We discuss in this interview:

  • How Vicky was diagnosed with RA with extremely painful symptoms in hands, feet and shoulders
  • Her first attempts with several drug mixes with poor results
  • Switching to a whole-food plant-based diet with huge benefits
  • How she is now almost pain-free and able to run 5km
  • A partial support from her rheumatologist
  • Blood pressure and RA
  • Combining Plaquenil and diet
  • The importance of avoiding oil
  • Taking supplements

Clint – It is so fun to have you join me again. Whilst, we explore another person’s wonderful improvements with their inflammatory arthritis and learn what they have done. With that, we can also learn from them and implement these positive changes in our lives. Today, I’ve got Vicky with me and she is from a place called Hatteras Island, which is off the coast of North Carolina. She’s just been describing it to me, so I’ve looked it up on a map. It’s a fabulously interesting land structure right off of the coast in the Atlantic Ocean. With that, that is where Vicki is joining me from today. Thank you so much, Vicky, for doing this interview.

Vicky – Thank you, Clint.

Clint – Now, we don’t know much about your story. Then, I only have a little email from you to say how well you’ve done and you’ve got off your prednisone? With that, why don’t you give us the little trailer of what we’re in for today or your before and after?

Vicky – I was diagnosed five years ago and my first symptoms were my hands would not close. They were extremely painful and they kept me out for like 5 nights in a row before I went to the urgent care doctor. Then, he put me on steroids. As soon as the steroids were off, my hands went back to aching and I couldn’t close them again. Then, I asked for more steroids and he said, OK, one more time. But then you need to go to your primary care and they did the test. Then, she tested me for Lymes disease and rheumatoid arthritis. The Lymes was negative, but the Rheumatoid was positive and she referred me to a rheumatologist. In my before, I couldn’t close my hands and they were painful. We live at the beach, so walking on the sand was extremely painful. After that, I had started going into my shoulders. By the time I got in to see the rheumatologist from June to September, I was having a lot more joint pain and I was about 50 pounds heavier back Then when I started having all these problems, the rheumatologist put me on prednisone. Then, he gave me a choice of 3 different drugs that I could take. He gave me methotrexate, a biologic drug, and the Plaquenil. With that, I choose the plaque now and he made sure I had prednisone to help with the pain. I also used Naproxen to help alleviate the pain. Then in the process of all that, my mother broke her ankle in the hospital, she had 2 heart attacks after that and ended up with open-heart surgery. Unfortunately, she never recouped from that. In the meantime, all this stress with the aura was making it worse. After she passed, I have to find a solution for this and I started investigating or Googling rheumatoid arthritis diets. Then, I came across Dr. John McDougall, and when I was listening to him. I listened to a podcast by Chef AJ and I was like, I need to lose weight to help with this rheumatoid arthritis. I started following Chef AJ’s program and I lost a total of 60 pounds during her program. I sense a little bit of it back on maybe 7 to 10 pounds, but I pretty much stay the same weight. I can tell a huge difference if I am not eating a whole food plant-based diet. If I go out to a restaurant, I always make sure that I order vegetables. I don’t eat any meat or dairy products, I am totally vegan, and I try to never have processed foods. But in restaurants, you’re not always guaranteed that they’re not going to add some oil or other things to your food. My reaction when I get salt to my food but not so much with salt, but the oil is really bad. I have a lot of joint pain and It’ll start on my shoulders or I’ll wake up in my hands are a little achy. Then I’m like, I know that I’ve eaten something that I shouldn’t have had and so I’m pretty strict on my diet. My husband calls me vegan on steroids.

Clint – Which is ironic because you got off the steroids, didn’t you?

Vicky – That’s right, I have not used any steroids in quite a few years.

Clint – Wow! I just want to fill in some gaps that I need to just understand a bit more. First of all, how is your pain levels now? Given that in the past you had it in your hands, feet, shoulders, and you couldn’t walk on the beach? What’s life like for you now in terms of physical ability and pain?

Vicky – I think you don’t have any physical limitations and I very rarely have any pain. I’m 60 now, was it two and a half years ago? I ask him if I could start running and he said, sure. Then he also told me to come back and tell me all the marathons (inaudible). I was like, No, I just want to do a 5K. Then, I looked up G running and learned the body mechanics to run so I wouldn’t hurt my knees or my hips and my joints. Then, I started doing that and I ran for 5km now. I don’t have any limitations of things that I can’t do. My rheumatologist calls me his miracle patient. He said with the numbers that the tests that they did initially to diagnose my rheumatoid arthritis, 2 of the numbers were extremely high. Then he said, I have less than 5% of my patients over the history of my practice that ever go into remission with numbers as high as yours. Then he says, whatever you’re doing just keep on doing it.

Clint – You would think his next question was to write it all down for me so I can share it with every patient I have.

Vicky – Wouldn’t that be nice? When I first told him about the diet and I had high blood pressure to start with. I was not on medication, but I did have high blood pressure. My family physician was getting ready to put me on medication. But once I started eating plant-based within 2 weeks, my blood pressure was totally normal. Then I said, because of my diet and that’s how I got my blood pressure under control and I’ve lost this weight. Then he said, whatever you’re doing just keep doing it, and that’s what he always says. He doesn’t acknowledge the diet part of it, which I find quite sad.

Clint – Yeah, I just hear this so much! I haven’t got a different variation of my response. It’s just like when the child does something naughty, you just think how many different ways can you say, please don’t do that. Then, you’ve done that all day and every day dealing with my kids. Then, it is the same way with the number of conversations with lovely folks like yourself. For example, my doctor says I’m a miracle patient. Then, I’m the one that has gotten rid of all my inflammation and I’m consistent. I don’t go up and down with my inflammation, and I need the lowest possible medication. Then the response is whatever you’re doing, keep doing it. I mean, it gets a bit old when you just think, come on, pull it together medical community. They should go and look at the research. Go and look at the research. It is like what I’ve mentioned on a podcast I recorded recently with another guest. The best way for us to educate the medical community is through the ground as well. It’s through us presenting to the rheumatologist saying this is what’s possible and here are the results. Then, I am going to be a growing representative portion of your patient base who now knows more about the science of the gut and RA than what you do doctor. It’s not that we’re smarter, but it’s we’re looking at the right area of the research rather than the medicine’s side of things. They should look at this side as well or look at all the research on the lifestyle side because it’s all there. It’s just no one’s looking at it. Anyway, I love talking to you because you’re able to run and you’ve done a 5K run. Then, you don’t hurt while walking and you used to not be able to even walk on sand, which is about as soft as the surface as it gets. Tell us now what medication do you take? You were present originally as suggested naproxen, prednisone, Plaquenil, methotrexate, and a biologic. Where are you at with that?

Vicky – I don’t take the naproxen anymore at all and I don’t even have a prescription for that anymore. He always wants me to have prednisone on my hand for emergencies. With that, I do have a prescription filled in my bag that I take with me when I travel. I don’t use it, but it’s there. Then, the Plaquenil is all I take for now. Now, if you go back to after my mother passed away and I started the diet thing. The reason why I really wanted to get on that diet and get my blood pressure under control and everything. He told me when I got back from our trip to Hawaii. If my numbers weren’t down and my pain level wasn’t down, he was going to switch me to methotrexate. I was determined I was not going to take that drug. When I got back, he’s like, you’re doing so good and we don’t need to change your medicine. Then he’s like, we’ll just keep you on the Plaquenil with the same dose. With that, I have been on this same exact dose the whole time since I’ve been diagnosed, but I don’t take any of the other drugs. He did last June when I saw him and I see him every 6 months because of me on the platform now. Then he said, it’s time for us to X-ray your hands and see how you’re doing or see how your disease is progressing. I just looked at him and he looked at my hands and he’s like, your hands look great. I don’t think we really need to do those x rays, do we? I said, no, I don’t think we need to do them either. Then he said, let’s just skip it and you’re good for now.

Clint – I love that and that’s awesome. Couple of things I just want to add some context around the blood pressure before we move on. The blood pressure is one that is so typically easy to resolve and I have cautionary words inside my program. If you are taking blood pressure medication, you need to monitor your blood pressure closely over the first week. It is because blood pressure issues can resolve so quickly that you can become overmedicated. It is because your natural improvements mean that your old level of drug intake is too high now. I don’t have personal experience with blood pressure issues and I’m certainly not a doctor. I got that information like yourself originally from Dr. Mcdougall, who spoke about this at length in some of his lectures online that my wife, Melissa, and I used to sit up at night. Then, we would watch one after another after another. We spent hour upon hour watching Dr. McDougall stuff. Blood pressure is one that is like a gift. If someone says, my only issue is high blood pressure, what should I do? The plant-based community is almost mobbing them to go plant-based. It is because it’s so quick to result and my father is a good example of this. His background diet is meat or potatoes or foods that are on a farm, and that’s how I was brought up as well. With that, his blood pressure started to teeter on outside the normal range. When he saw what I was doing with my rheumatoid arthritis, he paid attention. Then he said, do you think it’ll help blood pressure because the doctor wants me to go on blood pressure medications? Then, what’s interesting is not only did he not go on those medications, but he has resolved it for so long. I actually haven’t had a blood pressure discussion with him for a couple of years, and it’s just reminded me this Christmas. I might actually ask him about it because it’s been that long and I know that he hasn’t had any issues. It’s become so resolved, we’ve forgotten about it, and isn’t that remarkable? Isn’t it just crazy to think that society is running probably 90% of the ones taking medications for blood pressure? Wherein, they can just not have to take those meds if they change their diet, and it’s extraordinary.

Vicky – Yes, it’s amazing!

Clint – Yeah. There was my little excited ramble about blood pressure. Now, I want to ask you, what if naysayer is listening to this? Then he/she is saying, you’re kidding yourself because the Plaquenil is doing this for you Vicki and it’s not the diet. How can you respond to those naysayers?

Vicky – Well, I can positively say it’s the diet. It is because if I have gone out to a restaurant and I’ve got oil, then I definitely will feel it within a matter of hours. As I’m sleeping, I might wake up and my thumb is aching in the morning or my shoulders are hurting and I don’t sleep as well either. With that, I can definitely see the difference if I stray off the diet.

Clint – Yes, you’ve got examples where if you do the wrong thing, it shows up. Then, what is more difficult to discern for all of us, not just you, but for everyone on medications, is how much is the diet helps? How much are the medications helping? But here’s another way for us to explore this a little further and I’m all in by the way and I know it’s the diet. I’m just trying to help those people who are listening to this podcast. Maybe it’s the first one they’ve ever listened to, and they don’t realize that we’ve got several hundreds of interviews. Just like yours prior where someone has transformed their life eating the way that you have. But Plaquenil tends to take a few months to work, but you change your diet straight away within the first few months. I would imagine that you saw improvements before the effectiveness of the drug began.

Vicky – I started taking the drug and I went to him in September, so I believe it was in October because I had a month to decide on the drug. It was October of 2016 and then I started changing my diet. I was already eating somewhat of a vegan diet, but it was like a vegan junk food diet. You can get potato chips, corn chips, and vegan fake meat cheese, which you know is all olive oil, salt, and things like that. With that, I stopped all that in February and it is when I actually did the whole transition. From October to February, I was on the platform now but I was also on several rounds of prednisone and naproxen too. I have a lot of drugs on board in my system to get me under control.

Clint – They are significant drugs too whilst we can pick up naproxen from the local pharmacy without a prescription. It’s still quite significant the effect that medication can have. Then we’re talking about steroids and then the step up from there. I’ve often compared just to maybe 3-4 milligrams a day of prednisone. If I were to take a guess, I believe that’s the equivalent of about 15 milligrams a week of methotrexate. Like, I think that a few milligrams a day of prednisone is a significant alteration to pain levels in the body in the same way with the significant methotrexate dose. These are these are non-insignificant things that you were able to eliminate from your life. The greatest testimony of all is the fact that you haven’t progressed, that you haven’t got worse. This defies the scientific understanding of the disease and plaque vinyl. If we think of it in the terms of some rheumatologists who come on our monthly live calls in our support group, they refer to Plaquenil as vitamin P. They’re given that it’s so light in a as a drug. Remember, Donald Trump just decided to take it just for fun because he was worried about COVID. Then, they were going to roll it out as a major COVID thing because of its safety and effectiveness profile. Whether or not it was or not, I’ve forgotten the details for COVID. It’s not like you’re on a massive intervention at the moment, you’re on the vitamin P level.

Vicky – Yes, it doesn’t protect you from COVID because I did get COVID.

Clint – I’d possibly like to explore that before I do, let me go with the thought in my mind. Have you ever had eye issues? If people are worried about Plaquenil from a vision viewpoint as one of the side effects that come up?

Vicky – That was one of my big concerns when I was choosing the drug. I mean, I thought it was great that my rheumatologist was allowing me to make a choice in which drug I wanted to get started on. When I read about the problems with the eyes or neighbor right next door to us was an eye doctor. Then, he had been in practice for a long time. My husband actually was talking to him about the drugs. He said, tell her to take the Plaquenil. He had been practicing for like 30 years and he said I’ve seen one person affected by Plaquenil. He said that is probably the safest drug she could take. I do go every year to get my eyes checked and I’ve not had any issues at all with it. The eye doctor that I’m seeing now, which was one of his associates, he’s like, you’re doing great on the Plaquenil. Then he said to do not worry about it.

Clint – That’s consistent with the anecdotal feedback that I get. I’ve not had anyone tell me inside our support group or via just email to from the general public or anything to the contrary. I’ve had some people have some side effects reported to me from the drug that aren’t related, but that goes for every drug. I mean, there are people who can’t tolerate aspirin, for example. Let’s not sort of get carried away here and it sounds to me like it’s going fantastic for you. Then, a part of me or the curiosity part of me wonders, how you might even be without the drug? Also, whether or not you are even needing the drug? But I don’t want to plant a seed that we want to grow and develop unnecessarily. It is because you’re getting no side effects. The eyes are fine each year when they’re checked. You come across as you’re delighted, happy, and feeling good. It’s a classic example of why mess with what’s working. It is because once the boat is rocked, it’s hard to get back into the boat if we fall out. If I was in your situation, I wouldn’t change anything either. Also, I wouldn’t be trying to mix things up because you’ve found the perfect balance and you’re asymptomatic. What could be better, right? It’s great and it’s the ideal place to be.

Clint – The oil, let’s just touch upon the oil and this is a great reminder for all of us once again. Let’s avoid all the oils and especially the restaurant oils. Whilst, I sound a little bit like the parrot who’s like the same thing over and over again. But when we take oil and we heat it over and over again, that’s done at restaurants. It is because they reheat their oils multiple times, especially for things like fries, burgers, and stuff. Reheating every time it’s done it massively increases the free radical load of the oil. What actually happens is that it’s oxidizing the polyunsaturated fats so that they are highly reactive when they go into your body. This translates to actually epithelium cell death across your epithelium layer or apoptosis. It’s called Is the cells actually die creating leaky gut literally holes inside your intestines and the consequences can be dramatic. I’m not sure if you listen to my summit presentation, but in the rheumatoid solution summit, I talked about recovering from a major rheumatoid setback. In my case, I was a massive deep-fried meal from a restaurant without eating it with any antioxidants. There is no salad and no orange juice, as I often like to do. All of which contain antioxidants, which can offset a lot of those free radicals before they get to the intestines. Just not really too many questions on this for you other than a nice sort of reminded everyone. Please avoid oils at restaurants at all costs and they are the most vicious. At home, I believe zero oils are ideal given we go to so much effort to keep inflammation down. If we’re really like it and we can’t give up our oil. You can have a little bit of cold-pressed olive oil on a salad and it is far less detrimental than a restaurant oil. They’re completely different beasts, but no oils are ideal.

Clint – Thanks for giving me that time to to to go down that path. Vicki, are there some other things you’d like to share with us that you’ve found to be crucial for you? Whether it be exercise, supplements, friendships, support, your strategy, meditation, or is there anything or other things that you do that you find really valuable to have such good health?

Vicky – I do stick to a strict diet. One of the people that I found in Chef AJ, her name is Christin Bummer and she started the forever diet. I started following her when she started her program. I think I started the second month after she started her program, so I stay with her program. I’m in her Facebook group and I do a lot of support with what she does. She does a thing called the plunge to try and get people on to a plant-based diet. You had to take a 14-day challenge, the plunge and I help moderate that support group. Christin is a very positive person and that’s one of the reasons why I really like following her. Also, she talks a lot about meditation. When I wake up in the morning, I do some deep breathing and we’ve gotten into this high five thing walking by the mirror. In which, you give yourself a high five and a smile, and it gives positive outlooks. Instead of saying I have to do something or I get to do this, this is my opportunity to share my testimony with you. I like that positive feedback. I do exercise every day and I’ve started incorporating a little more strength training, I’m trying to strengthen my core a little bit more. I’ve gotten into doing sit-ups, which I always hated. But I’ve gotten up to 2 sets of 30. When I do so, I’m doing pretty good on that. I can do one-minute planks and I can also do two one-minute planks. At 60 years old, I feel like I’m doing great and I feel better than I did when I was 40 or 50. I think I’m got my health going in the right direction.

Clint – Yeah, that is fantastic! Any supplements? It is because it’s always a question I get, it’s not something that consumes me at all. I’m pretty very light with the supplements, but what are you doing on that front?

Vicky – I usually take a supplement and it’s a vegan supplement. It’s got the B vitamins, D vitamins, and it’s got algae-based mayo’s. But they had a little bit of a problem getting their supplies in, so they had to they stopped production for a short time. I’ve been out For a couple of weeks now, but I’ve still been taking B12 supplement and vitamin D, and that’s pretty much what I take. I do make my own turmeric little capsules and I bought little caplets on Amazon. Have you ever made your own capsules?

Clint – I have done that.

Vicky – I do too with the Turmeric and I put a little black pepper in there, and I do turmeric every day.

Clint – Yeah, it’s the world’s messiest activity.

Vicky – Yes, but I sit, try and keep it contained in a small tray.

Clint – Do not do it over a white Caesarstone benchtop because you will be replacing your benchtops. Vicky, this has been tremendous. What else can I say? You’ve done amazing and you represent health so well by being active. Also by eating right surrounding yourself with or even working with people who are positive influences in your life. You’re living also in a beautiful location where you can enjoy nature regularly, which we shouldn’t take for granted. I think that plays a big role in health. I do not have the beach in the background like your windows do, but I am able to walk out onto a massive sports field here like a park. Then beyond that, just if 2-3 minute drive, we have the beach as well. I think we have sacrificed other things in life to get ourselves into a position where we can live in a place that has a positive impact on our emotional state. It’s not just by accident that my wife, when I first met her as a just as a girlfriend. She always wanted to live closer to the beach than where I was when we met and it’s been her drive. I’m so grateful that she’s pushed that we’ve sacrificed things to be able to live in a place that is close to the beach and you’re right on it. I mean, it’s fantastic and it would be a great place to do a health retreat where you are there to be really amazing. In your case, that would be good for you because you could just walk out of your house. You could be one of the hosts and you could put someone up in your house for us.

Clint – Vicky, thank you so much! I’ll let you get back to whatever you’re up to this evening.

Vicky – Thank you, Clint.

Clint Paddison

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  1. شكرا كلينت كثيرا علي العمل الرائع والمعلومات القيمه لقد استفدت كثيرا من تغير نظام الوجبات الي وجبات نباتيه

    اتمني لك ولعائلتك الصحه والسعادة الدائمه
    ايضا اشكر فيكي واتمني له دوام الصحه

  2. شكرا باديسون علي عملك الرائع وبالتوفيق الدائم والصحه الجيدة لك ولاسرتك
    شكرا فيكي علي نصائحك
    فعلا النظام الصحي النباتي بدون استخدام الزيت يعمل كالسحر في الالام الروماتويد

  3. Super.! Just so happy for you Vicky.Plant base is the changes that we experience in our joint pains etc.
    I was taking predisone 5mg a day from 40mg.I started my Padison program.I also did bloodwork order by my Rheumy.

    Results were normal.Recently my )primary Dr ordered bloodwork.Result is am low on B12.Got 1ml shot once a week for 3 weeks.Most of my joint & muscle pains disappeared & I stopped taking predinasone.Been a week.My B12 shot will continue every 3 weeks. & am taking B12 vitamin daily.& plant base food..

  4. Super.! Just so happy for you Vicky.Plant base is the changes that we experience in our joint pains etc.
    I was taking predisone 5mg a day from 40mg.I started my Padison program.I also did bloodwork order by my Rheumy.

    Results were normal.Recently my )primary Dr ordered bloodwork.Result is am low on B12.Got 1ml shot once a week for 3 weeks.Most of my joint & muscle pains disappeared & I stopped taking predinasone.Been a week.My B12 shot will continue every 3 weeks. & am taking B12 vitamin daily.& plant base food..

  5. Very helpful especially the restaurant oils. Cannot hardly eat at any restaurant and was not sure why it causes bone cramps in feet and legs that night. Very painful, not muscle cramps. Be careful with turmeric as it can be hard on the kidneys. Check with a kidney specialist but that was what I was told by one.

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