AIP Hashimoto’s Medical Study Results!

Just like we were with the last AIP medical study, we are once again absolutely beside ourselves at Autoimmune Wellness. About 10 months after starting to hatch our research plans, the results of the second-ever medical study of the Autoimmune Protocol are out, published by the journal, Cureus, and available for everyone to read for free! If you’d like to read the full article now, you can find it here. (It’s best read on a desktop vs. your phone.)

How Did We Get Involved in Another Medical Study?

Well, basically, you, our Autoimmune Wellness community, told us you want more research and you’re willing to help fund it. We started a conversation about that opportunity with our resident Medical Advisor, Rob Abbott, M.D., and hatched a plan to conduct a study on the use of AIP for those with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, the most common autoimmune disease in our community. He also believed this was a worthwhile investigation, so with your help we raised $12,000, partnered with the generous folks at Genova Diagnostics, and began recruitment. In the end of August, 2018 we began the study using Angie’s SAD to AIP in SIX online health coaching program. Read on for Dr. Abbott’s clinical summary!

Clinical Summary

What was studied?

We studied the effects of AIP as part of Angie’s SAD to AIP in SIX health coaching and lifestyle program for middle aged women with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (HT). We wanted to specifically see if AIP and Angie’s program could to improve quality of life, symptom burden, thyroid function and inflammatory and autoimmune markers associated with HT.  We hypothesized that a dietary and lifestyle approach in conjunction with multi-disciplinary functional medicine care would improve quality of life, decrease symptom burden, improve thyroid function and decrease inflammatory and autoimmune markers of HT.

Who was studied?

17 women between the ages of 20-45 with a diagnosis of HT. 14 of the 17 women were taking thyroid replacement medications before the study. 3 women had elevated thyroid antibodies (TPO and anti-thyroglobulin antibodies), but were not on replacement medication. The women were either normal weight or overweight (BMI <29.9).  The women had no other active autoimmune conditions or chronic organ disease, such as kidney disease.

What was measured?

We measured quality of life and symptom burden using specialized questionnaires before and after the 10-week program. We took blood samples including thyroid function and antibodies, as well as inflammatory markers (hs-CRP) before and after the 10-week study. Participants also provided food journals throughout the study. Participants also completed organic acid nutritional tests and comprehensive stool analysis with testing kits generously donated by Genova Diagnostics Laboratory.

What were the results?

  1. 16 of the 17 women finished the study. 1 woman got pregnant (her goal!) and could not finish the study.
  2. All 8 subscales of the SF-36 Quality of Life questionnaire improved dramatically over the 10-week program. The biggest improvements were seen in physical functioning, energy, mental health and even bodily pain!
  3. Symptom burden decreased dramatically over the 10-week study with major improvements seen in energy, joint and muscle pain, digestive symptoms such as constipation/diarrhea, and bloating as well as improvements in mood and cognition. Many individuals reported improvement in skin conditions such as eczema, acne, hives and dry skin.
  4. Many of the individuals reported improvements in sleep and ability to exercise/increase movement. Many began formal meditation and stress reduction practices.
  5. Inflammation as measured by the marker hs-CRP decreased by 30% over the 10-week study! There was also a notable decrease in white blood cells, which likely indicated improvements and balance to the immune response.
  6. 6 out of the 13 women on thyroid medication decreased their medication by the end of the 10-week program. The 3 women who began the study without the use of hormone replacement continued without the use of medication at the end of the study.
  7. Many individuals saw improvements in nutritional status as measured by markers on the organic acid test. This included improvements in vitamins such as B6, B12, and riboflavin.
  8. There was some indication that certain individuals needed to consume more folate as part of the elimination phase of AIP. We believe this emphasizes the importance and need to consume organ meat beyond leafy greens and other sources of folate during the elimination phase of AIP, when certain folate dense food sources are removed.
  9. There were no changes in thyroid hormone or thyroid antibody markers when evaluated across the group, however, some individuals saw decreases in TSH values that necessitated the use of less medication and some individuals did see decreases in thyroid antibodies over the 10-week study.
  10. An online community, involving both functional health coaches and a functional physician, as well as the gradual nature of the AIP eliminations improved collective adherence to the strict AIP diet dramatically.

To learn in-depth about the study methods, measures, analysis, results, and read individual case studies, you can access the full article here. (It’s best read on a desktop vs. your phone.)

What does this mean?

Our study suggests that an online diet and lifestyle program facilitated by a multi-disciplinary team can significantly improve health related quality of life and symptom burden in middle-aged female subjects with HT. While there were no statistically significant changes noted in thyroid function or thyroid antibodies, the study’s findings suggest that AIP may decrease systemic inflammation and modulate the immune system as evidenced by a decrease in mean hs-CRP and changes in white blood cell (WBC) counts. Given the improvements seen in quality of life and participants’ symptom burden as well as markers of immune activity and inflammation, further studies in larger populations implementing AIP as part of a multi-disciplinary diet and lifestyle program are warranted. You can help ensure further research by sharing and rating the published study. Find it here.

And for those of you wondering, yes, there will another AIP study this year. In fact, it’s right around the corner so stay tuned!

About Rob Abbott, M.D.

Rob Abbott, M.D. is Autoimmune Wellness's resident Medical Advisor. He is medical director and the functional physician for Resilient Roots: Functional and Evolutionary Medicine in Charlottesville, Virginia. He completed his family medicine internship with VCU-Shenandoah Valley in Winchester Virginia and is a graduate of the University of Virginia (U.Va.) School of Medicine where he served as a student ambassador for the U.Va. School of Nursing’s Compassionate Care Initiative, promoting resilience, compassion and self-care. He has completed additional training with the Institute for Functional Medicine, is a Kresser Institute ADAPT Level 1 trained clinician, and is an AIP Certified Coach. Rob approaches medicine from an evolutionary and functional perspective and practices what he calls “spiritually focused and evolutionarily informed functional medicine.” In his free time, Rob enjoys creative expression through writing, sharing blogs, poetry and podcasts through his website amedicinalmind.com.

34 comments

  • I am so excited and encouraged by this! Thank you Autoimmune Wellness Team and Dr. Abbott for leading the way!

  • Gail says

    Congrats everyone! The medical community will take notice and begin to catch up. Keep running.

  • Jen says

    I am not surprised at all! With a relatively quick diagnosis of Relapsing Polychondritis in March, I immediately researched and then dived in to the nutrition, movement and rest aspects of the AIP cold turkey (still needing to implement changes to my bedroom for sleep and collective toxin exposure). I’ve been strictly adhering for 5 weeks, and s few of the notable improvements include disappearance of joint pain (in fact, a boney growth in my most painful joint went away!), my mental clarity was restored (the week before I started I couldn’t remember what year we were in, nor could I remember the name of my daughter’s teacher), my menstrual cycle was normal for the first time in 5 years, and the intensity of episodic ear pain/inflammation has decreased profoundly. I’m looking forward to continuing the AIP journey and moving toward incorporating all aspects of AIP into our lives. I do wish I could read about other RP patient experiences with the AIP.

  • K Greesen says

    Wow! This is huge! Having a scientific paper published on your life’s work must be thrilling. I am disappointed that it didn’t improve thyroid function however. I bet if there was money to run longer research times with a larger test group one would find a significant improvement in the thyroid. Also it didn’t include women (and men) who had a BMI >30. That is a main symptom of HT. However CONGRATULATIONS!

    • Angie Alt says

      Karen-
      We are certain that being able to fund a longer term study would have showed statistically significant improvement, but as you guessed it is hard to do long dietary studies both in terms of funding & practicality. Nonetheless, what we do have here is awesome news for the community!

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi K! I’m sure Dr. Abbot will chime in, but my understanding is that the thyroid function improved, thus the decrease in medication for at least half of the subjects and stability of those hormone levels during the short duration of the study.

    • Hey Karen, thank you for your incredibly kind message. In deciding who we wanted to study, we had to set some fairly limited parameters. I agree completely that weight is an issue with HT and we had many people submit records being in that BMI category >30, but knowing that Angie’s program works really well, we knew people would lose weight, so wanted to minimize the potential for rapid weight loss in those in that BMI category, as well as potentially avoid other problems we see more with those that are obese and not just overweight. Honestly I would have been very surprised to see changes in thyroid levels in such a short time within the whole group, and we you look at individuals within the group it was actually rather remarkable when you see how many people needed to use less medication after the 10 week study. 2 other women also had pretty big decreases in TSH- but did not decrease medication at the end of the study because their TSH level started in the high normal range and then moved to ideal. It’s hard to convey some of those really exciting details on the larger group statistic level and I do agree it is almost certain that with more time, many people’s antibodies would decrease and many people would need less medication. Thanks again for your kind words!

  • Wow. Congrats guys. You are amazing. Thank you for being such dedicated, badass autoimmune warriors. The word is spreading fast, and this type of careful, well-documented research is what it seems to take these days. It looks like it was a ton of work. Thanks for providing data on each participant! I look forward to anything you do, and this is especially exciting. Thank you thank you thank you. THANK YOU!

    • Angie Alt says

      You are so welcome, Pamela! We figured we want this research done, so we did it ourselves!! 😉

  • Penelope Conlan says

    Great news! This motivates me to try AIP. I began another plan a year ago and it changed my body, skin and general health. The weight loss took me into hyperthyroid until they adjusted my medication. I’m looking for the right combination of foods for me to keep me satisfied and enjoying the benefits. BTW, Hashimoto’s resulted in my thyroid gland disappearing. Scans are done every 2 years to check the remaining benign nodule. In response to one of the previous posts, I can report my >30 BMI went to <30 BMI. Looking forward to trying your plan.

    • Angie Alt says

      Great work w/ so much improvement already Penelope & good luck w/ your personal AIP journey!

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Great work Penelope! Wishing you continued success.

  • Jessica naumann says

    How do you get information on how to use this study for yourself. I desperately need help

    • Angie Alt says

      Jessica-
      All the information is free here on our site. Sign up for the Quick Start guide & then give the process a shot!

  • […] some folks in the Paleo and AIP community who are funding studies now. Both the IBS study and the Hashimoto’s study saw remarkable […]

  • Sydnee says

    As someone who works in medical research and is familiar with the publication process, CONGRATULATIONS! These are great results for a pilot study. I hope this work leads to grant applications and further research. Keep up the great work!

  • Sheila says

    What was the reasoning for limiting the age of participants? Would you try a study with people older than 45?
    What was the reasoning for limited weight of participants? Would you do a study with participants who weighed more? As pointed out, HT can make your weight fluctuate so seeing the results on more overweight women and normal or underweight women would be nice.

    What was the reasoning for excluding subjects that had tried AIP diet before?
    Thanks! This is a good first study (17 people), and it is encouraging, it would be helpful to see the study with a larger population with age, weight, etc added in so you could see “participants in this category lost this percent, participants in this category lost this percent, etc. And to see if age is or is not a factor.

    And I wonder if such as study has been done on just Oaleo, not AIP Paleo?

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Sheila! I’m sure you’ll also get a reply from Rob, but my understanding is that the age was limited to 45 as not to complicate the results of those going through (or having gone through) menopause. Hormones can be a big factor! There was a weight limit because weight loss also has a big impact on thyroid hormone. This way the researchers could attempt to look at the results without some of these complicating factors. There aren’t any Paleo studies on those with Hashimoto’s that we are aware of.

    • Hey Sheila

      Sorry for the long time to respond, but Mickey pretty much answered it for me. We limited weight for the group in order to both limit medical complications and the challenge of monitoring and changing medications for those who lost significant weight. The age cutoff was made in an effort to control for individuals in perimenopause or menopause that would confound and complicate the thyroid hormone picture. Even with these restrictions we still saw improvements in quality of life and symptoms in both the normal weight and overweight participants so not just the people who were overweight. I would expect to see similar positive changes in groups outside of the study weight and age ranges, but for the sake of the study we had to have things a little more controlled.

      Hope this helped!

  • […] This dietary & lifestyle protocol has tremendous success with Hashimoto’s patients all over the world. To read about the latest research study done which analyzed the efficacy of the autoimmune protocol on Hashimoto’s participants, you can can read about it here. […]

  • […] During his year off, Rob helped with a positive psychology research study for cardiac patients. There, he learned the value of listening and taking detailed life histories. During his fourth year of medical school, he led a research study into mindfulness training for students. There, he learned about research protocols, approvals, and funding. Both experiences helped prepare him for the Hashimoto's AIP Medical Study. […]

    • Mickey and Angie, you are my heros! I have been following you and the AIP diet for a while, but just recently went in full force. I feel so good and continue to be motivated daily! I have listened to ALL of your podcasts and that has lead me to Eillens podcast, which I am going through one by one! Thank you for all you hard work and dedication to our communtiy of warriors…I aspire to go to NTA in the future!
      To Our Health!
      Teresa

      • Angie Alt says

        We are so glad our work has meant so much to you Teresa!

      • Mickey Trescott says

        Thanks for listening Teresa!

  • Inna Rubina says

    Hello, thanks to helping so many people, I am 10 y hypo, hachi, menopause(54y o). It’s very difficult to lose weight, I need more help, any suggestions? Thanks very much in advance

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Inna! We’ve trained over 350 coaches in implementing AIP. You can find a full listing here, there is sure to be a coach that can work with you! http://aipcertified.com

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