We discuss in this interview:
- Sean’s first appearance of psoriasis in his teens and subsequent development as arthritis
- Inflammation and permanent damage
- Switching to a plant-based diet after a major worsening of his condition
- His discovery of the Paddison Program and getting 80% healed after 1 year
- A 9-day vacation with the wrong foods, and 1 year to get back on track
- Three years after the incident, Sean is on an upward trajectory with his health, to the point that he is doing ultramarathons and triathlons
- Oatmeal for breakfast
- The combined effect of diet and exercise
- Gym routines
- Psoriasis and anti-inflammatory foods
On this week’s podcast, we were joined by Sean from Maine, a northeastern state in the US. Sean has tremendous personal experience reversing psoriatic arthritis (PA) and psoriasis, and he agreed to share his extensive knowledge with us. We learned how he successfully used a plant-based diet for psoriatic arthritis to alleviate his joint pain and eliminate the inflamed scaliness that comes with psoriasis.
Sean’s Health Journey
Sean started to develop severe psoriasis on his scalp in 8th grade when he was about 13. Interestingly, he recalls having some dental surgery which required antibiotics at around the same time. To deal with this, Sean shaved his head and exposed his scalp to the sun as much as possible, helping to clear it up.
A couple of years later, in his late teens, Sean developed psoriatic nail dystrophy or psoriasis of the nail bed and plate. Once again, this coincided with dental surgery. At the same time, Sean’s fingertips became inflamed with psoriatic arthritis.
Throughout his 20s, Sean’s fingers inflamed one by one until 8 out of 10 exhibited a combination of psoriasis and arthritis. From then on, it just progressed. He also developed reasonably severe pain in his wrist.
Around this time, Sean noticed an association between the food he ate and his pain and inflammation. He noticed that the pain was worse when he consumed nightshades, which included potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers. Moreover, his wrist pain drastically improved when he eliminated nightshades.
Sean saw a rheumatologist who was unsure why he had developed these conditions; after all, there was no family history. He was offered life-long medication but, preferring an all-natural approach, he was not happy to accept it.
Around four years ago, Sean’s pain and inflammation became so severe he couldn’t close his hands. He had psoriatic arthritis in his knees, neck, shoulder, and feet. He needed to make a significant change, and fast.
A Plant-Based Diet for Psoriatic Arthritis
When researching the value of plant-based diets in treating psoriatic arthritis, Sean stumbled across “The Paddison Program.” Everything about the program made sense to him. So he began to follow it, and as he sat down for his first bowl of quinoa and buckwheat with bok choy, Sean cried as he realised he had found a meal plan that he could eat and would not aggravate his symptoms.
A year later, Sean was doing well. He was about 80% healed and decided to celebrate with a vacation in Disney World. On his nine-day vacation, he remained strict but understandably deviated from his diet plan.
Eight days in, eating plenty of foods that he shouldn’t, Sean was pleased that he remained symptom-free. But, on day nine, he noticed the tell-tale signs of psoriasis starting to return underneath his fingernails. From then on, all his symptoms came crashing back in full force. It took him a good year to recover from the aftermath of that vacation.
Now, two or three years later, each day marks an improvement in Sean’s health. Of course, there are dips and bumps in the road. But, all in all, he is feeling the best he has ever felt. So much so that he is even participating in ultramarathons and triathlons, thanks to his endless energy! At 45, Sean is now out there, pushing his limits and enjoying the success he has achieved using a plant-based diet.
Can a Plant-Based Diet Help Psoriatic Arthritis? : Sean’s Experience
Sean’s journey to healing is one that we can all relate to. The first part of his healing happened very quickly, but the second stage is taking longer and is proving harder to achieve. Sean currently puts himself at around 95% healed. Despite having some permanent joint damage, his arthritis is now almost non-existent, and his psoriasis is getting better every day. He is sure that switching to an anti-inflammatory plant-based diet has put him on this road to recovery.
In Sean’s words, “It’s not easy. I’ve had to relearn how to eat, how to cook, all of those things, but the results speak for themselves, and there’s no way I would do it any differently”. Sean strongly believes that in 5 years, he will be completely healed and pain-free, with no symptoms.
Sean’s experience is supported by a recent scientific case study which provides further evidence that plant-based diets can successfully help to manage psoriatic arthritis symptoms.
How Can I Reverse Psoriatic Arthritis?
The Power of Exercise to Heal Psoriatic Arthritis
Alongside the overhaul of his diet, Sean used exercise to tackle his psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis symptoms. He was never an active kid; he first enjoyed playing basketball in his early 20s. When he reached his late 20s, he also started going to the gym a couple of days a week to build muscle.
In 2019, a couple of years into his experience with the Paddison Program, Sean ran his first 5K race. He went on to run five local 5K races over the summer. After this, he was hooked on running!
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic stopped him in his tracks. But he continued his training and even discovered the joy of trail runs. Finally, competing in a trail race, he realised how much he enjoyed it. But subsequent lockdowns meant that every other race he signed up for got cancelled.
The following year, Sean competed in his first marathon, which motivated him to try a triathlon. He found the swimming stage challenging but enjoyed cycling. With a few more triathlons and another long trail race under his belt, Sean is currently training for a few more big races over the next year.
At the moment, Sean combines gym workouts with running, swimming, and biking. Over the winter, he likes to increase his heavy lifting in the gym. The rest of the year is spent focusing on endurance. During bad weather, Sean uses an indoor bike trainer to reap the positive effects of cycling.
While he still believes that diet has a more significant impact on healing (probably a 51/49 split between diet and exercise), Sean knows that his energetic and active lifestyle has also proved influential. He is convinced that consuming an anti-inflammatory plant-based diet has supported his body to recover quickly from his intense exercise routine.
Fuelling the Body for Exercise
To fuel his body for his intense exercise sessions, Sean eats a lot! He starts his day with a breakfast of oats and berries. After that, most of his meals are made primarily of starchy foods or grains. Then a good variety of vegetables to go with it! Notably, cutting out gluten and maple syrup significantly alleviated a recent flare-up.
While Sean tries to get most of his protein through a whole foods diet, he still supplements this using protein powder due to his extensive exercise routine.
One of Sean’s favourite go-to meals is sweet potato and broccoli, particularly when he’s trying to fight some inflammation. He includes plenty of pseudo-grains, such as buckwheat and quinoa, notorious for fighting inflammation, into his diet. For dessert, pretty much every night, he makes a tasty buckwheat waffle with some mashed-up bananas or blueberries!
What Aggravates Psoriatic Arthritis?
There is no definitive answer to this question, as different things may aggravate psoriatic arthritis in different people. However, some things that may exacerbate the condition include mental or physical stress, food triggers, including saturated fats, sugar, and alcohol, certain medications, smoking, and illness.
The most important thing is to look for what triggers your condition. Being aware of your triggers means that you can eliminate them and quickly work to combat a flare of symptoms.
As an example, Sean equates a recent flare-up of his scalp psoriasis with his use of an energy gel product to fuel his training. While the gel worked brilliantly to provide immediate energy, Sean’s research has revealed that some core ingredients, maltodextrin and soy lecithin, can cause adverse effects for individuals with inflammatory arthritis.
Sean has since turned to Medjool dates and dried mango as a natural and tasty pre-workout substitute for his energy gels!
Can Psoriatic Arthritis Be Cured Naturally?
The Benefits of Sleep for Healing Psoriatic Arthritis
Sean realises the benefits of good quality sleep when tackling a chronic autoimmune disease, such as psoriatic arthritis. He recommends stopping eating early, straight after dinner, and then having a good 12 hours during the night where you consume no food. He tries to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
The Benefits of Sunlight for Healing Psoriatic Arthritis
According to a growing body of research, exposure to natural sunlight may positively affect psoriatic arthritis symptoms.
On the MedCram YouTube channel, a detailed video examines the mitochondrial benefits of getting near-infrared radiation from the sun. The video provides a fascinating insight into the benefits of sunlight exposure, given that sunlight can penetrate up to eight centimeters into our body.
We learn that sunlight exposure can trigger the release of the antioxidant melatonin within our cells. Melatonin is typically released from the pineal gland in response to darkness, helping us to achieve a good night’s sleep. Sunlight exposure can combat intracellular oxidative stress by stimulating melatonin release within cells during the daytime. As oxidative stress plays a role in many autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and psoriasis, sunlight can be very beneficial.
How Long Does It Take for Methotrexate To Work for Psoriatic Arthritis?
Many individuals with psoriatic arthritis require medication to help fight inflammation and prevent long-term damage to joints. Sean admits that his avoidance of medication has probably contributed to his permanent joint damage.
Methotrexate is a first-line treatment for moderate to severe psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis and may be used alone or in combination with other treatments. It is an antimetabolite drug that calms the body’s immune system and prevents it from attacking its own cells.
Methotrexate can take a while to start working. Once you have reached the optimal dose, it may be between 4 and 12 weeks before you notice any significant change in your symptoms.
Just great to hear your story Sean, thank you so much. I am amazed at your athletic ability and doing half marathons etc. and gym work outs wow!!. Tofu doesn't affect me I love it. Since I commenced a vegan diet my Psoriatic Arthritis has settled right down and I have been off all meds. for over 5 years. Thanks for that information about sunlight being so good for you and penetrating 8 mls or cms (was it) that it is so good. However, sadly I come up in hives when exposed to too much sunlight on my head.
It was good to hear Sean’s story about his psoriasis journey. My boyfriend Thomas has psoriasis and he has been forced to take time off from working to heal with the Paddison Program. We are on week 3. We know it works because we did it a few years ago and he was a new person after just 16 days. Unfortunately life got in the way and he went back to eating stuff he shouldn’t have. Now he is in so much pain that he can only get around. I am doing the program with him for support. I know that it’s great for everyone.
So yay for the Paddison Program helping with psoriatic arthritis…!!