The Hidden Plague Book Review

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Hidden Plague Cover

Today I have a review of The Hidden Plague: A Field Guide for Surviving and Overcoming Hidradenitis Suppurativa by Tara Grant (of I had the pleasure of meeting Tara last year at AHS in Atlanta, and was immediately captivated by her kind spirit. We connected because we were both writing books about the Autoimmune Protocol, and I felt like I had hit the friend jackpot. Back then even those in the Paleo community thought AIP was a little kooky… but I knew we were on to something!

Tara is a sufferer of Hidradenitis Suppurativa, an autoimmune disease that affects the skin in the most sensitive parts of the body, and her book is written to help others with the condition heal their bodies with diet and lifestyle like she did. Those that suffer from HS develop cysts, boils, abscesses, and lumps in the armpits, genitals, and groin, and it can be a painful and debilitating condition. This autoimmune disease can be one of the most isolating and emotionally difficult to handle–most doctors haven’t the slightest clue how to manage a patient with it, and there is no treatment. Admittedly, I had never heard of HS before I read this book, but since have come to know people in my life who have it now that I am aware of it. I was surprised to learn that it is likely that we all know someone with the condition. After reading Tara’s account of what those with HS experience in the doctor’s office, as well as how it impacts their relationships and social life (in addition to having the terrible disease itself!) I really feel for those who have this horrible condition.

If you have HS, this book is the most beautiful gift you could ever hope for.  Tara skillfully explains all of the ins and outs of the disease, interwoven with personal stories from her life as well as the lives of others. She explains the science of autoimmunity, leaky gut, and why the protocol works, all backed up by current medical research. After she convinces the reader why they need to clean up their diet and lifestyle, she tells them exactly how to do it, with a thorough guide to conducting an elimination diet as well as how to slow down and de-stress (a very powerful trigger for those of us with autoimmune!). Best of all, she offers up her experience and encouragement that things can change.

Although this book is written for those that suffer from HS, the principles within line up with Sarah Ballantyne’s research (author of The Paleo Approach), and they also line up precisely with the tools I have used to heal from and manage my autoimmunity. Even if you don’t have HS but a different autoimmune disease, you will love the personal testimony and great tips to be found in this book.

To pick up a copy, you can purchase here!

About Mickey Trescott

Mickey Trescott is a cook and one of the bloggers behind Autoimmune Wellness. After recovering from her own struggle with both Celiac and Hashimoto’s disease, adrenal fatigue, and multiple vitamin deficiencies, Mickey started to write about her experience to share with others and help them realize they are not alone in their struggles. She is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner by the Nutritional Therapy Association, and is the author of The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, a guide and recipe book for the autoimmune protocol, and AIP Batch Cook, a video-based batch cooking program. You also can find her on Instagram.


  • Kerry says

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I was diagnosed in 2009 with HS, though I had had it since 2005. It took a well-educated FNP to diagnose my condition. It has been a rollercoaster ride since then, and I finally met with a dietitian who put me on the AIP diet, and I have not had a flare up since, but the diet of course doesn’t cover the social anxiety, the pain, and the embarrassment of having this disease. I think I’ll pick this up today!

    • Mickey says

      I’m so sorry to hear Kerry, but wow on finding a dietician who suggested AIP! I do recommend Tara’s book, she really does go into detail about how having the disease has affected her socially and emotionally. I hope you continue to have success on AIP!


  • Jody says

    Thanks for your review Mickey. I have HS and the doctors have been impressed with my improvement following the autoimmune protocol. I have thought about getting this book and your review means a lot.

    Manitoba, Canada.

  • Laura says

    This is a godsend for those who are willing to follow the strict diet. I had HS for a few years and tried anti-fungal diet because I had heard it was fungal related. Whether it is fungal or not, I don’t know, but the change in diet worked. I haven’t had a single lesion for 7 years! I became weary of telling the poor folks on the online support groups to try diet. Most would not do it, food was their comfort. They really thought it wasn’t worth a try. I will tell you, it works!!! I am free! I am no longer debilitated by this horribly painful disease!!! If you are in pain, suffering with HS, bite the bullet and do the Autoimmune Protocol diet. It works!

    • Mickey says

      Wow congrats on your progress Laura!

    • Fiona says

      Laura – your words are soooooo heartening to hear. It gives me more encouragement to stay the course and stick to a strict diet. In the end, what would I rather? A short term sugary burst on my taste buds for a few seconds or be HS free and have a happier life? I hope I can persevere and not let my taste buds be the boss of me!!

  • Fiona says

    I’ve just recently been diagnosed with HS and a dear friend gave this book to me. It has been very helpful and I am now on the journey of changing my diet to alleviate symptoms. I’m off to a Dermatologist today so will be taking Tara’s book with me to wave in her face! Thanks for the great guidance on your FB page and newsletters – I would feel even more lost without it. Don’t feel quite so alone knowing there are others out there in the same boat.

  • Michelle says

    Thank you so much for reviewing this book here. The book is outstanding, and your cookbook is a great compliment. As someone with HS, I highly recommend both resources. It helps to see other readers comments too…helps give me encouragement this time to bite the bullet and not give in cheating.

  • Christina says

    I’m in remission thanks to AIP. Wish me luck! The strange thing is: I don’t miss the non-AIP foods. Oh to be honest, I did not cut out butter completely and I still had seed-based spices. I would have cut those out as well if I had not reached remission and I do not recommend my approach. I kind of did AIP “backwards”. Cutting out more and more foods. For some reason I found that easier to do. But again I am not saying do as I do.

    • Mickey says

      WOW, congrats! Wishing you continued success on your journey!

      • christina says


        Thanks so much for your kind words I really do appreciate them and I hope you are doing well.

        My journey so far has been this: I went low carb in April as I had weight problems. After a month an entire area on my body that had been very active became HS free. I attribute that to improved insulin sensitivity/fewer insulin spikes. (I am quite convinced that insulin spikes make HS much, much worse.) But I was still having constant flares in another area. I did some research during that time and transitioned to Paleo. I felt I was getting very close to remission, but not quite there yet. So, in June I started to cut out more and more foods until I was 95% AIP (I still eat butter occasionally and I use some seed-based spices, but other than that I am very diligent) and after less than a week, I think, the madness stopped. My HS is (or was) stage 1/2. So I if anyone reading this with stage 3, maybe even severe, it may take longer for you as your overall level of inflammtion is most probably much higher. But I think AIP is defintely worth a try because all the other options are either very painful and not permanent (extensive surgery) or potentially dangerous (such as the use of biologicals). HS is a terrible disease.

        I don’t think I would have had the courage to try AIP without your website and your beautiful cook book! Thank you so much! You rock my world. 🙂


        • Mickey says

          Thank you for adding your story here! I’m so happy that my work helped you change your diet, and in turn heal you HS. Wishing you continued success!


  • Kelly says

    Oh my goodness!!!! Thank you for sharing this! I’m not even sure how I stumbled across your page, but I have been researching AIP for a while now to help my psoriasis flare-ups. I was introduced to Paleo through my CrossFit gym, and that led to AIP, and now to your page. I was diagnosed with HS a few years ago, but have suffered with it for almost 16 years now. The pain is unbearable at times. I am in a very stressful period of my life at the moment, so I am having a bad flare-up of both my psoriasis and my HS. I sometimes think my skin hates me!

    I didn’t know HS was also autoimmune. I had given up looking for info on it a few years ago since I knew there was no cure. I can’t begin to tell you how awesome it feels to know that I can apply the AIP diet I was already going to use to heal my HS, too!! I can’t imagine life without lesions! I am going to be on pins and needles until the book gets here in two days.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!

    • Mickey says

      Kelly, so happy this helped you put the pieces together! Wishing you the best of luck on your journey!


  • Cindy says

    Hi Mickey!

    Love your website! I’ve been on AIP for 2 weeks now and I’m already noticing a difference in my HS.
    I have both HS and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Have you heard anything about putting PCOS into remission with AIP? I’ve heard that PCOS and meat consumption don’t mix. I would love to have a baby, I wonder if the AIP protocol will help with fertility?

    P.S. I keep hearing wonderful things about your cook book! Definitely going to get it 🙂

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