For Sandy Swanson, symptoms began subtly and progressed slowly. At first, she thought it might simply be a sign of aging, even though she was only in her 30’s at the time. Like many people with Hashimoto’s, it took years to discover the cause. By that time, her symptoms had worsened, and doctors routinely dismissed them as “all in her head.” She experienced a lot of medical gaslighting. I know many of you can relate! In this interview, she shares her journey back to health, and the interventions that made the biggest difference.
+ Success Story Articles
Below you’ll find real-life stories of autoimmune warriors who have improved their health through the power of nutrition, lifestyle, and mindset. If you’re a podcast lover, listen to our healing stories episodes.
When Emma Chu Farnsworth was 18 years old, she was an athlete and a freshman in college. Over the course of three weeks, her life changed forever. What started as an unexplained rash on her face ended with a diagnosis of Lupus Nephritis Class IV. It was a shocking, overwhelming, and lonely time in her life. She’s incredibly grateful to conventional medicine for saving her life. Now nine years later, Emma is experimenting with diet and lifestyle changes to improve her life even more. With Emma, we celebrate the baby step approach to autoimmune health. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to do everything all at once. Each positive choice can reap rewards that you actually feel. For Emma, those rewards are less digestive bloating, increased energy, more mental clarity, and hope for what comes next.
It took 16 years and multiple hospital visits before Jenny received her diagnosis of autoimmune pancreatitis. Once she realized her condition was autoimmune, she decided to try the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). After doing the elimination phase for 2.5 months, she returned to the gastroenterologist for follow-up testing. Her tests came back healthy and showed that the damage to her pancreas had healed. Simultaneously, the AIP also eliminated the asthma and eczema she had suffered from for years. Her doctor told her to keep doing what she was doing. That was six years ago. Since then, she’s reintroduced many foods successfully back into her diet, and has a personalized diet and lifestyle that supports her wellbeing. She shares the details in this interview.
Like many people with celiac disease, Neil went undiagnosed for years, and that led to a lot of damage to his small intestine. His symptoms were debilitating and impacted every aspect of his daily life. One of the hardest parts was not being able to make plans without fear that he would have to cancel. Now, after following a healing diet and lifestyle for five years, he’s starting to see some regrowth in his small intestine villi for the first time. His symptoms have also reduced enough that he’s able to enjoy the things he loves again, like skiing, motorcycling, and time with his friends and family. It’s been a long road, and there have been ups and downs along the way. He shares the details in this interview.
Jacqueline’s autoimmune journey began with unexplained abdominal pains as a child, and ended with three autoimmune diagnoses as an adult. When she first developed uveitis, no one told her it was autoimmune. She only discovered that later as she developed two more autoimmune conditions: alopecia and psoriasis. Conventional medical treatment was helpful for the uveitis but had minimal impact on her other diagnoses. A friend finally told her about the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), and it was a life-changing discovery. Not only was she able to reverse her autoimmune symptoms and is medication-free today, she also overcame chronic insomnia. Her family also did the AIP alongside her, and their health improved as well.
Are you a fan of American Ninja Warrior? Did you know that Barclay (aka Sparkly Ninja) is an autoimmune warrior as well? She shares her story in this interview. Trauma has a powerful impact on autoimmunity. It increases the likelihood of developing autoimmune disease and can increase disease severity as well. Barclay knows this first-hand. Prior to her diagnosis, she was living a full and active life as a professional athlete. Then in 2019, her mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Three months later, Barclay started experiencing symptoms herself. It took over a year to get her official diagnosis, and it took two years to get her symptoms under control. Success came through a combination of medication, the support of her fiancée, belief in herself, and personal experimentation to discover what her body needed beyond medicine. Now in 2022, she’s competing in American Ninja Warrior again.
After 23 years of living with scleroderma, Ann has experienced both lows and highs. She’s become an expert on her condition, because she had to be. Many doctors didn’t offer the care she needed because scleroderma is a rare condition that very few doctors truly understand. Now, she has a great healthcare team, and she is at the center. She’s also become more empowered over the years with her daily life choices. She actively supports her health through diet, meditation, exercise, sleep, and other forms of self-care. As she puts it: “I have the capability to overcome a lot of what happens to me, and I am in control of my autoimmune journey.”
What happens when diet and lifestyle changes don’t lead to the improvements you seek, and the doctors aren’t providing solutions that work either? It may seem strange that I’m highlighting a story where the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol wasn’t the answer, but sometimes that happens. Lauren Mabry didn’t give up. Autoimmune encephalitis is a rare autoimmune condition that’s only recently been discovered. That was a huge barrier to an accurate diagnosis. She went to multiple doctors and tried both conventional and functional medicine approaches. While she would experience short-term improvements, her symptoms always returned and eventually escalated to the point that nothing helped. She continued to advocate for her health until she got the right diagnosis, and eventually the right treatment (having to fight her insurance company to receive it). She’s a role model of persistence and self-advocacy and shares her story with us today.
Elise Chan has suffered from alopecia, eczema, and osteoarthritis. For a long time, she attributed it to stress, and stress does influence her symptoms. But when she had a chance to research further, she realized diet might be a root cause as well. She turned to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol and got dramatic results.
When you have one autoimmune disease, you’re more likely to develop another, and that has been Lindsey Parsons’ experience. She got three diagnoses within one year: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), and pernicious anemia. She was lucky to get diagnosed early before symptoms became severe. When conventional doctors offered little in the way of treatment and suggested a “wait and see” approach, she took her health into her own hands. Diet and lifestyle changes reduced her thyroid antibodies from 103 to 15, and her other symptoms improved as well.
For Tameka Martin, intermittent health problems in adolescence led to more serious health problems as an adult. At her worst, she had six diagnoses but no solutions. She felt trapped in her own body. The Paleo Autoimmune Protocol healed many of her symptoms and restored both her physical and mental wellness. She shares the details of her journey with us today.
Doris found herself in the position many patients do – steadily worsening health with no clear cause. Her doctors couldn’t find anything wrong, and all her labs came back “normal”. That’s when she sought the help of a naturopath and discovered her autoimmune diagnoses. The Paleo Autoimmune Protocol made a huge difference in her quality of life. It eliminated almost all of her symptoms and diminished the rest. She shares the details in this interview.
When rheumatoid arthritis took over Kylie Hansen’s body, it felt like being set on fire from the inside. The pain was excruciating, and she struggled to care for her young children. Many medications failed before she found ones that helped, but she wondered if there was anything she could do to reduce her symptoms. That’s when she found the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. While it wasn’t a cure, it allowed her to reduce her medication, mitigate the side effects, and feel empowered that she could make a positive difference in her own health.
Evelyn Thai overcame life-long eczema that she thought was just part of her family genetics. She also stopped her progression of vitiligo. In this interview, she honestly shares her curving path to health, including stress-eating impulses she had to overcome, and the importance of the mind-body connection. She learned that healing isn’t just about physical symptoms. It’s about mental and emotional health as well.
While all of us would like to be overnight success stories, the autoimmune journey is rarely that simple. Healing isn’t linear. It takes trial and error to find what works for our unique bodies, which hopefully leads to growing improvement over time. Dan’s story is an inspiring one of strength, resilience, and persistence. He shares the details with us today.
Because diabetes is so common and there are different types, many people don’t realize that Type 1 is an autoimmune disease. The beta cells in the pancreas are attacked, and the body can no longer make enough insulin. Emily was shocked when she got her diagnosis, but as you read this interview, you’ll see that she is the epitome of an empowered patient. Not only did she identify the symptoms and go to the doctor quickly, she also implemented diet and lifestyle changes that made blood sugar management much easier. These same diet and lifestyle changes also eliminated the eczema she had been experiencing for years.
Two of the most prevalent autoimmune diseases in the world affect the thyroid. Hashimoto’s Disease causes hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid). Graves’ Disease causes hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid). Conventional doctors will often say that diet and lifestyle have no impact on these conditions, but one-by-one, patients are discovering the powerful difference they can make in their own health. Debra’s story is inspiring for the dramatic improvements she’s gained, but also her persistent and holistic approach. There’s no area she doesn’t consider in making her health the best it can be, and her life as full and joyful as possible.
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease that affects over 10 million people in the US alone. Damaging the thyroid gland, it creates symptoms so wide-ranging and confusing that it can be hard to diagnose. Sophie experienced a dramatic health decline that left her unable to work or care for her children. Today, she’s feeling 95% better. She shares her story with us today, including what diet and lifestyle changes made the biggest difference for her.
Today is World IBD Day, and what better day to share a story about healing ulcerative colitis? When Laura was diagnosed in March 2013, her doctor actually recommended the paleo diet. How cool is that? She’s been paleo ever since. In today’s interview, she shares the details of her first year of healing.
I have another inspiring success story to share. This time it’s Christie, who not only is healing her psoriasis through the paleo autoimmune protocol, but also eliminated depression, panic attacks, migraines, chronic fatigue, and more. But this isn’t a story about perfection. It’s about persistence, and the honest sharing of a journey that includes setbacks alongside successes.
Angie has celiac disease, endometriosis and an autoimmune skin condition. During the 15 years it took for her to be fully diagnosed, she endured numerous hospital visits, extreme pain and psychiatric symptoms that made her consider checking herself into a mental hospital. The gut-brain connection is real. The Paleo Autoimmune Protocol not only restored her physical health, but her mental health as well. She shares her journey with us today.
Today’s post is another inspiring success story. Charles has ankylosing spondylitis, an autoimmune condition that affects the spine. At its worst, Charles lived a life of constant, debilitating pain, where pain medication had no effect. His disease also caused a dangerous heart condition. After 2 weeks on a no-starch version of the paleo diet, his pain reduced to a 0-1. Two years later, he continues to maintain the diet, and his heart condition has healed.
Today, we have another inspiring success story. Russ Crandall has a rare autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in his arteries. He had a stroke at age 24 and open heart surgery at age 26. Medication moderated his symptoms, but It wasn’t until he discovered the Paleo Diet at age 29, that his health started to improve.
The GAPS, Wahls and Paleo Diets are powerful healing templates, but they often work best when personalized to our needs. Through patience, perseverance, and customizing her diet, Katy has reversed both Crohn’s disease and Inflammatory Arthritis. She shares the details of her healing journey with us in this interview.