Do Paleo-Friendly Autoimmune Specialist MDs Exist?

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stethoscope wrapped around an apple

“Before you examine the body of a patient, be patient to learn his story. For once you learn his story, you will also come to know his body.”
~ Suzy Kassem

The Short Answer

Yes, they exist, but they are a rare breed. I searched long and hard, scouring websites and directories, polling my readers and fellow autoimmune bloggers. When I first published this post back in 2015, I had only found 25. Since then, the list has doubled, and it continues to grow. Last updated 1/10/24.

What Do I Mean By Paleo-Friendly?

They don’t need to prescribe the paleo diet and lifestyle to their patients. This list would be much shorter if that was the requirement. They simply need to be open to the idea that diet and lifestyle does impact autoimmune health. They need to respect our efforts. I’m hoping this rare group of autoimmune specialists will grow in numbers, as they see more and more patients improve through the paleo diet and lifestyle.

What This List is Not

Many of us see functional medicine practitioners either alongside, or in place of, conventional autoimmune specialist MDs. Some examples are health and nutrition coaches, naturopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and even some general practice MDs who specialize in functional or integrative medicine.  They are valued members of our medical team, and you can find them relatively easily by searching the directories I’ve already published on this blog. The article I’m writing today, and the list I hope will grow, is a very different group of doctors.

What Do I Mean By Autoimmune Specialist MD?

People with autoimmune disease often still need to see a conventionally trained autoimmune specialist MD, even if they’re following the paleo diet and lifestyle. We might need monitoring of our condition, certain tests and procedures, and sometimes medication, because not everyone achieves a medication-free remission. The challenge, as patients, is having to face the doubts of these doctors when we try to explain the steps we are taking to maximize our autoimmune health. Most rheumatologists, neurologists, gastroenterologists, endocrinologists, etc. believe that diet and lifestyle choices don’t matter. It’s not uncommon for patients to be dismissed and disrespected for believing otherwise. My goal with this article is to create a growing list of the rare breed of autoimmune specialist MD, who can see that diet and lifestyle can play a powerful complementary role in treating autoimmune disease.

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40+ Paleo-Friendly Autoimmune Specialist MDs
Listed alphabetically by US state, with international doctors at the bottom of the list

Before Recommending a Doctor For This List

Please read the “What This List is Not” section above. Functional Medicine and Integrative MDs are already listed in other directories. This list is specifically the rheumatologists, endocrinologists, dermatologists, gastroenterologists, etc. who are open to paleo as a complementary approach. If you know one of those, please share below.

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Credit: image at top of page from George Hodan via Public Domain Pictures.

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75 comments on “Do Paleo-Friendly Autoimmune Specialist MDs Exist?”

  1. Dr Megan Wood in Edwardsville/Glen Carbon, IL (St Louis, MO metro area). Endocrinologist. And an overall fantastic human.

    I am desperately looking for someone even half as good in South Carolina.

  2. I would add Dr. Phillip Moberg at the Seattle Arthritis Clinic. After seeing an uninspiring Rheumatologist who didn’t support a paleo lifestyle, I found Dr Moberg and I was excited to work with him after my first visit. Although he is a medical doctor, he is open to alternative methods including acupuncture and diet. At the time the clinic had a nutritionist in residence and he encouraged me to work with her to fine tune my diet. Early on when when I asked what his patients who were in remission had in common, he responded with “everything you’re doing.” I eventually achieved remission and, although unsuccessful, he was supportive of me trying to go off my meds.

  3. Dr. Shore-Schein at the Marino Center in Cambridge, MA is also excellent! I’ve been a patient of hers for 7+ years and am always impressed! Absolutely brilliant and caring Rheumatologist. She’s very paleo friendly and well informed about alternatives including supplements and LDN.

  4. My sister saw Dr. Jennifer Elliott in Lincoln, NE. She was diagnosed with undifferentiated connective tissue disease, told it would possibly turn into RA or lupus, and prescribed Plaquenil. My sister felt Dr. Elliott downplayed the side effects, and when my sister wanted an alternative after her eye doctor made the side effects sound more serious, none were offered. My sister also never got to see her test results or go through them, and asked for other tests and Dr. Elliott was not willing to work with her on those. When she asked for recommendations on diet and lifestyle changes, Dr. Elliott gave her a card for a dietitian at a hospital. My sister has been looking for alternative physicians ever since, but Naturopaths can’t be licensed in the state of Nebraska so she’s struggling.

    1. Hi Sarah. I’m so sorry your sister had that experience. Most doctors on this list will still recommend medication (and that’s actually helpful for a lot of people) but they are also open to complementary treatments and discussing options. But it doesn’t sound like your sister had a positive experience at all. Thanks for letting me know. I’ll remove Dr. Elliott from the list.

  5. Thank you Eileen, I appreciate that. The letter didn’t give a specific reason, but based on comments made by her staff when I called, I do believe she is retiring. Which as you said is wonderful for her. She has been a good doctor. I’m so thankful she knew about LDN and was willing to prescribe it for me. Now the search begins for a new doctor in my area who is willing to do the same!

  6. Doctor Nancy Scheinost in Bryan Texas is closing down her practice effective September 16th 2019. I’ve been her patient for several years, and just received a letter to this effect from her office. I thought it would be helpful to pass the information along.

  7. PRABHAKAR SWAROOP, MD, gastroenterologist in Hutchinson, KS. I was so surprised that he spent 30 minutes lecturing my 25 year old nephew on how he needs to eat Paleo for the rest of his life and telling him how grains are killing Americans. Very informed physician. Impressed by him.

  8. Dr Carl Frank of Austin Gastroenterology in Georgetown, TX suggested a paleo diet to me and follows a paleo diet himself (and has since 2013!)

  9. I love my endocrinologist, Dr Eric Buxton in Greenbrae, California (Bay Area)- he’s very open to dietary changes and while I had already been using AIP to heal from Hashi’s for two years before coming to him, he was very supportive of me continuing and understood how it was helpful, best endocrinologist I’ve had!

  10. Dr. Margarita Ochoa-Maya, Endocrinologist, Nashua, NH
    Great supportive doctor, advocates for diet, supplements, gut health and lifestyle changes and also works frequently with LDN for those who need it. Also specializes in Women’s Endocrinology specifically.

    1. Kat, thank you so much! I’ve added Dr. Howard to the list. Right now, I don’t know of any in San Diego. I continue to add to the list, as people make referrals, though.

  11. I have been sof fortunate to be surrounded by so many physicians who support my wellness efforts. I am a Cleveland Clinic patient and since the introduction of Dr. Mark Hyman’s Wellness Center Cleveland Clinic has made it one of their goals to support more alternative treatments to disease. Not all of my docs are on my band wagon but all of them support my journey. I officially do not have an auto-immune disorder. I have a rare genetic disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrom. It is a connective tissue disorder that acts like an autoimmune disease. I have digestive problems, inflammation, joint pain, headaches, disautonomia and a plethora of other problems. It acts so much like an AI disease that for over 20 years I was diagnosed with several different AI diseases. That said AIP has been my saving grace. My symptoms are under control for the first time in over a decade. My doctors readily support my alternative approach. My sleep specialist, Dr. Tina Waters, works with the Wellness Center so she is a great source of information. My rheumatologist Dr. Gota, is all about blending lifestyle, diet and traditional medicine to treat my symptoms, and my PCP was the one who stuck it out with me for years until we could get an accurate diagnosis and is now my biggest supporter, Dr. Sundaram. They all are ready to provide help in in any alternative therapy or lifestyle change that I am willing to make. they often suggest different ways to make these changes even more successful.

    1. Lisa, that’s wonderful to hear that you have such a great team on your side, and that the AIP has been so helpful for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’ve added Dr. Gota to the list above. May you continue to feel better and better.

    2. Hi Lisa. I just heard from another reader who went to see Dr. Gota just this month. Apparently, she’s no longer paleo-friendly. She told this woman that she was wasting her time with diet and lifestyle interventions and anyone recommending those approaches was “selling something”! How disappointing! I know doctors change over time, but for now, I’m removing Dr. Gota from the list. I hope you remain in good health, and I know you have a huge team of openminded doctors, even if Dr. Gota has become more conventional over the years.

    1. Thanks, Sue! The Newsmax list is very different, since they aren’t autoimmune specialists and likely aren’t paleo, but people might still like to check them out for general healthcare needs. Thanks for sharing the link.

  12. I’ve HEARD that Dr Jill Ritter in Morristown, NJ is very open and into healing rheum patients with all sorts of medicines, but I’ve never seen her. She also does not take insurance which is another clue. Wouldn’t hurt to ask.

  13. For 20 years I have been seeing an allergy / asthma MD, Dr Anne Szpindor, she has offices in Hoffman Estates IL and Oak Park IL.
    Her Hoffman Estates phone is 847 310 8844. I began seeing her for food allergies, air born allergies and asthma. Basically leaky gut. She is very thorough and believes in an holistic approach of body, diet, mind and spirit. Dr Anne belives in using western medicine as well as alternative approaches. She has a thorough knowledge of herbs and suppliments as well. She actually recommeneded the Paleo diet to me 20 years ago. But sadly, I didn’t take her advice to and continued to eat outside of Paleo, only to later develop Hashimotos Syndrone. She is always educating herself on more natural methods of treatment and shares these with her patients. I have sent numerous friends and family to her through the years and all have been happy they went to see her. She recently recommended I add fermented foods and bone broth to my diet. Which has had excellent results. Needless to say, I’m now eating Paleo and am adjusting it to the AI protocol. And thanks to Dr Anne, I’m no longer on any meds other than sythroid and the occasional puff of my inhaler if my asthma flares up.

  14. Lorraine Carlson

    I’m so happy to see my amazing rheumatologist, Dr. Melissa McNamara, at the top of this list. Just want to let other readers know that I celebrated 1 year of being in RA remission a few weeks ago, thanks to following the AIP lifestyle. In addition to now seeing Dr. McNamara every 4-5 months, I’ve also benefitted greatly from seeing Anne Angelone, L.Ac, and Functional Medicine practitioner on a twice a month basis, as well as Deanna Brodevich Savant, PT, for cranial-sacral therapy to release residual muscle and fascia tension in my neck, shoulders and knees.

  15. Hello Eileen,
    I live in St. Paul, Minnesota and are looking for a Paleo-Friendly Autoimmune Rheumatologist. Do you have anyone in this area or a state or two away that you could refer?

    1. Lisa, this list is up to date with all the paleo-friendly rheumatologists I’m aware of. There used to be one in MN, but unfortunately she retired. If you learn of one, please comment back here with their name and website.

  16. I have inflammatory arthritis and live in Canada. I just had a Skype consultation with Dr Daniel Lewis, rheumatologist, Melbourne, AU. Dr Lewis was fully supportive of “food as medicine” and outlined how to measure the recovery of leaky gut, other inflammatory factors that should be measured before weaning off the biologic medication. He has a Facebook page with updates of any new relevant scientific information.

  17. I would love to find someone like the Drs on your special list of 25+ in the NY/NJ/CT area! I can’t believe there is no one close at all! Would you know if any of these drs would take remote patients? thanks for everything!

    1. HI Julia. Traditional MDs usually don’t do skype consults because they tend to be so overbooked with people locally, but the only way to know for sure would be to go through the list and ask.

    2. Same! It’s insane to me! With the concentration of doctor’s in this area, there must be someone… I’ll keep you posted if I have any luck finding an open-minded GI.

  18. Dr. Dowd , Rheumatologist, in Brighton, Michigan, is a firm believer in the Paleo diet for auto-immune issues. I have lupus and have worked with him.

    1. Hi Deb,
      I’m in Michigan also, near Flint in Grand Blanc. I am in desperate need of all new docs right now. There aren’t many options for rheumies in Flint and the ones I have been to up here are sad to say, quite incompetent. I will look into Dr. Dowd as well. Do you see an endocrinologist at all? Or do you know of one in our area that people seem to like? Any help is appreciated!

  19. I’m looking for a GI doctor in Sacramento or San Francisco. Does anyone have any amazing recommendations? Thank you!

    1. Any idea of she referred her patients to anyone? She diagnosed me many years ago and now I’m left without any one to connect with.

      1. I was her nurse in 2015 and absolutely loved working with her! I would highly recommend her to anyone looking for functional medicine/integrative rheumatology care (she cannot rx traditional rheumatology meds as she has no support staff, but can work with your rheumatologist to complement your care.)

  20. Im trying to find a Dr. like this here in N.W. Arkansas or close to this area. If someone knows of one, please let me know. Thanks so much.

  21. Dr. Kathleen Hands is an excellent endocrinologist in San Antonio. She runs the Thryoid & Endocrine Center of South Texas. She clued me into managing Hashimotos with diet and lifestyle changes and I went AIP from there. She is really curious about the AIP and open to it. She’s watching my progress (almost off synthroid!) and supporting my efforts even though she doesn’t always understand them :).

  22. Hi Eileen,

    Thanks for this list. I’m working with a GI doctor and a nutritionist to address SIBO. I’ve been following AIP for the last 7 months but my docs aren’t plugged into it. They suggested an elemental formula to increase my nutrition and address my weight loss, but the different formulas that are available all include ingredients that are disallowed on the AIP.

    Vivonex has soybean oil, cornstarch and maltodextrin from corn
    Peptamen has soybean oil, soy lecithin, maltodextrin, hydrolyzed whey protein from milk, and cornstarch
    Vital 1.5 has maltodextrin, whey protein hydrolysate, and canola oil.

    Do you have any suggestions for this? Perhaps the Vital 1.5 is the better option since it doesn’t have soy? I’ve heard there is a homemade formula recipe as well. Perhaps that’s the way to go?


  23. Elizabeth Carpenter

    My MD is awesome and is 100% involved in my AIP life changes. He has a focus on diet and the impact with my Hashimoto’s. I love working with him. His name is Dr. Eric Serano in Pickerington, Ohio.

  24. Unfortunately, Dr. John Oró, Neurologist in Aurora, CO is retiring from his practice. He will be teaching and writing a book.

    1. Thanks for the update Liz. I’ve removed Dr. Oro from the list. Hopefully his teaching will create more new doctors that are paleo-friendly.

  25. What a great list, thanks so much Eileen! Does anyone have a recommendation in or near Chattanooga, Tennessee? Thanks in advance!

  26. Wish there was one in Massachusetts. I can’t believe there are so few doctors to put on this list. Very very disheartening. Thank you so much for this website.

  27. Thank you for this list. You are always such a great resource for the AIP community! 🙂 BTW, the MBSR classes I’m taking are phenomenal! I hope you love your classes too.
    Be well,

  28. Thank-you for all you do to support all of us who are chronically ill. Medical mainstream docs need to hear loud and clear from us that we want to heal to every possible extent, not be put on drugs as band aids or labeled as non compliant when we don’t want to follow the allopathic routine. I hope more and more docs will be added to this list in the future. Thanks again for loving on us Eileen.

  29. Hi Eileen,
    As always, thank you for your dedicated work to share information that helps folks heal. You are a stalwart giver to this community. I scanned the list hoping for a Wisc. doc and I’m left wondering if it’s worth it to take up a phone relationship with an out of state doctor from the list. Since I’ve opted not to take the advised medicine, and had about 75% return to strong health via food choices, I feel at odds with my doctor. His toolbox is tapped and I’m second guessing the integrity of his counsel. The descriptions of how doomed I am to future, irreversible joint deformation and destruction is ever present. I hope you’ll keep adding to the list. I’ll bet this is the tip of the ice berg. I’ll look into functional medical practitioners. Thanks heaps!

    1. Functional practitioners have helped a lot of people, Jen. I think that’s why when building this list, even being clear about its purpose, people still send me names of functional docs. They just really love them!

    2. I have RA and was told the same. I took a chance and saw a naturopath by the name of Sarah axtell in whitefish Bay. She was a wonderful listener and helped me make great progress. I now see that there is another functional med named Amy Beyers almost within the same block, but haven’t been there. Just thought I’d give you a WI recommendation. 🙂

  30. Lorraine Carlson

    Please add Melissa McNamara, MD, of Danville, CA to your list of Paleo friendly MDs. She’s been my rheumatologist since 8/13 and introduced me to AIP and healing at the mitochondrial levels. Now 2 years later, my RA has been in remission since April 2015, I was able to wean off all biological and DMARD drugs since Sept 2014, and I’ve been getting stronger/feeling better with each day.

  31. Eileen:
    Your website has helped me so much. I am a 53 year old man, and I have had RA or psoriatic arthritis (rheumatologist can’t decide) symptoms for about 1 year. Rheumy told me there were NO lifestyle or diet changes that help, and was ready for the meds. I went to see Dr. Mark Hyman, but came away from his appointment without a clear plan. I began researching the tests that he ordered and that led me to YOUR site. I read so much – including Charles’s success story. Suddenly the missing information was there. I began transitioning to AI diet and within a week my joint and tendon pain was greatly improved. I have continued to improve, and with discipline around my diet, my symptoms almost complete disappear. I rode a 60 mile ride in the mountains on my bicycle last weekend (Ok I over did it a little..). Back in December I felt sure I would never be physically active again.

    Thank you for your site, thank you for everything. Tell Charles his story saved someone.

    1. When I first starting looking, I struggled to find even 5 open-minded specialists, so now 25 seems like a lot to me. But you’re right – it’s such a small percentage overall. I’m an optimist, so my hope is that their numbers will grow in the coming years.

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