Immune Response, TH-1 or TH-2

One of the many things I have learned reading Dr. Datis Kharazzian’s book, “Why do I still have Thyroid Symptoms when my lab tests are normal” (see Resources), is that an autoimmune disorder has one of two types of immune system cells in an overactive state. We all have TH-1 (T-Helper 1 cells) and TH-2 (T-Helper 2 cells). One or the other is overactive in autoimmune disorders. When you take an herb or supplement that boosts the overactive type of immune cell, you feel worse. Of course, if you take an herb or supplement that boosts the other side of the equation, helping to bring balance to the immune system so no one side is stronger than the other, you feel better.

Herbs/Foods that support TH-1 include:

  • Astragalus root extract
  • Echinacea purpurea root
  • Licorice root extract
  • Porcine thymus gland
  • Lemon balm
  • Maitake mushroom
  • Pomegranate


Herbs/Foods that support TH-2 include:

  • Pine bark extract
  • Grape seed extract
  • Green tea extract (Camellia sinensis)

If you happen to already know, for example, that Echinacea purpurea causes you to feel awful, then you most likely should avoid the items that support TH-1 and add items that support TH-2 into your diet. If Green Tea makes you feel lousy, then you know to avoid the items that support TH-2 and take more of the ones that support TH-1.

Sometimes, when your immune system is already overworked/exhausted, you won’t notice a difference using items out of either group. There are blood tests that can determine this for you. Or, you can follow a gluten free, paleo or autoimmune paleo diet for at least 3 weeks and work on healing your gut (more on this in a later post) and then try again with seeing if something out of one of these two groups seems to help you feel better, or make you feel worse. This is something I will be testing after using the autoimmune paleo diet for a while as my previous attempts have not been overly helpful – LOL!


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