Dietary Therapy for Ankylosing Spondylitis

When peo­ple get sick, the cause is usu­al­ly their genes or some­thing in the envi­ron­ment or some com­bi­na­tion of the two. For many of our com­mon autoim­mune dis­eases, the cause is prob­a­bly a com­bi­na­tion of genes and diet.

In 2001, a Ger­man med­ical jour­nal pub­lished a case study of a patient who had a dou­ble dose of the gene that increas­es people’s risk of get­ting anky­los­ing spondyli­tis, a form of inflam­ma­to­ry arthri­tis that attacks the spine. He’d been sick for about 10 years and had got­ten lit­tle relief from all the drugs and oth­er treat­ments he’d tried. Nev­er­the­less, he start­ed feel­ing dra­mat­i­cal­ly bet­ter with­in a mat­ter of days after start­ing a pure­ly plant-based diet. When he went back to eat­ing meat again sev­er­al weeks lat­er, his symp­toms flared up again. When he went back to eat­ing a pure­ly plant-based diet, his con­di­tion improved so much that he was able to stop tak­ing most of his med­ica­tion.

Yes, I know that this is just a case study, but its results are con­sis­tent with the results of oth­er kinds of clin­i­cal stud­ies and they make sense in terms of the biol­o­gy. In that con­text, a case study like this, which shows that a sim­ple and gen­er­al­ly ben­e­fi­cial inter­ven­tion can pro­duce such dra­mat­ic improve­ments, should inspire some­one to do a large, well-designed clin­i­cal tri­als. Sad­ly, when I went to to see what kind of research was being done on anky­los­ing spondyli­tis, I found lots and lots of drug stud­ies but no dietary stud­ies. How can researchers jus­ti­fy giv­ing peo­ple pow­er­ful and dan­ger­ous drugs before find­ing out whether the prob­lem can be solved in a mat­ter of days with a sim­ple change in diet?

Pho­to by planetc1

4 thoughts on “Dietary Therapy for Ankylosing Spondylitis”

  1. You ask: How can researchers jus­ti­fy giv­ing peo­ple pow­er­ful and dan­ger­ous drugs before find­ing out whether the prob­lem can be solved in a mat­ter of days with a sim­ple change in diet?
    Answer: Drug com­pa­nies can­not mon­e­tize dietary changes. They make their mon­ey sell­ing drugs. They pay for research or sup­port it by donat­ing to research insti­tu­tions (e.g. uni­ver­si­ties). So they have a big say in the direc­tion of research. Its the prof­it motive.

  2. You’re right. Drug com­pa­nies’ research pro­grams are dri­ven by the prof­it motive. It has to be, because they have a fidu­cia­ry rela­tion­ship to their share­hold­ers.

    How­ev­er, a lot of med­ical research gets fund­ed through NIH and in par­tic­u­lar NCCAM, which should be doing this kind of dietary study but is evi­dent­ly not. The prob­lem is not just the prof­it motive. It’s part­ly the unwill­ing­ness of the med­ical pro­fes­sion and sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty to accept the fact that the foods they like could make peo­ple sick.

    Peo­ple in the USA should con­tact their mem­bers of the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and their U.S. Sen­a­tors and ask why the appro­pri­ate dietary stud­ies are not being done. The ball is in our court.

  3. I got your email and just read this post. Yes for the past few years I’m under­stand­ing more of how mon­ey and greed has plaqued the human heart.

    Drug Com­pa­nies will always behave in the direc­tion of prof­it and self-inter­est. It’s in their behav­ioral make­up. We can’t change this ten­den­cy. What we can do is edu­cate our­selves and the pub­lic with this aware­ness, espe­cial­ly the ones we love and are the clos­est to us. Only a small per­cent­age will lis­ten and that’s all we need to start.

  4. We need to teach peo­ple about eco­nom­ics and civics as well as nutri­tion. Peo­ple need to know that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment spends a lot of mon­ey on med­ical research, and that Con­gress has the pow­er to make sure that the mon­ey is being spent in ways that serve the pub­lic inter­est. NCCAM gets about $120 mil­lion a year. For that amount of mon­ey, they could have done excel­lent stud­ies on a veg­an diet for all of the “dis­eases of afflu­ence.” Where has all that mon­ey gone?

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