Am I Th1 or Th2 Dominant?
When a patient is autoimmune, there is usually one ‘side’ of their immune response that is in hyper-response mode. You’ll learn about these two important parts of the immune response and their role in self-destruction. Knowing if you are Th1 or Th2 dominant is CRUCIAL for several reasons but most importantly, it dictates proper care.
It’s absolutely necessary to figure out if a person is Th1 or Th2 dominant because it will dictate what type of nutraceutical protocols that will be most effective for dampening their immune activity. We know that typical ‘immune stimulants’ like Astragalus, Echinacea, Garlic, Glycyrrhizin, Melissa Officinalis, Maitake mushrooms, seem to stimulate the Th1 response. We also know that things like pine bark extract, grape seed extract, green tea extract, Pycnogenol, Resveratrol, and caffeine are things that stimulate the Th2 response. So if a patient’s autoimmune attack of their joints in Rheumatoid Arthritis, thyroid in Hashimoto’s, myelin sheath in Multiple Sclerosis, etc., is a Th1 dominant response, adding Th1 stimulants will MAKE THEM WORSE! You can effectively aid in balancing a Th1 dominant individual by giving Th2 stimulants and visa, versa.
Thirteen years ago Vanessa was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) or Lupus for short. Her problems began long before her diagnosis after the birth of her first child, Ashley, when she was just 18 years old. Lupus is defined as a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disease. It frequently affects the skin, joints, kidneys, but, like autoimmune diseases do, it affects multiple organs. Symptoms vary from person to person, and may come and go. Since autoimmune diseases are either a hyper-firing Th1 or Th2 response, it is when that system is most active that the person experiences the most symptoms. This is why patient’s symptoms seem to wax and wane. The condition may affect one organ or body system at first and then progress to involve others. Almost all people with SLE have joint pain, arthritis and chronic fatigue. The joint pain is usually in the fluid filled joints like the fingers, knees, and hips. These joints have joint capsules which are sacs made up of essential fatty acids, prone to accept antigens and therefore common attacks of the immune response.
Vanessa’s youth was troubled; both her father and mother were alcoholics and Vanessa ran away from home at age 16. She bounced in and out of relationships, got pregnant at age 17 and was unwelcome in an attempt to return home. She had her baby while living at a shelter. Her increased stress, use of experimental drugs, emotional depression and the accompanying fluctuations that pregnancy brings the Th1/Th2 immune response may all have been contributors to the autoimmune ‘switch’ being turned on. Her symptoms have gradually gotten worse over time and even though God intervened in Vanessa’s life when she got saved at a youth rally when Ashley was just 5 months old and she now is happily married, the disease has progressed.
Once an autoimmune disease has turned on, there is no turning it off. Traditional medicine had given Vanessa little hope and just prescriptions to fill. She tried multiple medications with some relief but different side effects. It wasn’t until she found care with a functional medicine doctor who understood the autoimmune process that she began to take the upper hand against her disease. “It was the first time I ever understood what Lupus was,” she commented, “I thought I was just doomed with a genetic disease that I’d have to live with the rest of my life. The last 3 months since starting care has been remarkable. I feel like I have a new life.”
Vanessa’s story is commonplace. Autoimmune patients feel helpless and hopeless; they have basically been given a death sentence by modern medicine with no alternative but symptom suppressant drugs. There is hope, and if you just keep digging and asking better and more pointed questions, you can find the answers; but you just might have to ask different people.
Sometimes the patient’s history will be obvious as to which dominance they are ‘stuck’ in. If they’ve attempted taking high amounts of Garlic and Echinacea only to feel horribly worse afterward, there’s a pretty good chance they are Th1 dominant autoimmune. If drinking green tea or coffee takes away the pain of your Gout, the possibility exists that you are Th1 dominant; if it made you feel worse, you may be Th2 dominant. But do NOT rely on this; it is always wise to do the testing!
You have to be very careful stimulating a Th1 or Th2 response. People can’t figure out why they still feel terrible even while taking the boatload of vitamins their nutritionist recommended. If you are stimulating the dominant, hyper-firing system, you are literally throwing fuel on the fire. Autoimmune patients CANNOT take supplements that have both Th1 and Th2 stimulants. You are helping the immune system destroy your body! Do the testing!