Autoimmune Tendency

Autoimmune Tendency: Overview

Autoimmune diseases result from the body's immune system mistaking the tissues its own body for foreign invaders, and attacking them.

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There appear to be some issues which seem to come up more frequently in those with autoimmune disorders.  Investigation of these areas and appropriate follow up may reduce the tendency toward these types of conditions and produce a general benefit.  This is especially important when multiple autoimmune conditions exist in the same person.


Many millions of people suffer from autoimmune disorders.  It is more common in women, particularly young and working-age women, but older men are also more prone to autoimmune disease.  Interestingly, autoimmune disorders are 2-3 times as common in left-handed people.

Conditions that suggest Autoimmune Tendency:


Myasthenia Gravis

About 5-10% of patients with myasthenia gravis also have other autoimmune diseases.





The leading cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves' disease, which is an autoimmune disorder.

Lab Values


Autoimmune disease can cause chronic neutropenia.


Meniere's Disease

About 60% of patients with Meniere's disease are found to have antibodies for inner ear proteins.


Organ Health

Diabetes Type II

Type 2 diabetes is in the process of being redefined as an autoimmune disease rather than just a metabolic disorder.


Hives (Urticaria)

Some forms of chronic hives have an autoimmune origin which means, in about 30% of patients, that the immune system is producing antibodies against normal substances in the body and triggering the release of histamine by mast cells. [Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, March 1999, 40(3); pp.443-450]


Rosacea is now being viewed as an auto-immune disease.

Risk factors for Autoimmune Tendency:


Environmental Illness / MCS

Reports of autoimmune markers in MCS patients, like most MCS data, are inconsistent.  Drs. Alan LeVin and Vera Byers in 1992 reported finding anti-thyroid and anti-smooth muscle antibodies among MCS patients, leading to the conclusion that some MCS patients may develop autoimmune disease: The immune systems of MCS patients may generate antibodies to chemicals, or to their own tissues, the latter of which may activate an autoimmune response.  In some cases, MCS could be viewed as a chemically-formed autoimmune disease. [Environ Health Perspect 105(Suppl 2): pp.417-36 (1997)]

Environment / Toxicity

Zinc Toxicity

Prolonged large doses of zinc may, by lowering manganese levels, increase susceptibility to autoimmune reactions.

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Autoimmune Tendency suggests the following may be present:


Recommendations for Autoimmune Tendency:


Therapeutic Fasting

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D. has spent much of his professional life treating disease by fasting his patients.  He has an entire chapter in his book, Fasting and Eating for Health, dedicated to the subject of autoimmune disease.  He is convinced that fasting with subsequent dietary changes is a much superior approach to autoimmune disease than conventional treatments.

Gluten-free Diet

Some doctors have found that a higher than normal percentage of patients with autoimmune disorders are allergic to gluten/gliadin and dairy products.  Complete avoidance should be tried for at least one month to see if benefits will occur.

Digestive Aids

Hydrochloric Acid (Trial)

Clinicians report that 50% of patients with autoimmune disease are also hypochlorhydric (have low stomach acid).


Not recommended

Melatonin enhances the immune system and therefore those with autoimmune diseases should use melatonin only in very low doses.

Laboratory Testing

Test Copper Levels

In cases of autoimmune disease, where therapy is often less than satisfactory, copper insufficiency should be investigated until additional studies confirm any link.  The following quote is by John Johnson (

"There is very little scientific evidence that copper is involved in immune system function, but it is my belief that copper deficiency is the principal nutritional deficiency involved in autoimmune diseases.  Approximately 80% of the people who suffer from autoimmune diseases are women.  The most important nutrient that women need more of than men is copper.  Any nutritional detective who is trying to find the culprit in autoimmune diseases should first suspect copper.  Women need more copper and get autoimmune diseases more frequently.  Men need less copper and generally don't get autoimmune disease.  Copper deficiency is the obvious suspect."

Test for DHEA

Some doctors report finding that a high percentage of patients with autoimmune disorders are also deficient in DHEA, and should be tested.

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Health problems rarely occur in isolation or for obvious reasons

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Weak or unproven link: may suggest
Weak or unproven link:
may suggest
Strong or generally accepted link: often suggests; often increases risk of
Strong or generally accepted link:
often suggests; often increases risk of
Moderately useful: often helps with
Moderately useful:
often helps with
Very useful: is highly recommended for
Very useful:
is highly recommended for
Caution: is sometimes not recommended for
is sometimes not recommended for
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