Th1 (cytokine) is a very important marker to monitor, especially if you haven’t been leading the best lifestyle or you have chronic health issues.

This post is part of a series that dissects what kinds of inflammation people get, the diseases and risks associated with such inflammation and how we could dial it down.

How to Hack Your Th1 System

Most of the time, a substance that decreases Th1 will increase Th2 and vice versa (decrease Th1 will increase Th2), but this isn’t always the case.

The reason why an increase in one usually translates into a decrease of the other is because they differentiate from a progenitor or original cell and there’s a limited number of these cells.

Sometimes, however, both systems are decreased or increased by some factor. T regulatory cells decrease both Th1 and Th2 [1, 2].

When I write confirmed, it means my subjective experience supports the referenced studies, though both aren’t very reliable in this subject. It’s not always easy to tell if something stimulates the Th1/Th2 immune system or not.

Supplements/Methods to Decrease Th1

The most important mechanism for decreasing Th1 dominance for me was the lectin avoidance diet.

I can vouch for these supplements and methods below. I actually have found all of them have helped me and this makes sense because I’m Th1 dominant. My experiments agree with most of the studies.

I prefer Th1 increasing supplements at night rather than in the day. This is because Th1 cells produce cytokines such as TNF-alpha [3] and IL-1beta [4], which are important for inducing fatigue. Many herbs that increase Th1, however, also decrease IL-1beta and TNF-alpha so it isn’t so simple.

Be wary that some people who are Th1 dominant have an underlying and active infection and by inhibiting the Th1 system it will make their situation worse.

It’s easy to think that implementing some measure below to decrease your Th1 system will necessarily fix your problems. But if you have an underlying infection, the opposite may occur. In my opinion, most of the time people don’t have an active infection. Rather, an infection at some prior time period changed gene expression in some unfavorable way.

If you have an active infection, you should stick with Th1 reducers that also have antimicrobial activity. In any case, it’s useful to know if you have an active infection.

Going forward, I’m going to put some energy into how people can figure out what infection they have and the best ways to kill or deactivate that particular infection. I feel this is a missing link.

If we can easily identify a pathogen that’s causing trouble within us, it’s less difficult to figure out how to kill or deactivate it, given a number of supplements and drugs at our disposal in this day and age.

If all else fails, you can try helminth therapy, which will increase your Th2 system and thus decrease your Th1 system [5].

Keep in mind that sometimes the dose matters and different doses will have different effects on Th1/Th2 balance.

Lectins can exacerbate Th2-related inflammation, so if you are having issues stick with low lectin foods. I don’t really need the supplements if I stick with low lectin foods, but I still take them sometimes because although I don’t get acute bouts of inflammation, I feel my Th1 system is probably still elevated since it’s in my genes and it has room to be decreased.

Also, sometimes I stray from what I should be eating and I don’t have the healthiest lifestyle (I don’t exercise enough, eat too many calories, break my circadian rhythm, don’t always stick to my diet, etc…).

You can take a peek at this post to see what you want to stay away from. Not all the things are bad for Th1 dominance, but they are more likely to be bad.

I’ve experimented with all of the following supplements unless otherwise noted.

Any supplements listed here can be found in my toolkit.

You can request that your doctor test your Th1 levels. Conventional doctors will look at high or low Th1 levels and not mention anything. Sometimes, a lab result may be in the reference range, but not actually be in the optimal range. Reference ranges are not the same as optimal ranges. This is why even Th1 in the ‘normal’ range can be unhealthy and indicate that certain processes in the body aren’t optimal.

Males vs Females

Males are more prone to Th17 and Th2 dominance, while females are more prone to Th1 dominance [6, 7].

This is because Androgens increase PPAR alpha, which causes inhibition of Th1 dominance. At the same time, men have lower PPAR gamma, which leads to Th17 dominance [6].

To some extent, Th1 and Th17 ‘compete’ with each other. IL-2 produced by Th1 cells activates STAT5, which competes with STAT3 (which produces Th17 dominance) [6].

Lifestyle, Hormones, Pathways to Inhibit Th1:

Environment/Lifestyle (do these if Th1 dominant):

Foods (eat these if Th1 dominant):

  • Fish [24]
  • Egg white/ovalbumin [25]
  • Soy [26]
  • Avocado [27]
  • Rice [28]
  • Watermelon [29]
  • Apple polyphenols [30]
  • Papain/Papaya [31]
  • Bromelain/Pineapple [32]
  • Extra virgin olive oil/Omega 6 PUFAs [24] – without increasing Th2 (IFNy). I recommend Black Cumin Seed Oil for spicy dishes.
  • Hemp oil and evening primrose oil [33]
  • Blueberry [34] (IL-12, IFNy)
  • Sesame oil (IFNy) without increasing Th2
  • Cinnamon/NaB [35, 36], (IL-12, IFNy)
  • Carob/ D-pinitol [37] (IFNy, IL-12)
  • Cardamom [38]
  • Fennel [39]
  • Mustard [40] – I do well with mustard.
  • Alcohol
  • Areca nut [22]
  • Pistachio nuts [41]
  • Cantaloupe [42] – decreases damaging effects of IFN.

Nutrition (Use these if Th1 dominant):

Supplements (Use these if Th1 dominant):


  • Apigenin [110, 111] (IFNy, IL-12)
  • Luteolin [111, 112, 113] (IFNy)
  • Myricetin (in veggies) [114+115] (IL-12)
  • Citrus Bioflavonoids?: Naringin [116] (in grapefruit), Naringenin [117] – inhibits negative effects of IFNy.
  • Rutin [118] (IFNy)
  • Chrysin [119]
  • Baicalin [120, 121] (IFNy, IL-12)
  • Chlorogenic acid [122] (in coffee, plants)…Contradictory – increased IL-12 [123]
  • Rosmarinic acid [124] (in oregano and sage) (IFNy, IL-2)
  • Oleanolic acid [125] and triterpenes [126] (found in olive products, garlic, medicinal plants)

Hormones (Consider these if Th1 dominant):

  • Vitamin D3 [127]
  • Melatonin [128] (IFNy)
  • Glucocorticoids (Dexamethasone) [129] i.e. cortisol or steroidal anti-inflammatories. Can get this by licorice root or adrenal glandular
  • Pregnenolone (57) Also decreases Th2.
  • Progesterone [130]. Increases IL-10. Increases immune tolerance so that fetus isn’t rejected. Pregnancy improves the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, a disease driven primarily by Th1 immune responses, whereas systemic lupus erythematosus, a disease linked to excess Th2 cytokine production, tends to flare during pregnancy [130]. I get this by taking pregnenolone, which converts to progesterone. You could also get the linked cream for a more targeted approach.
  • Testosterone [131, 132]. Decreases IL-12 and increases IL-10, which decreases TNF and IL-b. Testosterone can be raised with DHEA or creams.
  • Estrogen [133]. Plant-based foods have phytoestrogens, especially soy.
  • Estradiol [134] (high)…(IFN, IL-12)
  • Ingesting insulin [135]
  • ACTH [136]
  • MSH [136]
  • TRH [136]
  • Somatostatin [136]

Neurotransmitters (Consider these if Th1 dominant):



  • Potassium sorbate (sorbic acid) – food preservative
  • Helenalin [151] – found in arnica. Never tried this. This stuff is toxic, but it potently inhibits the Th1 response and selectively inhibits Nf-kB and telomerase…Lonicera japonica [152], Apicidin [153]…Never tried these.

Pathways (Consider these if Th1 dominant):

Be Wary of Supplements/Methods that Increase Th1 (avoid these if Th1 dominant)

Part of rebalancing a high Th1 dominance is to stay away from the things that increase Th1 dominance. Not all of these are necessarily bad, but it’s important to see what has the potential to be bad.

This means that if you are Th1 dominant, these factors can make your condition worse. They won’t necessarily (like laughter), but just pay attention.

Note: that the list above is referring to things that will make your condition better and the things below are a list of things that may make your condition worse.

Lifestyle and hormones (avoid if Th1 dominant):

  • Acute stress [166],
  • Cold exposure (Antarctic winter) [167]
  • Prolactin [168] – increases 10 – 20 fold during pregnancy. Levels can rise after exercise, meals or sex [169].
  • Estradiol [170]
  • Homocysteine [171]
  • High blood glucose? [172]
  • Excess Nitric Oxide [173]
  • Moderate intensity exercise [17, 174]
  • UVA [175] – when you get sun through a window it filters the UVB and only lets in the UVA. Be careful if you’re Th1 dominant. Both UVA and UVB, which are emitted by the sun, acutely increase TNF-alpha [10, 11, 12], which is probably what causes fatigue after you’re in the sun. Those with already high TNF-alpha levels will feel it most noticeably. The same effect happens with exercise, but both are healthy because TNF is probably down-regulated and is overall reduced.
  • Elevated thyroid hormones/Hyperthyroid [176]
  • Other: LPS [177] (can result from ‘leaky gut’ or ingestion of chlorella), Nrf2 activation [178] in age. Epigenetic modifications: mir-17, mir-19b, mir-27b, mir-128, mir-155, mir-340, Let-7e [179]

Foods or ingredients in common foods (avoid if Th1 dominant):

  • Phytic acid [180] – found in all whole grains and legumes. This indicates the people who are Th1 dominant shouldn’t overdo whole grains.
  • Legumes/Lectins: Concanavalin A, Phytohemagglutinin [181]. Both of these lectins are extracted from legumes and they are used in studies to induce interferon-gamma or the Th1 system. PHA is in red kidney beans, white kidney beans, pinto, navy, green beans, broad beans, fava beans, black beans, etc. It’s likely that lectins in other legumes function similarly, which is probably why I don’t do well with them.
  • Gluten [182]
  • Dairy (casein) [183, 184] – not recommended
  • Coffee [185]
  • Phytosterols and stanols [186]
  • Histamine [187] – contradictory
  • Vitamin E mega dose [188]
  • Corn
  • Oats [189, 190] – don’t know if it increases Th1, but many people with Th1 dominance have oat sensitivities.
  • Potatoes [191, 192]
  • Purple sweet potatoes [193]
  • Yams [194]
  • Bananas and plantains [195]
  • Flax [196]
  • Cashews [197]
  • Walnuts [198]
  • Almonds – specifically the skin [199]
  • Alpha-linolenic acid [200, 201]
  • Figs [202]
  • Mango/Mangiferin [203]
  • Basil [204]
  • Capsicum family and capsaicin [205] – Peppers, cayenne
  • Tomatoes [206]
  • Goji berries [207]
  • Fenugreek [208]
  • Tamarind [209]
  • Black Currant [210]
  • Cranberry [211]
  • Kiwi [212]
  • Coriander? [213]
  • Bitter Melon -increases interferon gamma [214]
  • Royal jelly [215]
  • Propolis [216]
  • Mango/Mangiferin [203]
  • Wheatgrass [217] and probably other cereal grass like barley grass.
  • Bamboo extract [218]
  • Mushrooms like cremini and others [219]
  • Maitake [220] mushroom
  • Reishi Mushroom [221, 222, 223, 224]
  • Shiitake mushroom [225]
  • Rice Bran Oil [226]
  • Japanese plum [227]
  • Dates [228, 229]. Dates are loaded with nutrition, including potassium.
  • Cocoa (maintains) [230]
  • Garlic [231]-(at low doses)
  • Black pepper [38]
  • Acai/Syringic acid [180]

Other supplements…less recommended for this purpose, though these aren’t bad:

  • Chaga [232] – although betulinic acid, which is in chaga decreases it [233]
  • Amla [234] (IFNy)
  • Tulsi [234] (IFNy)
  • Noni
  • Cordyceps [235, 236] – probably balances the Th1/Th2 system [237], since it also has adenosine, but probably has more of a Th1 shift. In some cases, it can increase inflammatory cytokines [238].
  • Lactoferrin (in whey). Contradictory [239, 240], but I’m placing it here for now.
  • DIM [241] – in cruciferous veggies
  • I3C [242] – in cruciferous veggies
  • Calcium D glucarate* [243] – in cruciferous veggies. Increases for a few weeks then decreases.
  • Glutamine [244] (amino acid),
  • Leucine [245] (amino acid, which is in high amounts in whey, soy, and animal foods),
  • Selenium,
  • Zinc supplementation [246] Increases Th1 without decreasing Th2. According to one study, it increased Th2 responses [247]
  • LDN [231],
  • Suma
  • Deer Antler Velvet [248] – hard to get, expensive
  • Fucoidan [249]
  • Arginine [250] – Seems to increase Th1 in response to infection, but increase Th2 in response to injury [251, 252]. Overall, I’d guess it’s an immune stimulant [253]
  • Nucleotides (uridine) [254]/Nucleic acids [255],
  • Niagen Nicotinamide NAD+ [256] – Increases Th1, Th2, and Th17.
  • Germanium [257]
  • Melatonin [258, 259] – contradictory [260]. Melatonin is an inhibitor of TNF [261]
  • Vitamin A Deficiency [43],
  • Rhodiola [262] – increases both Th1 and Th2
  • Alginate [263],
  • Iodine excess [264],
  • Chlorella [265],
  • Neem leaf [266] (IFNy), Evodia Longan [267], Japanese plum extract [227], Moringa Oleifera [268], Low dose methylene blue – based on a theory
  • Chitosan [269]*
  • Mercury toxicity [270] -doesn’t increase, but needs its cytokine, interferon gamma, to cause autoimmune disease. So people with Th1 elevations may be more susceptible to autoimmune issues from mercury. Also, low-level exposure to in the absence of inflammation increases Th2, but Th1 responses elicited by Salmonella antigens that can be promoted instead increase if there’s an underlying pathogen [271].

Further Reading

Irregular Th1 Levels?

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