The Problem With Supplements When Treating Autoimmunity

We’ve all heard the claims of miracle supplements healing everything from cancer to autoimmune disease. An online search of any one of the autoimmune diseases will pop up at least one of these miracle supplements. In our search for a cure, we grab ahold of the hope that these supplements promise. The problem is, many of these supplements may cause more harm than good to those of us with autoimmunity.

The Problem With Supplements When Treating Autoimmunity by Tara Perillo supplements The Problem With Supplements When Treating Autoimmunity 19090182
The Problem With Supplements When Treating Autoimmunity

When people come to me for help, one of the first questions I ask is what supplements they’re taking. Usually, they come back to me with a long list of herbal, vitamin, and nutritional supplements they’re taking. Every single time, I find at least one supplement that may actually be making their symptoms worse. Unfortunately, it’s usually more than one.

While on the elimination phase of the AIP, I did an extensive search for supplements that fit into the ingredient guidelines of approved foods. Time after time, I would fail, always finding at least one ingredient that didn’t comply. I also discovered information about some well-known herbal supplements that could potentially be overstimulating my already over-stimulated immune system, making my symptoms worse. One of these herbs is turmeric. Most of us know that turmeric boosts the immune system. Why would we want to boost an immune system that is already out of control?

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Turmeric boosts your immune system. Yours is already out of control.

For me, the answer was to completely remove all supplements for the first couple of months on the AIP. That was the best thing I could have done! By doing this, I could begin to see which foods and supplements were causing problems for me. I knew I was eating all of the nutrients I needed with the AIP. When you’re eating nutrient dense foods on a daily basis, most of us don’t need to supplement with a multi-vitamin. After a couple of months, I slowly started to reintroduce supplements. I began taking my vitamin D, pro- and prebiotics, some herbal teas (chamomile, peppermint), and White Willow Bark (for menstrual cramps). All of them have been successful, except for the vitamin D. By removing these supplements, I was able to quickly identify the problem my body has metabolizing vitamin D, in supplement form. Now, when my levels are low, I have an infusion, overseen by a professional.

Most people are surprised, when they ask me for supplement recommendations, when I say, “none”. In fact, I usually make the suggestion to get off all the supplements they’re taking. This is very odd, coming from a certified herbalist and homeopath. But, the truth is, my autoimmunity has caused me to reevaluate many things. One of those things is supplements, herbal and otherwise. It has made me see the value in certain supplements, and the complete waste of money of others. Now that I’m in remission, I can use specific supplements for particular conditions, and not as miracle supplements.

The Problem With Supplements When Treating Autoimmunity by Tara Perillo supplements The Problem With Supplements When Treating Autoimmunity 109120907 1024x985
Food As Medicine

Truth is, the AIP healed my autoimmune symptoms, not miracle supplements. No one should be taking any supplement without a full knowledge of what each ingredient in that supplement can do to a person with autoimmunity. The fact that you have an autoimmune disease changes your supplement needs immensely. Sales people for supplement companies and most everyday herbalists don’t have the expertise or knowledge to deal with autoimmunity or any life-threatening disease. If you really feel as though you need supplements, please find a professional practitioner to work with. I see so many people supplementing with vitamin D, who simply do not need it. After becoming the buzz supplement a couple of years ago, everyone decided they needed it. Most people don’t need the dosages they’re taking. By working with a professional, who can check your levels, you can receive the dosage you need, if you need it.

Currently, I still don’t take many supplements. I’ve added a few very pure supplements that help with my active lifestyle. Other than that, I continue to take my pre- and probiotics, magnesium (for sleep & bowel regulation), and herbal teas (for sleep, relaxation). When needed, I take pure herbs that I grind and capsulize myself, for whatever ailment I am treating (usually a cold or menstrual cramps). When I can, I simply use food to heal what ails me.

Looking for a miracle in supplements will most likely leave you disappointed. Make the changes in your diet and lifestyle that are most likely to provide the healing you’re looking for. I’m so glad I did!

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As always, I wish you good health……and, good food!

* This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may receive compensation. Thank you for helping to support my blogging efforts, here at Paleo Cajun Lady.- Tara Perillo

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Tara Perillo

Welcome all. I am Tara Perillo, herbalist, homeopath, yoga and fitness instructor, and healthy foodie . After successfully reaching remission of my lupus symptoms, through changes in my diet, exercise, and lifestyle, I wrote the ebook, Sickness To Fitness Quick Start Guide. I am also honored to have my paleo and AIP recipes featured in Paleo Magazine, Paleo Living Magazine, Shape Magazine Online, 85 Amazing AIP Breakfasts, The Paleo AIP Instant Pot Cookbook, and blogs by The Paleo Mom, Kris Kresser, Whole New Mom and many others. My focus is to help others become stronger in every facet of their lives. Join me to become stronger in health, mind, body, and spirit, together!

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6 Replies to “The Problem With Supplements When Treating Autoimmunity”

  1. Hi Tara,
    Fabulous article on supplements. Many thanks for the validation on tumeric .
    In the beginning most every functional medicine doc I saw wanted to load me up with tumeric. I don’t tolerate tumeric at all; my intestines start rumbling, I feel nauseous, and I get a fight or flight reaction in my brain feeling as though a tiger was chasing me. I stopped taking it and searched until I found a doc who understood what was going on. He’s the one I continue to see. I’m sending you a big cyber hug for bringing this up.

    Like you, I take very few things, relying on nutrient dense foods, with lots of veggies. I do take a soil-based probiotic and make my own probiotics such as beet kvass, sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables. I can only take vitamin D drops that are based in coconut oil.


    1. Thanks Cookie! I get the same reaction as you do to turmeric. Only now have I been able to add small amounts to my food. It seems to be the go-to supplement for so many holistic practitioners. That’s so irresponsible. They really should do their research. I much prefer relying on my food and the few supplements I do take. What brand vitamin D drops do you take? It would be so much easier if I tolerated drops, instead of having to get infusions. I would trade that experience in a heartbeat.


      1. I use Apex Energetics Liqua-D (K87). Each drop contains 2000 iu of D in mct oil (coconut). It brought my levels up from 28 to 60 at my last tests. It absorbs sublingually or, if you prefer on the tip of your tongue.

  2. which of These supplements can cause more harm than good to those of us with autoimmunity?
    I’m taking other vitamin D supplements Turmeric epigallocatechin certain amino acids (such as glycine and and magnesium omega 3 digestive enzymes and other…but I’m fine and not bad sintoms from supplements that helping me so much.
    I’m also on paleo diet from 2 years 🙂
    Curcumin (from turmeric) was given to me by my immunologist precisely because it is an immunomodulatory and acts as some drugs used traditionally for autoimmune diseases. Conventional medicine uses TNF @ blockers for autoimmune deseases and curcumin is one of the natural TNF @ blockers’ substances. just search it on PubMed

    thank you

    1. As I stated in my post, many people with autoimmune conditions should not be taking turmeric or curcumin because of it’s immune boosting effects. If you have an immune system that is already in overdrive, boosting it even further can result in a higher incidence of organ damage, especially if dosage is too high. I would not trust any information put out by the AMA or government concerning natural herbs or supplements. I myself take vitamin D, omega 3s, magnesium and digestive enzymes. If you’re not suffering any symptoms, I would say just continue with what supplements you’re taking. Unfortunately, that is not the case for many of my readers. I’ve had several write to me, after removing turmeric from their diets, showing an improvement in their symptoms. But, it’s important to know that everyone is different. What works for some, may not work for others.

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