Testimonial: Reversing Ulcerative Colitis

39 Comments

By: Charlie Barker

In 2008 I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis after a flare-up that left me very anaemic and lasted 4 months. I was prescribed steroids, which worked, and put on mesalazine long term. I thought it was all sorted, when I got another flare up about a year later. The consultant said this was quite normal and I got more steroids. However, this time, when I weened off them, the flare-up came back. More steroids, and they worked, but I came off them, the flare up came back. This went on for about a year, I was constantly on steroids. My shoulders and back were spotty, and I was tearing muscles at training. The consultant was getting concerned and gave me a big dose of steroids, and put me on Remicade, an immune suppressing drug that is reserved as a last option. This worked, and I got off steroids (a thumb tendon rupture was later blamed on steroids as well by the plastic surgeon) replaced by Remicade. This kind of worked, but I was still going to the toilet too much, and now I was very prone to rashes and tooth infections. As you can see none of this is a cure.

Then I got another flare up. At this time, a crossfit trainer called Kris told me to read ‘Lights Out’ by TS Wiley, The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf and The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain. He didn’t know I had colitis, but as I got through this reading it dawned on me that this approach could make a difference to my condition. I cut out everything that Robb Wolf suggested, legumes, grains, dairy, nuts, eggs, tomatoes… After 2 weeks, my toilet habits had calmed down. No pains, no blood. After one month, I was back to like I was when I was 15. Perfect. That was in August 2011. Since then I told a doctor that I didn’t need medication anymore. He said that it was my decision. I stopped Remicade and mesalazine instantly. 5 months later, I am fitter, stronger and healthier than I have ever been. The condition is effectively reversed. The Paleo diet has reversed a course that was going to end with my colon being removed, and it can for anyone else out who is willing to eat and sleep like we have evolved to do. I owe my health to TS Wiley, Robb Wolf and Loren Cordain. I can’t thank you enough.

Check out Charlie’s achievements and training videos on mad4training’s youtube channel!
http://www.youtube.com/user/mad4training?feature=mhee

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  1. Lindy
    January 23, 2012 at 3:44 am

    It works! I’m in remission for ankylosing spondylitis due to paleo autoimmune protocol and LDN. If I start eating crap again, then it’s back to agony. I’m incredibly thankful for the work of Cordain and Wolf!

    • Charlie
      January 23, 2012 at 10:25 am

      thats awesome.

    • Ian
      January 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm

      What does LDN stand for?

      • Cliff
        January 25, 2012 at 7:56 pm

        low dose naltrexone

  2. simik
    January 23, 2012 at 5:52 am

    Charlie, have you since tried returning some of the prohibited food items (nuts, eggs, tomatoes or dairy) back to your diet?

    • Charlie
      January 23, 2012 at 10:24 am

      In very small amounts, I have re-introduced eggs and some nuts (walnuts and macadamias). However, with dairy and gluten, I am not willing to risk a flare up so I will probably never eat either of those ever again. I don’t miss them anyway. But yes, eggs and nuts in small amounts and if my stomach starts to get upset (which it seems to do sometimes with nuts) I cut them out again.

  3. Sergey
    January 23, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Another Ulcerative Colitis is here, actually was here. After Mark’s Sisson “Primal Blueprint” I started tinkering with the Paleo Diet. Rob’s “Paleo Solution” persuaded me to follow diet more strictly, and now I am almost (not 100% yet) symptom free. No blood in the stool for two years, no anemia. I donate blood every three months, and I have more muscle on than I’ve ever had!

  4. Jordan Reasoner
    January 23, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Thanks for sharing your story Charlie – killer inspiration :-)

    UC doesn’t have to be a life sentence!

    – Jordan

  5. Crunchy Pickle
    January 23, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Awesome! I love hearing stories like this!!

  6. Ann Wendel
    January 23, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Great job, Charlie! I bet it feels so good to be healthy again!

  7. skink531
    January 24, 2012 at 6:58 am

    Great story. I have a family member with Crohn’s and another with diverticulitis. I try to convince them that this way of eating might be able to help out with their intestinal problems. So far, not so much luck. I’m still just the crazy(even though healthiest)family member. It’s nice to be able to show them a story like this and say “Look, here is someone who did it. I’m not making this shit up!”

  8. impy
    January 25, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Another inspiring story of paleo defeating UC. I have ried and tried to get my 16 year old daughter on to such a diet, but teens have opinions and choose pizza and pasta.

  9. Darragh.f
    January 25, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    You have no idea how inspiring this is, i live and suffer with Crohn`s and have only just started with Paleo. I just hope i can have this success as its taken so much from me this past year. Great work Charlie and long may the good health last. I have tonnes of Qs, did you just follow the food guides in Robb`s book or where did u get your recipes from. This is a great start point for me, you have made me very very happy.

    • Charlie
      January 25, 2012 at 4:23 pm

      To be honest, I am quite spartan and rarely use recipes, I am happy to just cook meat and vegetables and eat them with some olive oil and herbs drizzled on top. So stuff like steamed broccoli and cauliflower with a grilled salmon fillet is enough for me, but there are loads of recipe books out there and websites as well, my Mum cooks some really good paleo recipes, they tend to take longer to prepare, but if its a choice between longer food preparation and flare up, I know which one I choose! I found in the early stages of reversing it, loads of omega 3 fish oils helped calm inflammation, Kris my trainer said u can take up to 10 or 12 of the 1g supplements a day to really get on top of your inflammation. I take 2 or 3 a day now.

      • Darragh.f
        January 26, 2012 at 12:12 pm

        Yea im still learning so having a few slips here and there but all in all im doing ok. I find myself eating more and more chicken and broccoli but its fine with me. Still cant handle some foods as im still at the end of this flare but hoping once it clears,it opens up more doors food wise. I wasnt aware you could take so many fish oil caps, ill get on that right away, thanks for the tip. On the steroids, did u take them when u started paleo? I havnt worked out in 7 months, lost 25kgs in muscle and every time i try to come back it just seems to make my crohns worse. Im starting to think ill never get back in the gym or on the football pitch.

        • Charlie
          January 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm

          Yes I was just coming off them as I started paleo last august. usually thats when it flares up again, but this time it didn’t, and then it went a step further and improved so much that I stopped taking everything. On the workout side, limit ur cardio and running to a minimum. Lift weights and do jump training. Then when ur muscles start getting stronger u can start maybe sprinting again. It’s the long lasting aerobic and cardio work that adds to the inflammation. Short bursts of super intense work like heavy weights, plyos and sprints are far less harmful in terms of their immune suppression and cortisol release and inflammation. Then the final string to the bow is 9 hours sleep a night. When u put them all together, recipe for feeling good!

          • Darragh.f
            January 27, 2012 at 8:16 am

            Im on 40mgs a day so its kind of a middle dose. It looks ill be on them for a while so im just trying to get back for the start of my football season here in Germany. Thanks for the training advice, iv been jogging and running ladders and cones here and a lot of sprint work and havnt been doing to good so ill reverse it and start lifting. Iv seen your jump training stuff on youtube, its awesome and could really help me in my position. Ill have a look through some of your stuff and try piece together a program to start after this weekend.

            Honestly thanks a million man. Next time im in the UK ill buy you a steak.

            Darragh

  10. Emilio Paiva de Brito
    February 3, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Since you’ve been symptom free, have you tried re-introducing tomatoes, eggs, or nuts? If so, have they affected you at all?

  11. xfinite
    March 30, 2012 at 9:24 am

    To the OP. Any update on how you are doing? Still off all meds? Any return of symptoms?

  12. Ruth
    April 1, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I am so glad to hear this diet works so well for some of you. It gives me some hope. I have ulcerative proctitis and have been following paleo for 3 months now. While I love the way I feel on this diet – so much more energy – I can’t say I’ve noticed any change in my symptoms. I’m on mercaptopurine and I find that even a small reduction in the dose brings on symptoms, ie bleeding. I’m interested to know how you identify foods that are problematic. How long after eating a food do symptoms arise? and how do you know which food it is among all the ones that you eat? I’m wondering if there might still be something else in my diet that’s a problem apart from the ones already recommended be cut out.

    • Amy Kubal
      April 2, 2012 at 4:49 am

      Ruth!

      I would highly recommend trying an elimination diet where you take out all foods that might be offensive for a time and then add them back in one at a time until you determine which results in symptoms. It’s a process – but it’s a sure fire way to get to the bottom of which foods you are sensitive to. Also, if you would like some help determining what the culprits might be or areas of your diet to improve on let me know! i would love to help you! http://robbwolf.com/about/team/amy-kubal/

  13. Kimberly
    April 13, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Thanks Charlie for the post. So can you PLEASE tell me what do you typically eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

    As I’m also a victim of the disease, I have absolutely no idea what to eat now!?!

    Can you please provide me with some simple suggestions for what I should eat? I am really struggling with breakfast since I can no longer eat cereal,dairy, fruit,eggs, or nuts … WHAT THE HECK SHOULD I EAT?!?

    Also,as a single adult with no children, I should mention that I’m not big on recipes and/or cooking either …

    Any/all suggestions are highly welcomed!

    Thanks,
    Kimberly

    • Amy Kubal
      April 13, 2012 at 11:54 am

      Kimberly! Meat and veggies are GREAT at breakfast!! I REALLY like salmon with sauteed spinach and mushrooms! Leftovers from dinner work well too. The hardest part is to stop thinking that breakfast needs to be cereal and eggs – these days breakfast for dinner is the craze, but dinner for breakfast is the way to go!! :)

  14. B Aris
    June 28, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Hi
    I have Ulcerative Proctitis (mezalasine, occasional steroids) and Ankylosing Spondilytis. I am too “well” to qualify for any drugs that may work for my conflicting AI diseases, which in hindsight is probably a good thing. The AS was a nightmare with 2 young kids and working full time! I was in constant pain and oh so tired and close to falling into a depression with no light at the end of the tunnel from my Rheumatologist.
    I went the naturopath route and she put me on no gluten for a few weeks back in Feb. I had some improvement with this so I bit the bullet and did a 5 week paleo challenge with my husband and partly with the kids in March 12. My life has completely changed. I am practically symptom free with the AS as long as I keep the exercise and stretching going. I take no pain meds and have heaps of energy. I haven’t had the same results with the UC but I think that is due to a gastro bug, a bit of stress at work and cheating a bit lately on the dairy – I also hadnt taken out nightshades which I am trying now after doing a bit more reading on the subject.

    Kimberly – smoothies with LSA, berries and coconut milk are quick brekky. I use a mushroom cap for toast and a poached egg on the weekends often. I eat dinner leftovers for lunch and have a light dinner. I also make pale muffins (carrot, almond meal, date, banana) you can google the recipe or muffin veggie omelettes like you would make a quiche without the pastry in muffin tins. I cook a bunch on the weekend freeze them and pull a couple out for breakfast or snacks and pop them in the microwave.

    Bri

  15. nick
    August 7, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Wish I would have found out about paleo a few years back.
    I have crohn’s and had my colon removed in 2010 :(

  16. Jared
    September 12, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Hi Robb,

    I own and have read The Paleo Solution. I am ready to immerse myself into the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol, but not sure if the timing is right. Looking for some advice in regards to my current situation:

    I was diagnosed with Crohn’s in 2008 and have tried to manage exclusively through diet, but have been pretty much forced to take some meds over the years to prevent the further development of dsyplasia found in biopsies. I have taken Asacol and Pentasa for only very short durations and then went back to focusing on my diet. I have been feeling pretty good, but on Sept. 5, 2012 during a recent colonoscopy just to see how things were going on the inside they had to put a resolution clip to prevent perforation at my cecum. I am now being told to take 6MP along with steroids due to my moderate inflammation. I am TOTALLY against it, but I don’t know what to do…

    I am told to stay away from fiber and was on a liquid diet for 24 hours and now I am placed on a low residue diet, which is mostly crap food.

    I usually take an organic fiber daily along with eating organic veggies and fruits.

    I want to start the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol, but I am very confused due to the high fiber.

    At the moment I am afraid to eat and do not know what to eat?

    Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance,

    Jared

  17. joanna
    November 10, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    i watched your training video and you are a total beast! i can’t jump- never have been able to- but you’ve inspired me to start trying again.

    i have ulcerative colitis, too, and started paleo over two months ago. i am still having symptoms so i’m trying the autoimmune protocol now. i’m not feeling too great, but i figure healing will take a long time. i was and still am pretty sick, but i’ve gained some weight since starting. i hope i can be a success story and not have to take meds.

  18. Matthew
    April 22, 2013 at 7:35 am

    I’m a 7-8 year UC sufferer & 3 weeks into the Paleo diet with UC. I was recommended Robb’s book by a friend after asking his advice when I heard about the Specific Carb Diet. After battling with continuing symptoms, despite high doses of 6mp and Mesalazine, with no improvement for months on end over the last 2-3 years, literally within two weeks of starting the diet my symptoms were gone. I’ve also halved my mesalzine dose with no ill effect (normally the flare would get much worse straight away when I reduced). I’m really, really happy with the results so far, and am feeling better than I have in years, and my energy for training has improved too. I can’t wait to see if my body can start building muscle properly again, which I’ve battled for years.

    My only issue is the 6mp still affects my body quite badly. Has anyone had experience of coming off this drug- how long should I leave before being safe that reduction of the dose won’t cause my flare up to return? I want to start reducing now, but I’m well aware that I’m only 3 weeks in, and shouldn’t rush things.

  19. Dan
    May 19, 2013 at 3:18 am

    I will try this…as for Ruth I have UC and found that chocolate Dairy and hot beverages such as coffee and tea trigger my symptoms so elimination will help you.Never stop taking Asacolon if anyone has UC it can lead to the disease spreading effectively becoming crohns-so my gastro Doctor told me.

  20. diverticulitis diet
    December 1, 2013 at 6:03 am

    I had read a blog post few days ago about crohn’s and diverticulitis, that guy (I think his name is Mike) talked about some kind of ‘catalyst foods’ which trigger these kind of digestive disorders. you can Google ‘catalyst foods’ to find more about his theory.

  21. Dan
    February 4, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    Charlie,

    I’m a 32 year old guy with UC… similar story. Super athlete/gym guy. This thing floored me… now on remicade…steroids… the lot. Need some guidance. I’ll try anything. Which book should I start on?

    D

    • Kat
      February 17, 2014 at 2:43 am

      Hi Dan,
      Same story here, however I have managed to keep my symptoms mostly under control with diet, and don’t normally use any meds.
      You may want to start with the recently released Paleo Approach book, it is for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.
      Such a beautiful book, full of great info. and advice.
      Best of luck!
      Kat

  22. brandon
    March 23, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Charlie how are you foing and are you currently on any meds or just paleo? Thanks

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