Pain and inflammation eased naturally
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
Client name and identifying information changed
Judy, a women in her 60’s, had chronic inflammation with associated aches and pains all over her body. Diagnosed with osteoarthritis, gout, fibromyalgia and metabolic syndrome – which included obesity, high blood pressure, high blood triglycerides, low levels of the good HDL cholesterol, and insulin resistance, Judy felt a mess.
Her doctor tried putting her on various medications which her body reacted to strongly, so she decided to see me for help.
I looked at Judy’s diet and on the surface it appeared she was eating what most people would consider a healthy diet. But a closer look showed me that she was eating foods that may have stimulated her immune system too much. Because we only had a narrow window of time to do some work between medication trials before her doctor wanted her to try ‘something else’, we had to go in strong and make some radical changes.
Judy was placed on a strict anti-inflammatory diet that removed gluten, dairy, all grains, all sugar, all nightshade family foods and all high histamine inducing foods. She was encouraged to get her fats from coconut oil and fresh wild caught fatty fish (we temporarily stopped all other meats for the first 6 weeks) and she basically ate seafood with salads and stir-fry or steamed vegetables for her lunches and dinners. Breakfast was a smoothie made of certain vegetables, blueberries, coconut oil and chia seeds.
Meals were simple and drinks were mostly water, but Judy was determined to change her situation. Initially the radical changes in her diet created a detox reaction with headaches and digestive changes (more visits to the loo), but these symptoms soon settled within a few days and Judy felt much better.
Within three weeks her pain level decreased from an overall 8/10 level to 4/10 and she lost 10kgs of weight.
By this time, Judy had re-visited her doctor and instead of putting her onto a different medication he said to keep doing what she was doing for a while longer and then he would re-check her inflammation and cardiovascular markers. Because her doctor was impressed with the changes, Judy was keen to continue her diet for another three weeks in which time her pain dropped to 3/10 and she lost another few kilos.
When she returned to her doctor after more blood tests, he said that she was now out of the critical range for her levels and he encouraged her to continue with her diet.
By this time, Judy was getting sick of eating fish and seafood so we introduced some fresh pasture raised organic chicken and turkey to the menu and some of the starchier vegetables (steamed only) were re-introduced. This gave her more variety and freedom to eat foods she enjoyed but we kept her away from foods that could have triggered more inflammation.
She wanted to bring back her Earl Grey tea, but as it is high in histamine I encouraged her to drink rooibos (red-bush) tea instead, as it is lower in histamine and has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory properties. Judy still loved coconut oil and had a small spoonful whenever she wanted something sweet tasting.
Because her pain had reduced, we discussed gentle exercise to help her body shift toxins from her lymphatic system and to support her hormones and cardiovascular system. But Judy was one step ahead, as she had recently started to walk around the block. Initially this was a struggle because she was keen and over did it which created more pain.
We discussed how to increase her movement gradually so as not to trigger lactic acid build up, muscle damage and subsequent pain and inflammation.
Over the next few months Judy slowly increased her exercise, with water aerobics twice a week, walking most days for an hour and lifting some small hand weights to an exercise DVD she bought on-line.
Six months after Judy first came to see me, she was clear of her metabolic syndrome, lost 25kgs of weight, had nearly no pain and felt great. Occasionally she would go back to eating foods that are on the high inflammation list and says that she can ‘get away with it’, provided she only does it about once per week or so. She was happy with that.