Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Intermittent Fasting Is Helping My Rheumatoid Arthritis

I am absolutely convinced that my rheumatoid arthritis is caused by diet. Before starting alternate day fasting, I was already doing my best to eat a diet free from gluten, casein, and soy. Those three are the biggest triggers of symptoms for me.

Eliminating those allergens led to a substantial decrease in pain. I had been taking naprosyn (generic Alleve), and I switched to Tylenol when I eliminated gluten, casein and soy. But with intermittent fasting, I am taking no pain medication whatsoever. And the amazing part is, I stopped taking the medicine after just one day of fasting!

As I wrote about yesterday, asthmatics get relief from a less severe form of IF, and asthma is another disease related to inflammation. Others on IF have reported less pain and suffering from a variety of inflammation related conditions. So I guess it's no surprise that I would have this result, but it's still a surprise to me. I "hoped" it would get better, but I was pretty skeptical. So unless this is simply a placebo effect, and I start hurting again a month from now, I'm a believer.

None of this is to imply that I am "cured" or that I am totally without symptoms. I do still have some discomfort from time to time, but it's a 1 on a scale 1 to 10. Previously, without medicine, I would have been a 6 or 7. I do have some disfiguration in my right index finger, and that's not going to correct--the damage is done. But if I can keep the rest of my joints from being similarly afflicted, I will have accomplished a significant feat.

For the time being, I am still taking some medicine, though. I take the antibiotic minocycline (100 mg 2x per day). This has been shown to help those with RA, and it seems to help me. (This is a controversial claim amongst rheumatologists, and yours may not agree to prescribe it, though it is about as benign as a prescription medicine can be. There are several books on the subject. For more information, go to http://www.roadback.org/.) I would love to be able to stop taking it, but honestly, I'm afraid. I decided to stop taking it about 2 years ago, and within 6 months my index finger joint started being effected. I don't know if it was coincidence or cause and effect, but I really don't want to find out.

For sake of completeness, and so anyone else suffering with RA might benefit, I also take krill oil, which helps as well. I get it from Dr. Mercola's site http://products.mercola.com/krill/, but you can find it at health food stores as well. It's similar to fish oil, but it works better, and it doesn't give you those gross fish burps. I take 6 pills per day, which is 6,000 mg.

The rest of my supplemenation regimen consists of a once per day multi vitamin, Simply One for Men by Super Nutrition. I get it at Whole Foods Market; a calcium supplement, Country Life Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, 3 per day; and a probiotic, Country Life Power-Dophilus, 1 with each meal.

I do not take the supplements while I'm fasting. I take them with food. Since I eat every calendar day, I'm able to make it work.

I do take the minocycline while I'm fasting. It actually works best on an empty stomach, and it's so little, I don't expect it to hurt my fasting results enough to notice.

But I have been taking the supplements and the medicine for a long time. That alone is not enough. I want to repeat how amazed I am that within one day I felt good enough to stop taking pain medication. I'm fasting now and typing this, and I feel no pain in my hands (my hands and wrists is where 98% of my pain is locted). The way I see it, this is a cheap and easy way to get a significant reduction in pain. I do feel its important for me to stay away from gluten, casein and soy, though I have toyed with the idea of testing it now that I've gotten such good results from IF.

The bottom line is, intermittent fasting combined with a gluten, casein, and soy free diet seems to be a powerful combination.

Bon repos,


  1. relief of physical pain, and being about to breath are both fairly strong motivators aren't they?

    i've dropped a horrendous coffee & grain habit this year. i wonder if i might drop dairy someday? i've heard many people say they get great benefits from noncasein living. very impressed with your discipline!

  2. Not much discipline to the no-dairy, thing. In addition to the issue with casein, I have a bad case of lactose intolerance. That pain is definitely a motivator!

  3. Great observations and great post!
    I take a bite or two of something with my vitamins, even while IFing. I am not a purist. A bite or two might be breaking the fast, but it might be said to be KEEPING the fast.
    Since I fast for myself, and not a record book, I can nibble as I see fit!

  4. anne h,

    I don't nibble while IFing because I don't have as much restraint as you. If I eat a little, I end up eating a lot. I suspect it has to do with insulin, which makes us hungry. I find it easy to go totally without food, and difficult to eat "just a little."

  5. I've read all your posts but I can't seem to remember where you talked about how much food you are eating. I went away and thought about everything I had read from your blog, and came back to ask you something (so sorry about this not being relevant to this post) How much food do you think you are consuming on the non-fasting days? Twice as much as you would if you weren't fasting every other day (to make up for the last calories)? And, have you found yourself becoming less hungry as time goes on, or more hungry?

    Thanks for this blog, by the way - it is great and I am hooked. Very interesting - I especially love the information and cites you put up. :)

  6. sadhana,
    I addressed how much I eat in my 7/22/09 post on "Maintaing My Weight." To recap, I've been trying to NOT lose weight, so I've been forcing myself to eat 4 to 5,000 calories during my 24 hour eating days. But I am stuffing myself to do it, and it does not feel comfortable or natural. My next experiment is to eat only when hungry and only until I'm full, and see what happens to my weight.

    Thanks for your kind comments about my blog. I will keep doing my best to keep you up to date.


  7. I am on IF for 15 days(every other day water fasting),
    lost 10 lb and lost 12 years old upper back pain.

  8. hi tom
    thanks for your post. i too took minocycline for many years with dramatic improvement for the ra symptoms. but i had side effects like reflux and eczema so i began with doc's help to tinker with it. take breaks and taper off. finally last year i just dropped it. i was fine for a long while and then had some deep family issues arise that began to put me back into the pain place. i didn't heed them soon enough so i'm dealing with pain and stiffness again. i've lots of damage in my wrists and hands. i'm 62, very slim and in good health otherwise. had ra for about 12 years. i fasted in a fasting clinic for 2 weeks several years ago and everything went back to normal! but as soon as i ate any food at all it came back. that's why i don't want to go back on mino. i want to heal the leaky gut. so i'm going to do the intermittent fasting like you. i find that even one day of cutting meat, fats and my allergens helps. dairy is huge for me. been off for years.

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