Can Autoimunne Disease Be Reversed?

Autoimmune disease is something that responds well to Root Cause Medicine and quite poorly to traditional medicine. Why is that? Let’s take a look.

The human immune system is designed to protect the body. It defends you from foreign invaders and toxic substances. It is a brilliant system and quite complex in design. But with all its complexities, the simplicity is, as stated above, defense of the body.

Auto means self, and we just defined immune system. Therefore in autoimmune diseases, of which there are over 100, the immune system misidentifies the body for a foreign invader and attacks it. Traditional medicine tells those who are diagnosed with autoimmune disease that there is no cure, but the only recourse is to shut down the immune system with immune suppressing drugs, since the immune system is clearly out of control.

I never liked that approach, nor did it ever make sense to me that a system as brilliant as the human immune system could suddenly get “stupid” and start attacking the body indiscriminately. What made more sense was that the system had become overwhelmed and overtaxed somehow, and like anything that has too much on its plate, it couldn’t keep up and started making some errors.

Not only was this a theory that made sense, it was borne out in clinical practice with patients. We were so successful with this model that we included it in our first book, The Gluten Effect, published in 2009. There were some “attacks” that came in regarding a lack of corroboration from the research community, to which we responded we were sharing our clinical experience, not stating we were researchers. However, our exact model has since been substantiated in research and of late more data has emerged supporting our approach.

Since more and more individuals are suffering from autoimmune disease than ever before, increased awareness is crucial.

Why has incidence increased so dramatically? Our environment has created a greater stress load on our immune system, resulting in the overtaxed situation I mentioned above. Autoimmune disease does have a genetic component, but alterations in genes take a very long time, the dramatic increased incidence cannot be explained through genetics. Therefore it is agreed that the culprit is our unhealthy environment in the form of poor diet, drugs, toxins, etc. But that doesn’t mean help is out of reach.

Let’s get down to specifics:

  1. Where is the human immune system?

Seventy to 80% of your immune system is housed in your gut. Therefore, any foods, chemicals, or drugs you ingest to which you have a negative reaction, put a burden on your immune system.

  1. How does autoimmunity get created?

Initially the immune system is performing its job correctly. It is attacking a true foreign invader. It may be an infectious organism or a food that the body cannot tolerate, such as gluten. The continued presence of the invader, food or drug, weakens the immune system. Secondarily, damage is created to the lining of the gut, where the immune system is attempting to annihilate the “bad guy” and this creates a leaky gut.

  1. How does leaky gut fit into autoimmunity?

The leaky gut allows organisms and partially digested food to escape the gut out into the bloodstream. Seventy to 80% of the immune system is in the gut, but a percentage is also located out in the bloodstream. Due to the leakiness, immune cells in the blood are now barraged by hostile organisms and partially digested food particles, all labeled as “bad” because they never should have been allowed to leave the gut.

Note: even a perfect food such as organic kale, if only partially digested, is not recognized as healthy by the bloodstream. This is why full and complete digestion must occur before a food “leaves” the gut and travels out to the blood. Our digestive tract is designed this way, but in the presence of a leaky gut, this process is compromised as food “falls through” the gaps of the intestinal lining prematurely, before full digestion has occurred. 

Once the organisms and large food particles enter the bloodstream, the immune system attacks them. Again, due to the leakiness, the immune system is barraged, constantly, by such items. It doesn’t take long for the immune system to weaken. It simply is not designed to be attacked so constantly. But it doesn’t go down easily – it’s designed to defend and it does so. In fact, it gets so riled up and so hypervigilant that it begins to make errors. Just as anyone who is overtired and overstressed would make a mistake, your immune system is no different.

  1. Why does the immune system attack your body’s organs?

In its overtaxed state the immune system revs itself up to a frenzy. It’s being attacked constantly and it responds as well as it can. In a situation called “molecular mimicry” the immune system, in full attack mode, mistakes something that looks very similar to the bad guy it’s been legitimately attacking (remember, it’s typically an infectious organism or a food reaction).

Imagine a perfect square – that square will represent the protein structure of the bad guy your immune system has been attacking, correctly. Now imagine just the tiniest corner removed from the top right of the square. It’s a very, very subtle alteration. That slightly altered square represents the protein structure of your thyroid.

Note: why protein? The immune system predominantly attacks and reacts to the protein portion of a food or organism. Think about gluten – it’s a protein. And of course, our human bodies are loaded with a variety of proteins.

Due to the immune system’s overtaxed and hypervigilant state, it confuses the thyroid protein, which recall is very, very similar to the legitimate bad guy, and therefore begins attacking it. The attack on your thyroid begins because your overstressed immune system confuses a protein in your thyroid for the protein of the bad guy. That’s why it’s called molecular mimicry, and it is well established as the initiator of autoimmune disease.

Once the attack on the thyroid protein begins, it continues. Ultimately that person will be diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the most common autoimmune disease in our country with close to 4.5 million sufferers, most of whom are women.

Why does traditional medicine actually ignore the presence of the most common autoimmune disease in our country? This is a phenomena that our team has been discussing of late. Repeatedly we have met patients who have sought out our root cause medical care because they are receiving no treatment for their autoimmune disease.

The reasoning behind traditional medicine’s lack of treatment is that despite the presence of autoantibodies that indicate the immune system is indeed attacking the thyroid, thyroid function can be relatively normal. Due to that, no treatment is offered.

What’s wrong with ignoring the presence of autoimmune disease? There are several issues to consider:

  1. An individual with one autoimmune disease is approximately 5 times more likely to develop another. That of course makes sense if you don’t address the root cause of the problem, it will continue.
  2. A thyroid, in this example, that is being attacked will obviously not continue functioning normally forever. Instead of waiting until it’s diseased to the point that too much damage has occurred, it only makes sense to get to the root cause of the autoimmunity and handle it in its earliest stages.
  3. The legitimate “bad guy”, be it an infection or food, needs to be eradicated to give the immune system a well deserved break.
  4. A potential outcome of an overtaxed immune system is also cancer. The immune system is so overwhelmed that it cannot perform its standard day-to-day functions which include killing cancer cells and other infectious agents.
  5. A leaky gut, one of the root causes of autoimmune disease, must too be addressed to prevent the continuation of the problem.

Treatment and Reversal of Autoimmune Disease

While there are no guarantees, we have excellent success treating, and in many cases reversing, autoimmune disease. Some of our best success stories have been with Hashimoto’s and rheumatoid arthritis, the two most common autoimmune diseases, but we also have excellent success with Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and others.

What is our treatment?

As you’ve likely gleaned, eliminating the presence of the original stressor, the infection or food, is vital. Remember that was what began the whole process – the immune system was just trying to do its job. Take the stressor out of the equation and you’ve taken a large burden off the immune system.

Next you must heal the leaky gut. Without this step, organisms and partially digested food continue to barrage the bloodstream and that must be stopped.

Hormonal imbalance if present must be dealt with.

Last the immune system must be rebuilt and strengthened.

If there are obstacles in achieving success with healing the gut or strengthening the immune system, a factor has been missed that continues to stress the immune system and weaken – it must be identified. We have tests that allow us to do this plus our decades of experience assist us in knowing where to look.

It sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? In truth it’s not difficult; it just doesn’t involve taking a pill, and it does involve some lifestyle and dietary changes on the part of the patient.

Our success rate is dependent on how much damage has occurred. At the very least, taking the above steps can prevent the development of future autoimmune diseases. At the very best, as mentioned earlier, we see reversal of the condition.

I realize this flies in the face of what you will hear from any immunologist, gastroenterologist or endocrinologist. Honestly, I don’t care. I’ve grown weary of traditional doctors who maintain there is no cure, there is no cause (“some people are just unlucky and it runs in the family”) and the only “treatment” is destroying someone’s immune system, opening them up to a high risk of dying from infection or cancer. It’s just not true, and there is ample evidence to support the views in this article.

Many, women especially, as they develop autoimmunity about three times as often as men, continue to suffer with chronic symptoms creating major impact on their life and well being with no diagnosis. As much as autoimmune disease has increased in frequency, many suffering never receive a diagnosis.

Do you suffer from autoimmune disease or wonder if you do? Do you know someone who does? Please share this information.


Contact us for a FREE Consultation – call 408-733-0400. Say goodbye to the discomfort and inconvenience associated with not feeling your best.

We help the world’s busiest people regain, retain and reclaim their health, energy and resilience. We can help you!

To reclaiming your best health,

Dr. Vikki Petersen DC, CCN
IFM Certified Practitioner
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”

The Connection Between Female Hormones and Autoimmune Disease

Why Do Women Suffer From Autoimmune Disease More than Men?

Nearly 75% of the 24 million Americans suffering from autoimmune disease are women, according to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA).

Women appear to mount larger inflammatory responses than men when their immune systems are triggered, thereby increasing their risk of autoimmunity. Sex hormones seem to be involved since many autoimmune diseases fluctuate with hormonal changes such as those occurring during pregnancy, the menstrual cycle, or when using oral contraceptives.

A history of pregnancy also appears to increase the risk for autoimmune disease.

Deficient Hormones Are a Link

The sex hormone that is commonly low in such women is DHEA.

DHEA is produced by the adrenal glands, the reproductive organs and the brain. It is a natural steroid and is used by the body to make the male and female hormones, testosterone and estrogen respectively.

DHEA is known to have anti-inflammatory effects and it has been proposed that a DHEA deficiency is a contributing factor in autoimmune diseases. A study was done to look at that precise effect and the study’s conclusions have been supported by other similar research that I think you’ll find it quite interesting.

The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism Vol. 94, No. 6 2044-2051(2009) presented an article entitled “Low Serum Levels of Sex Steroids Are Associated with Disease Characteristics in Primary Sjogren’s Syndrome; Supplementation with Dehydroepiandrosterone Restores the Concentrations”.

The authors aimed to investigate if there was a relationship between steroid levels and the disease characteristics of Sjogren’s, an autoimmune disease. They based their premise on the known data that the hormone DHEA not only declines with aging but is reduced in Sjogren’s, an autoimmune disease.

The study was populated by 23 post-menopausal women with primary Sjogren’s syndrome and subnormal levels of DHEA. The study was a 9 month controlled, double blind crossover study (a high quality study) where the DHEA level was assessed by sophisticated laboratory measurements and typical symptoms of Sjogren’s such as dry mouth and eyes and salivary flow rates were similarly assessed.

Those Given Hormones Showed Improvement… But Wait

Results revealed a strong correlation between low DHEA and Sjogren’s symptoms.

DHEA and its sex hormone metabolites (testosterone and estrogen) were found to increase with DHEA supplementation but not with the placebo. Symptoms such as dry eyes were seen to improve as estrogen levels rose. The researchers concluded that the disease manifestations of primary Sjogren’s syndrome were associated with low sex hormone levels and the supplementation of DHEA allowed the body to transform it into androgens (testosterone) and estrogen, with testosterone production predominating.

Please allow me to add some personal interpretation. For the most part I agree with the premise and applaud the results. The fact that autoimmune disease occurs more often in women, that women frequently have low DHEA and that androgens (testosterone) have anti-inflammatory effects that can benefit autoimmune disease, are all true.

Let’s Look at the REAL Root Cause

But do we simply want to give such women DHEA and call it a day? I don’t think so. I propose that we do three things:

First: evaluate hormonal levels in women regularly.
Second: address WHY their hormonal levels are imbalanced.
And third: when supplementing with hormones such as DHEA ensure that the delivery system is one that mimics what the body does naturally.

Remember that autoimmune disease can begin many, many years before the first symptoms become manifest. Therefore, evaluating hormonal levels in our younger women is a good idea.

When I find DHEA levels are low my first order of business is to assess why. Frequently it is due to a phenomena known as “pregnenelone steal” which occurs when the adrenal glands (the stress glands) are overtaxed. It is a common occurrence and one of the fantastic abilities of the human body, allowing it to divert from one pathway to another when stress is present.

The “steal” pathway diverts the body away from making sex hormones and instead it makes more “anti-stress” hormones. So while adding some DHEA into the mix might very well help, does it make sense that finding out WHY it’s production is being diverted away from making sex hormones would be critical?

I hope so, because it’s the very foundation of the medicine that we practice – Root Cause Medicine. Once you understand the root cause of any deficiency or imbalance in the body you can take steps to truly remedy it rather than simply covering it up through taking DHEA or some other substance.

Not to keep hitting you over the head with this concept, but supplementing with DHEA as your sole treatment misses the underlying reason “why” since the body is designed to make adequate DHEA.

A common reason for the diversion or “steal” pathway to become initiated is due to adrenal stress from poor absorption of nutrients, unstable blood sugar and the presence of infections – all problems we see with the gluten intolerant patient! While I’m not implying that every autoimmune patient has gluten intolerance, but it’s certainly prevalent enough to warrant screening them.

As we travel down the road to optimal health by removing any food the body isn’t tolerating well, improving the integrity of the small intestine and normalizing adrenal function, there are certainly times when hormonal supplementation is beneficial. I don’t recommend the oral route because the first place the hormone travels after oral ingestion is to the liver, and this can be burdensome to that organ.

When the body makes hormones, it’s natural process is to deliver them straight to the bloodstream. In an effort to mimic that delivery system we use a buccal route (placed between cheek and gum in the mouth) that does a good job of bringing the hormone directly to the bloodstream and bypassing the liver and digestive tract.

Autoimmune diseases comprise the third leading cause of death in our country and research strongly suggests its rapid increase is due to environmental factors, especially those weakening the small intestine – the home of 70-80% of the human immune system. I am committed to early diagnosis while the disease is still hopefully remediable, as well as overall reduction of incidence through addressing digestive and immune system health.

Here at HealthNOW, we have good success treating autoimmune disease. We follow root cause medicine analysis and put our attention on the intestinal tract and immune system to begin. Through root cause techniques, we determine why the body has created the disease and treat at that level – it works well. I hope you find this informative. Please share this information with those who have autoimmune disease themselves as well as in their family.

Do You Have Any of the Above Symptoms?

If you are suffering from any of the problems listed above—contact us for a FREE CONSULTATION. Call (408) 733-0400 to schedule. We are located in Sunnyvale, CA. If you are not local to us, our DESTINATION CLINIC treats patients from across the country and internationally. We will help you find the underlying root cause!

To your health,

Dr. Vikki Petersen
IFM Certified Practitioner
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”

Alert: Prevent Autoimmune Disease With 3 Steps

Autoimmune diseases are increasing at an alarming rate. They are painful, derail lives, and 50 million Americans suffer – predominantly women and female children. Researchers have identified 100 different autoimmune diseases, but there is suspicion of at least 40 more.

Some common autoimmune diseases include: Type 1 diabetes, Celiac disease, Multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, ADD/ ADHD, Connective tissue diseases, and Vitiligo.

Autoimmune diseases are the eighth leading cause of death among women, shortening their average  lifespan by fifteen years.

The number of patients afflicted has been growing steadily. As an example, the incidence of type 1 diabetes, lupus, and multiple sclerosis are skyrocketing, having more than doubled over the past three decades. Over the past forty years, childhood incidence of type 1 diabetes has increased five times.1

It would be normal to ask the question if the apparency of increased incidence wasn’t solely due to better diagnosis. Researchers behind these studies claim that isn’t the case, however. Mayo Clinic researchers instead are asking if rising rates of lupus, as an example, are due to increased exposure to environmental triggers of some unknown origin.2 [Maybe not so unknown – read on!]

The average patient with autoimmune disease, a woman almost 80% of the time, visits six doctors before receiving a correct diagnosis and on average, experience approximately 5 years of being told “there is nothing wrong with you” from the doctors they do see. The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association reveals 45 percent of autoimmune disease patients have been labeled as hypochondriacs in the early stages of their illnesses.3

The President and Executive Director of the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), stated: “With the rapid increase in autoimmune diseases, it clearly suggests that environmental factors are at play due to the significant increase in these diseases. Genes do not change in such a short period of time.”

A spokesperson from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences believes the increase in autoimmune diseases emanates from a persons’ surroundings. “The best way to combat the rise in autoimmune diseases is to do research to understand the genetic and environmental risk factors for them, so that those who are at highest risk for developing disease after certain environmental exposures might be able to minimize those exposures and prevent the development of autoimmune disease.”

The good news: We already know what the exposure is that we need to avoid. Read on!

The statistics are rather horrifying and the prognosis for most sufferers is depressing – most are told there is no cure for their disease and the best they can do is take drugs with dangerous side effects to try to keep symptoms at bay.

What if there was an easy protocol to follow that could diminish one’s risk of developing autoimmune disease?

What if there was something you were eating that factually triggered a substance in the body that caused certain autoimmune diseases?

An Italian research study, published at the end of 2015, shed light on a strong association between autoimmune disease and increased production of a certain protein within the intestine. Remember that autoimmune disease, by definition, means the immune system is attacking a part of the body. Where is the human immune system predominantly housed? It is in the intestine. Therefore such findings make a lot of sense.

Zonulin (interesting name, I know) is a protein only produced by humans. Interestingly, autoimmune disease only occurs in humans – not a coincidence I assure you.

Zonulin is triggered by only two things that we know of:
1.    Gluten
2.    Bacterial infections – realize there can be chronic bacterial infections wherein one doesn’t necessarily feel ill or suffer from a fever when they are present.

Zonulin increases intestinal permeability (a leaky gut) and thereby allows substances that shouldn’t depart from the gut to do just that. These substances, whether they are partially digested food products or organisms capable of causing disease, trigger the immune system to react against them and, over time, can result in the immune system attacking organs, bones or joints through a process known as molecular mimicry. Simply, the immune system initially reacts to something present in the bloodstream that shouldn’t be there, courtesy of a leaky gut, and eventually mistakes parts of the body for that initial foreign invader.

This mechanism of autoimmune disease as caused by a leaky gut is well established. Zonulin causes a leaky gut to occur and its production was initially thought to occur, secondary to gluten consumption, only in celiac patients. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease itself and Dr Fasano, who initially discovered the existence of zonulin, felt it was a substance particularly associated with celiac sufferers.

I remember distinctly hearing of research stating only those with celiac disease produced high levels of zonulin and therefore it was unlikely that patients suffering from gluten sensitivity (NCGS) would have any increased risk of autoimmune disease over the normal population.

I remember the moment so distinctly because it didn’t agree with my clinical findings of patients. Over the years we have met so many patients who did not have celiac disease but did suffer from gluten sensitivity. These autoimmune disease patients saw great improvement in their respective autoimmune diseases once gluten was eliminated.

In fact, we wrote of this perceived connection in our first book The Gluten Effect. I still remember the chastisement I received from a variety of quarters due to disagreement with our statements. These individuals who disagreed with us felt it wasn’t factual to make an association between gluten sensitivity (NCGS) and increased risk of autoimmune disease. We agreed to disagree and continued vigilantly ruling out gluten reactions, be it celiac disease or NCGS in all our patients.

Dr Barbara and his team from the University of Bologna, Italy, performed the research I needed to support the findings we’ve seen clinically for so long. He measured zonulin production in four groups:

15 Healthy controls
15 Celiac disease patients
27 Gluten sensitive patients
15 IBS patients, primarily suffering with diarrhea

The research team was surprised to find the production of zonulin in gluten sensitive patients almost as high as those suffering with celiac disease. Celiac sufferers showed a zonulin level 5 times the normal healthy group. Gluten sensitive patients revealed a level 4 times the normal group, and those with IBS had a rate of zonulin production double normal patients.4

What’s the take-away?

There are definitive steps you can take to lessen your risk of almost 100 different autoimmune diseases – debilitating diseases that shorten and impact quality of life.

1.    Find out if you’re having a negative reaction to gluten. Whether it is celiac disease or gluten sensitivity (NCGS), it’s critical to find out.
2.    Ensure you don’t have any hidden bacterial infections, or for that matter, any infections of any kind including parasites, fungus, virus or yeast.
3.    Heal the gut. If you have a leaky gut, find someone to help you heal it. Do realize that you can’t only “take something” to heal the gut if points one or two continue to occur. In other words you can’t expect the gut to heal from a supplement if the cause of the inflammation and damage continues to be present.

It is no coincidence that with decreased gut immune health has come increased autoimmune disease. It is there we must make the necessary changes. These changes are not difficult, nor do they involve dangerous drugs or surgery.

The human body is an amazing machine. In fact, it never ceases to amaze me. While the complexities of many of its systems are profound, the most important point to realize is, it’s a machine that WANTS and is DESIGNED to function optimally. The reason I emphasize this is that “fixing” the human body isn’t terribly difficult. When this incredible machine is given the right assistance, it works with you to heal itself.  It is a beautiful thing to behold and why I delight every day in what I do.

I hope you found this information helpful. Do you know anyone with autoimmune disease? Do you have autoimmune disease in your family? If so, please know our autoimmune treatment protocol works very well and we’d be happy to assist you, a friend or family member.

Please reach out with any questions, we are here to help and would be happy to offer you a FREE initial phone consultation – call 408-733-0400.

I’ll leave you with a recent success story from a patient who reversed her autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.


To your great health,

Dr. Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Certified Practitioner Functional Medicine Practitioner
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Author of “The Gluten Effect”
1-3. The Autoimmune Epidemic: Bodies Gone Haywire in a World Out of Balance–and the Cutting-Edge Science that Promises Hope by Donna Jackson Nagazawa
4. Zonulin: An Objective Indicator of Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, Friday, 30 October 2015, Dr. Giovanni Barbara of the University of Bologna.

Can Green Veggies Cause Thyroid Disease?

There is a lot of information circulating around on the internet about the avoidance of certain vegetables if you have thyroid disease. Not to be impolite, but why are vegetables so suspect? I get more questions about the “dangers of kale and broccoli”, but no one ever asks me if I think bacon is a great idea, just saying!

Look at the facts and fiction surrounding vegetables and thyroid disease

To begin, it’s always good to look at the research. A 2002 study from a Cancer journal concluded “this combined analysis indicates that cruciferous vegetables are not positively related to thyroid cancer risk. Their effect does not seem to be substantially different from that of other vegetables, which appear to be protective on this cancer (they are referring to thyroid cancer). [Ref: Cancer Causes and Control October 2002, Volume 13, Issue 8, pp 765-775 A pooled analysis of case–control studies of thyroid cancer. VII. Cruciferous and other vegetables (International)]

A more recent study evaluating an increase in thyroid cancer in New Caledonia made this conclusion: “We found that high consumption of cruciferous vegetables was associated with thyroid cancer among women with low iodine intake.” [Ref: Cancer Causes and Control August 2010, Volume 21, Issue 8, pp 1183-1192Role of dietary iodine and cruciferous vegetables in thyroid cancer: a countrywide case–control study in New Caledonia]

And therein lies the crux of the matter. The problem is less with cruciferous vegetables and more with a deficiency of iodine. Why is iodine so important? It attaches to tyrosine, an amino acid, to form thyroxine, the main thyroid hormone. Not having adequate iodine will limit the production of thyroid hormone, leading to dysfunction.

One should always treat with some suspicion a claim that the foods with the highest source of phytonutrients and antioxidants, namely vegetables, especially green and cruciferous, would have a negative impact on one’s health.

Can you overdo it? Most certainly. One report on the internet cites a Chinese woman in 1945 who put herself into a coma and a life-threatening state from eating raw bok choy – specifically 15 cups per day! By the time she was admitted into the hospital she had consumed over 1,000 cups of raw bok choy. So yes, you can overconsume anything.

The concern began in the 1950s when scientists discovered certain foods had goitrogenic properties, meaning they suppressed thyroid function and could produce a goiter. Interestingly, cruciferous vegetables, known for a cancer-protecting substance called glucosinolates were accused of potentially having the ability of inhibiting iodine intake.

The question is: should you avoid the amazing anti-cancer benefits of cruceriferous vegetables because they might, perhaps inhibit iodine intake?
If you focus on getting adequate amounts of iodine from sea vegetables and Himalayan sea salt, you should not have to avoid these superfoods. Their health and anti-cancer benefits are truly unrivaled.

If you’re still concerned, blanch your cruciferous veggies quickly with boiling water. You’ll retain their nutrient value while decreasing potential goitrogenic properties.

All crucifers are not created equal as regards their goitrogenic properties. It’s estimated that one could consume 50 cups of raw cauliflower with no negative effect, while on the other end of the spectrum, three cups of raw mustard greens is likely too many. But, of course you could cook them…

And, sorry to repeat myself, but the real crux of the matter is to get sufficient iodine.

What else should you eat for a happy thyroid?

1.    We mentioned Himalayan sea salt, rich in natural iodine and all the trace minerals, plus sea vegetables due to their iodine content. Nori, wakame, dulse and hijiki are all good sources of iodine, minerals and protein. Organic fresh strawberries are a delicious source of iodine.
2.    Brazil nuts are the highest source of dietary selenium, a mineral needed to convert thyroxine to its active T3 form. You also need selenium to make glutathione, the most powerful antioxidant. 1 to 3 Brazil nuts per day is all you need.
3.    Sunflower seeds are another good snack, and, along with our favorite dark chocolate (no dairy and very low sugar please) is a nice source of healthy zinc.
4.    Maca is great to balance hormones, including the thyroid. Again, don’t overdo and if you have weakened adrenals see how your body reacts to it at small doses.

What shouldn’t you eat?

1.    Gluten – there is a very strong association between gluten and thyroid disease, especially autoimmune thyroid disease.
2.    Soy protein isolate is a refined type of soy (note most soy, if not organic, is GMO and a potential hormone disruptor) found in food bars, soy “meat”, soy “cheese” and the like. It should be avoided regardless of the state of your thyroid.

If you’ve become “addicted” to your green smoothie in the morning and are worried about your thyroid, remember you have some options:

–    Healthy smoothies can contain ingredients other than greens, so mix up your smoothie menu. Spinach is a great green that isn’t goitrogenic, so include it in a smoothie or two each week. For more ideas visit our recipe page.
–    You can blanch your greens quickly and then put them in a smoothie
–    Maintain a healthy iodine level and you will likely be fine with healthy greens
–    Do a brief test to monitor your thyroid function on a measured dose of cruciferous vegetables and see how you do. In our experience most of our patients do fine.

Lastly, if you do have thyroid disease and it’s not under control, please consider contacting us for a FREE consultation – call 408-733-0400. We have excellent success normalizing thyroid disease and we are here to help!

I look forward to hearing from you!

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN, Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner

Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center

Author of “The Gluten Effect”


The quality of my life (both physical and emotional) has benefited dramatically.

I’ve had Fibromyalgia for 8 years. When I came to HealthNOW 6 months ago I had experienced fatigue, muscle pain, migraines, insomnia and a general feeling of ill health. I was taking drugs for pain and drugs for sleep.

 Since beginning the health program at HealthNOW I’ve had great success in either reducing or eliminating most of the symptoms’ severity. 

I began a modified diet after an adrenal test showed that a change in diet would probably help some of the insomnia and muscle fatigue.

I began taking supplements which have helped stabilize my energy level.
 I also began exercising regularly which contributes to the overall general well being I have continued to experience. 

I am grateful I was led to the care offered by HealthNOW. The quality of my life (both physical and emotional) has benefited dramatically. This is my year to be well. And the success is due to the partnership I have with all the team at HealthNOW Medical.

— T.P.

I was impressed by how they listened to me.

I have waited more than a year to call it a success story but now a year has come and gone. I will only address the main reason I went to HealthNOW and that was to get control of a rare form of arthritis that I have suffered with for over 25 years.

 I want to mention though that over the course of the year I had several other issues treated and was very satisfied with the outcome of those as well.

 When I came to HealthNOW my arthritis was out of control. My knees, which swelled to huge proportions when I was afflicted, had needed draining and injecting with cortisone 4 times in that year alone and I had retried with bad side effects a few of the medications that had proven to be moderately successful in the past but I could not tolerate them anymore.

 In 25 years, I had arthroscopic surgery on my knees 4 times, had my knees drained and injected countless times and I took so many different medications to try to control the swelling, I can not name them all. My traditional doctors were telling me that the next thing to try was immune suppressant drugs used in cancer treatment. I decided to give HealthNOW a try first.

Dr. Rick and Dr. Carrie started me off on the battery of tests and the elimination diet. They gave me all manner of different vitamins and hormones, changing things as indicated by testing and by my response. I was impressed by how they listened to me and believed me. What I had to say about my condition and how I felt I was doing was considered important. We were partners in treating the problem. The most important aspect of this is that by eliminating gluten from my diet and getting my system healthy I have gained control of this almost life-long arthritic condition that plagued me.

 It does not control me anymore. Whatever your position is on connections between autoimmune conditions and gluten sensitivity, you can not argue with success. This was a very out of control, long standing problem that traditional medicine could not control adequately. The HealthNOW people worked out a solution for me that does not include me exposing my body to dangerous medications. For that I am very grateful. I wish all of their patients the success they have helped me attain. I am very appreciative of the caring and patient attitude of this clinic. They truly look for a solution that works for you and they do not stop until it is found.

Thank you Dr. Rick, Dr. Carrie and the HealthNOW staff.

— L.A.

A true lifesaver!

I have been suffering for many years with illness, having been diagnosed with autoimmune diseases such as Lupus, Hypothyroidism, Asthma, and Osteoporosis. For the last year, my health has been deteriorating at an alarming rate. Thank God I found the HealthNOW Medical Center!

The doctors there are thorough and are concerned with treating the body as a whole rather than trying to treat symptoms, and the staff is very pleasant and helpful. Through the HealthNOW Medical Center, I now have an understanding of what the probable root cause for my disease is, and can adjust my lifestyle accordingly. Dr. Rick does his follow up visits with me via phone calls, and has never been late for one of our appointments. He answers all my questions completely. Since visiting the clinic a month ago, I am showing marked improvement, and I consider HealthNOW Medical Center to be a true lifesaver!

— Anonymous

I sleep without medication and I’m not depressed. I feel great!

2 years ago I suffered an allergic reaction to a Sulfa drug causing serum sickness. After a month and a half of Prednisone I developed Shingles. Since then I have had a non-stop episode of Fibromyalgia. 

I was unable to sleep without awakening multiple times a night due to hip pain. My ankle was stiff and instead of walking, I “stomped”. My hands hurt to bend them and I had swelling in my hands, legs and feet. Everything hurt. I was depressed, irritable and always exhausted. And, to top it all off, no matter what diet I tried, I only gained weight.

One Saturday I saw an ad in the paper for Dr Petersen’s lecture.
 What could I lose? All my doctors ever did was increase my dose so I would sleep deeper and not feel the pain. I did sleep better but nothing else changed.

 Since I started the program here I’ve lost 32 pounds. I have no hip, hand or generalized pain. My ankles bend and I don’t “stomp” when I walk. I can get up and out of a chair easily without hesitation or pain. I sleep without medication and I’m not depressed. I feel great!


— A.O.

Link Between Gluten and Autoimmune Disease Getting Stronger

I speak often about autoimmune disease when I educate patients at our HealthNOW Medical Clinic Sunnyvale. My fascination stems from a few different factors:

1) The increase of autoimmune diseases in our society is on a downright scary trajectory.

2) Autoimmune disease sufferers are told “there is no cure for their disease”.

3) The treatment for autoimmune is, in my opinion, barbaric and exactly the opposite of what treatment should be.

4) Research is, more and more, supporting what I feel is the truth and most important, this new approach opens the door to diminishing why autoimmune diseases have increased so dramatically.

Gotta Look to the Gut!

If you follow my blogs or videos, you may have heard that newer research strongly correlates the health of the GI tract with susceptibility to autoimmune disease. This is exciting and promising as compared to those who state “it’s all in the genes” and “if you’re destined, there’s nothing you can do about it”. I don’t know about you, but I feel better when I can take action. Being told it’s hopeless, especially when it comes to disease, can be downright depressing.

Research has linked gluten as being a potential culprit in the weakening of the gut and it’s important resident, the human immune system. This new study, just released last month, gives further support to that premise: that gluten can be an absolute link to autoimmune disease.

New Research Points the Finger at Gluten Causing More Than Just Celiac Disease

The journal that published the paper was Hormone Research in Paediatrics The paper was entitled, “Prolactin May Be Increased in Newly Diagnosed Celiac Children and Adolescents and Decreases after 6 Months of Gluten-Free Diet”.

What’s prolactin? It’s a hormone produced predominantly in the brain (the pituitary gland to be exact) but also in the immune cells of the body…something that wasn’t known up until fairly recently and a key aspect underlying the research we’re about to discuss.

Prolactin is traditionally thought of as the hormone necessary for lactation and therefore only produced when a mom is nursing her newborn. However, that is far from its only function. It’s associated with decreased sex hormones in both men and women and has been proven to have, in fact, over 300 separate actions—that’s one busy hormone! And of course, anything that alters its production would affect the body in a vast number of ways.

A Hormone, When Elevated Signals Autoimmune Disease

What is now understood about prolactin is that it is a marker for autoimmune disease, something that wasn’t known in the past. But research now supports that a number of autoimmune conditions are associated with elevated prolactin levels—specifically rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

What they set out to prove is that the elevation of prolactin was due to the production of increased inflammatory agents in the blood (called cytokines). These particular agents that can be measured in the blood are seen in celiac patients who are not following a gluten-free diet and are decreased when the patients are following a gluten-free diet. They therefore set out to test this hypothesis by measuring prolactin levels in newly diagnosed celiac pediatric patients. 67 pediatric patients newly diagnosed with celiac disease were compared to 39 healthy control children. As expected, prolactin levels were statistically higher in the celiac patients than in the controls. After 6 months of a strict gluten-free diet the prolactin levels decreased. The researchers felt that the decrease in the inflammatory substances in the blood due to a gluten-free diet accounted for the decrease in prolactin levels, despite the short amount of time on the gluten-free diet. The broader picture to appreciate is that prolactin, as a marker for autoimmune disease, was decreased when a gluten-free diet was initiated. Why?

It is surmised by the researchers to be due to the gluten-free diet decreasing the inflammatory agents in the blood that overstimulate the immune system and thereby can initiate the autoimmune process. In other words, gluten is seen as a direct cause of increasing the levels of the hormone prolactin and thereby increasing autoimmune tendencies.

Gluten’s Link to Autoimmune Disease Seems Concrete

The writing is on the wall as more and more researchers come to the same conclusion. Gluten is not our friend in so many ways and the doctors here at HealthNOW Medical Clinic Sunnyvale think we can safely add autoimmune disease to its list of crimes.

Do You Need Help?

Are you suffering from autoimmune disease? Do you have family members with autoimmune disease and you want to prevent it? Whatever category you’re in, it would be a good idea to rule out a problem with gluten. There is zero harm in not ingesting gluten and for many the benefits are positively life-saving.

The program we use here at HealthNOW in our medical and clinical nutrition departments is a good one. It has stabilized, slowed and evened reversed cases of autoimmune disease. And despite research only recently coming to the conclusion that gluten and gut health is an integral factor in addressing autoimmune disease, this approach has been the foundation of our treatment for well over a decade. We can help you discover if you have a problem with gluten or have a tendency towards autoimmune disease – yes we have a lab test for both! If you wish to improve your health

Discover Your Health!

We can help you discover if you have a problem with gluten or have a tendency towards autoimmune disease – yes we have a lab test for both! If you wish to improve your health—contact HealthNOW Medical Clinic Sunnyvale for a FREE CONSULTATION. Call (408) 733-0400 to schedule. If you are not local to us, our DESTINATION CLINIC in Sunnyvale, CA/ Silicon Valley treats patients from across the country and internationally. We will help you find the underlying root cause!

To your health,

Dr. Vikki Petersen
IFM Certified Practitioner
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”

Regained my zest for life!

I came to see the Drs. Petersen and HealthNOW after several months of feeling horrid. I mean – exhausted, sick, sad, horrid. I had no energy at all, I was a physical wreck: my diabetes was completely out of control. Doctor visits, ER trips and time off for illness was ruining my life.

 When I first met with Dr Vikki, I realized that they were actually going to help because they were going to check everything and they did. I’ve never felt so scrutinized (in a great way) and well taken care of.

It has been 8 weeks since my first appointment where I sought help for my diabetes, and now I feel unbelievable. I’m eating better than I ever have. I feel like I’m 20 years younger, my body is waking up, starting to feel well on a regular basis, and is happy!

 The best part – spiritually I feel like someone has lifted a pair of 300 pound boulders from my shoulders. I’ve regained my zest for life and I’m so excited as its only going to get better!

 Thank you everyone at HealthNOW for caring so much!
— T.H.