Systemic Inflammation, Food Intolerance, and Autoimmunity

Learn how to identify and treat systemic food intolerance. Get equipped with nutritional, herbal, and lifestyle recommendations for addressing autoimmune disease.

10 CEUs/PDAs

Length: 10 hours

Instructor: Paul Bergner | Medical Herbalist


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Need to know

Who is this course for?
Western Herbalists, Naturopaths, Medical Practitioners, Beginner-Advanced enthusiasts
Course length (start & watch when you want)
10 hours of video content
Course credits
10 CEUs / PDAs

*Please note that many of the associations listed under ‘CEUs/PDAs’ do not formally pre-approve online courses for credits, and thus require the student to track their own online course hours to submit for approval for their annual CEU/PDA requirements.

Lifetime access · Certificate of completion

Meet your course instructor

Paul Bergner | Medical Herbalist

Paul Bergner has studied and practiced natural medicine, medical herbalism, and nutrition since 1973. He is the Director of the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism in Portland, OR, and has supervised residents in teaching clinics for medical herbalism and clinical nutrition continuously since 1996. Mentoring more than 250 clinical graduates, he has published and edited the Medical Herbalism journal since 1989. Paul has authored seven books on medical herbalism, clinical nutrition, ethnobotany, and naturopathic medicine. Combining information from both nutritional anthropology and biomedicine, he developed a successful protocol for treating insulin resistance between 1997 and 1999, and has been utilizing and teaching the protocol to residents in his teaching clinics since that time. He has lectured on this topic at professional conferences nationally and internationally since 2000.

Course description

Did you know that there’s a connection between the immunological response in the gut and various systemic manifestations of disease? This seminar will describe current scientific concepts of digestion, immunity, and autoimmunity to explain this connection. Paul Bergner, the Director of the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism in Portland, teaches this in-depth course which will help you make healthy lifestyle choices. Paul reviews nutrition, herbal materia medica, and formulation strategies to help support the body’s healing of inflammation; a condition we all live with at some point.

After taking this course, you’ll be able to assess and coach a patient (or yourself) using interview and observational skills taught by Paul. Foods that evoke an immunological inflammatory response are nearly universal in modern chronic disease. The removal of these food antigens can allow symptoms of diseases to simply fall away—even serious ones! The material for this course has been developed over a period of over twenty years, and delivered in various formats to hundreds of intermediate and advanced students of herbalism, nutrition, and naturopathic medicine as part of pre-clinical training.

You will learn about:

  • Methods that will successfully help with serious chronic illnesses such as autoimmune conditions, neurological problems, cardiovascular inflammation, kidney failure, mental disorders, and more
  • The basic science of how nutrients affect inflammation and tissue integrity
  • The “dotted line” between inflammation in the gastrointestinal system and the overall system
  • The exact immune components and mechanisms which are responsible for the escalation of gut inflammation to systemic inflammation
  • Interview techniques and assessment methods to evaluate a client for food intolerances
  • The unreliability of the common lab tests for food intolerance
  • How to coach a patient through the elimination of suspected offending foods including PDF forms that the instructor uses with his own patients
  • A complete herbal materia medica of anti-inflammatory herbs
  • A herbal materia medica and formulation guidance for healing “leaky gut syndrome” 

* Includes immediately usable PDF assessment forms used by the instructor with his own patients

Food intolerance has impacts on autoimmunity.

Lesson plan

  1. Welcome, Introduction, Course Outline 
    Paul welcomes you to your new course and reviews what materials you will be covering in the following lessons.
  2. Systemic Inflammation
    To begin, Paul reviews the pathophysiology of systemic inflammation and its systems. He uses lab work to show his methods of assessment.
  3. Nutrition: Minerals and Trace Elements
    The physiological role of trace elements play a huge role in connective tissue integrity. In this section, Paul shares some dietary and botanical sources to look for.
  4. Nutrition: Fats and Oils
    Dietary oils can have a pro or anti-inflammatory affect. In fact, there have been cases of an inflammatory diseases disappearing completely just from eliminating some forms of fat! Find out which ones contain which agents in this section.
  5. Vitamin D and Inflammation | Part I
    We’ve all been told that vitamin D is good for us, but in what amounts? Paul reviews the correct dosage of vitamin D, as well as lab testing. Paul also talks about the role it has in connective tissue integrity, nonspecific (local) immunity, and specific (systemic) systems.
  6. Vitamin D and Inflammation | Part II 
    In this continued unit, Paul holds a discussion about the adverse effects of vitamin D in granulomatis diseases. These conditions include tuberculosis, cat-scratch disease, sarcoidosis, and some cancers.
  7. Leaky Gut Syndrome
    Leaky Gut Syndrome can cause inflammation throughout the body, and is attributed to a wide range of conditions. Discover the pathological causes and consequences of these conditions, including increased intestinal permeability.
  8. Gut Lymphoid Tissue and Systemic Inflammation
    Here, Paul covers the function and morphology of the Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue (an immune protectant), and its role in systemic inflammation.
  9. Molecular Mimicry | Part I
    Common food antigens have a cross-reactivity of antibodies with various tissues in the body. Paul talks about this with a deeper exploration and description of peptides in gluten, eggs, and soy proteins.
  10. Molecular Mimicry | Part II
    Molecular mimicry part two looks specifically at cow’s milk its potential for cross-reactivity in the body, contributing to cases of atherosclerosis. In this section you’ll also look at chronic inflammatory conditions that have been routinely cured with screening and the removal of specific foods.
  11. Drugs and Herbs for Pain | Part I
    While pharmaceuticals are repeatedly used in the treatment of inflammation, there are many Western herbal medicines that do a fine job. Paul talks about both forms of treatment, and offers some herbal formulations.
  12. Drugs and Herbs for Pain | Part II
    Herbal pairs for inflammation can be used topically and internally. You will learn the best ways to administer herbs to enhance absorption of medicinal constituents for things like inflammation.
  13. Fasting and Inflammation
    Paul describes fasting strategies for patients of varying constitutions and explains the physiological roles of the hormone ghrelin for regulating appetite and enhancing tissue repair.
  14. Anti-Inflammatory Herbs | Part I
    A large number of Western herbs are commonly used for systemic inflammation. Here, Paul dives into the materia medica of some of these herbs, and gives suggestions for effective pairs and combinations. Herbs discussed include coffee, salicylate containing herbs, Matricaria recutita (chamomile), and Achillea millefolium (yarrow).
  15. Anti-Inflammatory Herbs | Part II
    In part two of this section, Paul covers more anti-inflammatory herbs. Herbs discussed include Althaea officinalis (marshmallow), Calendula officinalis (marigold), Plantago spp. (plantain), Urtica dioica (stinging nettle), Curcuma longa (turmeric), and Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice).
  16. Anti-Inflammatory Herbs | Part III
    Herbs discussed in this section include Zingiber officinale (ginger), Angelica archangelica (Angelica), Apium graveolens (celery), Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary), Salvia officinalis (sage), berberine-containing herbs, and Commiphora myrrha (myrrh).
  17. Pathophysiology of Food Intolerance | Part I
    Paul gives a fascinating description of the processes and symptomatic presentations of food intolerance with typical digestive, musculoskeletal, and mood/energy symptoms. He also covers an overview of therapeutic interventions for addressing food intolerance symptoms, as well as discusses the microbiome as a metabolic organ.
  18. Pathophysiology of Food Intolerance | Part II
    Here, Paul gives a thorough presentation of the symptomatic presentations of food intolerance within the digestive system, including an in-depth look at Celiac disease.
  19. Pathophysiology of Food Intolerance | Part III
    Dive in and take a deeper look at common systemic conditions routinely cured with elimination of food intolerance, including autoimmune conditions and psychological disorders.
  20. Elimination Diets in History
    This is where you’ll learn a historical review of elimination diets in Western medical history—from Ancient Egypt, through Greek, Roman, and Arabic Medicine, and into modern times. Paul looks at accounts from homeopaths, naturopaths, and conventional medical doctors.
  21. Clinical Experience and Case Studies | Part I
    Paul reviews conditions routinely cured with food intolerance elimination as seen in cases from his natural medicine teaching clinic.
  22. Clinical Experience and Case Studies | Part II
  23. Clinical Experience and Case Studies | Part III
  24. Assessment | Part I
    This is where the application of what you’ve learned comes into play. Paul shows you methods of assessment for identifying food intolerances. Here, you’ll take a look at the food intolerance symptom triangle, signs of a poorly functioning digestive system, and visual before-and-after food intolerance elimination case examples.
  25. Assessment | Part II
    Here, Paul explains the interview strategies you’ll need to effectively collect information about lifestyle, diet, and presenting symptoms of patients.
  26. Assessment | Part III
    This section serves as an intuitive practice to promote mindfulness when shopping and eating.
  27. Lab Testing
    A review of the scientific literature on the evaluation of food intolerances using standard antibody testing.
  28. Elimination and Re-challenge | Part I
    Paul shares his process of effective testing with food elimination in this section and shares information about patient education, interview skills, and motivational techniques.
  29. Elimination and Re-challenge | Part II
    Paul explains how to effectively follow-up with patients testing with food elimination to monitor their progress. He also explains how to re-introduce foods once the elimination is complete.
  30. Therapeutics
    Comprehensive therapeutics for food intolerance and associated inflammation can be obtained with the right dietary and supplement protocols. Learn about them in this section!
  31. Probiotics
    This section serves as a review of the importance of “friendly” bacteria to barrier and immune function in the gut, with the importance of probiotic and prebiotic supplement protocols.
  32. Herbal Therapeutics for Leaky Gut | Part I
    In this section, Paul discusses the benefits of herbal medicine over conventional medicine to support the optimal function of the body. Discover the roles of bitter, demulcent, alterative, carminative, lymphatic, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulalting herbs to promote regeneration of the digestive system and manage systemic inflammation.
  33. Herbal Therapeutics for Leaky Gut | Part II
    This is a continuation of herbal therapeutics for digestion, and includes a deeper look at immunomodulating herbs. Paul speaks about Ganoderma lucidum (reishi), Lentinula edodes (shiitake), and Astragalus membranaceus (Astragalus).
  34. Autoimmunity
    Paul provides a final review of some of the most common autoimmune conditions. He provides a protocol for food eliminations and additions and symptomatic treatment with botanicals.

Lesson preview

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