Is Autoimmune Disease Reversible?

Imagine it’s 400 years ago and you’re sick… turns out it’s the same thing that just killed your sister and her youngest son.

Fortunately, the Doctor knows exactly what to do. It’s something they’ve been doing for years, centuries actually. They even tried it on your family before they lost the battle…

He looks at you with stern confidence and gives you the “prescription:” Bloodletting.

That’s right, bloodletting.

It’s exactly how it sounds – patients were pricked, sliced, scraped, and cut to allow blood out of the body to “cure” diseases. That sounds crazy right?!

But at the time, bloodletting was commonly used to treat tons of conditions, like seizures, headaches, fevers, pneumonia, and to lessen any pain in the body. This practice actually killed people!

The use of bloodletting was pervasive until studies by scientists and doctors like Pasteur, Koch, and Virchow came along and showed the benefits of other treatment methods.

Is Leaky Gut Making You Sicker?


Now, we look at bloodletting like something crazy we used to do before we “knew better.”

But where might history be repeating itself?

Are there things we do today that someday will seem “crazy,” just like bloodletting?

I look at treating autoimmune disease with long-term use of powerful immune suppressing drugs (which have a ridiculous list of side effects such as infection, cancer, cardiovascular disease, bone disease) like bloodletting.

For those of you who know me, you know that reversing autoimmune disease is a passion project of mine. Not only did it almost kill me 7 years ago… but it actually killed my mom back in 2005.

I firmly believe treating autoimmune disease with strong immune suppressing drugs will fall away to better treatment, as researchers continue to advance our knowledge and medical practices. We’re getting closer to figuring out how to reverse autoimmune disease altogether… and one day we’ll look at drugs that turn off the immune system as a crazy thing “before we knew better.”

We Used to Think Autoimmune Disease Wasn’t Reversible…

Autoimmune disease used to be viewed as a permanent condition.

When autoimmune conditions were first recognized over a hundred years ago, we thought it had everything to do with non-self antigens (like virus or bacterial infections). In fact, the condition was originally thought to be an infectious disease explained by the “Molecular Mimicry” theory, in which outside bacteria and viruses invade our body and look so similar to our own healthy tissue that the immune system wages war on both. [1] It was thought to be the worst kind of mistaken identity…

The “Molecular Mimicry” theory goes something like this:

  1. A non-self antigen enters the body
  2. The immune system mounts an attack against it, producing antibodies
  3. The non-self antigen looks so similar to specific proteins in the body that it causes a cross-reaction to healthy tissue
  4. The immune system attacks the non-self antigen AND its own tissue from that point forward

It’s important to point out that in this model, even if the non-self antigen (bacteria or virus) triggering the attack is removed, the autoimmunity never turns off, so the body continues to produce antibodies and attack healthy tissue even though the initial trigger is gone.

The other part of the puzzle was the “Bystander Effect.” [2] This theory suggests that non-self antigens come into our body and damage healthy tissues during active infection, exposing it to the immune system. The body sees these newly exposed areas as “non-self,” leading to the development of immune attacks against that tissue.

The “Bystander Effect” theory goes something like this:

  1. A non-self antigen enters the body
  2. The non-self antigen damages healthy tissue in the body
  3. The damage exposes parts of the healthy tissue that shouldn’t be exposed
  4. The body attacks the newly exposed areas as if they are not self

Again, with this model, even if the bacteria, virus, or gluten that damaged the tissue is removed, the autoimmunity never turns off, so the body continues to produce antibodies and attack the exposed tissue even though the initial trigger that damaged it is gone.

Now, a Doctor Specializing in Celiac Disease Research Uncovered a Different Story…

Researcher Alessio Fasano, M.D., has been on the forefront of recent autoimmune and Celiac disease research. In 2011, he published a paper titled, “Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Diseases,” introducing a new theory that suggests prevention and reversal of autoimmune disease is possible.

He presents the idea that three pre-existing conditions must all exist together in order for autoimmune diseases to develop. [3] They are:

  1. A genetic predisposition to autoimmunity
  2. An exposure to the environmental trigger
  3. Increased Intestinal Permeability (Leaky Gut)

Step 1: Our Genetics Lead to Autoimmunity

We’re all born with a set of genes, which are handed down to us from our parents.

Genes are what dictate processes in our bodies, control our cells, and provide the blueprints for building new things (like proteins). Now, before we go further it’s important to note: not all the genes we have are expressed. Just tuck that thought away for now. What researchers are now discovering is that certain genes are linked to certain autoimmune disorders.

For example, if you have gene XYZ, then you have a higher likelihood, or greater risk, for developing autoimmune disorder ABC. More and more researchers are starting to identify some of these genes:

  • In the case of Celiac disease, the genes are HLA DQ2/DQ8.
  • In Rheumatoid Arthritis they are looking at HLA-DRB1*0401 in mice.
  • Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis was associated with various HLA genes that differed in populations. [4] Caucasian populations were associated with DR3, DR5, DQ7, DQB1*03, DQw7 or DRB1*04-DQB1*0301 haplotype. Japanese populations were associated with DRB4*0101, HLA-A2 and DRw53. In Chinese studies, associations with DRw9 were observed.
  • Another inflammatory joint disease, Ankylosing spondylitis is associated with HLA-B27. [5]

The exact details of how each variation affects the autoimmune development process is not fully understood. The real question is: what turns these genetics on?

Step 2: The Environmental Triggers That Turn on Autoimmunity

We now know that something has to trigger these specific genes for autoimmunity to occur… typically something foreign in the environment.

One key study puts it this way:

“It does appear that a close interplay between environmental triggers and genetic factors is responsible for the loss of immunological tolerance and autoimmunities. [2, 3] (Figure 1) Therefore, in relation to the role of heritability in autoimmunity, genome-wide association studies reported that genetics only accounted for a minority of autoimmunity cases, and in many cases disease discordance exists in monozygotic twins. [4] For this reason, research and publications dedicated to environmental factors in autoimmunity have grown by an average of 7% every year since 1997.” [6]

We see this when looking at identical twins where one gets the disease and the other doesn’t. They share the exact same genetic code, so they each have the genes that predispose them. But what makes these genes do what they do?

Turns out environmental factors have a huge role in what genes get expressed.

It’s like turning on a light switch.

Your genes are like a bunch of light switches in your house, but they aren’t all on – they are only on where you need them.

So, researchers are beginning to look at the environmental triggers that “turn on” these autoimmune-genetic light switches:

  • In Celiac disease, the environmental trigger is gluten.
  • In Rheumatoid Arthritis, there is a strong correlation between cigarette smoke and the onset of diseases.
  • Crystalline silica (quartz) contributes to the development of several systemic autoimmune diseases, including RA and systemic sclerosis. [7]
  • Epstein-Barr Virus may be related to the development of MS. [7]

How exactly these triggers work is also not fully understood. It’s not clear if they directly act on genes or if they are a catalyst in a series of events that leads to changes in gene expression. But we are starting to see something tying them all together.

Step 3: Leaky Gut – The Beginning of Autoimmune Disease

Right now, we don’t know what we don’t know about autoimmune disease…

Dr. Fasano’s work suggests that the environmental triggers have to interact with specific genes to turn them on…

But how do they meet?

Turns out, it’s in the gut.

In fact, Dr. Fasano’s work would suggest that we can’t have autoimmune disease at all without first experiencing leaky gut. So, if that was the case, we should be able to test for and find leaky gut in those people with autoimmune disease… which is exactly what the research is finding.

Check out this data composed by Dr. Mat Lalonde, as part of his “Science of Nutrition” material… in the case of these 30 autoimmune diseases. When they tested for leaky gut in patients diagnosed with the condition, they found it:



Excuse Me, But Your Guts Are Leaking…

When your gut is leaking, those environmental triggers start to interact directly with your immune system… and your genetics.

Your gut is a hollow tube that is meant to keep the stuff that is outside your body, stuff like toxic food particles, environmental chemicals, and bacterial waste, from getting inside your body.

The tissue serves to selectively allow nutrients and certain molecules through the barrier and into your body. But not everything can or should pass through.

When that delicate gut tissue starts to break down (albeit from any or all of the aforementioned reasons), all that bad stuff is then able to leak through your digestive tract and into your body!

Once inside, these foreign particles travel to different areas of your body and trigger an immune response, promoting inflammation and jump-starting the development of chronic disease. Instead of keeping the bad stuff out, the delicate lining of your intestine is letting all the bad stuff in, and your body is breaking down from the inside out.

Theory to Practice – How Autoimmune Disease Happens…

So, right now the current thinking about the development of autoimmune disease goes something like this:

Step 1: Develop leaky gut

Step 2: Have the genes

Step 3: Environmental trigger turns on the genes

So… is it possible to reverse autoimmune disease?

Even if we don’t know the specifics of genes and environmental triggers in relation to specific autoimmune disease, Dr. Fasano’s groundbreaking work suggests that autoimmunity can be stopped and even reversed by removing the environmental/genetic trigger interaction.

That means we must fix leaky gut.

And as I’m writing this, I’m completely confident my autoimmune disease has been reversed because I healed my gut.

What does that mean?

I’m not saying someone with Celiac disease can ever eat gluten again or that someone with a completely destroyed thyroid can get off medication.

My definition of reversing autoimmunity is this: turning off the immune attack against the body for good.

In some cases, you can’t repair the damage if it’s already gone too far. How long your body has been waging war on its own tissue will determine what “reverse” means to you. If RA goes too far, permanent joint damage can occur. In autoimmune thyroid diseases, the thyroid tissue may be beyond repair. But what if you could stop it before it even got to that point… or before it went too far?

If you or a loved one is struggling with autoimmune disease, you know how crippling it can be when your body attacks itself. Struggling with this type of diagnosis can lead to serious depression…

I know, because I’ve been there too. 7 years ago Celiac disease almost killed me.

But what if there was a way to begin to turn off the autoimmune response?

What if there was a way to calm down your immune system and allow it to begin to repair the damage?

Based on the work of Dr. Alessio Fasano, one of the first places to start is your gut… and we’re here to help you.

We’ve hosted a free online presentation called, “How to Turn Off Your Autoimmunity — and Restore a Healthy Immune System.”

It’s completely free, and in it we dive deep into your gut health and how to begin to stop the immune system from attacking itself.

You can register to get access here:

You could spend years trying to figure out how to “fix” your immune system… or you could register for this free, one-hour webinar and we’ll show you how we did it.

If you can’t attend the day of, we will send you the recording. (But you must click here to register to make sure you get the link the next morning.)

As someone who suffered with autoimmune disease for years and almost gave up hope, I know your struggle. I hope you join us for the webinar to learn more about how I turned off my autoimmune response and restored my health.

I’m so grateful to support you in health.


P.S. – You can register for our autoimmune presentation here (it’s completely free to attend):


Jordan Reasoner

About Jordan Reasoner

Jordan Reasoner is a health engineer and author. He was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007 and almost gave up hope when a gluten-free diet didn’t work. Since then, he transformed his health using the SCD Diet and started to help others naturally heal stomach problems. You can check out his story here and find him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

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70 thoughts on “Is Autoimmune Disease Reversible?

  1. Avatar

    I registered for the 3/28 webinar and received a confirmed msg. but never received the link and cannot access the webinar. Now, I’ve registered for the next one in April. Still have not received the link for that one. How do I get the link after registering?

  2. Avatar

    I was very surprised that diabetes 2 and Alzheimers (diabetes 3 according to some practitioners) are not included in this discussion especially given the research of the last 18 months, the glymphatic system, the breaches of the blood-brain barrier due to leaky gut and the now known 5 types of diabetes 2. Having said that this seminar is about scd which is maybe not the best for diabetes 2?

    • Avatar

      Hello – thanks for your feedback! This article is for all autoimmune diseases….there are just too many to mention! The same underlying process occurs in autoimmunity and so this information can be applied across the board. The webinar is on the leaky gut die…a little different from SCD:)

  3. Avatar

    Hi I have been diagnosed with myasthenia gravis in 2015.Currently I am in remission .Rt now the doctors are weaning my Prednisone.i will be undergoing thymectomy.will fixing the leaky gut help me with myasthenia.pls advise.

  4. Avatar

    Could you please send me a copy of the webinar as I live in Australia and wil be asleep at the time. I have registered to aftend, like you instructed someone else to do with a similar request.

    Kind regards

  5. Avatar

    Typically, I would view fibromyalgia as an autoimmune disease, too. Here’s why:
    The syndrome, just like many autoimmune disorders, comes on after a viral infection or a physically or emotionally traumatic event; the syndrome is often put in association with leaky gut syndrome and intestinal permeability, like autoimmune disorders; and it develops slowly and symptoms start gradually, but when you do develop symptoms they seem to quickly get worse (only sometimes). These three are also characteristic in many autoimmune diseases, especially systemic ones like rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, Hashimoto’s disease and type 1 diabetes. I am interested to know whether or not you would view fibromyalgia as an autoimmune disease?
    Also, while I’ commenting I’d like to ask, I had the Epstein-Barr virus when I was 13, and developed fibromyalgia a year later. What I want to ask is what autoimmune conditions can be triggered by this virus, and can this virus trigger autoimmune diseases years later after infection due to it staying in your body? Can it trigger type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto’s disease, or any other systemic autoimmune diseases, even if years have past since infection?

    • Avatar

      Hi james – these are great questions, and while the experts are researching the, no definitive answers have been found yet. We do consider fibromyalgia to be an AI condition, and many experts now do as well. Hopefully there will be more conclusive answers in the next few years. In the meantime, we know that healing the gut can help manage ALL autoimmune conditions, so that is where we are focusing our energy!

      • Avatar

        Hi Mariel, thanks for replying to my question.

        Do you mind if I briefly share with you my story of how I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia

        Getting diagnosed with fibromyalgia was extremely hard for me, because every specialist I went to would say the same thing; that they don’t feel happy “labeling someone so young” with fibromyalgia. This was back in 2012. In the end their’d be steam coming out of my ears because they would write a letter saying I was symptomatic of fibromyalgia, but at the same time they were not going to label me with it. I went to various rheumatologists and neurologists, until finally one neurologist diagnosed me after doing all-sorts of tests, including pressing my “tender points”, which hurt so much I screamed once, and by the end of the test, I was crying and collapsed when I stood up, all from the pain of the tender point press. The staff were lovely; they helped me to a chair, got me a glass of water, I was shaking. When I could walk again, I thanked everyone for all their support and generosity and got to my mums car and we went home. After the tests, I had a letter saying he wanted MRI’s, blood tests and all sorts, and after that he diagnosed me, but also said my blood test came back with very high levels of inflammation and very low vitamin D levels. I was so glad to have someone diagnose me. Obviously I wasn’t glad to have an illness, but was glad to be told it wasn’t in my head. I had people who had told me it was in my head, and one even said I was a burden to my mum for “playing” on my symptoms and “milking it”.
        To be honest I see fibromyalgia as neurological more than rheumatological due to it’s symptoms and their nature. What about you and the team? Do you view fibromyalgia as neurological or rheumatological, or something else?
        Thanks for reading, take care.

        • Avatar

          Hi James! I think the take home point here is that the high levels of inflammation are contributing to the painful symptoms and we must address the gut to decrease systemic inflammation. While Jordan and Steve do see FM as more of an autoimmune condition, the treatment is the same – heal the gut:)

          • Avatar

            Hi Lori, thanks for your reply. I am actually going for a blood test next week to see what my current levels of inflammation are (as my last test was in 2012 and I keep getting otitis externa). I will let you know if you want by email what the results were.
            I take a lot of medications, and surely that is going to increase gut permeability? Could the long-term use of medications; specifically anticonvulsants, antidepressants and corticosteroids, lead to (or increase) leaky gut syndrome?
            Ofcourse, I blame Epstein Barr virus for kick-starting most of my problems judging by the timing, but could those medications I just listed also lead to leaky gut, or make it worse?
            Kind regards.

          • Avatar

            Hi James – yes the medications sure can contrite to leaky gut Syndrome. In fact, this is one of the 19 triggers Jordan and Steve talk about for leaky gut. Weaning off of them, however, is a process you’ll need professional help with. While it’s possible to wan off of these medications as you change your diet and address the root causes it’s a very intricate process that needs guidance. Feel free to email us at at any time:)

  6. Avatar

    Hi was wondering if arthiritis can be reversed if the damage was from a vaccine. I had an mmr vaccine the day after having my baby which i refused several times and angry for a long time but that was exhausting so i just want to know if it can be reversed. I have bad aches in arms and hands and a little in legs. Does any1 have any insight. Doctor tested for ms and thank god it was negative. I did read it could be new mum syndrome however pain is bad so think it could be vaccine damage.

  7. Avatar
    Martina curran says:

    I have a diagnosis of primary biliary chirrosis. Can you help to stop it or reverse it. My sister has a diagnosis of lupus. My other two sisters are unwell showing signs of chronic fatigue or fibremialgia.

  8. Avatar

    What if you have Genetic inherited autoimmune disease, like Ataxa, Huntington’s disease
    These are classified as autoimmune diseases as well.
    Will the SCD/GF diet work?
    bear in mind I have none of the symptoms as described in this article, except my cerebellum is out of whack due to Ataxia genetic

  9. Avatar

    I was allergic to milk as a baby, I had acne as a teenager. Now I have rosacea and i get bloated with certain foods My daughter has type 1 diabetes, and has adhd. I had gestational diabetes with 2 of my children and I have ADHD. My sister has Chrohns disease and has rosacea. My sisters son has aspergers. And her daughter has exema and her other daughter has celiac disease. My mom had RH.

  10. Avatar

    I have hashimotos and psoriatic arthritis and inflammation, which all resolved on a gut healing diet, however after 2.5 years it became harder to maintain the diet and now everything came back, so even if my gut was healed, it is leaking again. Is it impossable for us to eat grains and sugar ever? I am only eating very small amounts and still mostly scd and never take drugs or antibiotics. What brings about the leaky gut in the first place?

  11. Avatar
    Alakshendra Tripathi says:

    Hi, I’m from India and I was diagnosed with Clinically Isolated Syndrome this January. Every blood test that I took turned out to be normal. Are there specific tests that I need to undergo to understand my gut condition, how is my gut related to demyelination. Should I undergo FMT?

  12. Avatar

    I have heard that IBS is a localised spectrum autoimmune disorder. Is this case? I started getting unwell after chiropractory and deep tissue massage. I felt unwell within minutes after the massage and I felt sure that my immune system had been triggered to attack. I had at least nine or more months of persistent fatigue after very little exertion along with joint/muscle pain which does come back every so often when I think it has gone for good. I have always called it ‘the other thing’ since it was never diagnosed. At one point I wondered if it was Fibromyalgia. I then developed costochondritis and IBS. All this happened within months of each other. I also found out that these three conditions are linked.

    • Avatar

      Hi Phillippa – I’m so sorry to hear what you’ve been going through!!

      I really recommend you register for our free webinar on autoimmune diseases here:

      IBS is like a blanket term used to describe a set of symptoms rather than an actual illness. Often doctors will tell you you have IBS when you have symptoms but they can’t diagnose you with another disease (like Celiac Disease or Crohns) Some people have IBS symptoms as a result of an autoimmune condition. I hope the webinar helps give you a better understanding – and you can always reach out to us with more questions afterwards.

  13. Avatar
    Letitia Allred says:

    Hello, I was just wondering if polymyositis can be included. I went to functional dr. about my diagnosis and she talked about leaky gut. Put me on 3 different supplements. Im really trying to find help somewhere to see if my disease can be reversed. I have mctd with the polymyositis being the main one. I am so against steroids right now as i would like to try this way first. If anyone could help me or direct me to someone i would appreciate it. Thanks. Letitia Allred

  14. Avatar

    Great article, something i have been looking for for a long time.
    What if somebody has EBV virus that triggered autoimmunity. The gut is not leaky but EBV exist and there are high levels of antibodies against EBV. Would not even attempting to fix the gut would not get rid of the EBV as ebv is already inside the body? Can you calm down the EBV somehow?

    • Avatar

      Hi Becky, thanks for reaching out! The SCD diet is meant to heal the gut lining and decrease inflammation with in the body. There are many things one can do in addition to stopping the diarrhea and we encourage you to start with changing your diet to the SCD diet or a plaeo type diet.

  15. Avatar

    ho I’m really looking forward to the seminar, but I have a few questions. First how long is the seminar and do we automatically get it sent to your email if you can’t attend? Also I have an undetermined autoimmune disease , as I have various neurological issues such as uveitis as well as brain and spine lesions, and they are questioning possibly a rare condition called Susacs Syndrome, do you know if leaky gut is associated with this particular Autoimmune disease ? Thank you !!

  16. Avatar

    Thanks for the article and free webinar. 4 in my direct family have Ankylosing Spondylitis, and some in my extended family. Not much is mentioned about it. Very interested in seeing the outcome.

  17. Avatar

    I missed the registration and the webinar. I have psoriasis and have been tying to control it with supplements. I’ve not had an enormous amount of success. Can you provide me some clues on how to reverse autoimmunity?


  18. Avatar

    Looking forward to the webinar! I noticed Sjogren’s Syndrome (which I have) wasn’t mentioned in the AI associated with leaky gut list. Is there a connection between the two?

    • Avatar

      Hi Rachel, thanks for reaching out! It is our belief, which is backed up by research, that healing the gut is going to be important in helping any condition one may have. We highly encourage you to listen in and learn about how the gut impacts all AI diseases.

  19. Avatar

    Question: I didn’t see the rare condition of myestenia gravis (sp?) on the lust of autoimmune issues in the article. Can you comment on leaky gut and this disease? Or if you have any research on holistic treatment with the gut, if be greatful to read something helpful for a friend .

  20. Avatar

    Im in India so I wont be able to attend live. however, I hope it covers the topic of how to find out if you have leaky gut (any home methods – i may not have access to non conventional medical tests) , and also how to reverse leaky gut if u r a vegan ( like me)

  21. Avatar

    Great article – thanks for all the information and research you guys provide. I have just recently discovered via blood test that I have 2 of the celiac genes. I have suffered with many food intolerances over 10 years, and pretty sure I have leaky gut – traditional doctors are clueless about this. This webinar will be really helpful to me. I’m in Australia – so hope I can access OK.

    Thanks again.

  22. Avatar

    Isn’t fibromyalgia considered an autoimmune disorder also? I didn’t see it on the list. My sister-in-law has had so many health problems over the years (acid reflux, migraine headaches, digestive problems) and now has developed fibromyalgia so bad that she is confined to her bed most of the day. She is taking medications that I feel are just making things worse. Have you every heard of fibromyalgia being reversed?

    • Avatar

      Hi Shelley, thanks for reaching out! Fibromyalgia is a controversial subject, as some do not believe the disease exists due to the fact that often times doctors come up with this diagnosis when they do not know what else it could be. We have had success in those seeking improvement for pain management, mood, and energy levels, just to name a few. We highly encourage her to listen in on Wednesday and begin to at least change her diet and heal the gut.

    • Avatar

      Please have her evaluated for Lyme even if she never remembers a tick attachment. Research the connection to fibro and so many other conditions and how poor the testing is. So many people who have the symptoms and diagnosis later find out it was from Lyme.

    • Avatar

      Shelly, for your friend: my Lyme doc in Missouri said that most fibromyalgia patients are undiagnosed Lyme patients. Have western blot IGG and IGM tests done at IGENIX LAB in California. They have the most reliable results than most because of their testing criteria. Then get on the eatlng and supplement program recommended by Jordan Rubin and Ty Bollinger and others for Leaky Gut. Almost all chronic disease is accompanied by leaky gut. I can tell you from experience how much better I feel following that program.

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