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Healing Crohn’s Disease: I Feel Absolutely Normal And Well For The First Time In 10 Years

27 Comments

Written by James Waller:

Hi guys,

I wanted to share my experience and success I’ve had this far with the Paleo diet, and how I’ve reduced the symptoms of my Crohn’s disease pretty much 100%. I really hope anyone reading this who currently has Crohn’s and has recently been diagnosed will see this as an inspiration and be encouraged to give the Paleo diet a try.

Firstly some background about me and my condition. My name is James Waller, I am 28 years old, and have had Crohn’s disease for 10 years. When I was first diagnosed I was put on Cemetedine and given the usual totally in-adequate advice of  ‘just don’t eat anything that upsets you’. Well for the first few years I actually felt ‘OK’ like this, but as time went on and I kept unknowingly eating and doing things that were having a horrendous effect on my condition, and it started to flare up more often. I did contact my first specialist about 6 years ago, as I wanted a review of my condition and her advice on the phone was, ‘ so long as it settles down after a flare I don’t think you need to see me again’. So I carried on assuming this was fine.

About a year ago I asked to see a new specialist at a new hospital in London, as I felt I really should be seen. My new specialist was a leading expert in Crohn’s, and after tests he immediately prescribed new drugs and said that I urgently needed to get my disease under control. Basically over the ten years of having Crohn’s I had actually been really unwell with diarrhea everyday and some kind of intestinal pain, but I actually thought this was normal as it had been so long since I’d been healthy. I now started to take my condition seriously and experimented with a gluten free diet which improved my symptoms slightly, but I was still experiencing discomfort.

About 6 months ago I was prescribed a combination treatment of Azathrioprine and Infliximab for a fistula of the large and small intestine, just a lovely little complication of Crohn’s disease. I asked if I could have a month to consider the treatments as I wasn’t totally keen on it, although I really had no choice. It was in this period that I spoke to a friend who is training to become a doctor, and he mentioned he’d heard about a medical doctor in America who had cured herself of an auto-immune disease with a special diet.

A couple weeks later, at home, bored and on Youtube, a video about the Paleo diet popped up and after watching this I was fascinated; For the next week I was locked to my laptop finding out all I could about it. I immediately decided to give the auto-immune protocol a try, and after a few trials and errors to discover what I could and couldn’t tolerate, virtually ALL my symptoms of Crohn’s were gone!

Let me break that down for you,

Joint pain-100%gone

Psoriasis-100%gone

Diarrhea-100% gone

Intestinal pain-100% gone

In other words I felt absolutely normal and well for the first time in 10 years, which was and is a miracle! For the last 4 months or so I’ve been experimenting on and off, but during the periods when I follow the diet, in the way that works for me, religiously, with no cheating whatsoever I feel 100% remission of all my symptoms. I can’t tell you what an amazing feeling this is to be free of a disease you’ve lived with for so long. I am not saying it’s easy by any means, or that I never make mistakes as I still I have a long way to go, but if you have Crohn’s I urge you to give this a try.

The next step for me will be to ask my specialist if I can stop Infliximab, and have some tests to see if the bio-markers show that the diet is keeping my disease under control. I know I’ll feel great as I’ve tried being Paleo before and after I started my current treatments, but if I can get some blood results to prove it, then that will really motivate me to follow the Paleo diet and lifestyle forever and hopefully one day achieve total clinical remission of Crohn’s.

Thanks to all the Paleo researchers for your work.

 

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  1. Liz
    February 11, 2013 at 6:53 am

    Congratulations on achieving symptomatic remission, you must be feeling really great. I’m a little confused though — you said in your story “I know I’ll feel great as I’ve tried being Paleo before and after I started my current treatments”. So did you try the paleo diet before you started infliximab? Did you find that it didn’t have enough of an effect to avoid going on infliximab?

    I don’t mean to scare you but I would be very wary of going off of infliximab completely. As you may know, infliximab is based on animal proteins and as a result there’s a significant risk of developing antibodies against it, and that risk is increased by stopping and starting therapy. One of my friends has achieved a good result with etanercept and paleo by continuing with the drug but stretching out the period between shots to much longer than what’s typically prescribed (I think something like monthly instead of weekly).

    I myself was diagnosed with severe medically refractory ulcerative colitis after eating a fairly strict paleo diet for several years. I believe that eating paleo resolved some early, milder flares and extraintestinal issues I had (mostly skin problems) and kept me mostly “in remission” for those years before I was diagnosed, but once my big flare hit, diet was useless and I ended up with a colectomy.

    • James
      February 23, 2013 at 9:48 am

      Hi Liz,

      Thanks for you comment and info about infliximab. In answer to you question yes, I tried the Paleo diet before starting infliximab and also whilst taking infliximab, with a long non/semi-paleo period in between.

      I felt symptom free on the Paleo diet before starting infliximab and personally I felt so good that I would have been happy to continue with diet alone and no other treatments. However I agreed with my specialist that combining both the diet and infliximab for a limited period was the most effective way to get my disease under control quickly.

      I have now stopped infliximab to try with the Paleo diet alone and I am still symptom free, which is awesome.

      My specialist has previously said that diet could heal the mucusul disease (inflammation inside the bowel) but would never heal the fistula (inflammation outside the bowel wall) and that’s what infliximab is for. After this month he’s keen for me to start infliximab again but I want to continue with my diet as I feel so good.

      I think it’s important to recognise that my specialist is probably one of the world’s leading experts on Chron’s and obviously I discuss everything with him. However he was unaware of the Paleo diet and will not have treated someone who has used the Paleo diet and seen such good results before. I’d like to get your opinion on this as you seem quite well informed.

      Thanks again and best of luck regaining your health. I have heard a liquid diet can really help digestive disorders if that’s something you think could help.

      James

  2. Bryan
    February 11, 2013 at 9:15 am

    James, that’s awesome to hear that you were able to essentially eliminate the symptoms of Crohns through Paleo! As a guy who has suffered from IBS for years, I know exactly how good it feels to finally get that relief once you get your diet adjusted and figured out.

    Congrats!

  3. Tony Mach
    February 11, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    The study “Triolo et al 2002″ had some controls with Crohn’s, and it looks like eggs might be involved in Crohn’s – so I think your “autoimmune protocol” is a good call.

    • Sandra Brigham
      February 12, 2013 at 3:26 am

      Tony, I’ve searched for this Triolo article and can’t find it. He has one in 2002 on dairy & Bechet’s but not Crohn’s. Could you point me to it? My 28 yo son is primarily eating eggs on Paleo (was SCD) to control his Crohn’s. He seems to tolerate them well, if not thrive on them, so would love to read the Triolo article. Thanks.

  4. Sarah
    February 11, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Wow thanks for sharing your story! That is incredible!! It makes me happy when I hear of other peoples’ success stories. Changing my diet has helped me to heal from a lot of health problems too. I am much better, but still healing from PCOS and IBS.

  5. Grayson
    February 12, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    James,

    Congrats! I agree with the first commenter in offering a friendly warning not to get too excited just yet. Paleo plus TNF inhibitor sounds like a great weapon in fighting Crohn’s. Paleo alone may not be enough, at least not yet, as many of us have learned. The idea of spacing your shots longer and longer sounds like a good one.

    Could you say more about your fistula and if/when it healed? (Bet you never thought anyone would ask you that!)

    Again, super stoked for you!

    • James
      February 23, 2013 at 10:13 am

      Hi Grayson,

      Well, yes, that will be the proof of how effective the Paleo diet is. I am not sure yet if the fistula has healed, I am going to have an MRI at the end of the year and the plan is to continue with infliximab until then.

      I am currently trying with just the Paleo diet alone so if the results show the inflammation has reduced after 30 days then maybe I can discuss continuing like this.

      I feel good but if I deviate from my own very strict protocol, (physical stress on the intestines and insoluble fiber being the main things to avoid for me), I do get some symptoms.

      I have read some pursuasive accounts of people healing fistulas with diet that you might be interested in,

      http://crohnsbreakthrough.com/blog/scd-diet-healed-my-fistulas-and-put-my-crohns-in-remission/

      Obviously I’m not comparing the experience of another individual to myself and healing an auto-immune disease with diet is not easy, but if you were to base the proof of a medical treatment being effective on how much better it makes someone feel, then I would have to honestly say the Paleo diet wins. ( I am not saying that is the only evidence of the effectiveness of medicine, blood tests are clearly very important )

      Thanks a lot for your congrats and I’d love to hear your thoughts on all this.

      James

  6. CJ
    February 12, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    There may be sustained benefit from adding yogurt that has been fermented with non-bifidobacterial species (this includes Bifidobacterium spp. and Lactobacillus bifidus). It’s tough to find starter cultures with non-bifidobacterial spp., but they’re out there.

    I find that a generally high-fat, adequate protein diet that is low in carbohydrates is best; when I *do* consume carbohydrates (including plant-based material, which generally does not agree with me), the monosaccharides are best. Polymeric carbohydrates- mainly starch, but also cellulose- are problematic. But if consumed with yogurt, the problems are dramatically diminished in many cases.

    I know yogurt isn’t paleo; however, there are data to suggest lactobacilli are good for reducing inflammation, and may be useful with IBD.

  7. bjjcaveman
    February 12, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    Congratulations! It’s great that you took such initiative with your own health.

  8. Wayne
    February 13, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Hi James, congratulations on overcoming your croh’s symptoms. I too have suffered with crohn’s for over a decade with various complications and a ton of meds. I was at my wits end when I was put on a drug called adalimumab than needed to be self injected. I changed to a paleo diet in Jan 2012 and like you, my symptoms of 10 years vanished in about 2 weeks. I have been more or less symptom free since then. I was so sick of the meds, I stopped them in Nov 2011 and had a 2 month ‘getting ready’ period until I started fully on the paleo diet in Jan 2012. I hope that you also have continued relief from your symptoms when you get off the Infliximab. I also started a regime of strength training round about the same time, which I’m sure has helped also. Prior to that, I was too knackered all the time to think about lifting weights.

    • James
      February 23, 2013 at 10:22 am

      Thanks Wayne,

      That’s awesome. I also in the process of rolling this out properly, it’s going to involve a massive lifestyle change that includes moving house, country ( to somewhere hot for vitamin D : ) and finding suppliers of quality cheap, organic meat and veg.

      Hope it goes great!

  9. Edmund Brown
    February 15, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    There are quite a few Crohn’s (and other auto-immune) sufferers who have found relief or remission by intentional inoculation with hookworms. There are even a couple of controlled studies being run now… yahoo groups “helminthic therapy” has a lot of good info.

    It seems there is a pretty powerful connection between gut health/permeability and systemic health. They are called our “oldest friends” by some… seems like it is a natural fit for the Paleosphere.

  10. Heather
    February 22, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    This is a great story. I have crohn’s disease myself and I am going to start using this diet. I just don’t have the full support of my husband. It keeps saying things like you’ll have to give up a lot of great food like bread, pasta, etc. but if it makes me feel better I will do it :)

  11. Matthew Kaczmarczyk
    February 23, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    I have also tried this paleo also having some serious fistulas down below (also have crohns for last 10 years) but the fibre is really buggering me up, still causing loads of pain!!! Also James do you have any experience with meal replacements (Modulen), I’m on paleo apart from this; worried I will loose too much weight if I come of this, your opinion will be very appreciated! thanks

    • James
      February 28, 2013 at 4:14 am

      Hi Matthew,

      That’s great you’ve started on Paleo, I think in the long run it will be a great benefit. Firstly before I say anything else, STOP EATING FIBER! In my experience fiber is the biggest cause of a Chron’s flare.

      If you’ve had Chron’s for 10 years you digestive system is going to be super sensitive. To eat Paleo and avoid fiber you’re going to have to make sure all you vegetables are well-cooked ( soft ).

      This is so important. To make sure you retain most of the nutrients steam veg instead of boiling until it’s just soft enough that you can tolerate it. Eat a shed load of leaves like kale and spinach, as they’re packed full of vitamins and can be eaten raw or steamed for a couple of minutes. Make sure you chew them well though. Also leaves are anti-inflammatory and really help calm down your gut.

      It took me a long time to work out exactly what I could eat. For example when I started I ate a load of raw broccoli and ended up in A&E! After a bit of experimentation though I found my perfect diet and relived all my symptoms.

      This is what I eat and I think it’s a great place to start,

      Meat (cooked medium, not too rare and not overcooked as this makes it hard to digest)

      Oily Fish (same)

      Shellfish

      Steamed vegetables (soft enough to digest well)

      Fat ( organic beef/lamb fat and fish oil is essential, try eating a spoonful of cold organic beef fat and see how you feel)

      Sweet potatoes ( this is how I put on weight, but eating too many can make me bloated )

      Berry tea and Roobois tea (not too strong)

      Onions and garlic (raw and cooked)

      Why don’t you give this a try? I can only say what’s worked for me but a lot of people I know have tried this as a basic protocol and then gradually added other foods. Best of luck I’am sure you’ll get there in the end. Do as much research as you can it will help you find what works and why.

  12. joanna
    February 23, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    i have IBD, too, but ulcerative colitis. i started paleo AI protocol in august 2012 but am still flaring unfortunately- have to get blood tranfusions, still diarrhea, pain, you know, everything. it’s very frustrating but paleo could take years to heal me. i know in my case that i need something medicinal to help since it seems most people with this disease see more improvement that i have. i’ve tried every drug so far- humira my latest and most horrific experience ever.

    i’d like to try stem cell transplants or helminthic therapy. these are still so controversial though and all the doctors i’ve seen are in the stone ages about IBD.

  13. marsha
    February 25, 2013 at 9:35 am

    James — You may be on the right track, but it may not be just the paleo. I’ve had Crohn’s for 15 years, used Remicade till it stopped working, tried Humira and Cimzia with poor results, and finally concluded that I needed to try alternative treatments till I found an answer. I finally went to a naturopath who did food intolerance testing via blood test. According to her, I’m intolerant of dairy products, eggs, and any combination of potatoes and grain. Working with this information, I was doing quite well until I ate way too many apples in late summer a couple of years ago. This led me to the conclusion that the food intolerances weren’t the whole answer, and after further research I discovered the FODMAPs research being done at Monash University in Australia (easy to find via a Google search). The research is new and a work in progress, so they do sometimes change their minds about whether a particular food is OK or not (e.g., kale and cabbage have gone from not OK to OK, much to my delight). But as I get more skilled with the combination of these two practices (no dairy, no eggs, usually no potatoes, plus close adherence to the FODMAPs diet) I feel more and more normal, I’m gaining a little bit of weight but not too much, no diarrhea unless I eat unwisely, no cramping or blood, much better energy than I’ve had since the Remicade was working well. No pharmaceuticals at all in over two years. I have used L-glutamine to help my colon heal and keep diarrhea to a minimum, but I apparently don’t need it any longer. Knocking on wood, I think I may be successfully getting past the Crohn’s!

  14. Josh
    March 9, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    I too suffer from Crohn’s disease. If there was an indication for a med, be it on label or off label, I’ve tried it. This Includes most of the biologics (infliximab, adalimumab, etc), immunosuppressants, steroids, antibiotics, helminthic, dietary regimens, so on and so forth. Nothing has worked. I’m completely refractory. I eat what most would consider a ‘paleo-esque’ diet currently but was very hardcore for several years when I began it in 2009. While I am genuinely happy to see anyone get relief from this insidious disease I believe it is also important to temper expectations. There are no magic bullets.

  15. John CarbonaroMirabella
    March 16, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Aloha,

    I’m 46 yoa and have had chrons since I was 5 or so. I’ve had fistula surgery, bowl resection and at one point in my unhealthy life I was taking 29 pills a day. Never knew 12 trips to the bathroom to bleed and be in pain was not normal, I mean, really, what guys talk about this? It’s a shi** subject. Ha. Anyway, on December 1st, 2012, a new found friend took me to wholefoods supermarket here in Honolulu. He had me get things every doctor told me never to eat, or you will be in the hospital. My first item in the cart was kale….. And lots of it. Followed by 1lb of ahi (tuna), raw. Two dozen range free eggs, 8 lbs of grass fed beef , organic red onions, garlic, jalapeño mild and the hottest. Also range free chicken breast, lamb, and buffalo. He also put several bottles of alkaline water, started at ph of 8. He eventually moved me up to 9.5 ph. i just invested in my own jupiter athena ionizer. Wow…. What a difference water is…btw he had me start at a minimum of 64 oz a day. Now I am easily at 100 oz of Water at ph 10. The bottom line is I’ve been on paleo since dec 1st to now, (3/16/2013). I’ve had not one cramp, one episode of chrons. No bleeding, and I lost over 17 pounds. Oh, did I mention I stopped working out, when I started? I’ve slowly started a work out routine and I cant believe how much better I feel and look at life. It was a tough holiday during December when I started, but after 30 days, I was hooked! My cousin has lupus, ms and chrons. She has been doing paleo for over a year. Not one symptom of any of those horrible diseases has showed up. She lost 38 lbs. simple rule. No grain, beans, or dairy, and you are on your way, to a different you. Oh, it’s expensive, but how do you price your health….think about it. Give it a try. But if you have chrons you can not go slip up and be sucked into restaurant mentality. Go out, but ask for what you want, that meets the paleo lifestyle.

  16. Mike
    May 9, 2013 at 3:49 am

    I’m really glad I came across this post. I had a poisoning incident a few weeks ago which set off symptoms similar to Crohn’s and Colitis. Needless to say, I became incredibly afraid and worried that I actually had the disease. I didn’t in the end, but the fear caused me to research a lot about it and as a consequence, I am much more aware of the disease. I even continued to research (as I am now) and I did come across an article of a man who also cured his Crohn’s: http://dranh.com/arimeisel/ part of it is a half an hour video, but it is worth watching.

  17. Gregory White
    May 19, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    I have crohns and have been pain and symptom free for three months after i changed my diet. I stopped taking all meds (pentasa and protonix). I do not eat any gluetin, dairy, soy or sugar or artificial sweetners. I only eat organic foods and drink only clean pure water. No fluoride or chlorine. I take a good probiotic and supplements to promote healing and reduce inflammation. I have normal bowel movements again and have regained my life. I have lost 25# and have never felt better.

  18. Stacy
    September 26, 2013 at 12:05 am

    I’ve had Crohn’s Colitis for 16 years now. It was one of of the worst cases the doctors had seen. I ruptured in ICU. That caused me to become septic. The sepsis stopped my lungs, caused a stroke and 13 seizures. I was in a coma for 5 days. I’ve tried all the meds out there. A couple that have killed a lot of people. I’ve been in full remission/healed for over 4 years now. And all without a single medication. As far as diet, I don’t limit too much. I just enjoy my food. I do stay away from fast food, too many heavy foods and processed foods like hot dogs and bologna–which I wouldn’t eat if I didn’t have IBD. I take fish oil and gummy multivitamins. The gummy’s absorb better.
    I gave up all my meds because I got so tired of the side effects and they helped but still kept me from reaching 100% remission.
    I know everyone has their own way and beliefs about how to help their bodies. But, I got down on my knees one day, tired of the infusions and 30 + pills every day. I just prayed and stepped out on faith. I was so tired of it all. I gave up my medicine that day and I haven’t needed any since. I’ve had check-ups, blood work, CT’s, etc. They can never find any trace of the IBD. In fact, my intestines never looked so good. It’s sill a struggle at times. Not disease wise. Frankly, I feel as if I’ve never had it. It’s the fact that I am almost 40 and multiple surgeries have taken a toll. But, I’m healthy, I work out, eat when I want, DON’T STRESS(that’s a big one!), and get plenty of sleep.
    I hope you all find the relief I have found.
    Keep positive! Doctors don’t know your body the way you do, as much as they like to think they do. ;)
    :)

  19. Teresa
    June 26, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    My daughter has Crohn’s/UC, we have decided to try the Paleo way. She’s been on Lialda, Humira, and now Simponi (1 shot per month). She’s had 3 blood transfusions in the last 2 years. She’s been on Prednisone But has nasty side effects.
    We are both going Paleo, me for just general health and lose weight, and of course her to hopefully get her condition under control. Any tips or advice will be much appreciated. It is expensive to eat healthy, but we are trying. So far our food intake consists of: Cooked broccoli, carrots, green beans, cauliflower, spinach, bell peppers, zucchini, mixed lettuce and protein from beef, chicken, pork, salmon, tuna, some fruits, apples, strawberries, apricots, peaches, blueberries, dried fruit, and almonds.
    does this sound like we are doing ok? She’s having another flare up, diarrhea, blood, cramping, pain, and extremely tired. Any suggestions? When do you think she’ll see any results, I know you aren’t doctors, but what do you think?

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