Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of the conditions that I have found pretty challenging to treat. People would always walk out feeling much better after an acupuncture session but the insidious nature of this painful and potentially crippling auto-immune condition often meant the relief was short lived.
That’s why when I heard about the work of Australian researcher turned educator Clint Paddison who was having great success in helping people with RA I was very excited to find out more. Clint was kind enough to answer a few questions about his work and the secrets to his success.
Clint, you suffered from RA yourself, what did your own journey teach you about recovering from RA?
My early doctor told me "of all of the diseases that I would not want to get, RA would be at the top of my list". I thought he was being dramatic, but then I learned that RA really does create so much suffering. So I've learned to respect the seriousness of the disease and to apply great discipline to the parts of my life that can influence the disease outcome.
How important is the health of your gut for healing from RA?
It is the most important thing. What we eat directly affects the joint pain. One time after a serious bout of food poisoning I didn't eat for over 24 hours. By the end of that fast I was almost pain-free, which made me realise how much of the pain had been coming from food. This started my intense research on the gut and RA.
Why do you think most doctors still say diet has no influence on RA?
1) Their patients keep doing small dietary modifications and getting mixed results, thus giving the impression that diet is hit and miss (or doesn't work at all). 2) It's easier to guide a patient solely into the pharmaceutical approach because it is accepted practice, despite it's shortcomings. 3) Many doctors are waiting on more trials or more data before making any changes to their approach - yet many smaller studies show clearly the direct impact diet plays in RA severity.
Can you be free of RA without drugs?
In some cases yes, but there are many challenges. Firstly, many of the drugs used to manage the pain actually worsen the underlying cause. Drugs like prednisone, antibiotics and common anti-inflammatories have a strong negative impact on our gut health, which, in turn increases inflammation in the joints. Secondly, inflammation itself creates more inflammation by exacerbating 'leaky gut' so there is a snowball effect. It is therefore, imperative to keep inflammation low for internal healing to occur. Thirdly, gut healing takes a very long time. So remaining on somewhat restrictive low-inflammatory diet for many months is a challenge, along with the need for a solid amount of daily exercise. Despite the challenges involved, the benefits can be enormous. If someone with RA were to see even a partial improvement of their digestive health then this could enable a patient to require less medications to keep their disease under control - which would still be a valued outcome for many RA folks.
Given the difference between your approach and the prevailing medical protocols I’m sure there are some who would try and criticise or discredit your work, what do you say to them?
Nothing beats results. If something is safe, natural, healthy and works then I'm thrilled to put it out into the world for people to benefit from. Most doctors want to see their patients improve, and are only happy for patients to do this Program in parallel to their medical treatment. In fact, many doctors and some Rheumatologists are now recommending our Program to patients in parallel to the pharmaceutical approach. Everyone has to eat - so why not eat things that support digestive health and pain reduction?
Is there a common emotional pattern you see with RA sufferers?
In my pre-program questionnaire, I find that 66% of RA sufferers describe themselves as 'very stressed' right before the first signs of joint pain. It's been shown that stress directly affects gut bacteria so it's plausible that stress could be a contributing factor to the onset of RA and stress management tools have been shown to reduce RA severity.
Do the protocols you teach in your program have benefits for other auto-immune conditions?
Yes, we've seen great results from this program for psoriatic arthritis, Hashimoto’s, Sjogren’s, psoriasis, lupus and others. I believe that all autoimmune diseases have a similar underlying cause, and genetic predisposition dictates the body's target. Healing the gut will help the body overall, regardless of diagnosis.
Finally, is there anything else you’d like to say to people suffering from RA who are reading this today?
Pain is a great motivator so use this motivation to continue to learn and take action now. My TEDx talk and dozens of training videos are on Youtube and my Podcast has over 30 episodes to inspire and educate people with inflammatory arthritis.
You can find out more information about Clint's program at paddisonprogram.com
Wes Smith is Live Well's Director and has 20 years experience as a practitioner and wellness educator. He has a special interest in working with chronic immune issues, stress, anxiety and depression.
Wes is passionate about inspiring and educating people to create and sustain their vitality and wellbeing so they can live life to the full.
Wes also enjoys teaching meditation and is the creator of meditatewithwes.com an online resource for learning how to meditate. es has a B.App.Sc.(Acup), Diploma of Herbal Medicine, a Yoga Teaching Diploma and is an APHRA registered acupuncturist. Learn more about acupuncture, herbal medicine and meditation.