the different types available: http://www.reviewofoptometry.com/content/d/dry_eye/i/798/c/14852/

  26. I experienced dry, gritty feeling dry eyes many years ago and saw specialist after specialist. They tried lots of different drops and antibiotics even. Nothing worked and my eyes continued to worsen until my vision was so compromised that I could no longer get corrective eye glasses. I was legally blind. Anyway, I found a book about vision in the health food store and that dry, gritty feeling was described by a riboflavin deficiency. I took elevated amounts of B vitamins then and within 3 days my eyes were much better and within 2 weeks they were better than they had been in years. I thought I should tell you about this just in case you have a riboflavin deficiency. Because I was told that permanent damage to your cornea will result if the deficiency goes on too long.

    • Thanks Genevieve. It’s amazing what a nutrient deficiency can do, isn’t it? I eat such a nutrient dense diet that my vitamin levels are all in a high range, but thank you for the tip anyway. I’m glad it was such a quick solution for you.

  27. I was diagnosed with Hashimotis two years ago. In 2010 i was cold turkeyed off of a Benzodiazepine which severely affected my Central Nervous System, which has made it extremely hard to take supplements, etc. I now have SIBO and need to take either an anti biotic, which has the possibility of bringing back all the withdrawal sx due to the drug affecting the CNS….or some very strong hefprbs, which could do the same thing. I am very frightened to take anything, but the SIBO is very uncomfortable and is causing depression. As far as the hashi Otis goes, I did the AIP diet for six months and saw no issues at all when reintroducing foods, but my antibodies rose :(…… I am so lost as to what to do as I watch my health deteriorate…..any thoughts or suggestions woukd be so appreciated….

    • Hi Randee. It sounds like you could really use a health coach – someone who understands autoimmune disease and natural healing – who can boost your spirits while also guiding you on your next steps. There are some great people out there. Here are two companies I recommend: The Paleo Mom Consulting (all experts on the AIP), and Replenish PDX (run by Andrea Nakayama, who has Hashi’s herself).

  28. I just stumbled on your website. Thank you for creating this. I’m 33 and just diagnosed RA. My flares are mainly in my hands and fingers and swollen everyday. My rheum dr. has prescribed 2 medications which I have yet to start taking. I look forward to reading more of your site and implementing the diet plan.

  29. Eileen, I am once again heartened by your podcast, specifically the November program featuring Dr. Fasano. While all the information was useful, I was particularly struck by the concept of treating gut health as a daily priority rather than a one-time event that eventually results in a “healed and sealed” condition. Such erroneous thinking undermines my success, for just as I start enjoying minimal RA symptoms, I slip into all kinds of lifelong bad habits, as if consoling myself with, say, a bag of tortilla chips will give back a semblance of my former life. Such binges are usually followed by undeniable, even horrific, symptoms that obliterate my denial and prod me back to the straight and narrow. I now use your podcasts as a “carrot” to encourage my taking much-needed walks. They not only inform; they normalize autoimmune disease, making me feel less isolated and more optimistic about my future. Thanks so much for your service to the AI community.

  30. Thanks so much for this blog. My daughter is 20 years old and developed lupus during hrr pregnancy last year. My grandbaby is now 4 months old and my daughter can barely take care of him most days due to her chronic pain and fatigue. She’s been off of all of her meds for a month now as we are trying homeopathy and natural foods in hopes that her body will start to heal itself. I just learned about bone broth while searching for natural treatments for this disease and I came across your site. Thanks again for the recipe, I am making the broth tonight. Does anyone reading this have lupus and has it gone into remission by natural means? I know everyone is different but hearing positive stories gives me hope for my child.
    Thanks for reading and good luck to everyone!

  31. I just discovered your web site and I’m so interested in learning more. I am 50 and have raynaud’s and osteo/psoriatic arthritis (plus in menopause which I believe is a curse, LOL). My husband on the other hand is a diabetic II. It is a battle for me trying to figure out on a daily basis for the two of us to eat. Should be on the same type of food, how much more food should he have, and will he be okay on this elimination diet? He is relying on me for lunches and dinners. One week I’m saying lets go off gluten and dairy and see how we feel. I want to make a treat with honey or sweet potatoes and his blood sugar spikes. So I would really love some guidance for the two of us so I can proceed with a elimination diet and at the same time make sure he is happy too. Would this site help with the two of our conditions? THANK YOU!

  32. Pingback: A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol – Review and Giveaway – joannafrankham.com

  33. Hi Eileen, I have recently been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and a underactive thyroid. I don’t know what the autoimmune is because I was just diagnosed and just stopped the regime of Prednisone..thank God! I asked my dr to give me another 2 weeks to try and reverse this becasue I heard you can. I am brand new at this and only at the research stage.
    I will never take Prednisone again.
    If you can give me any advice…start me on an example of a diet I would be greatful.. I am experiencing a lot of pain and immobility because of it on the left side back of my head that radiates up and behind my ear and over into my forhead and affects my left eye on a few occassions (eyesight..). Can you help me navigate Paelo as a diet/food alternative to reversing this?

    • Hi Bonnie. I recommend you start with my book, A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. However, I should tell you that healing doesn’t happen overnight, and sometimes medication is needed in the beginning to get the immune system under control. Don’t feel like a failure if you combine conventional and alternative measures. Wishing you wellness in every way!

  34. Hi-I’m so happy to have found your site to try some of this for myself! I too was diagnosed with RA in 2012, and I feel like such a slouch that you appear to have gotten right into taking control while I became overwhelmed with this reality; I have had some depression and don’t want to anymore so I’m trying to begin being proactive instead. Also not helping was that it seemed like I was getting nowhere with mainstream nutrition advice, among other things coming out of the medical community which was just not that supportive in trying to figure out where to go and to begin. I have found a Dr who says go for it, whatever helps we’re behind it, so I’m attempting to find good resources on my own. It’s kind of sad that modern nutritional advice just doesn’t seem to be useful at this point. Anyway I’m looking forward to signing up for your newsletter and finding help in figuring out what better to eat to feel better!

    • Hi Patti. You are NOT a slouch! RA is overwhelming for us all. I’m glad you found my website, too. Welcome to the healing diet community.

  35. I have been gluten free (causes acne) for 8 months and feel somewhat better, but have been looking at the AIP protocol. I will be 60 in a few weeks. I don’t have RA, but my blood work shows I’m looking at adult onset diabetes. Weight has been an issue my entire life. Part of it has been my diet, but once I stopped wheat and artificial sweeteners, I stopped craving sweets, and the longer I go this way, the less I like sweet things. That’s a lot for a chocoholic. I’m hoping AIP will complete healing, get my blood sugars off the borderline status, and ultimately help me get rid of 100 lbs for good!

    • Forgot to say – trying to improve my health to the point where I can avoid or significantly decrease my chances of getting Parkinson’s Disease which has a very strong history inmy mother’s family.

      • Hi Penny. I actually don’t recommend the AIP for people who don’t have autoimmune disease – you usually don’t need to go that strict. Instead, start with the regular paleo diet and see if that gives you the results you seek. Some books I recommend as introductions are It Starts with Food and Practical Paleo. Wishing you wellness in every way!

  36. Hi!
    I have ITP it is low platelet count which is an autoimmune disease. I wonder if changing my diet would heal it? I am wondering if anyone out there has this disease? and if changing his/her diet has made a difference for them?

    • Hi Marie. Since all autoimmune diseases have the same root, they all have the potential to be helped by the same diet and lifestyle interventions. I recommend giving it a try!

  37. Just because I thought it was the right thing to do, I took an interest in eating healthy foods and avoiding unhealthy foods many years ago. Then as the years went by I accumulated knowledge about that, a bit here and a bit there, and eventually I thought I was doing a good job at eating well. But several years ago my doctor told me that my weight and my cholesterol readings were a little too high, not badly so but just a bit and that prompted me to double down on my study of good food and good eating habits. It did not happen overnight but eventually I succeeded and now I am in picture perfect health with no deficiencies whatsoever. And so please include me as one who really does appreciate the value of good food and I appreciate your interest in good food, too, thank you.

  38. you were the first link to AIP i found when researching RA last year when I got diagnosed.Currently on the AIP since Early April I have my up and down days but I think it is helping slowly but surely.I was wondering how your RA is now are you still in remission and do you need any meds still.

    • Hi Tracey Sue. Thank you so much for saying hello, and I’m so glad you are feeling improvements on the AIP! You are so right that healing isn’t always a straight upward path, but 2 steps forward and 1 step back is still moving in the right direction. May you continue to feel better every month! If you read part one and part two of my story, you’ll see that I’ve never claimed remission. My symptoms improved 95% but RA remains active in my body, just at a much lower level. I achieved this reduction in symptoms through the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol and avoided immunosuppressants, but I’ve always needed 1 Aleve tablet twice daily to manage the remaining inflammation. Now, 4 years later, my pain remains well managed. I’m monitoring my joints, and if they start to show damage/progression, I would consider immunosuppressant medication. While I hope to avoid it, I don’t see it as black and white any more. I’m in touch with a large number of people now who are treating their autoimmune diseases through the AIP. Some achieve remission, some achieve vast improvement and are able to avoid or minimize medication, others find that diet + medication is the best choice for them, with the diet addressing symptoms medication alone didn’t address. Perfection isn’t the only definition of success. It’s all about living the best autoimmune life possible, and feeling empowered in our choices.

  39. Hi. thank you for the great info about kombucha. I have a question for you:
    Quote: “In the first stage of fermentation, the yeast uses the minerals from the tea to produce enzymes that separate sugar into glucose and fructose.”
    I currently have adrenal fatigue thus caffeine from tea is a no no (I feel terrible with any kind of stimulants).
    How else can I feed the scoby these nutrients from the tea?
    I went from first using turbinado sugar to mascabado, to raw honey, to mexican piloncillo to better feed the scoby. As I understand, piloncillo is 100% cane juice boiled to form sugar cones, thus retains nutrients from the cane unlike most other forms of sugar, but even then, I wonder if that is enough. Thanks in advance for your reply.

    • Hi Hector. I’m glad you found my Kombucha Series helpful. Raw honey should definitely not be used with kombucha, since it’s antibacterial and could harm the SCOBY. I’m not familiar with piloncillo, so I can’t advise on that. I use organic evaporated cane juice in my own kombucha brewing, which is a healthier form of white sugar – the preferred food for the SCOBY. Regarding your caffeine question, you can brew kombucha with decaffeinated tea. Happy fermentation!

  40. I’m gonna try the purple! I have celiac disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Been managing them through diet for about 4 years now. My next step is to have a root canal removed. I just discovered your blog via Alaena Haber on the Healing Hashimoto’s Summit. Gotta love the web we weave!

  41. Hi Eileen. WOW. I feel the power of your experiences through the page. I walked alongside you through that pain. I too have RA. I too take medication and focus on a healing lifestyle and the 2 together make me feel almost normal most of the time and sometime…. normal. to have been down that rabbit hole of excrutiating pain and to rise again, normal feels AMAZING. However the memory of the pain is still there and keeps me grateful. I guess I just wanted to reach out and offer you support in this ever changing landscape. I believe we are truly fortunate to live in a time where there are these medications to help us and that we also have the knowlege to help ourselves in such powerful ways. I used to resent my medication but now my body does not need as much thanks to all that you have shown me. This and convential medicine co-exist in peace within me. I wish you every success with your treatment.

    • What a beautiful comment, Katie. Thanks so much for sharing your experience and well wishes. Sending you the same!

  42. Eileen I have just come across your website and am so heartened to find so much positivity in difficult times. I wanted to make contact as my mother was diagnosed with RA twenty years ago and the top consultant in London could only offer her a wheel chair as that was where he said she was heading. I found ‘A Doctor’s Home Cure For Arthritis: The Bestselling, Proven Self Treatment Plan’ by Giraud Cambell. Alongside this strict regime she went to a homeopath and used a warm water swimming pool. She was 58 at the time and after 6 months the consultant was completely flabbergasted by her clear blood results. She felt like a new woman…but guess what… he was not interested in her diet regime or the homeopathy!
    Today at 79 she is running around after others doing the voluntary work she’s always loved.
    There is so much that our diet can do for us…indeed let food be our medicine.
    I am now following ‘Grain brain’ by David Perlmutter. It all makes so much sense… All the best

  43. Eileen – I just discovered your website thanks to a link provided in an article written by Chris Kresser. I can’t wait to read more. Your blog is the first I’ve found that shares substantive information from a personal experience perspective. I appreciate especially knowing that there are others out there like myself who are trying to figure out how to recover health. I was active and athletic until 2007 when things started going downhill. My life had really revolved around being active, and I lost my boyfriend, many friends, and my identity. Things are better now but I still haven’t made any new friends because I live in a place where being active is valued above anything else. So, I really appreciate being able to connect with people online with whom I feel I have something in common. I have often thought about starting my own blog, but not sure I ever will. So, in the meantime, I really appreciate that others have taken the time to do so, and to share their personal stories so that the rest of us don’t feel so alone. Thank you! Please keep it up.

    • Welcome, Anne! Thanks so much for saying hello. I can definitely relate to the way that chronic illness affects our lives and our identities. I just shared a post about this on Instagram last night, where I talked about adapting my activities over the years, based on my body’s abilities at that time. Wishing you wellness in every way, and joyful moments even during the hard times. You are not alone.

  44. Pingback: GAPS and the Paleo Auto Immune Protocol | Judy Tsafrir, M.D.

  45. Hi ,

    Thanks for the website. I am glad that you have found so much healing through diet and nutrition. have you tried collagen protein for the joints? i wish doctors were more helpful when it comes to advising people to take vitamins and change their diets. I too am going through a similar struggle . i got sick also in 2012 and am 30 years old. i was only 26 when i became ill and i can say i was over exercising and was not eating right at all was over working myself at the time i became sick. i have a rare autoimmune disease related to the voltage gated potassium channel that causes mini seizures and constant muscle twitching. i also have an elevated ana with centromere antibodies and arthritis pain and im only 30 years old with a 2 year old daughter. i havent gone completely paleo but ive removed gluten almost entirely, milk and most processed food. my diet is 85 percent organic. i have removed all chemicals from my home and even my sunscreen is organic. i have noticed the muscle twitching has died down a lot the epilepsy has improved and the arthritis symptoms have improved as well but i still have atleast 1 or 2 joints that hurt each day. because im still eating other grains like oats im wondering if i went completely paleo if i would get even better. im supposed to be going to the mayo clinic in a few weeks and have had a trial of ivig. i am off all steroids because they were not helping me at all. I was hoping to reverse this disease through diet as well and i was able to work again part time for a year but have lost my employment again due to disability. thanks again for the website and hope for us going through these autoimmune issues and arthritis

    • Hi Felicia. I drink bone broth daily, which is a natural source of collagen protein, along with many other healing components. While I’ve experimented with extra collagen supplementation, I find the bone broth to be more powerful for me. I believer that’s normally true – that the whole food trumps the supplement almost every time. I’m so sorry you developed autoimmune disease so young, and you have taken great steps for your health. The fact that you can feel the improvements in your body already is a very good sign! My advice is to take it to the next level. At the very least, go 100% gluten-free, because every time you expose your body to gluten (even if it’s just occasionally) it has the chance of stimulating your immune systems and causing an inflammatory cascade through your body. For myself personally, going paleo and eventually doing the paleo autoimmune protocol had the biggest positive impact on my health. Wishing you wellness in every way!

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