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The Autoimmune Protocol: What to Do When Nothing Else Has Worked

Today’s guest post is from my good friend Tara Grant, truly a superstar in the Primal/paleo/ancestral health movement. Tara started out as a success story: “Tons of Doctors and No Solution [1]” – one of the most visited stories in our entire archive [2]. She’s had a change of attitude since that article was published. As she says in this article, Luckily, none of the doctors I saw over the years had any idea what was going on.”

In 2013, I published her remarkable book called The Hidden Plague [3], which details the painful and poorly understood skin condition of Hidradenitis supprativa (HS). (The Hidden Plague is on sale for just $3.99 this month. See the details below.) Enter Tara…

People by the thousands are reclaiming their health and shedding diseases as well as excess pounds. Their shouts from the rooftops are giving credence to our movement: eating and moving naturally works. Our bodies are designed to be healthy, fit and lean. If we just give our genes the right input, everything will magically fall into place.

Except when it doesn’t. Some of us have really buggered ourselves up by a lifetime of self-medicating and following conventional advice. We’re the ones that have to go the extra mile on our path to enlightened health and vitality—a standard ancestral diet just isn’t going to cut it. When autoimmunity is in the mix, all bets are off. You have to do things differently. (Click here [4] to see if you may be suffering from an autoimmune condition.)

Before I found the Primal lifestyle, I used to smoke almost two packs a day. I medicated myself not only with any drugs doctors prescribed me, but also with sugar—and lots of it. My operating system was running on software it couldn’t communicate with and it started to get pretty buggy. I was very unhealthy but I didn’t realize it—all I could see was the excess weight and my inability to lose it. After all, there was a pill or a salve for whatever else was wrong with me. I wasn’t alone in the endless search for the magic cream that made everything better, and a quick trip to the drug store legitimized every problem I had.

At the time, if a doctor had told me I was suffering from no less than six separate autoimmune diseases that had no known treatment or cure, I probably would have ended it all. Luckily, none of the doctors I saw over the years had any idea what was going on. They treated each individual symptom with little to no success and then threw their hands up in defeat. It was up to me to change my life, my health and my perspective. I wanted to thrive, not just exist. I wanted to live.

Ancestral diet and fitness strategies took care of the excess weight and the sugar addiction. That part was easy. The other symptoms I had—the symptoms of autoimmunity—didn’t go away as advertised. I had to do some more digging to figure out what was going on.

If you’ve been Primal for a while, chances are you’ve heard of the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). Chances are you’ve also heard that no two people have the same triggers, that blood tests are fairly useless in trying to identify those triggers, that it “works for some but not for others,” that the AIP diet is devoid of anything flavorful and exciting, and that you will have to prepare every meal by yourself, at home, alone, because your friends and family, by day six, will have abandoned you and your constant stream of “I can’t eat that!” to go gorge themselves at HomeTown Buffet.

Unfortunately, most of this information is right. The AIP is really tough to navigate and it may even be harder on your friends and family than it is on you. Depending on which protocol you follow, you may not even be aware of certain potential triggers, like the wild yeast on your blueberries or the ashwagandha in your supplements.

The Hidden Plague [3] is the answer to every question I had while I was navigating autoimmunity. While it concentrates on skin issues, the book also explains autoimmunity, leaky gut, the stress connection and how your hormones are involved in a very easy to understand way. It allows you to see the bigger picture—autoimmunity as the disease itself. The Hidden Plague also discusses all classes of potential triggers so that you can figure out what’s causing your symptoms. Finally there are step-by-step instructions on how to successfully reintroduce foods back into your life.

The Kindle version of The Hidden Plague is on sale for only $3.99 during the month of March (U.S. residents only). Stop guessing and start healing! Pick up your copy here [3].

Note from Mark: Coincidentally, the Kindle version of The Primal Connection [5] is also on sale at the moment. You can get it and a bunch of other paleo books for just 99 cents each today only. Check them all out here [5].

Prefer listening to reading? Get an audio recording of this blog post, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast on iTunes for instant access to all past, present and future episodes here [6].