In episode #116, Dr. Jill interviews Palmer Kippola to discuss how you can heal autoimmune conditions! Palmer is a health coach and functional medicine practitioner who specializes in reversing autoimmune conditions through dietary and lifestyle interventions. This video is packed with information including F.I.G.H.T.S. – Food, Infections, Gut health, Hormone balance, Toxins, and Stress to help others beat autoimmune conditions
- What is F.I.G.H.T.S. acronym? Food, Infections, Gut health, Hormone balance, Toxins, and Stress to help others beat autoimmune conditions
- How does stress, trauma and unresolved conflict contribute to autoimmunity and what can you do to change it?
- What hormone imbalances high or low contribute to autoimmunity and MS?
The Guest – Palmer Kippola (pronounced KI-po-la)
Palmer Kippola is an author, speaker, and Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach who helps people reverse and prevent autoimmune conditions. She developed a framework called F.I.G.H.T.S.™, which stands for Food, Infections, Gut health, Hormone balance, Toxins, and Stress, to help others beat autoimmune conditions based on her two-decade battle to overcome multiple sclerosis.
Her Amazon-bestselling book is Beat Autoimmune: The 6 Keys to Reverse Your Condition and
Reclaim Your Health with a foreword by Functional Medicine pioneer, Mark Hyman, MD. In it she shares the science, stories, and strategies to help people heal and thrive.
Palmer has done coursework with the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM), the HeartMath® Institute, and the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy. In addition, she has studied under leading experts in nutrition, holistic health, and energy medicine. Today she collaborates with naturopathic physicians to provide one-on-one total health recovery programs for clients in the US over Zoom; and she has a comprehensive online program called Beat Autoimmune Academy to help people heal and optimize their health without doctors, drugs, or drama.
Her comprehensive online program, Beat Autoimmune Academy, to help you speed time to your best life, without doctors, drugs, or drama: https://beatautoimmuneacademy.com/
Dr. Jill Carnahan is Your Functional Medicine Expert® dually board certified in Family Medicine for ten years and in Integrative Holistic Medicine since 2015. She is the Medical Director of Flatiron Functional Medicine, a widely sought-after practice with a broad range of clinical services including functional medical protocols, nutritional consultations, chiropractic therapy, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, and massage therapy. As a survivor of breast cancer, Crohn’s disease, and toxic mold illness she brings a unique perspective to treating patients in the midst of complex and chronic illness. Her clinic specializes in searching for the underlying triggers that contribute to illness through cutting-edge lab testing and tailoring the intervention to specific needs.
Featured in Shape Magazine, Parade, Forbes, MindBodyGreen, First for Women, Townsend Newsletter, and The Huffington Post as well as seen on NBC News and Health segments with Joan Lunden, Dr. Jill is a media must-have. Her YouTube channel and podcast features live interviews with the healthcare world’s most respected names.
A popular inspirational speaker and prolific writer, she shares her knowledge of hope, health, and healing live on stage and through newsletters, articles, books, and social media posts! People relate to Dr. Jill’s science-backed opinions delivered with authenticity, love and humor. She is known for inspiring her audience to thrive even in the midst of difficulties.
Dr. Jill 0:13
Well, hello everybody! I always have to pause now because of the way Facebook goes live—we're live—I usually get a huge echo, but I think I prevented it. You'll just have to stare at us for a moment before we get on. And here we are!
Dr. Jill 0:25
Today I am super excited about our topic and my guest, Palmer Kippola, and super excited to talk about autoimmune disease because I know how many of you out there suffer from autoimmunity. We're going to have Kippola tell her own story, her journey, and why she and I are both so passionate about helping people understand that there is healing from autoimmunity.
Dr. Jill 0:47
So often, our conventional medical system doesn't give a lot of hope. It's: “Here's your diagnosis” and “move on.” That's it; there's no hope. We both have a story around that to tell you today just to inspire you and give you hope. And I'll actually ask Kippola to tell us a lot about her program and what she feels are the core issues to address.
Dr. Jill 1:06
Just like you, Kippola, in my clinic, I've seen amazing—I call them miracles. But we all know that it's possible for anybody to reverse these autoimmune diseases when you catch them and look for the underlying root cause.
Dr. Jill 1:17
So today, we're going to jump in. If you haven't seen my other episodes, you can find all of them on YouTube on my channel. You'll find them on Stitcher and iTunes. Please subscribe or [leave a] rating for me so that we can stay on with you.
Dr. Jill 1:30
My guest today, Palmer Kipolla, is an author, speaker, and functional medicine certified health coach who helps people reverse and prevent autoimmune conditions. She helped develop a framework called F.I.G.H.T.S.™, which we'll talk about today. It stands for “Food, Infections, Gut health, Hormone balance, Toxins, and Stress,” to help others beat autoimmune conditions based on her two-decade battle in overcoming multiple sclerosis. Her Amazon-bestselling book is Beat Autoimmune: The 6 Keys to Reverse Your Condition and Reclaim Your Health, with a foreword by Mark Hyman (MD). In it, she shares the science, stories, and strategies to help people heal and thrive. She's done the coursework like I have with IFM.
Dr. Jill 2:09
Welcome, welcome, Kippola! I'm so glad to have you here!
Palmer Kippola 2:13
Oh, it's such an honor, Dr. Jill. I love being here. I love the work that you're doing. And yes, I am the woman with two last names. So my first name is Palmer.
Dr. Jill 2:24
I knew it! I just said that, and I was like, “Oh!”
Palmer Kippola 2:26
I just wanted to get that out of the way. You can call me anything you like because I'll respond to most things. So you know, that's just it. It's so funny because I got ‘Dr. Kippola' this morning from a client. I'm like: “No, no no. It's not Dr. Kippola, it's just Palmer.” And I get ‘Dr. Palmer.' So it's straight-up Palmer. It's such a pleasure.
Dr. Jill 2:41
I am the worst with names too. For some reason, I get these little things; I call them “worms in your head.” They just get stuck and this one person, I always call them the wrong name for some reason. That is not my gift. So, thank you for your grace.
Palmer Kippola 2:54
It's just perfect.
Dr. Jill 02:57
So Palmer, let's start with your story. I love stories, and you've got a good one. Tell us about your diagnosis and then what happened to you with the MS.
Palmer Kippola 3:06
Yes, well, I will do so. I have to take you back a little bit in time because I was 19 years old. I had just finished my freshman year. I was home from college and just working a summer job. I was a pretty happy, healthy, well-adjusted young woman. And one morning, out of the blue, I woke up and the soles of my feet were all tingling. It's like that feeling you get when you've slept on a limb too long, and it's all tingly because the blood is flowing back. But this time the blood didn't flow back, and I thought, “Oh, this will just go away.” So I went off to work, but it didn't go away. Instead, that tingling crept up my leg like a vine, and by the time it got to my knees, I knew I was in trouble.
Palmer Kippola 3:47
So I called my parents, who called the family doctor, who said, “Get her to the neurologist today at UCLA.” So that's what we did. And within five minutes of just having me do this really cursory exam, the doctor pronounced, “I'm 99% certain you have MS—multiple sclerosis. And if I'm right, there's nothing you can do.” We were absolutely terrified. This is the 80s, just to level set people—no internet—I hadn't heard of MS before. Nobody knew. I mean, this was just such a mystery. We left her office with very little information and very little hope, and off we went home.
Palmer Kippola 4:30
That night, my mom crawled into bed with me and she was holding me. By this time, we were both crying. And I was crying harder because, by this point, Dr. Jill, I had gone numb from the neck down. So my body had been tingling all the way up to my collarbones, but all the tingling areas just went fully numb. And it would stay that way for a full six weeks.
Dr. Jill 4:52
Wow. So scary, especially at 19. Right now we look back and we're like, “Maybe we could have handled it better now.” But at 19, you think you're immortal kind of [at that] age, right? You don't think about illness at all. So that had to be so scary. And then to be told there's no hope—unbelievable! So where did you go from there?
Palmer Kippola 5:10
So I lay on the couch, and there was nothing to do except wait it out. So I watched the 1984 Summer Olympics on the couch, and dear friends would come by and bring me cookies or whatever; friends would bring books and movies to watch with me. And this one family friend came, and she was into things that were metaphysical. She asked me a question, which I didn't realize for many years, was actually a gift. And she said, “Palmer, why do you think you got the MS?” [I said:] “What do you mean, why do I think I… ? Wait, are you suggesting that I might have done something to get this?” I had no idea. And of course, she left and didn't mean anything harmful by it. But I didn't have anywhere to go, so I chewed on that question like a dog with a bone and it came to me in this flash of insight.
Palmer Kippola 5:59
But I have to take you back a tiny bit more in time because I had been adopted as a baby by a very loving mom and dad. But my dad had been a fighter pilot. And his way was the right way, and we did the head butting quite a bit. And Dr. Jill, at that moment, as I'm lying on the couch, I had this picture of my earliest memory, I think, which is me at age three or four [where] my dad is yelling at my mom, calling her names. She shut herself in their bedroom, and she's crying. And I've got my little dukes up looking at my dad, “You call my mom names and I'll sock your lights out!” Or you know, whatever a three-year-old is going to yell, who knows? I had become a child warrior. At that moment, I realized, “Oh my God! I'm primed for a fight.” I mean, I'm literally on [and] hyper-vigilant. I developed insomnia at age 12—like scanning the environment for safety.
Palmer Kippola 7:04
I had no background in immunity or anything like this, but I viewed the immune system as Pac-Man. You know, the video game?—[where] they're going to go eat the bad guy. But I viewed at that moment that my own immune system didn't have a real fight, so it was going to make one up and attack me. I had to do all kinds of visualizations to help calm that down. So my initial hypothesis to answer our friend's question, “Why did you get the MS?”—I believed it was chronic stress and trauma, which I do know still rings true for me today, even though I know there's much more to this story. So that was my first big ‘Aha!' moment.
Dr. Jill 7:45
Wow! I'm sitting here just amazed at the similarities. Many of my followers know my story. And I won't spend a lot of time here, but very briefly, cancer at 25, and Crohn's six months after I finished all of my treatment. I was in remission from cancer and then got Crohn's. Crohn's is also an autoimmune disease like MS where the body attacks a set of nerve cells—instead of the myelin sheath, it attacks the gut. Now, it's interesting because I realized I healed from those things—that's a whole other story that I won't get into. I was told it was incurable. So like you, my physician said, “Jill, this is incurable. You'll have it forever—lifelong. There's no cure. You're going to need drugs.” So I can relate to your story. But even more than that, 10 years later, I got a mold-related illness and got very ill from mold.
Dr. Jill 8:28
I remember walking on the road one day and having this massive ‘Aha!' I wish I would have had it at your age. What it was was that all my years, the fighting analogy was what I lived. I grew up in a farm family—”Pull up by the bootstraps”—you're strong, you don't show weakness. I was at an impasse as a sensitive soul that tried to be like my siblings and like my family. I realized I took on that fighter [role], that [show] no weakness [front]—the same exact thing.
Dr. Jill 8:52
I have no doubt that some people's autoimmune diseases are related to these mental stories and trauma and those things. But I walked along that road and I realized my mold-related illness was my body trying to get rid of mold that in the process was damaging tissues and fighting too hard, right? And it was such an aha that I had to change my story from the fighter. And it's funny you had the Pac-Man; mine were the Minions, the little yellow guys. And I literally was like, “I've got to change and meditate and actually have a visualization around my immune system being different from fighting because it's going to kill me if I don't.” So I love that you say that because we both kind of discovered in our own way that this metaphor that we were living was actually playing itself out in our immune systems.
Palmer Kippola 9:35
Unbelievable! And yet so common too, right?
Dr. Jill 9:41
Yes, wow. What I love is the thing we're going to talk about; your acronym for this is literally back to your story. So tell us, when did you find out there was something you could do? How did you really reverse it?
Palmer Kippola 9:58
All right, so let's condense things. So over the next two decades, all I had was the public library for a while and my own intuition, because the only book was [about] the Swank diet, which said that a low-fat high-vegetarian diet, or high-grain low-fat diet, was the best diet for MS. We'll get to that in a moment. But apart from that, it took two decades of experimentation. I started with stress reduction, so I started doing yoga in the late 80s and started meditating in the mid-90s. I noticed that when I actually did those practices, the symptoms would subside. And yet, when I was stressed, like [during] exams back at school—I was well enough to go back to school for the rest of my sophomore year. But again, my dad had told me, “Don't let anybody know that you have MS; they'll think you're weak.”
Dr. Jill 10:52
Oh. See, same story.
Palmer Kippola 10:54
Same story. Like a fighter pilot, you don't show weakness, don't cry, you pull yourself up. But the stress of hiding that—I just want to say to people: there is no shame; this is an opportunity to love yourself. But I didn't know that at the time.
Palmer Kippola 11:13
So [I experienced] two decades of attempted stress reduction, noticing that when I had exams, or stress, or conflict, or more work—I was in corporate America for a couple of decades—I would notice the advent of symptoms, like really bad or new symptoms. And yet, when I was calmer, things subsided. So stress reduction was a foundation for me getting better, and frankly, healing from trauma. The forgiveness—forgiving my dad, forgiving myself, was even more foundational. In all the spiritual work, this is so important. Most people start with diet and then get to the trauma. I just happened to go into it the other way.
Palmer Kippola 12:01
It wasn't until 2010 that I discovered functional medicine. I had this little pesky tummy gurgling after eating. [I said to myself:] “I think maybe this has something to do with the MS. I don't know. But it wouldn't hurt to see a nutritionist.” So I found one that happened to be a functional medicine nutritionist. She led me through an elimination diet. I removed the gluten, the dairy, and all those inflammatory foods. Really, I've done further experimentation, but I can isolate it down to mostly the gluten. Within one week of removing gluten, I stopped having all tummy trouble, which I had had forever. I just thought it was normal. I totally normalized it. And within one month of removing these foods, I stopped having MS symptoms ever again—full stop. Never again. But I'm really, really super quick to add, as you know, this is not normally the path, right? It's often way more complicated than this.
Palmer Kippola 13:00
My toxin bucket included a heavy load of stress and trauma. I had a sugar addiction, which led to the Candida overgrowth, and [I had] mercury fillings. So this is the path: keep that toxin bucket as free and clear as possible; that's the opportunity, really. That was the beginning. People said to me, “This is a big deal!” And I was like, “Well, this isn't a big deal; I'm nobody special.” Like, “No, this seems like a big deal!”
Palmer Kippola 13:31
We can talk about what happened next because I quit my job. I had this cognitive dissonance. Dr. Jill, six neurologists had told me there was nothing I could do except take medication or prepare for life in a wheelchair. And this last neurologist at Stanford said, if I didn't take this medication, I should prepare for a shortened life. [It] scared the bejesus [out of me]. So it took a lot of guts. I did try a little bit for a little while, but it did not work for me. But then I decided once I fully healed, I needed to study this because it just didn't make any sense that six really smart doctors told me there's nothing you can do and yet I had a completely different experience. That was the beginning of figuring things out.
Dr. Jill 14:22
Absolutely amazing. I can hear in your story that you obviously had this deeper purpose, right? And you had to realize at that point of transition, okay, am I going to walk in this way that my health has called me into, because now clearly you're teaching and helping people in this way of what you've been through. And you're probably living much more aligned with your purpose. But isn't it funny how the universe allows us to go [in a certain direction]? At the time, I hated the cancer, I hated the Crohn's. I went bald—I was so sick—it was miserable. I would never wish that on anyone. But like you, I can say it was one of the best things that ever happened—the knowledge and information and even the passion we bring to what we do with our patients and clients—isn't it?
Dr. Jill 15:03
I'm sure now you can look back and see the blessing, but it's hard and the suffering, I want to say that not to diminish. If you're out there listening, and you're suffering with autoimmunity or MS, it is miserable. It is so hard, and my heart goes out to you with every bit. But also, there are pieces in that that we can learn, and that do somehow transform us if we allow it to. And it's still hard.
Palmer Kippola 15:26
It is still hard, and yet it is such a gift. If you can just imagine, hypothesize that maybe this is happening for me because, as you say so eloquently, these symptoms are simply messages from your body, letting you know that things are out of balance. Your approach and my approach [is that] we have to look under the hood; we have to go to the root causes because once we address things down there, that's when the leaves change, right? That's when the tree of health changes by the roots.
Dr. Jill 16:02
You found functional medicine. You decided to become a coach, and obviously, now you're helping people. Tell us about this acronym, because I love that title. It's so beautiful that you've taken something that could have been traumatic and made it into a beautiful foundation of your program. But tell us more about what that means—the F.I.G.H.T.S. acronym.
Palmer Kippola 16:20
I will. I have to give my dad massive credit for [being] one of my greatest teachers and motivators. So even though—and this is also important—you could view him as the bad guy, he was also my most motivational teacher and used to say to me: “Honey, you can beat this thing. You can beat MS; you can beat this.” He believed in me. I didn't know how the heck to do that, but that was the path I was on.
Palmer Kippola 16:50
Once I dove into the research and spent like six hours a day on PubMed—looking at all of these biomedical studies because I wanted to figure out what all of these mysterious root cause categories that we can possibly control are—I put all the words together on a page. And because I'm a word person, I did [something] like a jumble, right?—and I'm trying to get a word that people would remember. The word that emerged was ‘fights' because that encapsulated those six big root causes, which are food, infections, gut health, hormone balance, toxins, and stress—which includes trauma and poor sleep and exercise—I couldn't cram it all in. I lament that it didn't spell ‘peace,' because for the rest of my life I was trying to be a peaceful warrior instead of a fighting warrior. But that seemed to be metaphorically perfect. And when you address those root causes, that's when you can unravel the symptoms and then the diagnosis.
Dr. Jill 17:50
I really like the acronym because it brings it all together. You had MS, which is such a serious, debilitating autoimmune disease. I don't know if there's one that's more scary, especially because it happens a lot to young people—the diagnosis—and there are a lot of difficult autoimmune diseases out there. But the bigger picture is that regardless of autoimmune disease, we know the root causes are the same—both you and I. I always say I could have someone who comes in with a rare autoimmune disease that I've never heard of and I am still confident that I can help that patient because the roots are the same, right? Let's talk a little about the gut. That's one of my favorites, for sure, one of the core [things]. But gut-wise, you actually took out gluten and I'm sure over the years you healed any dysbiosis. How does the immune system connect?
Palmer Kippola 18:35
Oh, my goodness! This is such a big, huge, and important question. And it's really hard for people to fathom that what is going on if you have joint pain, or brain fog, or numbness or tingling anywhere in your body has anything to do with the gut. And so I will say that I was actually fortunate that I had mild gut symptoms, because that took me down the path, right? If I hadn't had gut symptoms, would I have gone to a nutritionist? And this is so important, and I actually learned this from David Perlmutter, who wrote Grain Brain, that the core hub—Grand Central Station—for inflammation in the body is your gut. All disease, as Hippocrates said, stems from the gut, and health, conversely.
Palmer Kippola 19:22
One of the elements is that we now have this autoimmune equation that I felt should have made front-page news—it didn't even make back-page news. Dr. Alessio Fasano, now at Harvard Medical School, professor and head of gastroenterology for pediatrics, led a research team. Scientists have always known that you need genes and environmental factors to contribute to the development of autoimmunity, but nobody could really put together how in the world those two worlds collided to unleash autoimmunity. Dr. Fasano and his team in the early 2000s, I think, discovered the third element in the equation that's necessary for autoimmunity to develop, and that is a leaky gut, intestinal hyperpermeability, which sounds crazy and made up. And now, thankfully, this is being acknowledged in the medical community as a real thing.
Palmer Kippola 20:24
Well, cancer drug manufacturers know that leaky gut is real because they actually engineer their chemotherapy drugs to create a leaky gut so the medication can get in faster. So whether or not people admit this is real, they've known for a very long time. In any event, what's so exciting about having an equation like this is that if you flip the equation, you could potentially, as Dr. Fasano wrote in his abstract, arrest and reverse the autoimmunity. And that's what I had done and didn't even know it.
Dr. Jill 20:57
I'm really happy that it happened upon the right keys too. I love how you started and flipped [things around]; you really did the stress and lifestyle piece first. And you're right, a lot of patients will do that later. But what a great foundation because you were in a great space for the physical body to heal. I suspected that you may have done it in that order. Who knows? But the gluten-free diet might have taken longer than a few weeks to make you feel so much better because you already had the foundation.
Palmer Kippola 21:23
You know, you're so wise, and I'm so glad you said that because I'm not sure I would have had that same response. And I think it's really important that people understand because some people respond [with], “Well, it was so easy for you.” There is a lot that goes into it, for sure.
Dr. Jill 21:41
I relate, Palmer, because the same thing with me for Crohn's. Within two weeks of changing my diet—gluten free—I was completely symptom-free and fever-free with Chrohn's. Just like you, it took me a couple of years to fix the whole dysbiosis of the gut. But I knew within literally a little over a week, I was like, “Okay, this is something big because my symptoms are gone!” So it's so similar to you. And I just wanted to spot on the chemotherapy and cancer drugs: I had the cancer with three-drug chemotherapy, and within six months had developed the autoimmunity of Crohn's. I have no doubt that those drugs were part of the equation that led to the Crohn's too.
Palmer Kippola 22:17
Right. But it's so empowering to know now that we have an equation and we have epigenetics, which tells us that the environment matters the most. Now that we have epigenetics, which puts us squarely in control of our health outcomes and this autoimmune equation, now the devil is in the details. Now it's time to get in and address each one of those categories.
Dr. Jill 22:42
So infections and toxins—those are huge categories. I always feel like function in this boils down to the complex chronic disease creating hormone imbalance, immune [imbalance, and] all that. But talk to us briefly about infections and toxins—these are huge buckets—just an overview of what patients might have to think about when they're dealing with those categories.
Palmer Kippola 23:01
I'm fortunate to collaborate with naturopaths, one of whom specializes in resolving infections, especially in the gut. So I'm not playing doctor. She is so good at what she does. But here's the thing: more than 95% of our patients, our clients, are dealing with Candida overgrowth. This is a big deal. We're supposed to have some yeast, but it becomes really imbalanced. And parasites are a way bigger thing than you may imagine. So that's another conundrum that we literally see all the time. The part that I think people don't often understand or appreciate is how medications can harm the gut and how stress can create a leaky gut as well.
Palmer Kippola 23:53
When people ask me, “What can I take to heal my gut?” I usually say my top three suggestions are “remove, remove, remove. What are you doing that's harming your gut that we need to stop?”—because until the bombardment of our precious microbiome and the lining of our gut is stopped, we are going to have that autoimmune attack perpetuated. So those are some of my observations, but you are the gut queen. So I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Dr. Jill 24:31
Well, I completely agree with what you've said; you've said it brilliantly. These points are so right on because you can take all the glutamine in the world or some wonderful probiotic, but if you have dysbiosis—meaning an abnormal microbiome, bacterial or fungal—you must take care of that first before you can start to add in the good guys or even really heal the lining. And I also like that you mentioned Candida and fungus because they're so prominent and it's hard to diagnose; you have to have a high index of suspicion. Many, many patients do have this as an issue.
Palmer Kippola 25:05
Those are huge. Oh, where do you go from here? So another huge conundrum that I think is often overlooked is oral infections. We see a lot of people that have had wisdom teeth removed, root canals, and in those pockets, these cavitations develop. So I quite frequently—this is just part of the standard, standard thing—[we say:] “Go see a holistic dentist for a cone beam X-ray. Let's take a look and see what's going on.” I happen to have four cavitations in all my wisdom teeth areas.
Palmer Kippola 25:43
So yes, you beat something; I beat the MS, right? I haven't had a single symptom in 12 years. But life happens, you know, I'm a human being. And I don't know, six or seven years ago, I had like eight colds in a row. I would catch one, then another, and another. I went to a naturopath, who said, “Did you have your wisdom teeth removed?” I'm like, “What do wisdom teeth have to do with having colds?” I went to have a cone beam X-ray. Sure enough, I found the cavitations. And there are infections that love those anaerobic infections that don't get oxygen; they thrive in that environment. So what happens? Your immune system is just on overdrive; it's overburdened. I stopped having colds within a month of that surgery. Seriously, I've had one cold in seven years.
Dr. Jill 26:35
I have found that to be as well. It's hidden in a way that unless we're asking the questions, which I usually do, it's often the kind of hidden thing that patients aren't thinking about. And most general dentists aren't going to offer a cone CT. More and more biological [dentists] are [offering it], but it's basically an image that will look for loosened spots on the X-ray or the CT scan that show that they could be [present]. They could be either underneath an old root canal if you have a weak immune system or in those places where you've had teeth pulled. And it's way more common because you don't often have symptoms. In those places where the root canal where the wisdom teeth were, there's no pain or nerve fibers. You wouldn't know that it's in that jaw.
Palmer Kippola 27:15
You wouldn't have any idea. I do have a client who came to me with diabetes, stage 3 kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease. She was seen by a cardiologist. She had blood pressure that was just stratospheric. [She was] on blood pressure meds. She had this inflammatory weight gain where she would gain and lose like 50 pounds in a week—really unusual—crazy. Blood sugar unmanaged—up to 400. I mean, just really, really in bad shape. We did all the things. We did the food changes, the gut, healing infections, and so forth, and she was still having some symptoms. So we suggested that she go to a holistic dentist. She did. She had three root canals dealt with. Her numbers all came down—all came down. She went back to a cardiologist who said: “I don't know what you're doing; keep doing it. You don't need to come back.” Sometimes it's hard to put it all together, which is why you need to do this detective work. But it can be so powerful and so dramatic.
Dr. Jill 28:25
Yes. We do need to go through all of these things you mentioned. But I've found there's often one or two [issues] that are much bigger for someone, so it doesn't mean that everybody has horrendous dysbiosis; there are different things. You said ‘hormones,' kind of at the end—I would agree. That's a layer that comes later because often, when you fix the toxin and infection, the hormones will balance themselves. Let's talk a little bit about that, and why is that important?
Palmer Kippola 28:50
Yes. Well, your questions and everything else—everything's connected. I just want to say that everything is connected. And as we address each of these layers, things just come back into balance, like the weebles that wobble and they just come right back up. But we see four hormonal imbalances that are low. We see low vitamin D, which is the easiest hormonal imbalance to correct. We see low DHEA, which is the foundation hormone, across the board, pretty low. We see low melatonin, which is not just for sleep, but really helps with immune modulation. And what is the last low one we see? Low thyroid, hypothyroid. So those are the four big low hormonal imbalances. And then on the high side, we see high insulin, high estrogen, and high cortisol. This is the typical constellation of hormone imbalances that we see in people. But we see these coming back into balance as they start to address other things—the insulin and cortisol being among the most important.
Dr. Jill 30:09
Oh, I could not agree more. And really our epidemic [of] obesity, diabetes—even women, endometriosis or PCOS—all of these things are in that bucket. High insulin, high estrogen, and high cortisol [too]. It's interesting. Just a little side note: I've had high cortisol most of my life until recently, but I would exercise pretty intensely—it took me a lot of years, you would think that as a doctor I was trained—but what I was realizing [was that] for many years I was pushing that cortisol even higher with my intense exercise. I really switched my regimen to much more walking, hiking, and a little bit of weight training. But I don't do the high intensity anymore at all, and it shifted everything for me, and that was because I was even making that cortisol worse. It was already high, and I was making it higher. So exercise is not just a one-size-fits-all. Not everybody should be doing high-intensity exercise if their cortisol is already high. Again, not that it's bad, you need to individualize it. But there's a big difference in people.
Dr. Jill 31:05
So for people who are listening, some of them either have experienced autoimmunity, maybe they have a new diagnosis, or someone they love [does]. That's often how we get into this; someone we care about gets sick and we want to help them. What words of wisdom or hope would you want to leave them with if they've either just been diagnosed or they're still suffering from a disease that's autoimmune-related?
Palmer Kippola 31:27
This is such a passion of mine is to transmit the certainty to people that you can heal. Hope is real. So many people have healed, which is why I didn't just write the book about my story. Somebody very wise said to me: “Tell other people's story. Share other people's [story] because this is ripples of health.” I shared your story in my book, which is so powerful, and Terry Wahls, Mark Hyman, Susan Blum, and all of these fantastic practitioners who have been conventional doctors. They didn't find functional medicine until they themselves needed it; they needed it.
Palmer Kippola 32:10
There is so much hope and so much evidence of so many people who have already beaten these autoimmune conditions—I'm not some spontaneous remission. This is what I hope to convey, that we have the science that shows us why it's possible to beat autoimmune; we've got epigenetics, we've got an autoimmune equation. We now have science that shows that our genetics are responsible for up to 10% of our health outcomes. Later cancer research shows that maybe only 5% is due to genetics; 95% is due to your lifestyle. So we've got the science and now with people like you doing this work each and every day and through books like mine and the practice that I have, people are healing. And this is how we spread ripples of health to show that this is possible; you can do it.
Dr. Jill 33:09
I love it! And thank you for sharing the work, not only in your book but in your eloquence and understanding. You have an understanding, you have an experience, you have a clientele, and you obviously work with a naturopath to make this team that's working with people with disease. But what I love is that you have the ability to really explain it well, and I think that's a gift. And I'm so glad that you do; I'm so glad that you share it. I'm so glad to have you here because it really is important because you can understand it or even experience it but not be able to share it with other people, and you obviously have that calling and gift. So thank you for using it so well, and I will be sure to do my best to get the word out. Where can people get your book? Where can they find you and learn more about you and the program?
Palmer Kippola 33:51
Beat Autoimmune—the book is available on Amazon in five languages and in different Amazons around the world. That's where to go for the book. I think it may still be on sale. People can find me on my website, which is palmerkippola.com. I am coming out with a self-paced course called “Beat Autoimmune Academy,” so the website [is] beatautoimmuneacademy.com. I just want to empower people that you can do this. You can get all the information that you need—do the work—really live into the purpose that you're talking about because I think when you have a purpose and a vision for your future and you use that as your motivation to pull you forward, there's nothing you can't do. So, no matter what, never, ever, ever give up.
Dr. Jill 34:41
Oh, I love it, love it, love it, Palmer! What great words. Thank you so much for your time today. I wanted to share one little thing. I recently read a new book by Jeffrey Rediger called Cured, and he's actually a Harvard psychiatrist who goes through the evidence for spontaneous healing, so it's very relevant. He [mentions] some autoimmune diseases [in the book]. But one of the commonalities—no surprise—was the thing you just left our listeners with, and that's purpose and meaning. He found there was diet, lifestyle—there were all these things these patients did and they were all varied—and not everybody changed their diet—but the one thing almost 100% had in common was a sense of purpose and meaning. So let's leave our listeners with that. And thank you so, so much for joining me today.
Palmer Kippola 35:24
It's such an honor. I love this. I'm on your team. Take great care!
Dr. Jill 35:27
Palmer Kippola 35:28
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The product mentioned in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is not intended to replace any recommendations or relationship with your physician. Please review references sited at end of article for scientific support of any claims made.