Dietary Cure for Hidradenitis Suppurativa | (2023)

What is the role of dairy- and yeast-exclusion diets on arresting and reversing an inflammatory autoimmune disease?

A landmark study suggested that exposure to dietary yeast, like baker’s yeast, brewer’s yeast, and nutritional yeast, may worsen the course of Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune inflammatory bowel disease. The reason the researchers even thought to do the study was because Crohn’s patients tend to have elevated levels of antibodies to yeast, but Crohn’s is not the only autoimmune disease with increased yeast antibodies. The same has been found in lupus patients, found in rheumatoid arthritis, found in another joint disease called ankylosing spondylitis, found in autoimmune liver disease, and also found in autoimmune thyroid disease. So, might avoiding yeast help those conditions, too? They haven’t been put to the test, but hidradenitis suppurativa has. What is that? I discuss this in my video Dietary Cure for Hidradenitis Suppurativa.

Hidradenitis suppurativa can be a gruesome disease. It starts out with just pimples, typically along parts of the body where there are folds, such as the armpits, groins, buttocks, and under the breast. Then, painful nodules form that turn into abscesses and drain a thick, foul-smelling pus. And then? It gets even worse, forming active tunnels of pus inside your body.

(Video) Dietary Cure for Hidradenitis Suppurativa

And, it is not that rare. It has an estimated prevalence of about 1 to 4 percent, which is like 1 in 50. Clothes typically cover it up so it remains hidden, but you can often smell the pus oozing out of people. There are all sorts of surgical options and chemotherapy, but why did researchers even think to try diet for the condition? I mean, since Crohn’s is a disease of intestinal inflammation, you can see how a food you react to could make matters worse, but why a disease of armpit inflammation? Because there seems to be a link between hidradenitis suppurativa and Crohn’s disease. Having one may make you five times more likely to have the other, so there may be an “immunopathogenic link” between the two—they may share similar abnormal immune responses. Given that, if cutting yeast out of Crohn’s patients’ diets helps them, then maybe cutting it out of the diets of people with hidradenitis suppurativa might help them. A dozen patients with hidradenitis suppurativa were put on a diet that eliminated foods with yeast, like bread and beer, and they all got better, 12 out of 12. There was an “immediate stabilization of their clinical symptoms, and the skin lesions regressed,” that is, reversed, and went away within a year on the diet. Okay, but how do we know it was the yeast? By cutting out a food like pizza, you also may be cutting out a lot of dairy, and that also appears to help. Indeed, a dairy-free diet led to improvement in about five out of six patients.

See, those tunnels of pus are caused by the rupturing of the same kind of sebaceous glands that can cause regular acne. In hidradenitis suppurativa, however, they explode, and “[d]airy products contain 3 components that drive the process that blocks the duct [clogging your pores] and contributes to its leakage, rupture, and ultimate explosion.” First, there’s casein, which elevates IGF-1. (I have about a dozen videos on IGF-1.) Second, the whey and lactose, and third, the hormones in the milk itself—six hormones produced by the cow, her placenta, and mammary glands that end up in the milk. So, why not try cutting out dairy to see if things improve?

There is a whole series of nasty drugs you can use to try to beat back the inflammation, but as soon as you stop taking them, the disease can come roaring back. Even after extensive surgery, the disease comes back in 25 to 50 percent of cases, so we are desperate to research new treatment options. But, patients aren’t waiting. They’re getting together in online communities, sharing their trial and error though social media, and people have reported successes cutting out dairy and refined carbohydrates, like white flour and sugar. So, a dermatologist in New Hampshire decided to give dairy-free a try, and 83 percent of the hidradenitis suppurativa patients he tried it on started to get better. What’s more, he didn’t even try cutting the sugar and flour out of their diets. Now, he didn’t conduct a clinical trial or anything. He just figured why not give dairy-free a go? It’s not easy to conduct randomized, clinical, dietary interventions, but that doesn’t stop individual patients from giving things a try. I mean, you can understand why there have to be institutional review boards and the like when trying out new, risky drugs and surgeries, but if it’s just a matter of trying a switch from cow’s milk to soy milk, for example, why do they have to wait? “As patients search for an effective path to clearance [of this horrible disease], they need support and guidance to follow the most healthful diet available, free of dairy and highly processed sugar and flour. Nothing could be more natural.”

(Video) Mayo Clinic Hidradenitis Suppurativa Specialty Clinic

But what about the yeast? How do we know it was the yeast? In the study we discussed earlier, 8 of the 12 patients had just gone through surgery, so maybe that’s why they got so much better. It’s similar to when I hear that someone with cancer had gone through the conventional route of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation before going to some questionable clinic and then attributes their cure to the wheatgrass colonics or whatever else they got. How do they know it wasn’t the chemo/surgery/radiation that saved them? Well, in this study, why do we suspect it was the yeast? Because not only did every single one of the patients get better, “all the patients demonstrated an immediate recurrence of skin lesions following accidental or voluntary consumption of beer or other foods” like bread. So, not only did the elimination of yeast result in “rapid stabilization” and “a slow, but complete, regression of the skin lesions within a year,” but, in every single case, within 24 to 48 hours of taking a little brewer’s yeast or other “yeast-containing foods,” BAM!—the symptoms were back. So, that’s why the researchers concluded a “simple exclusion diet could promote the resolution of the skin lesions involved in this disabling and [perhaps not so] rare disease.”

What was the response in the medical community to this remarkable, landmark study? “Why was there no mention of informed consent and ethics committee approval…?” Letter after letter to the editor of the journal complained that the researchers had violated the Declaration of Helsinki, which is like the Nuremburg Code or Geneva Convention to protect against involuntary human experimentation, and asked where was the institutional review board approval for this yeast-exclusion study? In response, the researchers simply replied that they had just told them to avoid a few foods. They had given them the choice: We can put you on drugs that can have side effects, such as liver problems, or you can try out this diet. “The patients preferred the diet.” Let’s not forget, I would add, that they were all cured!

Anyway, bottom line, by avoiding foods, like pizza, which contains both dairy and yeast, sufferers may be able to prevent the ravages of the disease.


This is the fourth and final installment of a video series on the role baker’s, brewer’s, and nutritional yeast may play in certain autoimmune diseases. If you missed any of the others, see:

  • Does Nutritional Yeast Trigger Crohn’s Disease?
  • Is Candida Syndrome Real?
  • Is Nutritional Yeast Healthy for Everyone?

For more on dairy hormones, see:

  • Why Do Vegan Women Have 5x Fewer Twins?
  • Dairy and Sexual Precocity
  • Dairy Estrogen and Male Fertility
  • Saving Lives by Treating Acne with Diet
  • The Effects ofHormonesin Milk on Infertility in Women
  • The Effects ofHormonesinDairyMilk on Cancer

Check out our IGF-1 topic page if you’re unfamiliar with this cancer-promoting growth hormone, which I highlight in my video Animal Protein Compared to Cigarette Smoking.

(Video) Living with Hidradenitis Suppurativa: Starting the Day out Right

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videoshereand watch my live presentations:

(Video) Shining a light on living with hidradenitis suppurativa

  • 2019:Evidence-Based Weight Loss
  • 2016:How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers
  • 2015:Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet
  • 2014:From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food
  • 2013:More Than an Apple a Day
  • 2012:Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death


What foods help with HS? ›

This suggests that the patients with HS were eating fewer vegetables, fruits, and other healthy plant-based foods than were the patients without HS. While more research is needed in this area, it's possible that eating a plant-based diet could lead to fewer HS flare-ups.

Can diet cure HS? ›

Diet alone won't cure the condition, but what you eat can help reduce inflammation and ease HS symptoms. If you have hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), a chronic skin condition that causes painful lumps and scarring, anything that can help your symptoms — even a little bit — can come as a relief.

How I cured my hidradenitis suppurativa? ›

There's no known cure for HS, but treatment can help prevent flare-ups and stop disease progression. There are many options for treating HS naturally, including making dietary changes, supplementing with turmeric and zinc, taking Epsom salt baths, and making lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, among more.

What vitamins help hidradenitis? ›

People with hidradenitis suppurativa are also more likely to have low levels of vitamin D , and supplementation with this nutrient may reduce symptoms.

Does vitamin D Help with HS? ›

In the study of Guillet et al., introducing vitamin supplements have resulted in a significant clinical improvement among patients with HS with vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D supplementation was also found to decrease the severity of other dermatologic conditions like psoriasis and atopic dermatitis [25].

How much zinc should I take for hidradenitis? ›

Zinc salts have been used for a long time in the treatment of mild and moder- ate acne, and the usual dosage is between 30 and 60 mg of zinc metal per day (corresponding to 2 capsules of 15 mg zinc gluconate per day in France) [5, 6] .

Does B12 help with HS? ›

Included articles in this systematic review reveal that low serum zinc and vitamin D levels are associated with increased lesion count in HS. Supplementation of zinc, vitamin D, vitamin B12, or exclusion of dairy or brewer's yeast can be effective in partial or complete lesion resolution.

Is turmeric Good for hidradenitis suppurativa? ›

But there is anecdotal evidence that turmeric, which has potent anti-inflammatory properties, may help with HS, which is why many folks with the condition take it orally to help calm their skin. Its active ingredient curcumin is also antimicrobial and antibacterial, so may help prevent an infection from forming.

Is HS an autoimmune disease? ›

While studying HS, researchers have found some evidence that HS might be an autoimmune disease. People with HS develop antibodies. This finding alone doesn't mean that HS is an autoimmune disease. The body naturally releases antibodies to destroy bacteria, viruses, and other invaders that shouldn't be inside the body.

Do probiotics help hidradenitis suppurativa? ›

While further evidence is required, our research suggests that dietary alteration and personalized probiotic supplementation might also be beneficial for HS patients, particularly since treatment options are limited for these individuals.”

What is the root cause of hidradenitis suppurativa? ›

Hidradenitis suppurativa develops when hair follicles become blocked. The exact cause for this isn't known. Experts think it could be connected to hormones, genetic predisposition, cigarette smoking or excess weight.

What triggers hidradenitis suppurativa? ›

The exact cause of hidradenitis suppurativa is unknown, but the lumps develop as a result of blocked hair follicles. Smoking and obesity are both strongly associated with hidradenitis suppurativa, and if you're obese and/or smoke it will make your symptoms worse.

What is the life expectancy of HS? ›

The mean age at death was lower in individuals with HS than in controls (60.5 years vs 71.1 years in people with psoriasis and 75.2 years in people with nevi). The most common cause of death in the HS group was disease of the circulatory system.

What does zinc do for hidradenitis suppurativa? ›

Three studies assessed the effect of oral zinc supplementation in adults with hidradenitis suppurativa. Hessam and colleagues found a significant decrease in disease severity, erythema and number of inflammatory nodules.

Does caffeine affect hidradenitis? ›

They concluded that more research was needed. All in all, the studies tell us that there's no academic evidence for the role of caffeine in HS.

Can low vitamin D cause HS? ›

Imbalance of vitamin D level has been associated with skin disorders like including atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, vitiligo, polymorphous light eruption, mycosis fungoides, alopecia areata, systemic lupus erythematosus, melanoma, and Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) [11], but the evidence was deemed speculative and ...

How do you make HS flare ups go away? ›

In the early stages of HS, these at-home treatments may help:
  1. Use a warm compress on the affected area for 10 minutes at a time.
  2. Maintain good hygiene.
  3. Use antibacterial soaps, antiseptics and anti-inflammatory medications.
  4. Wear loose-fitted clothing to prevent rubbing or friction against the skin.
21 Jun 2021

How do you shrink HS bumps? ›

Tips for Inflammation Care

Apply warm compresses or a warm washcloth to help reduce swelling. Put a hot tea bag that's been steeped for a minute on the painful abscess or nodule. Try ice or a cold compress for localized pain. Bathe with antibacterial soap and use hypoallergenic products.

Can you stop HS from progressing? ›

A flare-up may last a week or two. But treatment can keep HS from getting worse and help you avoid the most serious symptoms.

Can you reverse HS? ›

There's no cure for this disease, so the goal of treatment will be to reduce flares, ease the pain, and slow down the disease's progress so it's no longer controlling your life. Wherever you are in your HS treatment journey, you're sure to have questions.

How can I prevent my HS from getting worse? ›

How do I manage hidradenitis suppurativa?
  1. Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
  2. Don't smoke.
  3. Stay out of hot, humid climates.
  4. Try to keep a low stress level,
  5. Seek counseling if you feel isolated and depressed.
  6. Don't wear tight, synthetic clothing.
  7. Take good care of your skin and maintain proper hygiene.

What herbs help with HS? ›

Turmeric is commonly used as a complementary remedy for HS. It may help with symptoms by reducing inflammation.

Does magnesium help with HS? ›

Conclusions: Our study underlines the importance of the evaluation of metabolic profile in patients with HS. Moreover, it suggests that the supplementation of MI, folic acid and liposomal magnesium in HS can improve the efficacy of concomitant therapies and the metabolic profile.

What soap is best for hidradenitis suppurativa? ›

When you shower, use a soap-free wash like Cetaphil. Gentle cleansers that are fragrance-free, dye-free, and soap-free are your best bet for preventing further skin irritation.

Is sunlight good for HS? ›

Hidradenitis suppurativa

Some call vitamin D the “sunshine vitamin” because your body makes it when you bare your skin to the sun's rays. Vitamin D could also ease the symptoms of hidradenitis suppurativa (HS). This skin disease causes painful lumps beneath the skin.

Is keto good for hidradenitis suppurativa? ›

An all-meat ketogenic diet was successfully utilized to treat Candida vulvovaginitis and vulvar hidradenitis suppurativa.

What drains from hidradenitis suppurativa? ›

These are small early pus-filled and non-pus filled lesions. In hidradenitis suppurativa, there can be scarring and color changes seen from prior skin inflammation. This person with hidradenitis suppurativa has a draining sinus. The armpit is a typical site of involvement.

Is HS linked to lupus? ›

A US cohort study showed a greater likelihood of developing certain connective tissue diseases like morphoea or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in patients already suffering from hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) [1,2].

Does HS go away with age? ›

HS is a lifelong disease. As time goes on more research is being done and more treatments are becoming available but still no cure. If caught early, symptoms can be managed more effectively and it may stop the disease progressing to irreversible skin damage.

Are you born with HS? ›

People are never born with Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS). Most people develop HS between the age of puberty and 40 years. It is almost rare for HS to begin before puberty. The exact cause of HS is unknown.

What are the 3 stages of HS? ›

HS is diagnosed based on examination and the presence of these infected glands. It's often broken down into three stages: mild, moderate, and severe. This diagnostic system is known as Hurley staging.

Does HS weaken your immune system? ›

For people with HS, their immune system is over-active, not defective. Sometimes people with HS think their immune system is under-active because they get what look like infections, but the HS lesions are inflammation, not infection.

Is hidradenitis suppurativa due to poor hygiene? ›

Hidradenitis suppurativa is not contagious, sexually transmitted, or caused by poor hygiene. Doctors do not know what causes some people to develop this disease. Researchers are investigating whether hidradenitis suppurativa is genetic (passed down among family members).

Can people with HS have kids? ›

Fertility. Women with HS may find it hard to get pregnant. HS has been linked with irregular menstruation and infertility.

Can HS lead to other diseases? ›

HS appears to be linked to a higher risk of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions — high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, high cholesterol or triglycerides — that often occur together.

Can HS be cancerous? ›

Hidradenitis suppurativa appears to be associated with an overall risk of cancer and several specific cancers, such as OCPC, nonmelanoma skin cancer, CNS cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer. This study suggests that more intense cancer surveillance may be warranted in patients with HS.

What triggers hidradenitis? ›

Hidradenitis suppurativa develops when hair follicles become blocked. The exact cause for this isn't known. Experts think it could be connected to hormones, genetic predisposition, cigarette smoking or excess weight.

What flare up hidradenitis suppurativa? ›

The exact cause of hidradenitis suppurativa is unknown, but the lumps develop as a result of blocked hair follicles. Smoking and obesity are both strongly associated with hidradenitis suppurativa, and if you're obese and/or smoke it will make your symptoms worse.

Is HS an autoimmune disorder? ›

While studying HS, researchers have found some evidence that HS might be an autoimmune disease. People with HS develop antibodies. This finding alone doesn't mean that HS is an autoimmune disease. The body naturally releases antibodies to destroy bacteria, viruses, and other invaders that shouldn't be inside the body.

What is inside hidradenitis suppurativa? ›

The skin bumps seen with hidradenitis suppurativa occur when hair follicles and/or sweat glands become clogged and inflamed due to abnormal overgrowth of cells. This overgrowth is thought to be secondary to hormones and/or nicotine.

Can u get disability for HS? ›

Getting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for hidradenitis suppurativa. The SSA recognizes hidradenitis suppurativa as a disability under the list of Skin Conditions. However, qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits isn't as simple as just having the medical condition.

What autoimmune disease is associated with hidradenitis suppurativa? ›

Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a chronic inflammatory condition characterized by recurrent swollen, deep, and painful abscesses. Several autoimmune conditions have been shown to be associated with HS including inflammatory bowel disease and spondyloarthropathies.

How do you calm HS flares? ›

Like encouraging a zit to come to a head, putting warm compresses on your HS abscesses can get them to drain faster, says Dr. Sayed. And the faster they drain, the faster they go away. Cold therapy can help, too, and it can be even more effective when combined with heat.


(Dr Dray)
2. Living with Hidradenitis Suppurativa: One Person’s Journey
3. Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) | Pathophysiology, Triggers, Signs & Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
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4. A Diet Template For Hidradenitis Suppurativa
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6. Foods to Avoid if You Have Hidradenitis Suppurativa
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