For the last three years, I have received (on average) about 30 emails a week with questions regarding Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), how to treat it, what foods are safe, what medications people should be taking, even questions on how to quit smoking and deal with the stress of in-laws. In fact, I’ve received so many questions that I wrote a book to try to answer them all at once. Unfortunately, since everyone’s personal situation is unique (and there’s no way I could cover everything in one book. And I have no idea how to deal with your mother-in-law) I’m still receiving tons of questions. In order to try to help everyone who needs help, we’re going to answer your questions here once a week.
If you have any questions regarding your HS, achieving remission, taking supplements, or need information to take to your doctor, ask us! Just use the “Ask A Question” tab on the right hand side of the screen. We’ll try to answer them all in the coming weeks.
Question 1Hello Tara, I have been diagnosed with HS and for the last 18 months I have been prescribed antibiotics (doxycycline, clyndamycin and minocycine). They worked to clear up the boils but not the HS. At this point I have been eating a metabolic typing diet. How does the Paleo diet compare? I also currently take vitamin supplements that help to create an alkalinity. These vitamins cause very painful HS flare ups. How would these vitamins effect insulin/hormones/gut? ~ Reggie
Hi Reggie! Thanks for the question. First off, as discussed at great length in The Hidden Plague, antibiotics do not work for HS. In fact, since they’re a proven cause of leaky gut and gut dysbiosis, if you take a long-term course of antibiotics, you’ll simply ensure that your HS will never go into remission. Anyone needing to take antibiotics for unrelated matters will have to be diligent about repopulating their gut flora with probiotics, prebiotics, and fermented foods during and after they’ve finished the medication–possibly for several months or longer. Since HS is an autoimmune condition–not a bacterial infection–it makes no sense to take long courses of antibiotics to treat it. Antibiotics have no beneficial effect on autoimmune disease whatsoever, but can cause great damage to your gut lining and gut flora. Please question any doctor that prescribes you antibiotics for HS–ask them if they are up-to-date on the literature concerning HS and autoimmunity (they’re not), and find out the safest way to taper off any medication that you have been prescribed in the past. If you’ve taken antibiotics for your HS in the past, the current state of your gut flora may very well be contributing to present-day flare ups. It’s imperative that you heal your gut in order to go into remission. There’s a detailed elimination protocol in The Hidden Plague, as well as more information about antibiotics and other pharmaceutical drugs that I suggest you read before taking anything new.
I don’t have a lot of experience with the metabolic typing diet, except for when I received my training at the CHEK Institute, where they recommended it be used to help clients lose weight. Based on certain questions you ask yourself (am I sleepy after eating rice? Am I sleepy after eating meat? etc.) you can figure out whether you are a “carb type,” or a “protein type.” Since I was on an autoimmune Paleo protocol (AIP) at the time, I could see the flaws and the potential problems for anyone with any type of autoimmune condition if they tried to achieve remission with metabolic typing. I don’t think it would be possible, and I even think weight loss would be hard-won, if possible at all. You asked for the difference between the two “diets.” (Paleo isn’t a diet, by the way, it’s a lifestyle, so there’s that.) First off, your needs fluctuate based on age, environment, and activity level, to name a few things. You may be a “protein type” today, and a “carb type” tomorrow, next week, or next month, or next year. You may actually be a “fat type,” but as far as I know, that isn’t an option. A metabolic typing diet, although filled with fresh, whole foods that are good for a great deal of the population, is simply concerned with macronutrients–carbs, protein, and fat. A Paleo diet is not. Contrary to popular belief, Paleo is not high-protein, low carb, or high-fat. It is tailored specifically to you and your individual needs, because YOU are the one designing it. A Paleo diet allows you to listen to the signals that your body is sending you, and to change up each meal based on your needs, instead of following some pre-designed format of what is supposed to be good for you. Watching your macronutrients is not all that important–if your hormone signaling is working properly, your body will tell you what it needs. Paleo foods help balance your hormones naturally, so you can actually hear what it’s saying to you. Like counting macronutrients, counting calories is also a complete waste of time. A Paleo lifestyle allows for complete freedom from systems, meal plans, and other people’s ideas, and puts the power directly into your hands.
Second, metabolic typing doesn’t take triggers for autoimmune conditions or foods and medications that cause leaky gut into account, nor does it concern itself with important facets of the Paleo lifestyle, like sleep, exercise, food quality, stress management, and hormonal balance. It doesn’t give you any information about elimination diets, or empower you in any way to find the root of your symptoms. For more information on the Paleo diet and how it can be used to put HS into remission, please read The Hidden Plague.
As for the supplements you’re taking to create alkalinity (why are you taking these?! This is yet another gimmick), I can’t be absolutely certain about why they’re causing HS flares without knowing the exact brand and type of supplement you’re taking. However, a quick Google search on supplements that alkalize the body showed a disturbing trend: these supplements are chock FULL of triggers for HS. I’m not surprised you have immediate, painful flares when you take the supplements. Take a look at the ingredient list for Body Rescue’s Alkalizing Formula:
Not only do you have three types of yeast (Don’t. Get. Me. Started. on the artificial vitamins in this crap.) and FOUR grams of sugar per TABLESPOON (that’s a lot), but this particular blend contains oats (HS trigger), lima beans (HS trigger), fruit pectin (depending on the fruit, HS trigger), papaya (HS trigger), rice syrup solids (HS trigger), milk (HS trigger), and soy (…you guessed it–HS trigger). I’m not sure if bladderwrack, buchu, burdock and chickweed are triggers for you, but taking them all at once means you cannot possibly isolate a problem if there is one. Since they contain saponins and other compounds that pass through the gut barrier, any trigger food you consume with them has a straight pass to your blood stream and the potential to cause an autoimmune reaction. I wouldn’t touch this supplement with a ten-foot pole–the yeast alone would make me flare up. The lima beans would just be the icing on the cake, not to mention all the other ingredients.
The Hidden Plague lists all the potential food triggers for HS, and explains why they’re possibly problematic, because what makes me flare up might not be exactly what makes you flare up. However, if you’ve established that you flare up after taking these supplements, then stop. taking. them. and do an elimination diet to figure out what doesn’t make you flare. Once you’ve adopted a Paleo lifestyle, you’ll find that you no longer need gimmicky supplements–natural, whole Paleo foods will naturally help to restore the acidity/alkaline balance in your body.
Question 2Tara, I just finished reading your book and I can even explain how happy I am. Your book has invaluable information. I suffer from psoriasis and you mentioned your kids developed psoriasis when they were 2 years old. I agree with them nightshades seem to be the bigger problem for us. Chocolate and figs were a trigger for me always. I come to find out that I guess sugar was always the biggest problem for me. I guess maybe yeast too? I read in your book that figs have wild yeast, The other day I ate nutritional yeast and gave me the worst headaches. I am learning so much about my body and psoriasis. Is there any recommendation you have from your kids experience? ~Erica
Although individual triggers for autoimmune conditions will be slightly different for everyone, there are some commonalities. Sugar, although not a direct trigger, creates inflammation. It also makes your body produce insulin, which causes further inflammation. Something like figs, which contain loads of sugar and can be contaminated with yeast, are a double whammy. Although you may flare from the yeast alone, you’ll probably find that flares are more painful and last longer when you combine them with sugar. I’m sorry. You’ll need to test each individual food once you’ve achieved remission, but you’ll always need to be careful with sugar. Don’t forget that all carbohydrates are converted to sugar in your body. I find that if I’ve kept my carbs low most of the day, I’m absolutely trigger-free, and I’m in the estrogen dominant phase of my cycle, I can handle some sugar. You’ll need to test to find out the amount (and the types) that you’re able to consume without a flare.
I would definitely look into yeast as a trigger for you, since you reported a headache after eating nutritional yeast. Headaches are one of the symptoms of leaky gut and autoimmunity, and are common (but not normal) after yeast ingestion. I’ve listed all the potential symptoms to look out for on page 184.
My kids are absolutely symptom free, as long as we keep nightshades out of their diet. We also keep their sugar low. This is probably the best advice I could give you. Reducing inflammation will reduce the severity of your flare ups until you can isolate all your different triggers. You can also try replacing high-sugar chocolate with a dairy-free, soy-free, 85% dark chocolate bar to see if chocolate is actually a trigger for you–or if it’s the sugar, the soy, or the dairy (or the TBHQ and other toxic preservatives, depending on which brand you’ve been eating).
Question 3How are endometriosis and HS connected? I have been suffering badly from endometriosis and have recently had HS come into my life (oh the joys). Many thanks :) ~Emma
Well, Emma, they’re both part of the same disease: autoimmunity. Both HS and endometriosis are autoimmune conditions. You’re simply being attacked one more than one front, at the same time. In order to have an autoimmune condition, you need to have three things: 1. the autoimmune gene, 2. a leaky gut, and 3. environmental factors, i.e. triggers, coming from diet and lifestyle. For more information on autoimmunity, what causes it, and how all these different diseases are created and connected, please read Chapter 3: Autoimmunity 101 in The Hidden Plague. Then, continue on to find out how to achieve remission from ALL the autoimmune conditions you’re suffering from! By the way, I also used to have endometriosis. It went into remission about six months after adopting a Paleo lifestyle. It came back when I reintroduced wheat for three weeks, but once I cleaned up my diet again, it went away. It’s been gone for about 4 years now. There IS hope. :)
Thank for you to everyone who has submitted questions so far! We’ll do our best to answer them all over the coming weeks. If you’ve been diagnosed with HS and you’re looking for a natural, non-gimmicky way to achieve remission and get rid of the boils, check out The Hidden Plague, which is already a number one best seller on Amazon!