Reversing Autoimmune Disease is a Real Possibility

on Dec21
by Dr. Vikki Petersen | Print the article |

Current Medical Thought is that Autoimmune Disease is Irreversible

Personally I have trouble with ‘catchy’ titles of articles that end up not stating what is implied by the title. So do know that this is not the case here. I have been specializing in the area of gluten intolerance for close to 15 years and during that time have authored a book, eBook, plus hundreds of You Tube videos and blogs.

I am passionate about improving awareness and lessening the many diseases associated with it, so it is with great delight that I present this exciting information to you.

We See Stabilization and Reversal of Autoimmune Disease in Patients

Autoimmune disease and its relationship to gluten intolerance is something I’ve discussed on several occasions and have stated that here at HealthNOW we see excellent success in stabilizing and reversing autoimmune disease. While I felt confident in our clinic’s results, it was sometimes difficult to substantiate our findings beyond our own personal experience due to lack of any corroborative research findings.

The dilemma with autoimmune disease is that its frequency has been increasing dramatically. Much the same as autism, autoimmune disease has doubled every 15 years for the past 75 years, making it the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Such an increase cannot be explained by genetics as genes do not alter that quickly. It is agreed that an environmental component is at play, but what is it?

Look to the Gut for the Cause

I have long thought that the gut and a loss of integrity of the lining of the gut, specifically the small intestine, was likely responsible. This is called a leaky gut and we know gluten to be a strong culprit in creating it. When you analyze how autoimmune disease is created, the leaky gut hypothesis starts to make a lot of sense.

Autoimmune disease occurs when the body’s immune system ‘mistakes’ a part of the body for a hostile invader. In diabetes this results in an attack on the pancreas and in celiac disease it is the small intestine that is destroyed.

Dangerous Drugs are Not the Answer

Traditional medicine’s viewpoint is that the immune system is ‘out of control’ and must be suppressed with drugs. Unfortunately these drugs put the patient taking them at great risk of developing life threatening infections.

Such treatment personally never made sense to me, and if you were to study the body’s immune system I think you would be quite impressed with its complexity and brilliance. Therefore simply suppressing it because you didn’t like what it was doing seemed short-sighted and even disrespectful.

We Now Understand the Reason Why

Would it not be better to discover WHY the immune system confused a body part for a hostile invader? This ‘confusion’, whereby the body’s immune system attacks itself, is known scientifically as ‘molecular mimicry’. The concept is that the body part or organ itself is ‘mimicking’ something the body perceives as hostile, and it therefore attacks it.

We now understand that having the genetic propensity for an autoimmune disease plus the presence of an ‘antigen’ or ‘bad guy’ is not sufficient to initiate autoimmune disease. Much the same as we have stated for celiac disease, the third and all important component is this: Do you have a healthy small intestine whose ‘gatekeeper’ system is intact or are the ‘gates’ wide open?

A leaky gut allows hostile elements to gain access to the bloodstream wherein the immune system then reacts to these elements. A healthy small intestine with normal permeability (a non-leaky gut) would not allow this access to occur. The healthy small intestine would prevent the hostile element from ever leaving the small intestine and therefore it would never get to the bloodstream.

The beauty of the immune system is that it has memory. If it doesn’t ‘see’ something for a while it will relax and cease its ‘attack mode’. The way this plays into autoimmune disease is that if the leaky gut gets handled, the antigen or bad guy doesn’t leave the gut anymore and the immune system of the bloodstream therefore ‘forgets’ about needing to attack it. It also therefore no longer feels the need to attack the self tissue that was mimicking the bad guy – this would be a reversal of autoimmune disease.

New Study Confirms Our Findings

I am a big fan of Dr Alessio Fasano and his team out of the University of Maryland, and what to thank them all for the study that I am about to discuss. Prior to this, the closest study I could cite regarding an association between the gut and autoimmune disease was one involving rats and type 1 diabetes. It was an amazing study but it still involved rats, not people. People definitely feel better when research involves their own species.

I am delighted to share a study that was just released titled “Leaky Gut and Autoimmunity” that can be found in the journal Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology.

Autoimmune diseases such as asthma, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, ankylosing spondylitis and irritable bowel disease are reviewed and a common causative thread is revealed.

The causative agent is a leaky gut, more formally known as increased intestinal permeability or intestinal barrier function. Gluten is felt to play a role in the creation of a leaky gut as it specifically relates to the autoimmune diseases celiac and type 1 diabetes.

The new theory put forth in this article implies that “once the autoimmune process is activated, it is not autoperpetuating, rather can be modulated or even reversed by preventing the continuous interplay between genes and environment.”” Since tight junction dysfunction[leaky gut] allows this interaction, new therapeutic strategies aimed at reestablishing the intestinal barrier function offer innovative, unexplored approaches for the treatment of these devastating diseases.”

In other words, if the environment, or leaky gut, is properly addressed, the genetic predisposition will not be enough to ‘ensure’ the disease is present. This puts a person with a high genetic propensity much more in control of their health outcome. Also, treating a leaky gut is truly considered a treatment for these devastating diseases. Further, despite what has been traditionally said about autoimmune diseases and the impossibility of improving them, let alone reversing them, this theory states quite the contrary.

It’s amazing but it all comes back to the gut, its integrity and the diet. No matter how hard some people try to avoid it, you just aren’t going to get healthy by ignoring what you’re eating. And you’re certainly not going to prevent or reverse autoimmune disease with a leaky or unhealthy gut.

Treatment Protocol for You and Your Family

So what should you do?

  1. Find out if there’s any autoimmune disease in your family. There are over 100 different autoimmune diseases but I’ll include some of the most common ones here:

Arthritis, rheumatoid


Autoimmune thyroid



Crohn’s disease

Diabetes, type 1



Multiple sclerosis


Ulcerative colitis



2. If there is any autoimmune disease in your family immediately get tested for gluten intolerance. This is not just a celiac    test but also a test for gluten sensitivity. Contact me should you need further data about how to best accomplish this. If you are already gluten-free but haven’t been tested, a genetic test is a good alternative that does not require a dangerous reintroduction of gluten.

3. If you suspect gluten intolerance based on testing or dietary changes that you have made on your own, it is next vital that you find a clinician who can monitor the changes that must be implemented to heal the gut completely. Only removing gluten, while vital, has been proven to be insufficient to restore the normal permeability to a leaky gut.

Treating the Leaky Gut is Critical

You need to find a clinician that knows how to evaluate and treat successfully a leaky gut. If you have any questions about this please don’t hesitate to contact me, it’s one of our specialties.

The dietary changes required when one is gluten intolerant are not easy. These restrictions are often compounded by concurrently eliminating dairy and perhaps some cross-reactive foods. [Cross-reactive foods are foods that mimic gluten in the body and the body reacts to them as if they were in fact gluten. Often temporary removal of these foods is all that’s required, but some are permanent.]

Many people just don’t want to have to confront that dramatic of a change in their diet. While it is ultimately your choice what you do with your body, I think understanding this data about the connection between a leaky gut and autoimmune disease is worth considering. The plight of those who suffer from autoimmune disease is anything but pleasant. Add to that the fact that if you have one autoimmune disease you are more likely to contract another. These are diseases that lower one’s life expectancy and ability to enjoy life.

Please understand that what we have discussed here is quite revolutionary! Not particularly for us because we’ve seen it at here at our clinical nutrition department for years, but having it in print by a highly respected researcher is going to hopefully change the way medical professionals think about these diseases.

I and my team are here to help you and we specialize in healing a leaky gut. If you don’t live locally, don’t worry. We are a destination clinic and treat patients from across the country and internationally.

If you suspect you suffer from gluten intolerance or you have an autoimmune disease yourself or in your family, feel free to contact us and receive a free health analysis. Call 408-733-0400.

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance: What you don’t know may be killing you!”

Permission is granted to re-post this article in its entirety with credit to Dr Vikki Petersen & HealthNOW Medical Center and a clickable link back to this page. Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN is founder of HealthNOW Medical Center and the author of “The Gluten Effect” and eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What you don’t know may be killing you”.  She has been featured in national magazines, international medical journals and is a frequent headlined speaker.








The Author

21 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Debbie B in MD


    This is the first I have read about cross reactive foods. I have eliminated all grains and nightshades, and dairy except cheese. Both of these changes lead to great improvements, but I am still not where I think I should or could be in terms of energy. I just googled cross-reactive foods and found this list of 18 foods. The only ones I still eat are milk and chocolate (usually dark). Do you have a list of additional foods that may cross react?

    Thanks so much for your help.

    21 Dec
  2. Debbie B in MD


    I should also add that corn is a thing of the past too. I definitely have inflammation from corn. I have jsut eliminated eggs in the last few days too.

    21 Dec
  3. April S


    I was given a diagnosis of (sero-negative) rheumatoid arthritis about 17 years ago at the age of 18. Stopped eating gluten and have been off ALL my RA meds for 2 1/2 years! I almost don’t believe my own story…seems too good to be true. And while I appreciate having the medical community do research and studies to validate what I already know, I sometimes am waiting on the rug to be pulled out from underneath me and have to get back on my meds. But for now, I go the gym 4-5 days a week and feel better than I ever have!! Oh! And I doubt my RA diagnosis…when I got off all my immuno-supressing drugs I had psoriasis flare up. Guess I had psoriatic arthritis all along. Sure do wish I could change my diet to get rid of the psoriasis, but I’ll take it any day over the joint pain and drugs!

    21 Dec
  4. Vera


    Thank you for this post. I’ve been on a quest to reverse my autoimmune disease(s), microscopic colitis plus probably MCTD, and am finally under the care of an excellent integrative medicine doctor. Before I discovered the gluten connection, my ANA levels were 1:1280 and had been rising for 6 years. Doctors were expecting lupus, AIH, RA, etc. I’ve been GF/DF and SF for almost 2 years and I feel great, although gut permability tests are still abnormal. In one year after starting the diet, my ANA level dropped to 1:320. My doctors were amazed. I can’t wait to what my autoantibody levels are doing this year. I wish autoimmune patients recognized the diet connection as quickly as the gluten intolerant do.

    21 Dec
  5. 5

    Hello April,

    Kudos for getting off your medication and diagnosing your gluten intolerance. I speak about the secondary effects of gluten often in my blogs and on my you tube videos. The reason I bring this up is because it’s likely due to an untreated secondary effect that you continue to have psoriasis. We have had excellent success with psoriasis and while gluten is often the root cause, to fully handle it the secondary effects need to be addressed.

    Feel free to contact me for a complimentary health analysis – we would be happy to see if you could be helped! Call408-733-0400

    Dr Vikki

    21 Dec
  6. 6

    Hello Vera,

    That’s terrific news. It sounds like you have things well in hand. You’re correct – if only doctors and patients appreciated how important dietary changes were, less people would be suffering from autoimmune disease.

    If you ever need my help, please don’t hesitate to ask!

    Dr Vikki

    21 Dec
  7. 7

    Hi Debbie,

    It sounds like you found the list of cross-reactive foods. The other component that might need to be addressed is what I call the secondary effects of gluten. This includes a leaky gut and hormonal imbalance, to cite a couple.

    In addition to being aggravated by cross-reactive foods, a leaky gut can be caused by infections in the small intestine (these don’t cause digestive symptoms typically) , imbalanced good bacteria, insufficient enzymes, toxicities, etc.

    It seems that you have done a good job in trying to improve your condition and I understand the frustration at not achieving the optimal health you desire. It is this that we are best known for.

    If you’d like, I’d be happy to offer you a free health analysis and we could see if we could help you get to that next level of health. Feel free to call if you wish – 408-733-0400.

    Dr Vikki

    21 Dec
  8. 8

    Hello Vera,

    I’m so glad that your health is improving so well. Soon there will be a new test out through Cyrex Labs that will be able to monitor autoimmune tendencies even prior to a ‘disease’ state developing. This will go far in allowing us to assist patients and ensure that there immune systems have regained the health that we desire.

    If you need any help please let me know. That is what I’m here for!

    Dr Vikki

    21 Dec
  9. 9

    Hello April,

    That is great news about your rheumatoid arthritis. But I don’t want you to continue to suffer with psoriasis either.

    We do have excellent success in reversing and improving psoriasis. Please let me know if you’d like any assistance in this area. I’d be happy to offer you a free health analysis. Call 408-733-0400 if you’re interested.

    All the best,
    Dr Vikki

    21 Dec
  10. Terri in SC


    I had childhood asthma that returned in my 20′s. Now at 48 I also suffer from Graves disease, chronic migraines, fatigue and IBS. I have been diagnosed with numerous food allergies (too many to try to avoid). MSG is a huge migraine trigger so I avoid that. I stopped eating gluten 2 weeks ago. Should I remove dairy, corn and eggs, from my diet now, or wait?
    Thank you for sharing this crucial information. My motivation for getting well is to prove this “theory” so that others may do the same.

    Also, have you seen good results for patients who have been sick this many years?

    21 Dec
  11. 11

    Hello Terri,

    Yes we have seen patients who had good results despite suffering for decades, some longer than you.

    I cannot give you medical/dietary advice without first having examined you, but I can comment with the fact that we no longer consider dairy products a ‘food’ and many patients who are gluten intolerant do seem to do much better when they also eliminate dairy.

    We would be happy to see if we can assist you. Please consider calling for a free health analysis – 408-733-0400.

    Let me know how you are doing.

    Dr Vikki

    21 Dec
  12. andrea



    I signed up to received the free ebook and have yet to receive it. Could you please send it to me.


    21 Dec
  13. Liz


    Dr. Vikki,

    I have been suffering from Hashimotos for several years and learned last year I also now have Sjogrens. I have been tested for food allergy/sensativity and mainly came up Milk/Whey, peanuts, eggs, yeast. I know I have a problem with corn and soy also after I eat it. I just recently started a gluten free diet but it feels like I can’t eat anything. I need to get with a good Dr. in Orange County, CA that can get me on a program and continue to test foods that I can eat and test me for additional autoimmune issues.


    21 Dec
  14. 14

    Dr Vikki

    I have been gluten free over 8 years, and always listen to what my body is telling me. My recent diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis has been a blow, and I always try to fix things naturally. Do you think I might be doing irreversible damage by not taking my doctors advice?

    The though of remicade every 8 weeks for the rest of my life goes against everything I have stood for with my allergen avoidance.

    I strongly believe that stress has brought on this latest flair, and I have asked my doctor for a blood test after this stressful event has passed to see if RA levels change. If they do I fear I’ll be making more self diagnosis decisions and potentially harming my future freedom by choosing instinct over my doctor’s advice.

    21 Dec
  15. 15

    Once you get the results of the recent test back, consider giving us a call for a free health analysis. Even if stress caused the flare-up, there is obviously some underlying issues that should be addressed. I share your concern about the medication.

    We have had good success treating rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Dr Vikki

    21 Dec
  16. Sarah Gibson


    I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (CCP positive) in November 2012. I’ve been working on my digestive system since, and have eliminated Wheat, meat, Diary, Alcohol and Coffee from my diet. I have elected to go down the natural health path, and live on green smoothies, and raw food. However as I apparently have an erosive form of RA, and am progressively getting worse, am really concerned as to how long it will take and/or how much (more) joint damage I’ll endure in the meantime. Can you offer any advice please as I’m starting to freak out just a bit…

    21 Dec
  17. 18

    Hello Sarah,

    I understand your concern. I do believe that something can be done but it will take some diagnosis on our part or whomever you see that specializes in getting to the root cause of RA. I would be happy to offer you a free health analysis if you would like. We are a destination clinic and see patients from across the country and internationally. Just give us a call at 408-733-0400.

    Dr Vikki

    21 Dec
  18. Thando


    how can immune system used to treat autoimmune diseases

    21 Dec
  19. 20

    The immune system needs to be normalized in order the treat autoimmune disease. With autoimmune the immune system is making mistakes and attacking the body itself. Proper treatment looks at why that is occurring and attempts to get it to stop.

    I have written alot about this plus I have several YouTube videos explaining it. Let me know if those help you.

    Dr Vikki

    21 Dec
  20. Connie


    Hello Dr. Vikki, I am not sure that the situation we have pertains to gluten intolerance, but I would really appreciate if you can take the time to tell me if there is something you can possibly suggest. My husband began to have a very bad headache for about 10 days, he was admitted to the hospital on January 17, 2014, after a tap test he was diagnosed with Aseptic Meningitis, he was discharged on Jan. 21, 2014, no medications were given to him. He continued to feel and looked sick but I did not think much of it because I thought that he was going to take longer to recover. Suddenly, he began stuttering, having short term memory problems, repeating himself , and he continued to have the headache. I took him to the ER again and was admitted, they performed a second tap test which showed there was an infection somewhere but they could not figure out where. Many, many tests were performed including CT scans of the brain, MRI’s, PET Scans, blood tests, but everything would come back negative. At this point, the doctors said to me that his meningitis had been complicated by viral encephalitis, but were not sure it was that because no matter what they did, my husband wasn’t getting any better. They treated him with acyclovir for 10 days followed by steroids for another five days and was discharged from the hospital although he did not look so good. The first three weeks it looked like he was going to recover until he began having issues again, except this time I noticed his ears were very swollen and very tender to the touch. I want to mention that he had this problem since the first time he was admitted to the hospital and I continued to tell the doctors but they kept saying the ears didn’t have anything to do with what he was having, so he first began to have a low grade fever then it went from low to high fever. I ended up bringing him to UCLA Medical Center because I have been told that this a great hospital. He has now been in the hospital for almost three weeks and after numerous tests, repeated ones and additional ones, plus tests for autoimmune diseases have been negative, except that in the UCLA hospital they did pay attention to the ears and they did a biopsy, according to the dermatology team that happened to come back positive for Relapse Polichondritis, now keep in mind that all autoimmune tests have been negative. We are now waiting to get an autoimmune suppressant called Cyclophosphamide all the doctors are waiting for is for his liver to get back to normal because he began to have issues with all the meds he got at the beginning of his admission because they first thought all this was due to a brain infection. I have been told all the possible side effects if this medication and I really do not like any of them, especially because I am not fully convinced my husband has an autoimmune deficiency. I have asked if they are basing their diagnosis only on the relapse polichondritis and they have told me that is all they have to base it on. He was completely healthy before January and never complained of anything. I really need help! I would feel more comfortable If someone can tell me that it is an autoimmune problem so that I can feel better about allowing them to give him that medication. I would really appreciate if you would contact me so that I can explain more of this nightmare. My contact number is 805) 766-0236. PLEASE CALL ME ASAP!

    21 Dec
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