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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