What Is Autoimmune Disease?
Every case of autoimmune disease is unique—from Celiac disease to IBD, Hashimoto’s, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and beyond, there are over 100 different types of autoimmune diseases.
However, while each autoimmune disease seems different and has a different name, there is one common them among them all:
Autoimmune diseases are inflammatory diseases where your immune system is triggered and your body attacks itself.
The root cause of this inflammatory response? A leaky or unhealthy gut microbiome—the organ responsible for producing over 80% of your total immune system cells.
Why Are Autoimmune Diseases So Different?
So, if autoimmune diseases are so similar…why do triggers and symptoms for “autoimmune flares” vary so greatly?
For instance, one person with autoimmunity gets Hashimoto’s, along as an enlarged thyroid, shortness of breath, and constipation, while another person with Celiac Disease may experience weight loss, fatigue and IBS?
Answer: Differences in your Th1 and Th2 cell dominance.
What are Th1 & Th2 Cells?!
Th1 and Th2 cells are two different types of “T-helper” cells—white blood cells that are responsible for producing your body’s immune response.
Th1 and Th2 cells recognize foreign pathogens to destroy, or in the case of autoimmune disease, they destroy body’s own normal tissue.
In a healthy immune system, both types of T-cells work together to keep the system balanced. One side might become more active to eradicate a threat, but they then get back to a balanced level.
However, in autoimmune disease, like Hashimoto’s and Celiac, typically either Th1 or Th2 system is “overactive.” And, in some cases both systems can be completely over-active as well—switching between the two.
Whichever system is dominant decides how your body uniquely responds to immune triggers and how autoimmune conditions “flare” in your body.
Th1 Cells 101
Th1 cells are the body’s first line of defense against pathogens that get inside our cells and they immediately attack the intruder.
If you are TH-1 dominant, you produce too many natural killer and cytotoxic T-cells. Th1 are highly inflammatory and are most commonly involved in the development of organ–specific autoimmune disease (like Hashimoto’s).
Th1 dominant conditions diseases include:
Delayed food sensitivity (not food allergies)
More likely to be thin
Fatigue (after meals)
Type I diabetes
IBS & IBD
Lupus (also Th2)
Guillian Barre syndrome
Low T3 Syndrome
Chronic viral infections
Th2 Cell 101
Th2 cells are your body’s second line of defense against pathogens outside your cells—both in your bloodstream and in the environment, like toxins and allergens.
Th2 cells fight off the chemicals in Bath & Body Works lotion, pollen in the spring, food allergies to lactose in ice cream, BPA’s in plastic water bottles, and bacteria and pathogens in your bloodstream and body fluids.
Th2 dominant conditions and diseases include:
Allergies (food and seasonal)
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Multiple chemical sensitivity
How do I know if my autoimmune disease is Th1 or Th2 Dominant?
Your doc can run a Th1/Th2 cytokine blood panel www.truehealthlabs.com/TH1-TH2-Balance-Panel-Basic-p/lc_8… to find out.
You can also do a self-challenge with certain nutritional compounds (below) that stimulate either Th1 or Th2 with the guidance of a practitioner.
Th1 Dominance Self-Challenge Test
To find out if you are Th1 dominant, you would use two or three Th1 stimulating compounds to raise the level of Th1.
If you experience “flares,” with any of the following Th1 stimulating compounds, then Th1 dominance may be indicated (i.e. you already have enough Th1, and you need to support Th2 more):
Compounds that Simulate Th1*
Medicinal Mushrooms (Beta-glucan, Maitake, Reishi)
Glycyrrhiza (from licorice)
Grape Seed Extract
Pau D Arco
Foods: Oats, Legumes, Dairy, Corn, Potatoes, Nuts, Bananas, Yams, Mushrooms
Note: If you are Th1 dominant, these can make your condition worse. A Th1 dominant person will want to AVOID all the stimulants on the Th1 list and ADD some on the Th2 list so they can balance out the immune system.
Th2 Dominance Self-Challenge Test
To determine Th2 dominance, use Th2 stimulating compounds to raise the level of Th2 and note how you feel. These may include:
Compounds that Stimulant Th2 (take these to boost Th2, only if Th1 is more dominant)
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Green tea extract
Grape seed extract
Pine bark extract
White willow bark
Foods: Cinnamon, Garlic, Cardamom, Asparagus, MCT Oil, Papaya,
Note: If you are Th2 dominant, these can make your condition worse. A Th2 dominant person will want to AVOID all the stimulants on the Th2 list and ADD some on the Th2 list so they can balance out the immune system.
Supporting Th1 & Th2 Dominance
The Th1 and Th2 compounds listed above are some of the best nutrients for supporting your Th1 and Th2 systems.
If you are Th2 dominant, you would use supports that stimulate Th1 and vice versa.
Also be aware that some people may be both Th1 and Th2 dominant—people can shift between Th1 and Th2 so it can be tough for the most fragile individuals to control excessive reactions. In this case, you may want to avoid all immune stimulants for some time.
I like Pure Encapsulations new Th1 and Th2 support supplements, depending on your unique presentation. (You can find them here in the Pure Encapsulations Store www.purecapspro.com/drlauryn/pe/products/manufacturer.asp)
Although these compounds and nutrients won’t “heal” your autoimmune condition, they can be helpful, vital compounds for decreasing flares. For best results, work with a practitioner to both assess and “treat” your autoimmunity appropriately.
The Bottom Line
If you suffer from an autoimmune disease, like Hashimoto’s, chances are you are going to be sensitive to supplements that effect the immune system.
Simply knowing how powerful these compounds are is useful information even if you are not going to attempt to use them to balance your levels of Th1 and Th2.
Once you determine which system is dominant, you can then know the supplemental supports that could be helpful in controlling and managing your autoimmune “flares.”
Bonus: Boost BOTH Th1 & Th2
Lifestyle and nutrition factors play the BIGGEST role in boosting your immune function. Here are 8 nutrient essentials for supporting both Th1 and Th2—and balancing both systems:
1. Probiotics [especially soil-based organisms like Megaspore microbiomelabs.com/products/megasporebiotic/ (use code THRIVE when you “Register” to be able to order this practitioner grade support)
2. Fermented Foods (sauerkraut, pickled veggies, kefir, grass-fed yogurt, kombucha, kvass)
3. Prebiotic Foods & Supplements: Partially Hydrolyzed Guar Gum is best tolerated by most people (add to water). Also include cooked and cooled sweet potatoes/potatoes, green tipped bananas, onions, garlic, asparagus, artichoke, apples, pears, jicama and soluble fibers (cooked carrots, beets, squashes) into your usual eating routine.
4. Vitamin D: Sunshine and also found in liver, cod liver oil, sardines, raw dairy and pastured eggs
5. Vitamin C. Limited Vitamin C activates natural killer cell function if used in a high dose (5000 to 10,000 mg) 3 days per week only—balancing out the Th1 and Th2 responses equally. When used every daily, the body creates an enzyme to inactivate the Vitamin C rendering it ineffective.
6. Colostrom. A mother’s first milk that is available in supplement form to heal and support a strong gut lining. I like Well Wisdom Flickr: Explore!
7. Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil. Essential fatty acids that bust inflammation, like Green Pastures Flickr: Explore!
8. Liposomal Curcumin Flickr: Explore! . Natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant boosting compounds.
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