Reversing Lupus on a Plant-Based Diet

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Plant-Based Diet Success Story Reversing Lupus - Vickie HajashOn October 31, 2005, my father passed away from complications related to an autoimmune disease. Six years later, in September 2011, after many visits to various doctors and numerous lab tests, I was diagnosed with the same disease—systemic lupus with a positive double marker of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). My ANA was 1:40 and very specific for lupus. Likewise, I was experiencing the symptoms related to autoimmune diseases including stiff and painful joints, extreme fatigue, and frequent urinary tract infections.

Since there is no known medical cure for lupus, I was expected to begin a regimen of prescription medications including a very strong steroid called prednisone and hydroxychloroquine sulfate. Stronger medications would be added accordingly as the disease progressed, and other organs such as the kidneys, heart and lungs were very likely to be attacked.

In short, my life changed in an instant and I was devastated. The most difficult thing was telling my husband and son the grim reality—my diagnosis of systemic lupus. It would undoubtedly change their lives too.

I have never been one to take prescription drugs unless I absolutely had to. I have always researched the medications prescribed by my physicians and this time was no different. However, when I read of all the side effects associated with my lupus medications, I was stunned. Knowing that these medications would not cure the disease but simply manage my symptoms, I was not convinced that they were worth taking!

I spoke to one of my doctors regarding my reservations. She got very firm with me and told me in no uncertain terms that I needed to trust her and do what I was told if I wanted to get through this. Immediately, I scheduled a second opinion. Likewise, my second doctor told me that she had no qualms with the prescribed medications and felt that they were safe. In fact, she went on to say she would even feel comfortable enough to prescribe them to her own mother. Obviously, I was on my own in finding healthier alternatives.

I wondered if it were really possible to manage such a severe disease naturally. Near my home is a raw food smoothie business called RAWk Star. I decided to stop in to see what type of food they offered and perhaps speak with someone who could answer my questions regarding foods and the immune system. Little did I know that this information would forever transform my health.

I met the owners (Karen and Adam) who spent many hours discussing raw, organic, vegan diets. Furthermore, they introduced me to Dustin Rudolph who graciously spent time teaching me the importance of cutting out caffeine, sugars, whites (processed flours, sugars, dairy products and salt), meat and processed foods. They explained that in order to stop a disease in its track, I would have to make a commitment to this new diet as a lifestyle change and adhere to it with fidelity.

They asked what my motivation would be to stay on it when temptation came along? Without hesitation I said, “To grow old with my husband, watch my son graduate from college, dance at his wedding and hold my grandchildren!”

I implemented everything they shared with me. I used a strategy of 90 percent raw and 10 percent lightly cooked vegan recipes. March 2012, I visited the RA specialist to get the results of yet another set of lab tests. Her final comments were as follows: prior positive ANA, now negative and with a negative serologic workup. NO EVIDENCE of lupus. Clinically she [me] is feeling very well with diet and exercise.

To date, I am feeling healthy. My energy level has returned, which is wonderful because my husband and I will attend my son’s graduation, dance at his wedding, and have energy to keep up with future grandchildren.

Update (August 2015)

In 2011, I shared my experience regarding how choosing to live a plant-based lifestyle reversed a very grim diagnosis of lupus with rheumatoid arthritis. As of August 2015, I am absolutely thrilled to say that I am 100% free of lupus symptoms and the RA remains minimal! I do not take any medications to control either.
I have fully embraced a plant-based lifestyle, and in doing so have reaped many other unexpected, positive changes including: relief from allergies, severe asthma, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 
At times, when I have indulged myself with foods that I enjoyed in the past, I have discovered that I actually prefer to eat the way I do now, and based on the evidence so does my body. I want to inspire others who are struggling with autoimmune issues to give it a try… you have nothing to lose except… possibly… a disease! 
—Vickie Hajash


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  1. My wife was diagnosed with lupus two years ago after a trip to the ER having severe swelling and joint pain occur what seemed like almost out of nowhere. I wish I could get her to try this. I have known for a while about the healing powers of food after watching documentaries like “food matters”, “fat sick and nearly dead”, and “hungry for change”. No matter what I say about it that this could help her, she just doesn’t seem to believe me or even want to give it a shot. She gets annoyed… Just don’t want her to go on only treating the symptoms taking plaquenil drug her whole life. Who even knows what long term effects it could really have on her. Anyways if somebody could recommend somebody that could talk to her for me I would be so grateful!

    • Hi Blanton. So sorry to hear about your wife. It is a tough battle sometimes to get those you love the most to hear your message. Vanessa Sardi from Nutriception is a wonderful certified lifestyle/health coach that focuses on WFPB nutrition. She usually starts with clients connecting to their emotional side first to understand their fears, anxieties, or prior beliefs when it comes to making any kind of diet/lifestyle change. You can reach out to her via her website if you feel inclined to do so. Hope this helps.

  2. Hi there.
    For the past 8 months I have suffered from extreme dryness in both my eyes and mouth that is almost constant and it has been suggested to me that I may be suffering from a condition called Sjögren’s syndrome. Do you think eating a plant based diet would be beneficial in stopping some of the symptoms from which I suffer? I would be truly grateful for any response.

  3. For a few years, a suffered from debilitating arthritis, an autoimmune disease. I was first diagnosed as having lupus which later turned as RA after a couple of years. I was on many kinds of medications and pain killers but none help eases my pain. It took a few years to study, do research, trials, and experimentation to find a cure for my condition. I discovered that distressing is one way to ease the pain. Yoga, meditation, gentle exercises, substitutions and adapting a healthy lifestyle, I cured my arthritis for good.

    I’ve incorporated highly potent nutritional food that will kick start your self-healing in a matter of days. By adding these to your daily diet, you will immediately feel improvements and changes to your body.

    I’ve written a book to help others to self-heal from all kinds of diseases or illnesses. You can find out more by visiting my website.

  4. My wife recently got diagnosed with lupus and is in pain everyday. We think she’s had it for years. I’ve be watched Forks Over Knives a couple times and have tried WFPBNO for the past couple years. I do great for a while but get sucked back slowly and have to start again. I wish I could be successful so my wife would try it. She had only watched half of FOK movie. She has started weekly shots of some sort that is also painful.
    I don’t know how to reach her to get her to take the plunge. I know it will be good for both of us and our son.
    Part of our problem is she doesn’t cook much. I do, but can’t seem to make WFPB stuff that she likes. We have about 4 cookbooks that are plant based.

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