Autoimmune Panel: Wahls, Ballantyne, Jaminet, & Gray

This is probably the most important and interesting podcast I’ve had the privilege of being part of: an expert panel on Recovering from Autoimmune and Neurodegenerative Diseases.

The panel was arranged by Whitney Ross Gray of Nutrisclerosis, who has recovered from Multiple Sclerosis with an ancestral diet rich in animal foods.

The expert panelists were:

  • Terry Wahls, M.D., who has famously recovered from Multiple Sclerosis on an ancestral diet rich in plant foods, and is now leading a clinical trial studying ancestral diets as treatments for M.S.
  • Sarah Ballantyne, Ph.D., who blogs at The Paleo Mom. Sarah suffered from an autoimmune disease, lichen planus, as well as other ailments, and healed them (and lost 120 pounds) with an ancestral diet.
  • Paul Jaminet, Ph.D. I had a chronic disease with neurological symptoms that overlapped with M.S., but it turned out to be an infectious disease and cleared with antibiotics. However, this could not be diagnosed until after I’d made considerable progress addressing it through an ancestral diet, which became the Perfect Health Diet.

Questions were solicited beforehand from patients suffering from autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases, and in an hour and forty minutes we covered many fascinating topics.

I think the combination of personal experience recovering from chronic diseases, and scientific and medical expertise, made for an exceptionally useful conversation. If you are interested in these diseases – or just in how to be healthy, since the methods that address these conditions are generally beneficial for anyone’s health – take a listen.

My thanks to Whitney for organizing the discussion, Carl for hosting it, and Terry and Sarah for making a great panel.

Leave a comment ?

26 Comments.

  1. Hello!
    Thank you for addressing my submitted question on the panel. VEry empowering to hear my question asked, and then addressed…so, if my dietary issues are indeed fixed (although I’m always learning more and fine tuning), then I must find a way to better solve my lingering and persistent neurological issues….you resolved yours by identifying some type of chronic infection, and then took antibiotics. This would be worth my further investigation….how to go about it…what to say to a doctor??? I’ve often felt that somehow, I may be suffering from an uniidentifed infection of some sort. Thanks so much, Toni

    • Hi Toni,

      Unfortunately there are not good diagnostic methods for chronic infections, and you have to find a doctor who is willing to experiment. In my case, my doctor wouldn’t have prescribed antibiotics for my neurological symptoms, but I had some other symptoms he thought might be bacterial (they weren’t), and was willing to prescribe antibiotics on that basis. I think in the US too many doctors want to cover themselves against standard-of-practice criticisms. In reality, the most effective way to diagnose a bacterial infection sometimes is to experiment with antibiotics and see if they have an effect.

      I do recommend intermittent fasting and circadian rhythm tactics which are very helpful against any infection. Also, you could consider therapies like low-dose naltrexone.

      Best, Paul

      • Hello Paul I realize your reply above is quite old, but I’m curious what you meant by “circadian rhythm tactics”?

        • Hi Tanya,

          I mean tactics for circadian rhythm entrainment. They are discussed in Chapter 42 of our book and more recently in some talks I’ve given, available on Youtube. I’ll look for them and put them in a blog post when I get time.

          Best, Paul

  2. Maarten van der Laan

    I’m listening to the panel now. Interesting to see differences and similarities between the approaches of the panelist. The host sounds unauthentic and unprofessional though.

  3. I’m so grateful to you all for doing this panel. Thank you! One comment on your introduction in this post. You said that Whitney and Terry recovered from their MS and Sarah healed her lichen planus. But all of these women are very honest about the fact that they still have their autoimmune disease. They’ve made major progress, but some symptoms remain. It’s the holy grail for all of us, to recover completely (I have rheumatoid), but so far, I don’t know of anyone who has. I think it’s important to be clear about that. The healing power of diet is still amazing, because it’s effective medicine to manage chronic conditions, but it’s not always a cure. Your experience seems to be different, because your illness was infection-based.

  4. i missed it. 🙁
    has anyone discussed vitiligo?

  5. Thank you so much for partaking in this panel, and for putting up the link. I’m listening right now!

  6. Is there anything you can recommend for cooling symptoms of Celiac disease? I scrupulously avoid gluten and have no desire to deliberately consume it again. However, it would be great to be able to relax a notch or ten about cross-contamination. I’m sensitive enough to tiny amounts of gluten that I can’t usually eat foods relatives and friends cook for get-togethers, accept a kiss from my husband after he has anything with gluten, take normal communion at church, eat in a restaurant without policing the wait staff (and they often mess up), etc. I’m wondering if there is something about the disease itself that I can treat, not just avoid symptoms by removing gluten, but the conventional line is that it’s impossible to do anything for that. Even a small improvement in my body’s reaction would be beneficial.

    • I second this!

      We have our 4 year old son gluten-free, including all grains, dairy AND potatoes because of cross-reaction. We haven’t been to a restaurant in over a year, and he knows he can’t accept any food from anyone else.

      Every time he eats even the slightest amount of rice or potatoes, he gets diarrhea and his tTg-IgA goes up.

      What else can we do? When will it be okay to start adding back foods?

  7. Bravo to you and Sarah for voicing your honest opinions regarding the dangers of going ketogenic (despite the obviously reluctance of our interlocutor!). I have of course read your blog regarding glucose deficiency and the dangerous symptoms of ketosis when done over the long haul. Sarah’s point about how ketosis worsened rheumatoid arthritis by dysregulating cortisol is interesting. But more provocative is her point that reduced leptin could cause the thymus, which direct T lymphocytes of the adaptive immune system, to atrophy. I’ve long wondered why ketosis seems to be often followed by autoimmunity, most frequently in the form of hypothyroid conditions but also other, “fibrotic” forms of autoimmunity such as RA. So many people become ANA positive after being on a ketogenic diet. I’ve long thought that the timing was more than just pure coincidence.

    So Sarah’s and your insights are more than just propitious. But I ran across Italian research which seems to implicate very low triglycerides, which frequently result from ketogenic dieting, to the early development of autoimmunity:

    http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/459414_print

    What do you think, Paul? Very low trigs (like under 40) seems to be a biomarker of autoimmunity. But none of the study’s subjects were on a ketogenic diet. So the inference is that autoimmunity is an epiphenomenon of ketosis, i.e., the lowered trigs, which could, for all we know, have its own J curve, just like LDL does, may be the real culprit in kickstarting the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases. Trigs into the 20s like Jimmy Moore achieved (during his Atkins heyday) just might not be optimal: the article suggests that IGF-1 (which simultaneously clears serum triglycerides and makes wound healing collagens and fibroblasts) and FFA may be involved.

    This one seems to be right up your alley, Paul! And you’re the man who can come up with the “theory of everything,” so to speak! Best regards and thanks again to you and Sarah.

  8. Hi Paul,
    I keep hoping for that GERD post you promised after the Ancestral Health conference–I’ve got a mother and a dear friend who are suffering from it, and we were all a bit confused by the posts you have mentioning it so far. Is there hope for the near future? I don’t mean to be annoying–thanks for all your amazing work:)
    Best,
    Sarah

    • Hi Sarah,

      Thanks, I want to write it too. I’ve been prioritizing other work ahead of blogging and that’s been taking a long time to get done. I think the GERD post is badly needed so it’s a high priority.

  9. Good to hear, and totally understandable. Thanks!

  10. Hi Paul-
    What do you think of autoimmunity and the “Old Friends Hypothesis?”

    • Hi John,

      Well, we certainly have a mutualist relationship with some types of microbes; we would probably not be perfectly healthy with a germ-free gut. But I’m not convinced of all details of the Old Friends hypothesis. In particular I don’t believe that we need helminthic worms to avoid autoimmunity.

  11. Great panel. With all the talk about special artificial lights I wondered “Doesn’t anyone have glass windows in their house anymore?”

    • Good thought. It’s amazingly wrongheaded, but in a lot of places zoning panels limit windows because they are less insulated / “energy efficient”. Even with windows, however, indoor light tends to be much dimmer than natural light, so it’s not bad to complement it with blue-oriented bulbs in daytime and red-oriented bulbs at night.

  12. Add me to your success stories. I have indolent follicular lymphoma and it is supposed to return every two years. It has now been almost 9 years! I had been on the anti-candida diet and had tired of it and went to paleo, which was helping but I craved fruit too much and my digestion was not 100% (IBS-D). Only when I went to your diet following an 18/8 fasting schedule, did I begin to see the results I needed. My liver counts are better as are all of my cancer markers and blood sugars. Kaiser lets me track from visit to visit and I can really see the trend. The rice and potatoes really help with my digestion as well and unlike the anti-candida diet, I can handle some fruit as long as I stick to 18/8. The supplements really help with energy levels and I am focused and less inattentive at work. Thanks so much! Now I just need to wait until my son goes to college in two weeks to up the organ meats in my diet. Your book is amazing.

  13. Thank you for all the wonderful information and advice you so willingly share with us! I’m curious as to our response to a couple of Sarah’s comments. She thinks coffee may impact cortisol levels and that intermittent fasting done in a sporadic manner might be more effective than doing it every day. I have been eating in an eight hour window for awhile now and feel much better but am not losing weight so I am wondering if there isn’t something to what Sarah says – what say you?

  14. Hi Paul,

    Just ordered your book and listened to the podcast on autoimmunity today. It was really informative.

    I myself am having early autoimmune connective tissue disease symptoms. I am going to look in to ldn as recommended by a friend.

    As far as the phd it looks great but should I be cutting out eggs and dairy or anything else since I have autoimmune sx? Would you recommend certain supplements?

    Thank you. Great website.

  15. The link is not working and a quick effort to search their website failed. Still available?

  16. Hi Paul, Thank you for helping us all by writing this book. I am a nutritionist from India and currently following the perfect health diet. I read about your neuropathy and wanted to know how you got rid of the symptoms. Are there any tests that you would suggest, an mri perhaps. I get the weird tingling, numbness and pins and needles and its beginning to frighten me now. Are there any supplements that helped with you? I would really appreciate all the help here. Thank you so much!!

    Warm Regards from India

    • Hi Jia,

      We developed PHD and that seemed to fix everything except the cognitive symptoms, which got me thinking about a brain infection. I had had a brief meningitis a few years earlier so it wouldn’t have been a surprise if I had developed a chronic infection. Symptoms matched low serotonin syndrome and/or cognitive hypoglycemia — google them you’ll see a lot of overlap. I tried doxycycine and that worked.

      I didn’t have peripheral symptoms except for my inherited essential tremor which got better on PHD. I would suggest the PHD electrolytes (magnesium, lithium, potassium) and extra B12, plus the egg yolks, liver, and other PHD foods.

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