Episode 98: Women, autoimmune diseases, and how to finally get well

Approximately 50 million Americans have autoimmune disease, according to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association. 

More than 80 different conditions—including rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, Graves’ disease, and Hashimoto’s disease—fall under this umbrella, and some have similar symptoms.

While these diseases are generally viewed as separate conditions by specialists who treat the symptoms alone, they share common causes. In many ways, they could be considered one big disease that can involve any body part.

My guest today, Dr. David Bilstrom, is an author, international speaker and distinguished member of the American Academy of Integrative Medicine and American Academy of Medical Acupuncture. He is an advanced fellow in anti-aging, regenerative, and functional medicine. 

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He is affiliated with the first medical center in the country associated with a teaching hospital to treat all types of autoimmune diseases. The center is the first in the nation to utilize nature and its healing properties as a fundamental component of a wellness program.

Our conversation started where he started his medical career, as a rehab doc specializing in spinal cord injuries. He was limited in the what he could use to treat these patients because what might work for an able bodied human could kill a paralyzed one. 

He discovered acupuncture and had great success.

His next challenge was his young son’s terrible asthma and allergies. This led him to Functional Medicine.

An article in The New York Times about the author’s struggle with undiagnosable symptoms that got worse and worse until finally she was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition but the only answer was immunosuppressive medication.

Again David was called to do something. “This is a story I hear all the time, he said, I can see where we can reverse that already. This has gotta change. we can’t have all these women, particularly because 80% of people that get autoimmune disease are women. We can’t have this happening.”

Well amen to that Dr. Bilstrom!

His life since then has been getting the word out about what he’s learned and teaching others to work with the information.

I asked why more women and he talked about the number of “bad” genes found on the X chromosome and guess what? We get two Xs, guys get on X, one Y. More for us to deal with as usual.

There are central mechanisms in the body that keep us healthy when they are in working order. 

First, gut health, then hormone balance, specifically of estrogen and progesterone. He explained that even after menopause when many women are estrogen poor, we can have dominance if it’s not clearing the body.

Autoimmune diseases and cancer are said to be two sides of one coin.

Blood work will tell you if you are estrogen dominant. 

I asked him to explain how the immune system is related to the gut.

“So any immune system stuff, whether it’s the autoimmune disease, allergies, asthma, eczema, which are the overactive immune system issues, or the underactive immune system issues, which are infections, recurrent infections, cancer, and the infections that drive chronic disease, such as Epstein Barr viral virus, herpes virus, six mycoplasma, these kind of guys, whenever you see any other stuff, you go, oh, what’s going on with the gut?”

Basically, if the gut’s off the body can’t absorb nutrients properly, can’t rid the body of toxins. 

Cleanses as a remedy? He said if you have leaky gut and you start detoxing protocols your toxins leak into your system and can cause more problems. Best to get the gut healthy first then use your life habits—lots of broccoli 😎—and you’ll become a super detoxer, no foot baths or colonics needed.

We talked about gene testing. (Link to the one I recommend, if you want to know why, send an email to, gregory@rebelliouswellnessover50.com)

Dr. Bilstrom’s protocol includes Vitamin D, butyric acid (the only food source is butter so slather it on), and probiotics.

He’s worked with patients of all ages including an 80 year old who had tinnitus since she was 6 but was cured of it after a couple of weeks of working with Dr. Bilstrom’s people. 

Pretty compelling stuff. 

You can book an telemed appointment with Dr. Bilstrom by going here.

And for nurse practitioners, or lay people, he has an interactive book to teach his theory and protocol.

If you could use some guidance in what next step is best for your healthy aging journey book a complimentary call with me.

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