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My Autoimmune Condition Recovery

Written by Irina Webb

My autoimmune Condition Recovery Irina WebbAs you might know, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (a type of autoimmune condition) in 2010, and before I discovered functional medicine, I thought that I would be taking a thyroid medication for the rest of my life. With the help of the talented and caring doctor Myrto Ashe, MD and to the disbelief of “conventional” medicine doctors, I was able to recover from this condition.


Unfortunately, I was struck by another autoimmune condition called Addison’s, or adrenal insufficiency, where adrenals stop producing cortisol, a hormone absolutely crucial for living. It is a rare autoimmune condition that is hard to diagnose outside a teaching hospital. Prior to the diagnosis, I was very fatigued, nauseous, and losing weight, and essentially unable to function. I was also experiencing panic attacks, which was strange and scary because I had never experienced anything like that before. Luckily, I was admitted to the acute division at UCSF, a prominent teaching hospital, where they were able to diagnose me.


Currently, I am dependent on a synthetic cortisol hormone and have to take medication 4-5 times a day in order to keep alive.


I’ve been working with Dr. Ashe to recover from this condition as well, which is even more challenging because I won’t know if my adrenals can start producing cortisol until I stop taking medication. But if I do not get enough cortisol, I may go into a coma or die. So if you have adrenal insufficiency, please don’t experiment with this without the guidance of an experienced medical professional. In other words: do not do what I am attempting to. It’s stupid and you will most likely die. My husband, an attorney, is making me say it that explicitly.


Despite the fact that there is only one documented case of recovery from Addison’s, I am determined to recover from it in 2018 – this is my first New Year resolution.


The main things I am doing to recover from the autoimmune condition


I know many of you asked me what I am doing to recover from the autoimmune condition. So here is a summary of my journey to a healthy life.


Functional medicine addresses the underlying root causes of illness. It utilizes a multi-faceted approach to heal the body. Functional medicine is a science-based medicine that is gaining in popularity.


These are traditionally trained Medical Doctors (“MD’s”) who dared to ask the question, “Why does this person have this illness?” It takes a special person to become a functional medicine practitioner. Their work is more challenging, and they may not make as much as their conventional medicine counterparts, but they are obsessive researchers and perpetual learners who would not have it any other way.


In other words, rather than just treating a disease, functional medicine doctors are trying to understand the root causes of disease so that they can cure them, not just stabilize and maintain a patient’s diminished health.


Addressing the Building Blocks – Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies, Ongoing Toxic Metal Exposure, Antioxidants, Metabolic Markers, the Body’s Ability to Detoxify


I have taken a lot of different tests to determine what factors may be at play in my case. In the course of doing so, I have learned quite a bit.


You might be surprised to hear that chronic deficiency in a vitamin or mineral may prevent the body from healing, have unpleasant symptoms (such as depression, hair loss, fatigue), and even promote the development of a disease.


I have taken a test called NutrEval that is instrumental in showing all necessary markers for bringing the body back in balance. The first time I took the test, it gave a lot of good information including that I was deficient in vitamin Bs, magnesium, had DNA oxidative damage (which could be a precursor to cancer), inability to digest chicken and fish well, limited ability to detoxify (so I have to be super careful around the toxins) and even showed that I had current exposure and an elevated level of mercury (back then I had 7 amalgams).


You can read more about the NutrEval test here.


Figuring out and eliminating hidden allergies


Sometimes we might not have obvious signs of allergy to certain foods. In conventional medicine, for example, you are either celiac or not. There is nothing in-between. The same is with cancer. You may be healthy today by conventional medicine standards, but tomorrow you might be diagnosed with cancer. Signs that might alert a practitioner of functional medicine of a danger of cancer are not investigated in conventional medicine.


In functional medicine, it is very important to diagnose allergies, because they cause inflammation in the body that can lead to an endless number of diseases.


I have been tested to determine allergy to gluten, various grains, dairy, and nightshade vegetables. And my test results have shown that I need to avoid gluten and tapioca. (To be honest, I sure miss eating bread.)


Heavy metals and autoimmune illnesses


More and more evidence has been emerging lately to establish links between toxic heavy metals and autoimmune illnesses. (some of the sources here and here)


I took a challenge test that shows how much metals the body has accumulated over the course of your life – not the ongoing exposure, which is what the NutrEval test is good for. I had elevated levels of lead and mercury. To read more about that and how I was able to decrease the levels, read here.


Gut microbiome and autoimmune condition


I took a test called GI Effects™ Comprehensive Profile that tests for beneficial gut flora, parasites, and harmful bacteria. While I had no parasite and had a good diversity of beneficial bacteria, I also had two strains of harmful bacteria associated with autoimmune conditions.


I was hopeful that I have a chance to recover from the autoimmunity once the harmful bacteria are eliminated. I have taken an extensive course of herbal supplements to get rid of the bacteria. Unfortunately, re-testing showed that I still had the harmful bacteria and thus the herbal supplements did not make an impression on them. So I had to approach the resistant bacteria a different way.


Mold sensitivities and autoimmune condition


I have also been tested for mold sensitivities. Apparently, 24% of us are genetically susceptible to chronic inflammation caused by exposure to mold.


It was determined that genetically I am unable to clear mold and other biological toxins from the body and may develop Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), if exposed to mold. The symptoms of CIRS are similar to fibromyalgia.


For those of us who are genetically mold-susceptible, it’s not enough to do the conventional type of remediation in case of water damage. Most of us are exposed to some level of mold in our buildings – sometimes undetectable to the eye and nose.


Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, the leading researcher in this field, has shown that the typical patient may have over 20 separate symptoms and is often diagnosed with chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, depression, or chronic headaches.


My blood tests were borderline, and it was not clear if I am sick with CIRS. We had an inspector who practices Dr. Shoemaker’s method test for mold in our house. As a result, we have improved the quality of the air in our house; and I have had a mold detox therapy and am in the process of re-testing.


Explanting Breast Implants


I had silicone breast implants. It was a mistake I made, more than a decade ago. I was young and I struggled, like so many women in this society, with body-image issues. So I made the decision to “enhance” my figure with breast implants, a decision I deeply regretted.


I was so happy to wear a size B bra that I simply stopped thinking about the fact my body carried two silicone bags filled with saline liquid. I intentionally blocked any information about the possible health effects associated with breast implants – until I just couldn’t anymore.   As I came to grips with my condition, I could no longer ignore the fact that out of vanity, I was forgoing the chance to heal and recover from Addison’s, an awful disease.


Two months after the explant surgery, I re-tested 4 markers that are associated with mold illness, inflammation, and autoimmunity. The great news is that 3 of them were way down, with one improving by 50%. And that was in the context that I had been grieving because my mom passed away the following month after the surgery.


Now, a year later, I am in the process of re-testing again and can’t wait for the results.


To read more about how why I made the decision to have my breast implants removed and what happened after 2 months, read here and here.


Fasting mimicking diet and autoimmune condition


Dr. Myrto Ashe encouraged me to get on a fasting mimicking diet. I have completed it and have already observed some exciting results.


When we get hungry, many of us believe we get fatigued, grumpy, or even lightheaded, which is an indication that blood sugar gets very low. In a healthy person, sugar should not be jumping high and low and should be fairly stable.


The fasting mimicking diet is designed to improve overall health, prevent cancer and slow down aging, and even reverse autoimmunity, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.


The fasting mimicking diet works this way. For 5 days each month for 3 months, you can eat a very limited diet, consisting of a specific allowed number of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.


During the 5 days, the body begins to clear some damaged and unnecessary cells. Apparently, cancer cells weaken because they can’t adapt to this stress. After returning to a normal diet, new cells are made and organs become regenerated in this manner.



As you can see, I am determined to heal my body and live a healthy and long life. It sounds like a lot of work but I do not feel discouraged because I had experienced the disease and the consuming feeling of pain and helplessness that comes with it. Plus, I have already experienced many benefits. I feel and look much younger than my age. Please let me know in the comments if there are any particular parts of my health journey you are interested in learning more about.


By the way, nothing I say here should be relied upon as medical advice, as I am not a doctor, and you are not my patient. I can only tell you about my experiences and you should consult your doctor for treatments suitable for you.


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5 thoughts on “My Autoimmune Condition Recovery”

  1. Avatar


    I have so much to say…first I would like to congratulate you on your recovery so far! I wish you nothing but continue great health as you battle the adrenal condition! I too have many suspect symptoms that puzzle my doctors. I have graves for sure and I’ve had cancer twice with the second one the prognosis was 9 months to live…that was 5 years ago. During these past 5 years, however, I must say that it has been one ‘mystery’ after another that my doc continuously throws her hands up and said, ‘I don’t know what to do?’ Nice huh?! One of the specialists she sent me too told me I now have lupus…I refuse to take biological injection because the side effects are super scary…yet she continues to push it saying that those only happen to 1%…most conventional drugs have the complete opposite effect on me. Of course most doctors that I come across think that I am crazy and when I do find one that can actually see an issue (it was a radioligist, who wrote a 3 pager on what he saw with my kidney and even called my doc with me I the room to explain the seriousness) those finding are brushed aside…I want to try to find a doctor like the one that is helping you. I know this is asking a lot, but would your doctor happen to know of someone with the same skills in my area? ( Colorado Spring, Co.) Sorry to ask but I feel I have literally hit a brick wall and no one is willing to help me take it down, even if it is only brick by brick. I am tried of playing doctor roulette and pass the patient. Thanks!

    1. Irina Webb

      Hi, Laura:

      Thank you so much for sharing. I am saddened to hear about your health problems. It is so frustrating. I remember it all well. Unfortunately, conventional medicine is limited. But I am glad you decided to explore functional medicine and hopeful that you will find your answers. I will ask Dr. Ashe if she has any recommendations for you. ~Irina

    2. Irina Webb

      Hi, Laura:

      This is what Dr. Myrto Ashe said, “The Institute for Functional Medicine has a “find a practitioner” site, and she can find certified FM practitioners there. I don’t know anyone in Colorado Springs, and the person I know in Boulder has a 3-year waiting list or something crazy like that.” Please keep in touch. Happy New Year! ~Irina

  2. Avatar

    Thank you so much for sharing! I‘ve been seeing a Functional Health Dr. since March and am finally getting some answers but to say it’s been a hard year is an understatement! I’ve been diagnosed with Celiacs (she’s pretty sure my IBS was misdiagnosed when I was a lot younger), Hashimotos, and was born with the MTHFR gene mutation. I also have CIRS. After weeks of qualified testing at both work and at my house the results were alarming and remediation is supposed to begin on my house next week. I have felt so alone during all of this and it’s been difficult. The silver lining is that as a Clean Living Educator, I’m hoping I’ll just be able to help others even more. She told me that I should be proud of myself for becoming my own advocate and detoxing so much myself over the last few years or who knows where I’d be. My Dr. also practices the Shoemaker protocol and is familiar with CIRS herself bc she went through it. My next follow up is in September. I’ve often wondered if I could also have Addison’s. Can you tell me a little more about the diet you mentioned – Fasting mimicking diet? Also, did you begin feeling any better after your air environment was improved? And do you know of any additional support groups just to be able to talk to others about this? Last, do you know of any testing that can be done to see if you have Cancer or anything that can be done to just 100% rule it out. Appreciate your help!

    1. Irina Webb

      Hi, Leslie: you have been through a lot. But I’m so glad that you have made so much progress. If you had Addison’s, you would know that something is fundamentally wrong. Before I was finally diagnosed, I did not even have the energy to stand. And before I was admitted to the ER, my body was unable to retain heat. I was literally dying. Addison’s, which is adrenal insufficiency, is very different from adrenal fatigue, not to downplay people’s sufferings from adrenal fatigue. Anyway, have you considered joining the Savvy Consumer Circle? We exchange health stories and so much more in there. You won’t feel alone anymore. There are health coaches in it, too. Here is a link to it where you can see a table of content and the member’s testimonials: ~Irina

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