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Scleroderma — a case study of autoimmunity - Autoimmune Disease in Women

Posted Sep 11 2009 4:57pm

Scleroderma is a chronic, degenerative condition that leads to over-production of collagen, excessive soft tissue calcification leading to hardening and tightening of the skin, and blood vessel deterioration. Systemic scleroderma is life-threatening and affects articular structures and internal organs including the esophagus, intestinal tract, heart, and kidneys. It is estimated to affect 300,000 people in the US, 80% being women of childbearing age. The following case study describes a patient diagnosed with scleroderma and her response through guided nutritional therapy based upon her HTMA tests.

The patient was approximately 50 years of age when diagnosed in 1995 with scleroderma, Raynaud's disease as well as polymyositis and arthritis. The diagnosis was confirmed by third and fourth opinions of several experts in the field. Prognosis was guarded and therapy involved hospitalization for several months with high dose steroid treatment. The patient and family decided to look for other alternative therapy and requested to be discharged from the hospital. Steroids were discontinued and at that time the patient was given a life expectancy of two to two and one-half years.

After consulting other doctors the patient eventually was referred to Mrs. Virginia Lucia in Massachusetts. Mrs. Lucia is an experienced nutritional consultant with many other skills as well as having extensive knowledge and experience with HTMA. A hair sample was submitted to TEI for analysis on March 6, 1997. At that time the patient's condition had advanced, with further tightening of the skin, difficulty swallowing, muscle weakness and considerable weight loss. The patient's initial HTMA test results are shown in figure 3.

The initial HTMA pattern revealed a parasympathetic dominance (slow metabolic type), reflecting a cellular (thymus) immune dominance. The pattern revealed a very low zinc level as well as a low zinc/copper (Zn/Cu) ratio indicating an estrogen dominance. The marked elevation in the calcium! magnesium (Ca/mg) ratio indicated a parathyroid and insulin dominance. Dietary recommendations were based upon the patient's metabolic type. Nutritional supplementation included Para Pack, a synergistic metabolic formulation as well as specific vitamin and mineral supplements based upon the HTMA pattern. Minerals were full spectrum amino acid chelates.

The patient's follow-up HTMA patterns revealed a marked and continuous rise in calcium to over 300mg% and the copper level rose to over 4.8mg% (figure 4). The rise in these elements is not unusual and is expected. As excessive tissue calcium is mobilized from soft tissues HTMA levels frequently increase before returning to normal values. Excessive tissue accumulation of copper also often increase as it is being mobilized and excreted from tissue and organ storage sites. Nutritional recommendations and supplement recommendations were modified based upon changes in the patient's HTMA pattern.

The following graph (figure 5) shows the patient's current HTMA pattern as of October 2001.

Over the course of nutritional therapy and dietary modification based upon follow-up HTMA test, the patient's CPK levels showed improvement with each test and returned to within normal limits by March of 1998. Other blood parameters improved significantly as well.

Currently the patient is enjoying a normal and productive lifestyle. Her skin is almost totally back to normal except for some areas on the forearms. Dexterity in her hands has improved to the point that she has regained her ability to crochet.


We cannot specifically recognize what triggered this patient's autoimmune response, however from the HTMA study we can recognize several factors that may have contributed. The nutritional mineral imbalances are obvious from the HTMA laboratory results and nutritional balance is well recognized as an important part of normal immunity. The patient is a mother and could have fetal cells present although this was undetermined. Stress is certainly part of the puzzle whether brought on by the disease itself, or preexisting. The low Zn/Cu ratio and eventual manifestation of excess tissue copper indicates that estrogen may have been dominant and therefore, a triggering factor. The marked elevation of calcium in a parasympathetic pattern suggests the presence of an underlying viral condition. Tissue calcium as well as copper is known to rise following a viral event. Excess tissue calcium is known to activate dormant viruses as well. Determination of an underlying virus was not ascertained.

The resulting decrease in tissue calcium and normalization of the Zn/Cu ratio indicates a reduction in the patient's hyperactive cellular immune response. The rise in sodium and potassium indicates an adrenal response, which has a number of effects. A normal adrenal response is necessary for recovery from most cellular autoimmune conditions in that adrenal hormones enhance the ability of the body to recognize and respond to the condition. The adrenals initiate an alarm response and aids in the progression to resistance and recovery. The adrenal hormones also suppress thymus over activity thereby reducing autoimmune activity. It should be obvious that further thymus support in patients with this HTMA pattern would be detrimental.

Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients , May, 2003

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