Autoimmune Patients - Supplements to Avoid

Many nutritional supplements have potent influences on the immune system. Even some supplements whose advertised purpose has nothing to do with immune response can have significant effects on the way the immune system functions. One of the primary balance points in the immune system is between T-helper cells type 1 and 2. Most autoimmune patients have too much expression of Th1 cells, and not enough Th2 cells.

Unfortunately, many supplements advertised as “immune supports” are strong stimulants of the Th1 cells. When autoimmune patients take these supplements, they flare their autoimmune process, increasing their immune system’s attack against their own tissues. This includes supplements like echinacea, golden seal, astragalus, and medicinal mushrooms like reishi and maitake. People often use these to fight off colds. If they take the supplements and don’t get sick, they figure the supplements worked, so they must be OK to take. The problem is, these supplements “support” the immune response by ramping up the Th1 cells. Th1 cells kill viruses and bacteria, so they certainly will help you avoid getting a cold, or recover sooner. But Th1 dominance is a problem for most autoimmune patients, so enhancing the dominance is typically a bad idea overall.

If you want to “support” your immune system, it’s better to avoid sugar, which is profoundly immune suppressive. If the purpose of the immune “support” is directly related to your autoimmune disease, enhancing Th1 is usually exactly the wrong thing to do. People with autoimmune disease need to support the production of T regulatory cells. These are the cells that promote Immune Tolerance, which is the ability of your immune system to leave your own tissues alone, rather than attacking them. If you are currently being treated by Dr. Yanuck for an autoimmune condition, he has likely already tailored a program of T regulatory support to the unique set of factors involved in your case. If you have questions about it, you can contact the Yanuck Center to set up a time to consult with him.

If you want to take supplements to fight off a cold, here’s a simple set of recommendations that are safe for autoimmune patients. You can do this for a week or two and be just fine:

  1. Vitamin D – 20,000iu per day   (two capsules of PE Vitamin D 10,000iu)
  2. Vitamin A – 50,000iu per day   (two capsules of T Vitamin A 25,000iu)
  3. Vitamin C – several grams per day (EmergenC or PE Ascorbic Acid Caps)
  4. Zinc – 30 mg twice daily           (two capsules of PE Zinc 30)
  5. Calcium Citrate – 450mg per day (three capsules of PE Calcium citrate)

You can take the vitamin C to bowel tolerance. If it loosens your bowel movements, back off to a lower dose. If your symptoms persist, or if you have a chronic infection, it’s very important to discuss this with Dr. Yanuck. One of the most important jobs you have as an autoimmune disease patient is to avoid carrying chronic infections, as they turn on the immune system for prolonged periods of time. Prolonged immune system activation promotes autoimmune response, so you’ll want to work with Dr. Yanuck on strategies to resolve chronic infection as soon as possible.