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