Could Your PCOS Medications “B” the Problem?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common conditions in reproductive-aged women. It is estimated that 8-13% of all reproductive-aged women have this condition and up to 70% of those women are undiagnosed. People with PCOS have cysts on their ovaries that cause hormonal symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Excessive hair growth
  • Infertility
  • Weight gain and weight loss resistance
  • Scalp hair loss/thinning
  • Oily skin/acne


Often we find that PCOS patients also have insulin resistance and/or type 2 diabetes. According to some studies, nearly 70% of women with PCOS also have insulin resistance. High levels of blood insulin increase androgen levels (male hormones such as testosterone). Excess androgens in females are mostly to blame for the undesirable effects of PCOS, including acne, weight gain, facial hair, and weight loss resistance. 

Inflammation increases the risk for PCOS. Insulin resistance is just one cause of systemic inflammation. Gut health, stress levels, and weight gain can all contribute to inflammation as well.

Current Treatments

Currently, health care providers recommend weight loss as a primary approach to PCOS relief. Fat cells cause inflammation, so this makes sense. However, as many people may already know, weight loss is not always as easy as it sounds! Insulin resistance can make losing weight through exercise feel impossible.

As far as medications, health care providers often prescribe combination birth control pills to adjust hormone levels, or metformin for insulin resistance. Neither of these approaches truly address the root cause of the insulin resistance and systemic inflammation.

The B Vitamin Cycle of Doom

Just like with most medications, the common prescriptions for PCOS have side effects. Both birth control pills and metformin are known to deplete B vitamins. Metformin specifically makes it more difficult for your body to absorb B12. Birth control pills, on the other hand, are known to cause nutritional deficiencies in folate, vitamins B2, B6, B12, vitamin C and E and the minerals magnesium, selenium and zinc.

Why are B vitamin deficiencies so concerning? B12, also known as cobalamin, is a vitamin that is essential for brain health and nervous system function. It is needed for the creation of red blood cells, which help distribute oxygen to the rest of our bodies (including our brains). It is no wonder, then, that low B12 levels have been linked to dementia.


In addition to taking medications that deplete them, many people with PCOS have a specific gene mutation that makes it even more difficult to create active B vitamins. MTHFR is a gene that helps our bodies convert folate to an activated version that we need in order to use B12 (5-MTHF). Birth control pills deplete folate, B6 and B12 levels, so if you also have the MTHFR mutation then your body will really struggle to activate and utilize B12.

Some studies have suggested that women with PCOS are more likely to have a mutation on the MTHFR gene. So, due to medication side effects and/or gene mutations, people with PCOS often suffer from B vitamin deficiency (hence their association with Major depression). 

What’s interesting is how much overlap there is between B vitamin deficiency symptoms and PCOS symptoms. It begs the question: Are PCOS symptoms made worse by B vitamin deficiency, caused by the very medications meant to bring the patient relief?

The Dr. Autoimmune Difference

Our office uses a functional medicine approach to identify and address the root cause of chronic conditions such as PCOS. Rather than using medications, we know how to help you provide your body with the tools it needs to correct imbalances naturally.

For example, our office uses continuous glucose monitoring technology to help our patients identify how certain foods affect their blood sugar. Our nutritionist works one on one with patients to develop plans that help their bodies regulate blood sugar levels more effectively. Once insulin resistance is under control, weight loss becomes much easier. Loss of excess fat= less inflammation= less PCOS symptoms.

The bottom line is that PCOS is not a life sentence- lifestyle changes such as exercise, supplementation, and diet change designed to address the root cause will provide relief. If you are ready to tackle your chronic condition and change your life naturally, click the “Start Your Journey” button at the bottom of this page.

ImmunoXym: The Best Way to Get the Benefits of Green Tea

Green tea has been used for centuries in Asia for its medicinal properties, and recent research has taught us that it may be an important tool for tackling autoimmunity. The extract from green tea has been shown to support T-regulatory cells, which help to suppress an overactive immune response and reduce inflammation. Sunphenon®, a decaffeinated and highly potent green tea extract, is a key ingredient in our proprietary supplement ImmunoXym that provides these benefits.

The Benefits

Green tea has been shown to have a number of health benefits thanks to its high polyphenol content. Polyphenols are antioxidants that help protect against oxidative stress and inflammation. Learn more about antioxidants, how they work, and another potent antioxidant in ImmunoXym here.

Green tea is also thermogenic, meaning it helps to boost metabolism and promote weight loss. In addition to all of this, green tea has been shown to protect against kidney damage, reduce risk of cancer, and control blood sugar levels. Simply put, green tea is a powerful tool for maintaining good health.

The Tea for T-Cells

According to research from Oregon State University, one of the beneficial compounds found in green tea has a powerful ability to increase the number of “regulatory T cells” that play a key role in immune function and suppression of autoimmune disease. Regulatory T cells (or “T-reg cells“) are a type of white blood cell that helps to keep the immune system in check, preventing it from overreacting and attacking healthy tissues. That’s why they are often referred to as the “police” of our immune system.

The major compound in green tea that they studied is a polyphenol called EGCG. In a study with mice, EGCG significantly increased the levels and activity of T-reg cells. The research was focused on potential treatments for lupus, but the findings have much broader implications for other autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. As stated by Mitzi Nagarkatti, an OSU professor and vice president for research:

“This is one of the most potent ways we’ve seen to increase the numbers and function of T-reg cells. These results are very exciting and could have broad implications for treatment of autoimmune disease.”

Medical College of Georgia researchers also say that green tea may help protect against autoimmune disease. Researchers studied an animal model for type 1 diabetes and Sjogren’s syndrome, which is an autoimmune condition that damages the glands that produce tears and saliva. The study found that green tea helped to reduce the production of inflammatory cytokines, which are molecules that play a role in the development of autoimmune disease by causing inflammation.

The Caffeine Drawback 

Clearly green tea has a lot of benefits, but it also contains caffeine. Caffeine interferes with cortisol levels– the “stress hormone.” Cortisol is a hormone that helps us to deal with stress. When our cortisol levels are too high, we can feel anxious and stressed out. Caffeine can interfere with the normal production of cortisol, which can lead to feeling more stressed. It can also cause other problems such as insomnia, headaches, and gastrointestinal upset.

Sunphenon® is a decaffeinated, highly potent green tea extract that is used in our proprietary supplement for autoimmune patients, ImmunoXym. Sunphenon® is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect cells from damage, and it has been shown to be effective in reducing the symptoms of autoimmune diseases by promoting T-reg cells.

ImmunoXym is a unique formula that is designed to support the body’s natural ability to stimulate these critical T-reg cells. Our supplement contains a blend of ingredients that are known to be effective in supporting immunity, and Sunphenon® is an important part of our formula. For the month of June, ImmunoXym will be 15% off in-office and 10% off online using code IAN10.

If you are ready to get to the root cause of your health issues and begin your healing journey, click the “Start Your Journey” button at the bottom of this page.

The Link Between Mental Health and Antibiotics

“The best wealth is health,” said the Roman poet Virgil. You may also have heard, “You can have all of the money in the world, but if you don’t have your health, you have nothing.” 

Our most recent health crisis has surely made these quotes true. Mental Health of America has shared some alarming statistics that include:

  • Nearly 50M or 19.68 % of American adults experienced mental illness in 2019.
  • 4.58% of adults report having serious thoughts of suicide. This has increased every year since 2011-2021.
  • 10.6% or over 2.5 million youth in the U.S. have severe major depression. 
  • 11.1% of Americans with a mental health issue are uninsured.
  • 8.1% of children had private health insurance that did not cover mental health services totaling almost 1 million children.

What are Anxiety and Depression?

They are two different conditions, but they commonly occur together. Having the blues occasionally is normal, and everyone experiences anxious feelings at times. These are a common response to a stressful situation. It’s when those feelings become severe or ongoing that you may want to get to the root cause of the trigger. If you or a loved one shows early signs of depression, seek out a practitioner who can help. 

1 in 4 people are affected by mental health illness at some point in their life. What and why are these staggering numbers increasing each year? 

Research suggests that the microbiome (a community of microorganisms including viruses and bacteria) in your intestines may be related to brain functioning. By this definition, if your gut bugs are out of balance, and/or your intestinal lining permeability is enough to “leak” toxins into your bloodstream—guess where that gunk goes? It travels via your veins, your organs, and straight to your brain. Think of an ice cream headache. News travels fast!

How are the Gut and Brain Connected?

Sometimes referred to as your second brain, the gut communicates with your brain both physically and chemically.

The graphic below shows how your gut health can affect your mental health, or visa versa.

Antibiotics ~Not~ to the Rescue

What happens when you have an infection of any kind and you go to your general practitioner? You have an ear infection from too many summer hours spent in the pool, you get chronic sinus or respiratory infections, strep throat, urinary tract infections, acne, and the list goes on. What do all of these infections have in common besides a weakened immune response? They all are prescribed a 10-day round of antibiotics. Exposure to broad-spectrum antibiotics prescribed for the treatment of infectious diseases is one of the most common environmental factors which can affect the microbiome (Mayer et al., 2014). 

It’s public knowledge that antibiotic resistance is a real thing. Compounded years of taking these flora destroying medications, along with other environmental factors can contribute to the leaky holes in our gut. In fact, more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the US each year. 

A study including 5,244 subjects, none with diagnosed or reported anxiety or depression suggests that particularly male children who received antibiotic treatment for an infectious disease, may be at increased risk for future anxiety or depression. The mechanisms behind this outcome due to the disruption of the microbial balance in the gut. More research is needed to determine which, if not both the chicken (the infection) or the egg (the antibiotics) came in first place as the trigger for anxiety and depression.

Inflammation and Depression

70% of our immune system is located in the gut. Maintaining the proper balance of diversity is important so we can fight off infections, possible chronic disease, and psychosocial stressors. Research shows us that those residing in urban areas exposure to inflammatory responses are greater than those who are hunter-gatherers (think Paleo) or have a diverse agricultural-based lifestyle. “You are what you eat” has never been truer.

Go with Your Gut

Probiotics are live bacteria that are similar to the ones that are already in our gut. You can find them in fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi. They’re also in supplements. Along with testing, probiotic treatments may provide potential support and preventative measures for depressive and anxiety disorders. Researchers think that probiotics might work by affecting the way the brain and the gut communicate. Not all pre and probiotics are made equal. Talk with Dr. Ian or your practitioner to see which one may be right for you.

If you suffer with anxiety or depression and have a history of antibiotic use, give us a call to schedule a new patient exam at Dr. Autoimmune. We now have remote care options, so wherever you are, you can still receive great care and achieve results.

Meet the Master Manipulator: Your Thyroid

Your thyroid is a gland located behind your Adam’s apple. Its job is to produce thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) which are the hormones that control your metabolism. This process of transforming the food you eat into energy can result in (T)erminator-like symptoms where you begin to feel inhuman. 

Think of the story of the tortoise and the hare. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid is under-producing these hormones and can lead to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Hyperthyroidism occurs when too many hormones are being produced and can lead to Graves’ disease. Balance is the key to keeping your body running well.

If you are a woman, you know how much our hormones can take over and drive us either straight and narrow, or straight into a truck depending on stress, menstruation, food or environmental triggers. Men are not immune from thyroid disorders. Women tend to have higher instances with thyroid disorders, generally after menopause. Regardless of gender, autoimmune-related thyroid conditions are on the rise. 

10 most common symptoms that your thyroid is under attack or needs support:

  1. Weight gain or loss

An early sign of thyroid irregularity is weight gain or loss. Since your thyroid can control your energy, it’s no wonder your weight can be affected. Rapid weight gain can be an indicator of low thyroid hormone function, while weight loss can be triggered by an overactive thyroid gland. 

  1. Fatigue

Just like weight gain, fatigue or excessive tiredness can be a sign of hypothyroidism or low thyroid function.

  1. Brain fog

Thyroid hormones are directly related to the health of your brain neurons. There are only two things that every single cell in the body has a receptor for: thyroid hormones and vitamin D. It’s no wonder that vitamin D status influences thyroid function and your immune system.

  1. Intolerance to heat or cold

Your circulation is affected if your thyroid is not functioning properly. This could present as feeling chilled or cold. If you notice that your hands and feet are particularly cold, this could be a symptom or sign of hypothyroidism. Alternatively, you might always run warm or experience hot flashes.

  1. Poor quality hair skin nail

A slow thyroid can cause dry skin, hair loss,and  brittle or ridged nails caused by follicle cycling. Sometimes slow and steady does not always win the race.

  1. Digestive problems

Leaky gut and gastrointestinal discomfort are most often connected to thyroid dysfunction. Constipation is caused by a sluggish metabolism (lower thyroid hormone), while loose stools could be a symptom or a hyperactive thyroid.

  1. Insomnia

When your hormones are out of whack, everything seems to follow suit. Whether your thyroid is over- or under-producing, you can have disrupted sleep from nervousness, be up with frequent urination, or experience night sweats.

  1. Anxiety/depression

Hormones are the major players in mood regulation. They influence the neurotransmitters which cause imbalances in serotonin and dopamine. Thyroid imbalances cause inflammation, and when the hormone production is interrupted, it can affect proper blood flow to the brain.

  1. Changes in your voice

An underactive thyroid can cause thickening of the vocal cords or swelling from the inflammatory changes.

  1. Hormonal fluctuations

Your thyroid can directly affect your sexual function. From irregular periods to difficulty with sexual performance or enjoyment, your thyroid dysfunction may be a contributor.

The Thyroid-Autoimmune Connection

Are you aware that more than 90% of thyroid conditions are autoimmune? Unfortunately, most conventional doctors do not have the education or information about this connection. This can be incredibly frustrating!  

What if you are taking thyroid medication but still experiencing these symptoms? Commonly, providers are not taught how to look at chemistry and physiology, but do prescribe medication for your symptoms. We at Dr. Autoimmune addresses the systems that run the symptoms, diagnose your particular imbalances with comprehensive blood chemistry, and create a customized care plan for you! 

If you suspect your thyroid is the culprit of any of these symptoms, Dr. Autoimmune can help. We test specifically for all 8 thyroid markers. We have worked with close to 3,000 thyroid clients and have an 85% success rate! Call us at 303-882-8447 or fill out the form below today to see if your thyroid needs support.

What is Sjögren’s Syndrome?

April is Sjögren’s awareness month, so we thought it would be a great time to shed some light on it. Sjögren’s (pronounced show-grens) syndrome is a common autoimmune condition where moisture-secreting glands are attacked. This usually happens first in the eyes and mouth, so dry eyes and mouth are the most common symptoms.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Dry nose, recurrent sinusitis, nosebleeds
  • Dry or peeling lips
  • Dry skin
  • Fatigue
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Inability to focus or ‘brain fog’
  • Respiratory issues like shortness of breath, dry cough, or recurrent bronchitis
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Memory loss
  • Dysautonomia 
  • Headaches (most commonly tension-type or migraines)
  • Mouth sores and dental problems
  • Swollen or painful salivary glands
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Acid reflux
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • IBS

Sjögren’s syndrome can develop at any age and in any sex, but it is most common in women (9 out of 10 patients are women) and people over 40. It is considered a widely underdiagnosed condition, with the Sjögren’s Foundation estimating that over 2.5 million patients are currently undiagnosed.

Sjögren’s can occur on its own, but it often shows up alongside other autoimmune conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, Raynaud’s phenomenon, fibromyalgia, pernicious anemia, and thyroid conditions such as Hashimoto’s and Graves’. This useful graphic below (by the Sjögren’s Foundation) uses percentages to show the overlap of each of these conditions with Sjögren’s.

How Does Sjögren’s Start?

Like all autoimmune conditions, Sjögren’s requires 3 things to develop:

  1. A genetic predisposition
  2. Leaky gut (intestinal permeability)
  3. Environmental trigger

The genes associated with Sjögren’s aren’t known yet, but we can’t control those anyway. What we can have some control over, though, is whether those genes are expressed. Our genes basically can be turned on and off with the right environmental factors. This is why gut health and removing triggers are more important than our genes.

In functional medicine, we use diet change and supplementation to heal the gut while working with you to find out possible triggers in your life. Common triggers include stress, viral or bacterial infections, and mold or toxin exposure.

Dry Eyes

One of the first things to occur in Sjögren’s is the glands that produce tears, the lacrimal glands, are attacked by the immune system. You might think that we only produce tears when we cry, but our lacrimal glands are actually always working to keep our eyes moistened.

Have you ever wondered why we blink? Our eyelids keep moisture trapped beneath, so when the part of our eye that is exposed to air starts to dry out, blinking spreads a new film of moisture over them. This method only works, however, when our lacrimal glands are producing moisture.

Dry eyes can lead to burning, itching, a feeling like sand is in the eyes, blurred vision, and difficulty tolerating bright lights. Think back to the last time you were challenged to a “blinking contest”. After some time of forcing your eyes to remain open, your vision starts to become affected and you start to feel a burning sensation. This is what chronic dry eyes associated with Sjögren’s syndrome can feel like.

Dry Mouth

One of the 2 most prominent symptoms, dry mouth is uncomfortable and can lead to dental problems. Along with the lacrimal glands, the salivary glands are the first to be affected. Salivary glands produce saliva, which keeps our mouths and gums moist and also helps with digesting food.

People with Sjögren’s are more likely to develop cavities and gum disease due to lack of moisture, so recommendations include stimulating saliva production with sugar-free (xylitol or maltitol if sugar alcohols are tolerated) lozenges and brushing teeth after every meal. These types of recommendations are only good for managing symptoms without actually addressing the root cause.

What Can You Do?

At Dr. Autoimmune, we are experts at getting to the root cause of your condition and working with you to develop a personalized plan to reach your health goals. Most of our clients notice huge changes within only 30 days. Fill out the form below to get started on your health journey!

Long COVID Doesn’t Need to be Exhausting

Are you ready to overhaul your COVID symptoms? Finding relief at the end of a very long, arduous fight can be resolved with proper diagnostics and support. Getting to the root cause of your aches and pains is just what Dr. Autoimmune ordered. 

What is long COVID?  

Current research is conflicting, but it appears continuing symptoms could persist 1-3 months after infection, or even longer. The virus can trigger inflammation in various systems in your body, creating one or more symptoms.

If you have tested positive, or know you were exposed and have new or persisting symptoms from the the list below, your inflammation could be getting the better of you. Unfortunately these symptoms are so common that one research article indicated 52% of 16-30 year olds had symptoms at 6 months post-infection. These are some of the symptoms associated with long COVID:


  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • ‘Brain fog’
  • Anxiety/depression
  • Memory impairments
  • Pain syndromes

Lung / Pulmonary:

  • Reduced lung capacity
  • Wheezing / gasping / unable to get full breath
  • Chest pain / tightness


  • Palpitations
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Clotting abnormalities


  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Constipation
  • IBS


  • Elevated insulin
  • Fatigue after meals
  • Shaky, lightheaded or ‘hangry’

Why me?

Long COVID thrives on immune system weaknesses! There are multiple reasons why some experience long symptoms, while others are unscathed. Contributing factors may include age, obesity, inflammatory markers, and insulin resistance (IR). IR is when your cells resist insulin and can no longer use glucose for energy. This can cause sugar cravings after meals, weight loss resistance, and fatigue. 

One of the common symptoms of long COVID, loss of smell and taste, may indicate that the brain is resistant to insulin and therefore not getting enough fuel. Insulin resistance can lead to neurodegeneration (conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimers). Correcting insulin imbalances often lessen or eradicate symptoms.

How do we control insulin resistance?  

Functional medicine might be the answer to your blood sugar handling issues. Assessing inflammation in the body is the first step for determining if your problem is systemic and what the root cause may be. Commonly, the culprit is in your gut. Imbalances in your microbiome have a profound effect on all of your bodily systems. Hormone imbalances can have a similar impact. Could cortisol and stress dysregulation be causing sleep disturbances, leading to insulin resistance? A resounding yes!  

Dr. Autoimmune can help!

We have seen a dramatic increase of long COVID cases hauling their way through our practice. For many, autoimmunity was triggered or exasperated by the virus. Our proprietary process of diet, supplementation, lifestyle strategies and therapies can change your life. We have even seen cases that are now two years old improve or remiss!  

Call us today and find out how our New Patient Exam process can help your health soar.

Why You Still Have Thyroid Symptoms

Are you on the medical not-so-merry-go-round? Many people with thyroid problems aren’t even aware they are connected to the thyroid. Most medical doctors only test for 1-3 out of the 10 markers required to get a complete picture of the thyroid. They may be sending you away with a “clean bill of health” even though you know there is something wrong. Or maybe you have been diagnosed with a thyroid condition such as Graves’ disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, but you are still experiencing symptoms despite your medication.

Do these symptoms seem familiar to you?

  • Brain fog
  • Anxiety/depression
  • Insomnia
  • Weight loss resistance
  • Fatigue
  • Cold intolerance
  • Constipation
  • Hair loss

Find out from Dr. Ian himself why you are still experiencing these symptoms, even if you are on a thyroid medication:

How Does Autoimmunity Start?

There is a phrase in functional medicine by Mehmet Oz: “Your genetics load the gut; your lifestyle pulls the trigger.” Specifically, genetic risk for autoimmunity sets the stage, but our environment (lifestyle, diet, and mindset) can trigger a happy or tragic ending.

There is much we can do to influence our genetics and health through our actions and behaviors. Many individuals not only improve their quality of life but sometimes even reduce their autoimmune lab markers and go into remission! So how does autoimmunity start in the first place? It takes a triad of factors: genetic predisposition, intestinal permeability (leaky gut), and environmental triggers.

Genetic Predisposition

Most people think of their genetics as a life sentence or a predetermined future. However, the emerging field of epigenetics has shown that environmental factors have a huge influence on which genes are actually expressed. In other words, just because you may have genes related to autoimmunity does not automatically mean that those genes will do anything harmful to you (you are NOT chained to your family’s destiny). Genetic predisposition is only one of the factors contributing to disease. Research shows there are common genetic factors that set the stage for autoimmunity, yet findings show that glutathione production and redox capabilities (the body’s ability to get rid of free radicals by reducing oxidative stress) dramatically influence autoimmune gene expression.

Single nucleotide polymorphisms, frequently called SNPs (pronounced “snips”), are the most common type of genetic variation among people. Each SNP represents a difference in a single DNA building block, called a nucleotide. Types of SNPs such as MTHFR, GST, and COMT can affect glutathione production and oxidative stress management systems. Individuals with these types of genetic variations require more support through epigenetics (modifying diet, preterm environment, chemical/drug exposure, stress, long term supplementation, etc.).

An SNP within a gene can lead to further genetic variations because genes are in charge of coding DNA. But some SNPs can occur in non-coding sections of DNA. So, even though genetic variances are correlated with diseases like Celiac, they may not have been the cause of the disease. In fact, the bulk of genetic research shows that DNA methylation (the process of changing the activity of a DNA segment) has been found to contribute most to immune tolerance breakdown and autoreactivity (the loss of self V. non-self and therefore autoimmune disease).

Fortunately, many nutrition and lifestyle strategies can limit the impact of these genetic variations and SNP’s!

Intestinal Permeability AKA “Leaky Gut”

The intestines span a single-cell wall that protects your body from the external world. This wall is protected by a mucous membrane called secretory IgA, which is influenced by the environment of bacteria in the intestinal tract known as the microbiome. The cell wall has many functions, mainly providing a barrier between the intestinal tract and the body cavity. Between each cell in the intestinal wall are tight junctions which are meant to be just that: TIGHT! Research is now finding that tight junction failures are associated with a host of conditions, from chronic inflammation, cancer, and autoimmune diseases to allergies and heart disease.

Tight junctions fail due to:

  • Toxins
  • Infection
  • Free radicals (ROS)
  • Inflammation Stress (blood sugar issues)
  • Hormone Imbalances (pregnancy, menopause)
  • Microbial imbalance (Dysbiosis)
  • Diet (food allergies, poor digestion)
  • Drugs (NSAID’s etc.)
  • Early exposure to gluten and casein
  • Chronic cortisol
  • Autoimmunity
  • Zonulin
  • Not breastfed or breastfed from a mother with intestinal permeability

After the tight junctions fail, something called molecular mimicry occurs. This is where food, viruses, and bacteria enter the bloodstream through the intestinal cell wall. Essentially, your gut leaks. Your body then starts making antibodies to these foreign invaders. Antibodies are usually antigen-specific, but they can easily bind to something that they perceive as dangerous even if it isn’t because of similar molecular structures. To put it simply, your antibodies can get confused and start to see your own tissue as foreign bacteria, viruses, or food. Molecular mimicry is found in research between the foods gluten & casein and the thyroid; or also between bacteria, viruses, and self tissue. This is how autoimmunity begins. The self (auto-) is attacked by the immune system (-immunity).


The most influential environment for autoimmunity is preterm and during pregnancy. However, you can still do a lot to reduce environmental triggers of autoimmune disease for the rest of your life. Many of the triggers for autoimmune diseases have been studied and infections, vaccines, and other toxins are considered important implications in autoimmune disease. For example, the infection Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) is associated with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), Rheumatoid Arthritis, Graves (hyperthyroid), and Hashimotos (90% of the issue behind hypothyroidism).

Nutrient depletion and dietary environmental triggers also trigger autoimmunity. For example, Vitamin D deficiency affects the genetic production of vitamin B’s and T-regulatory cells, which are both associated with autoimmunity prevention. Zinc deficiency contributes to a leaky gut and alters the microbiome. Research shows taking zinc can tighten the junctions between cells in the gut. In addition to nutritional factors, other environmental triggers of autoimmunity can include sleep disturbances and stress. Melatonin production from adequate sleep can improve inflammatory diseases like Multiple Sclerosis.

Toxin and chemical exposure in our air, clothing, furniture, water, food, and other products contributes to autoimmunity. The verdict is out on many major toxins already in use in our society: such as flame retardants, pesticides/herbicides, air fresheners, hair dyes, cleaning supplies, wood stains and oils, laundry detergents, home insulation, art supplies, carpet, smoking, air pollution, mercury fillings, and most plastics. Thankfully, we can vote with our dollars and choose to change the environment we live in by purchasing EWG.org-approved low-toxin products and reducing our exposure.

Key Learnings

  1. Autoimmunity starts with the trifecta overlap of leaky gut, genetic predisposition, and environmental triggers.
  2. Despite the genetic influences in your body, your environment is what contributes most to the expression of autoimmune diseases.
  3. You can change your diet, improve your sleep, reduce your stress, and toxin load. Each behavior change improves leaky-gut and reduces your environmental triggers.
  4. Oftentimes making epigenetic changes can influence the genetic expression of the autoimmune disease and can halt or even reverse the autoimmune diagnosis.

Trust us, this is overwhelming at first but when you start to break down your unique contribution towards disease or optimal health it becomes incredibly empowering!  Chronic disease is a lifestyle, not destiny.  You have the choice in this journey to accept your fate or take charge and find a functional medicine practitioner who can guide you through this individualized process.  Trust your gut, find that person who can lead you to a new level of health, and let your health soar!

Yours in Health,
Dr. Ian Hollaman, DC, MSc, IFMCP


ADHD (otherwise known as attention deficit disorder) is a non-discriminatory disorder affecting people of every age, gender, IQ, religious and socio-economic background.(1) If you have children who you suspect have atypical neuro behavior, there’s a large chance they inherited from you (most commonly the mother). ADHD, AD/HD, and ADD all refer to the same disorder. The only difference is that some people have hyperactivity and some people don’t. (1)

ADHD affects anywhere between 3-6% of the adult population, and is one of the top psychiatric illnesses noted to cause interference with daily activities and overall functioning. This disease can be noticed as early as the age of 7 in children, and up to 70% of these kids can have continuing problems as they get older. (2) Think about your own childhood struggles, and see if you can find patterns and behaviors that affected your progress or success.

“As I became older, my adult ADD continued to have a severely negative impact on my ability to focus, complete tasks, and even stay engaged during conversations.”

-Neil S.

If ADHD isn’t addressed early in life, issues such as drug problems, dropping out of school, issues with jobs/careers, and even time in prison could be potential outcomes for adults living with this condition. However, it can be tricky to diagnose this disease, since half of people that have ADHD also have another similar corresponding mental illness, such as anxiety or mood disorders, which can make it difficult to narrow down the ADHD diagnosis. (2)

Some of the symptoms and behaviors that typically appear with ADHD are:

  • Impulsiveness
  • Sensory dysfunction
  • Restlessness, inability to sit still for any length of time
  • Anxiety/depression
  • Unreliable mood swings
  • Unable to concentrate fully at given tasks or conversations
  • Easily distracted
  • Makes careless mistakes or lacks attention to detail
  • Avoids tasks that require sustained mental effort
  • Hyperfocus
  • Blurts out answers or excessive talking
  • Hot temper/quick fuse
  • Very impatient
  • Issues with self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Gets bored easily
  • Sleep restlessness, active mind

Currently, there are several ways that management of ADHD can be made possible, but this will be on a case by case basis. Some of the more natural management patterns include self-esteem enhancement activities, proper structure of daily living, and goal setting, especially for those who don’t notice a huge disruption in day to day activities or interruption from family/career/etc. However, there is another path of symptom management that many choose, and that is medication. (2)

“I was done with taking prescription medications like Adderall and the numerous bad side effects that came with them.”

– Neil S.

Unfortunately, the side effects of the medications on the market today to help with ADHD can have some adverse reactions; one popular medication, known as Ritalin, can lead to headaches, appetite loss, issues with sleeping, and anxiety/nervousness, just to name a few. (3) This is just one of the many stimulants available to patients suffering with ADHD, although antidepressants are utilized as well. Both of these options alter substances within the brain, and can have differing side effects for each person.

In particular, research has been done on those patients that have been using stimulants like Ritalin for extended periods of time, in order to note long term usage effects. Over time, studies have shown that taking this type of medication consistently can decrease the occurrence of depression as the patient ages; however, an updated study performed over the course of twelve years (and observing over 6500 children) noted that constant use of these stimulant drugs can cause a correspondingly large increase in the use of antidepressants during puberty. (4)

Research for this particular study began with children ranging from six to eight years old, who were prescribed a stimulant like Ritalin in order to manage symptoms from ADHD. These children – and their corresponding medicine intake over the years – were recorded until they reached twelve years of age. After this span of time, researchers noted that children who consistently took their medication had a higher chance of using antidepressants during puberty. (4)

Because of this information, and the increase in use of antidepressants with age, it’s important to be aware of behavioral and emotional issues that might arise during this fragile period of time. Which leads us to the question – is there a better way to manage ADHD and its symptoms, without the use of medications? Yes there is!

Neurofeedback is one of the many areas that have been delved into in regards to being effective at managing symptoms of ADHD. This process works by acquiring information about a patient’s brain waves, which are then in turn calculated and rendered back to the patient…. essentially making it so that the patient can see their brain activity in real time. This type of feedback then allows the patient to modulate their brain activity, and correspondingly change behaviors and emotions. (5) Research has shown that this type of neurofeedback can be helpful in decreasing hyperactivity and improving short attention spans, as well as reducing impulsive actions that are often seen with ADHD. In essence, neurofeedback accesses the subconscious, “reconnecting” pathways in the brain that can create ease in areas that individuals with ADHD struggle with. Combined with awareness and conscious efforts, improvements can build upon themselves if similar or new trauma is not introduced.

Another area of natural management that is interesting to see progress in is gut health and its correlation to ADHD. We know that having a healthy gut microbiome not only improves the immune system, but also many other aspects of health. The connection between the gut and brain is irrefutable in the medical literature and those suffering from ADHD have a significantly altered microbiome. Foods that help to build up the healthy microbiome within the gut can be noted to improve symptoms of ADHD, which makes sense, since the health and wellness of the brain and corresponding moods and emotions are based directly off reactions from the health of the gut. (6)

“By avoiding certain foods I learned I was sensitive to via a food sensitivity test, I was able to generate more focus, virtually eliminate brain fog, and keep my energy levels up throughout the day.”

– Neil S.

One study in particular noted that a protein called zonulin, which is found within the intestinal tract, increases when the permeability of the gut isn’t working the way that it should, AKA “leaky gut”. Because of this increase in zonulin, children have been noted to have increased symptoms of ADHD, as well as issues with functioning properly around peers. (7) This again points us in the direction of having a healthy gut in order to help manage symptoms that affect the brain!

Although there is much research left to do, it’s interesting to note that even though there are pharmaceutical interventions that are used to help manage ADHD, there are also natural solutions out there as well – and ones that have fewer negative side effects than medications. If you have questions or would like to speak more in depth about the relationship between gut health and brain waves, please speak with your local functional medicine doctor in Boulder.

  1. National Institute of Mental Health: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/
  2. Kates N. (2005). Attention deficit disorder in adults. Management in primary care. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien, 51(1), 53–59.
  3. WebMD: Ritalin.
  4. Bar-Ilan University. (2019, March 27). Childhood methylphenidate treatment predicts antidepressant use during adolescence.
  5. Enriquez-Geppert, S., Smit, D., Pimenta, M. G., & Arns, M. (2019). Neurofeedback as a Treatment Intervention in ADHD: Current Evidence and Practice.Current psychiatry reports, 21(6), 46. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-019-1021-4
  6. Harrell, M. (2016). Gut health and healthy brain function in children with ADHD and ASD. Counseling Today.
  7. Özyurt, G., Öztürk, Y., Appak, Y. Ç., Arslan, F. D., Baran, M., Karakoyun, İ., Tufan, A. E., & Pekcanlar, A. A. (2018). Increased zonulin is associated with hyperactivity and social dysfunctions in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Comprehensive psychiatry, 87, 138–142. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.comppsych.2018.10.006


I came in specifically for treatment for an ongoing battle with adult ADD. Since I was a child, my ADD had hindered me from being in the here and now and staying focused on one thing at a time.  As I became older, my adult ADD continued to have a severely negative impact on my ability to focus, complete tasks, and even stay engaged during conversations. I was done with taking prescription medications like Adderall and the numerous bad side effects that came with them. I was initially drawn to Dr. Autoimmune for their neurofeedback treatment, however, after becoming educated on the close relationship between the brain and the gut, I decided to take it an extra step and go through a complete gut microbiome reset.  It turned out, I was not only suffering from ADD, but also “leaky gut”. Dr. Ian and his staff educated me on how the gut is responsible for creating the majority of the neurotransmitters your brain depends upon in order to function at it’s highest level. I was put on a strict detox diet for about 45 days, then slowly began to reintroduce certain foods back into my diet. By avoiding certain foods I learned I was sensitive to via a food sensitivity test, I was able to generate more focus, virtually eliminate brain fog, and keep my energy levels up throughout the day. The diet coupled with the neurofeedback has been amazing.  I began to notice a difference in the way I thought in a couple of months after treatment began.  I was calmer, more aware, and above all, focused. Let me just say, you will not see results overnight.  You MUST do your part and eat well and avoid the foods determined by your diet protocol.  Getting adequate sleep is also key.  BUT, if you stick with the program, and do as Dr Ian and his staff recommend, you WILL begin to notice significant results in the weeks and months that follow treatment. This is an ongoing journey, and I’m grateful I chose Dr. Autoimmune to lead the way

-Neil S.

Anxiety, Depression, Relief! – FREE Webinar & Brain Balancing Handout

We understand the pain involved with living with Anxiety and/or Depression and have successfully taken on the root causes of these conditions and provided relief for hundreds of Colorado residents.

If you’re struggling with one or both of these conditions please take the time to watch the latest webinar covering Dr. Autoimmune’s Functional Medicine approach to taking on Anxiety and/or Depression featuring Dr. Ian Hollaman, DC, MSc, IFMCP.

Scroll down for both patient testimonies AND learn more about one of the possible causes of Anxiety/Depression with “The way to heal the mind is to heal the whole body” by Dr. Ian Hollaman DC.

Register below and you will automatically be taken to our Anxiety/Depression webinar hosted by Dr. Ian Hollaman, DC, MSc, IFMCP.

This is a NO COST, NO OBLIGATION, FREE WEBINAR! Participants will also be sent our Balance Your Brain: Overcome Anxiety and/or Depression handout and the webinar link incase you missed something. Anyone who watches Dr. Ian’s webinar will also be invited to enjoy exclusive, New Patient pricing.
We appreciate your time and looking forward to letting your health soar!

The way to heal the mind is to heal the whole body – by Dr. Ian Hollaman DC, MSc, IFMCP

“I feel like this depression is a never ending story. Will I ever get better and feel good, happy and healthy again? I can’t take this anymore. It keeps pulling me down into the blackness and I wish with all my heart I could take it away. I’m tired, so tired of this constant battle. I want to feel like me again. I used to be so happy. I used to sleep through the night and feel energetic all day. I didn’t use to live with all this pain”.
Do you feel depressed? You are not alone!
What if you could  . . .

  • address the actual cause of your depression or anxiety Safely and Effectively?
  • Take control of your life?
  • Transform your body, your brain, and your experience with an Effective, Integrative, Functional medicine approach to Healing?

It’s hard to face illness, pain, and fear. But it IS possible to move through it and transform yourself.
It takes courage and commitment as well as powerful knowledge, support, and tools from an expert.
Depression isn’t the root disease itself. It’s the outward expression of imbalance in the body, the symptom. It’s the body alerting you to the fact that something is wrong.

Depression is not simple, there are many complex factors involved.

Both anxiety and depression, along with other mood and neuropsychiatric disorders, such anxiety, sleep disorders, eating disorders, or bipolar disorder generally result from a complex interplay of factors. These may include a combination of nutritional, physical, environmental, social and emotional factors, affecting your genetic tendencies and brain biochemistry (meaning that your neurotransmitters, or the chemical messengers within your brain, can be affected by these key components of well-being). You can think of anxiety and depression as disruptions in brain health.

Gut health – heal your gut to heal your mind.

The brain-gut connection.

Did you know we have a second brain? The second one, called our enteric nervous system, consists of some 100 million neurons that are embedded in the walls of our gut. There are incredibly intricate interconnections between the brain and the gut and the vagus nerve (the nerve responsible for a lot of your thinking and brain function) connected from the top of your stomach, all the way up to your brain.
The “brain-gut” connection is essentially what it sounds like: Your gut and brain are directly linked.
As important as the neurons in the gut is the kind of bacteria and other microbes collectively known as our microbiome.  They do many important things like break down our food, fight off infection, and boost our immune system and also play a very important role in our mental health. In addition, about 95% of your serotonin (“feel good” brain chemical) is produced in your gastrointestinal tract.
When your gut is unhappy, stressed, inflamed…your brain is unhappy or stressed.
Inflammation in your gut sends signals to your brain, causing similar responses such as inflammation, stress, anxiety, depression and a host of other mental health issues.

“By improving the microbiome we can actually see positive changes in mood, cognitive function, and executive function,”

A stronger microbiome means less inflammation, which means reduced risk of inflammatory brain diseases and disorders like Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

“Leaky gut” is linked to mental health disorders.

Our gut takes a hit over time when we eat processed foods, eat foods we are allergic to, get overloaded with environmental toxins, medications, and antibiotics.  This leads to a wear and tear on our gut linings, which then leads to a “leaky gut”

Leading to digestive issues (from constipation, gas and bloating to allergies, brain fog, and skin breakouts)…
Which then leads to inflammation in the body (as food particles leak into our bloodstream—outside the digestive tract). Our body sees food in the bloodstream as “outside invaders” and ends up attacking itself (causing an inflammatory response, which impacts our whole body—brain included).

This constant state of stress causes chronic inflammation; the body reacts to the stress as a type of infection and tries to overcome it. Because inflammation is at the root of many diseases, this exposure to prolonged stress can have serious consequences for your health, ranging from high blood pressure to autoimmune disorders to chronic depression and mental health disorders.

Neurofeedback – balancing brain wave energy

Traditionally, depression has been treated with therapy and medication, both of which have limitations, and medications can have significant side effects.

Even with medication, countless depression sufferers continue to struggle. Medications don’t teach the brain how to get out of the unhealthy brain pattern of depression.

Depression is neurological, not psychological.

The left frontal area of the brain is associated with positive emotions and motivation and a desire to be involved with other people. The right frontal area of the brain is more associated with worry, depression, and fear, accompanied by the motivation to withdraw from and avoid other people and different environments. When there is more slow brainwave activity in the left frontal area, this part of the brain is more inactive and the right frontal area is more dominant. Such a person is predisposed to become depressed more easily, to withdraw from other people, and to be anxious.

Neurofeedback training works on the root of the problem, altering the brain patterns affiliated with depression. Neurofeedback can restore healthy brain wave patterns and bring lasting brain changes. It is non-invasive and produces no undesirable side effects making neurofeedback a powerful tool.

We first measure brain function with a quantitative EEG brain map, so that you can see the reason in your brain for your mood problems. The QEEG will show areas of the brain where there is too little or too much activity.

Hundreds of studies have been done investigating EEG activity and many important areas of our daily life functioning, including our attention, mood, anxiety, social functioning, and learning and thinking skills. EEG can be used to identify the basis in the brain for attention deficits and the distinct EEG patterns that have been identified for depression.

Once we determine the source of the problem, we target that area for change through neurofeedback brain training. This allows you to reshape your brain, not just mask your symptoms.
Neurofeedback training will stabilize your depressed mood and other symptoms which keep you depressed like insomnia and anxiety.

Those with depression often notice improvement after only a few sessions, but for the brain to fully learn to make healthier patterns consistently, a number of brain training sessions are required. With sufficient practice, the brain learns to make these healthy patterns on its own and regulate mood independently.

Neurofeedback can help depression sufferers get their lives back. Your brain changes when you are depressed and neurofeedback can help it relearn healthier patterns, giving those who suffer from depression a way out of their suffering.

Neurofeedback is able to make a change to the source of depression symptoms within the brain and central nervous system.

Neurofeedback training for Depression is very promising because it can not only relieve the symptoms of Depression but can also modify the brain’s biological predisposition for becoming depressed by reversing the frontal brain wave asymmetry that predisposes you to depression and help you regain control of your life.
This complex venture is designed to help support your health and healing so you can feel better, energized and invigorated, calmer, and at peace.

Capable, experienced guidance makes all the difference in helping you reach a place of health and happiness faster, with superior and lasting results.

Because every person has a unique set of challenges, at Dr. Autoimmune we support you with a creative and effective individualized approach. Dr. Ian Hollaman has developed a unique, effective, non-drug approach to helping people with depression and anxiety. His program incorporates Functional Medicine, Functional Neurology, Nutrition, Brain Mapping, Neurofeedback and customized Chiropractic care.

Our role at Dr. Autoimmune is to provide support, knowledge, tools, and strategies that directly address the root cause of all your mental and physical challenges in order to enhance and encourage a positive transformation. We can get to the root cause of your depression by using a Comprehensive Functional Medicine Approach.
This and more is possible!

Depression/Anxiety Symptoms checklist

• Prolonged sadness, feeling overwhelmed/hopeless,
• Loss of interest in activities, social interaction, pleasure
• Irritability, easily frustrated, angered, quick to tears
• Changes in sleep – insomnia, racing thoughts keeping you awake
• Weight gain or weight loss, loss of appetite, emotional overeating
• Digestive problems – nausea, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting
• Brain fog – Trouble thinking, concentrating and making decisions
• Unexplained aches and pains, headaches, rashes
• Chronic fatigue, lack of energy
• Excessive guilt and feeling worthless, ruminating thoughts