Lupus Cure by Plant Based Diet?
26 Jun 2017
This article lists books, videos and personal narratives by individuals who have cured lupus by adopting a plant based diet. Lupus is a relatively severe autoimmune disease. The information below applies to autoimmune diseases in general, not just lupus.

1) The Lupus Recovery Diet: A Natural Approach to Autoimmune Disease That Really Works (211 pages, 2007) by Jill Harrington. I found an online copy here.

Jill cured herself of lupus by doing a multi-day fast at the TrueNorth Health Center followed by easing into a plant-based diet. TrueNorth Health Center is renowned for conducting supervised fasts. It is located in Santa Rosa, California.

The first half of Jill's book is personal stories and testimonials of various individuals who got cured of lupus by adopting plant-based diets. The recovery protocol and why it works constitutes the latter half. The actual recovery protocol is described in pages 127-150.

Jill Harrington is neither a medical doctor nor a researcher. I felt that her writing lacks scientific rigor. However, the book does a great job of summarizing recovery protocols that have a good chance of working for a lupus patient. These protocols include some combination of three steps in sequence: (a) fasting (water-only fast or juice-fast) for a few days, (b) eating only fruits and vegetables that are known not to cause any inflammation in anybody, (c) introducing families of other foods (grains, beans, other fruits and vegetables) one by one to figure out which of these cause inflammation in specific individuals. Jill also mentions that for some people, switching directly to a plant-based diet (described by doctors like McDougall or Fuhrman; see sections below) without fasting may also work. However, recovery may take longer.

2) Goodbye Lupus: How a Medical Doctor Healed Herself Naturally With Supermarket Foods (95 pages, 2015) by Brooke Goldner.

Brooke cured herself of lupus by adopting a plant-based diet after coming in touch with her future husband (who happened to be a plant-based fitness coach).

3) The Empty Medicine Cabinet: The Pharmacist's Guide to the Hidden Danger of Drugs and the Healing Powers of Food (282 pages, 2014) by Dustin Rudolph. An article from his website which is relevant to autoimmune diseases: Rheumatoid Arthritis - What Is It & How To Treat It. Also see Medical Conditions.

Books by Medical Doctors: The books listed above are by two lupus survivors and a pharmacist. I don't know of any book by a plant-based rheumatologist. However, there are books by general practitioners like John McDougall, Joel Fuhrman and Michael Greger. Collectively, they have treated hundreds of patients with autoimmune diseases over several decades. So I would pay attention to articles / book chapters written by them specifically for lupus or autoimmune diseases. The following books seem promising:

  1. How Not To Die (576 pages, 2015) by Dr Michael Greger.
  2. Super Immunity by Joel Fuhrman (304 pages, 2013).
  3. Fasting and Eating for Health (255 pages, 1998) by Joel Fuhrman.
  4. The Starch Solution (368 pages, 2013) by John McDougall and Mary McDougall.

Other than the doctors mentioned above, three more plant-based doctors are prominent: Dean Ornish, Caldwell Esselstyn and Neal Barnard. However, the focus of their books and talks is heart disease (Ornish and Esselstyn) and diabetes (Barnard).

Overall, the guidelines by all of these doctors (McDougall, Fuhrman, Greger, Ornish, Esselstyn, Barnard) are similar to each other. However, for lupus or autoimmune diseases, some tweaks seem to be necessary. So books by McDougall, Fuhrman and Greger (all of them are general practitioners) are likely to be more helpful.

Resources: (a) Find a Plant-Based Doctor near you, (b) For plant-based diets in general, you may find the articles here helpful.

Dr John McDougall

John McDougall is a general practitioner who has been treating patients for almost 40 years now. His most famous patient was Carl Lewis who won nine Olympic gold medals in track and field. John McDougall runs a Health & Medical Center in Santa Rosa, California where he offers programs like the 10-day Live-in Program. Over the years, he has written many books and treated thousands of patients by helping them adopt plant based diets.

Excellent article by Dr McDougall: Diet: Only Hope for Arthritis. This is a long, detailed article that spells out why autoimmune diseases are caused (leaky gut syndrome) and strategies for cure.

Personal stories by his patients who were cured of lupus:

1) Vannesa: Lupus Nephritis.

2) Mayra: Almost Lost to Lupus.

3) Diane Weedling: Diet Freed Me from Lupus and Medical Specialists.

The videos below are not specifically about lupus. They cover rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune diseases in general.

Inflammatory Arthritis
(Talk By Dr McDougall)
Multiple Sclerosis and Autoimmune Diseases
Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet Treatment
John McDougall Success Story: Paula
John McDougall Success Story: Phyllis
John McDougall Success Story: Jackie
John McDougall Success Story: Juliea
Dr Joel Fuhrman

Joel Fuhrman is a major force in the plant-based diet movement. In 2012, he wrote a New York Times Bestseller: Eat to Live (400 pages, 2011). He followed up with several other books. Books that are likely to be of help to lupus patients are:

  1. Eat to Live (400 pages, 2011). This is the original book from 2011 that continues to get rave reviews on Amazon.
  2. Super Immunity by Joel Fuhrman (304 pages, 2013).
  3. Fasting and Eating for Health (255 pages, 1998) by Joel Fuhrman. This is the only book by a plant-based doctor that focuses on fasting.

    Two other doctors are well known for offering guided fasts: Dr Michael Klaper and Dr Alan Goldhamer. Both work at TrueNorth Health Center. They wrote a book called The Pleasure Trap (225 pages, 2006) which has some chapters on fasting.

Dr Fuhrman has written a series of articles at his website. See Lupus / SLECeliac DiseaseMultiple SclerosisPsoriasisRheumatoid ArthritisAutoimmune Disease.

Immunity Solution - Part 1

Dr Fuhrman has his own inimitable style of talking :) He seems a little edgy and frustrated to me (that people are not grasping what he's saying). However, his talks are valuable: they are fast-paced and packed with information. A large part of this talk covers autoimmune diseases.

Immunity Solution - Part 2

This video is super-long: 2 hours, 45 minutes. It is a concatenation of four different DVDs. Dr Fuhrman talks about autoimmune diseases quite often in these videos.

Dr Michael Greger

Dr Michael Greger is the author of How Not To Die (576 pages, 2015) which gets rave reviews on Amazon (the book had over 2,000 5-star ratings by June 2017). He maintains NutritionFacts.Org. He also prepares short, informative YouTube videos which are full of references to medical research. His presentation style is unique. He's a funny guy :) One of his best talks is From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food (54-mins, Aug 2014). This talk is about plant-based diets in general, not autoimmune ailments or lupus specifically.

Why Do Plant-Based Diets Help Rheumatoid Arthritis?

An informative video that explains the causes of rheumatoid arthritis and how plant-based diets address them.

Best Spices for Inflammation

The top 4 spices are cloves, ginger, rosemary and turmeric. Turns out that cloves, ginger and turmeric are essential ingredients in North Indian cooking, especially Punjabi cuisine.

Fighting Lupus with Turmeric

A short video by Dr Michael Greger that presents evidence that turmeric is awesome for combating lupus.

Brooke Goldner

Brooke Goldner is a psychiatrist by profession who cured herself from lupus by switching to a plant based diet. The switch in diet was accidental. She met her would-be husband Thomas Tadlock (check out his we website where he shows off his physique). Thomas was a physical fitness coach who continues to thrive on a plant-based diet. Brooke wanted to 'look hot' and agreed to follow Thomas' food habits. As a side effect, her lupus vanished in a few months. In the videos below, the couple recounts their personal story. One of the videos is narrated by Thomas. That video is worth watching even if you don't have any interest in lupus — it's a story of love :)

Book: Goodbye Lupus: How a Medical Doctor Healed Herself Naturally With Supermarket Foods (95 pages, 2015) by Brooke Goldner.

Other resources: Brooke finished a degree in psychiatry. She also started spreading the message about the efficacy of plant based diets to cure autoimmune diseases. Her 6-step protocol is outlined here (PDF presentation). She also has a YouTube channel.

My Story of Reversing Lupus and Autoimmune Disease
How We Beat Lupus
Personal Stories
Your Body Can Heal Itself
TEDx Talk: Clint Paddison
Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet - Natural treatment for RA
Leaky Gut Syndrome

Understanding the 'leaky gut syndrome' helps us realize how consumption of animal products might trigger an autoimmune response in our bodies.

Dr McDougall: How Autoimmune Diseases Form

An excellent talk. Must watch.

Dr Michael Klaper: Curing Leaky Gut Syndrome
Dr Michael Greger: The Leaky Gut Theory of Why Animal Products Cause Inflammation

I was motivated to assemble this information for a friend whom I met two days ago. She came for a hike that I had organized. Over the years, over a thousand people have joined me in these hikes. And she happens to be one of the most pleasant persons that I have met :)

Personally, I am convinced that lupus and autoimmune diseases can be reversed to a large degree by switching to plant-based diets. Many people report complete cessation of symptoms! Even blood tests confirm that the disease no longer exists.

At this point, I'm not sure of the overall protocol to be followed. It seems to be a combination of fasting (either water-only fast or juice-fast) for a few days, followed by very simple food for a few days (this food is mostly fruits and vegetables known not to cause any inflammation), followed by introduction of additional food categories slowly over time. The resulting diet will be customized to the person following it. Online articles suggest that some people are affected by nightshade vegetables, some others are affected by grains with gluten, some others seem to get affected by legumes, and so on.

Identifying a plant-based diet for heart disease, diabetes or obesity is much easier. The guidelines are quite simple: eat grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds (along with 3 supplements: Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and Omega-3). That's all! However, for somebody whose body triggers an autoimmune response to specific food categories, an additional step is required: those food categories have to be identified and eliminated.

A second challenge is related to medicines. When somebody starts fasting (water-only fast or juice fast) or starts making positive changes to their food habits, the body starts recovering rather quickly. So adjustments to medications are required within a matter of days. Having a medical doctor to supervise this process for a few weeks would be helpful.

Talks by doctors and personal narratives by patients suggest that many medical doctors are not aware of the connection between food and autoimmune response. Many doctors who are familiar with research in plant-based diets (which were endorsed by Medicare in 2010 and by Kaiser Permanente in 2013) believe that they are unsustainable because they require a radical shift in food habits. So finding a supportive doctor would be important if a switch to a plant-based diet is being pursued. Two famous plant-based doctors nearby are Dr McDougall and Dr Michael Klaper, both in Santa Rosa. A physician in Bay Area, California, who promotes plant-based diets is Dr Marc Iwahashi. His clinic is in Campbell.

On the whole, I'm delighted that my friend will come in touch with all this knowledge and benefit from it :)

© Copyright 2008—2018, Gurmeet Manku.