Dawn reversed her osteoarthritis and menopause symptoms on a carnivore diet
I have always struggled with my weight. At aged nine I was put on a 1000 calories a day diet; the first of many attempts to be a healthy weight. In my twenties I was told I had a binge eating disorder and that I should never try to restrict what I ate as this would lead to more bingeing. Apart from a brief period when I was about 30 years old I had weighed between 210lbs and 270lbs.
In 2013, at the age of 42, I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in both my feet. Six months later it had also started in both hands. I questioned how ‘wear and tear’ could start simultaneously in both hands and both feet, but I saw three consultants who all confirmed that I had osteoarthritis and not rheumatoid arthritis. Over the next few months I was given cortisol injections and an increasing number of pain killers.
By October 2014 I was on 8 Paracetamol, 8 Tramadol and 6 Naproxen a day and Amitriptyline at night to help me sleep. I had to stop taking the Naproxen after two years as it caused a stomach ulcer so they changed me onto Gabapentin instead (9 a day). Despite all of these pain killers I could barely walk a hundred metres with a stick and I needed special cutlery as I couldn’t grip.
The first step on my journey to health came in September 2017 when my partner decided to go ‘gluten free’ to help his stomach problems. For convenience I did the same, not expecting any difference in my own health. Within a couple of weeks I noticed that the food cravings, which I had always had, seemed to have ceased. I was amazed as I had always believed that it was part of me.
At the beginning of 2018 we saw Jordan Peterson being interviewed. I bought his book for my partner’s birthday and we read about Mikhaila’s health conditions and how they had been helped by an elimination diet. Then I saw both Jordan and Mikhaila on Joe Rogan’s podcast.
The before and after pictures of Mikhaila were staggering. I also found other carnivores on YouTube such as Amber O’Hearn and Dr Shawn Baker. Their videos showed me that this diet was sustainable long term and that I would not be alone on my journey. I had nothing to lose so I decided to give it a go, not expecting any change in my own health as mine was not the same type of arthritis as Mikhaila’s.
At first I started on meat, eggs and green veg before dropping the veg and just having meat and eggs. I went fully carnivore on 12 th June 2018. On 1 st July my mother in law had a party for her 80 th birthday and, for the first time in five years, I left my stick at home. A few days later we had a day out in Whitby and I walked much farther than I could have done before. By the middle of July I was walking several miles without any pain.
I bought a pair of hiking boots at the beginning of August and we were able to return to our old hobby of hiking on the coast near where we live. We have a route of about six miles which we started doing almost every morning. The first week in September we had a walking holiday in the Lake District in northwest England. I was able to hike all day just like I did before I got the arthritis. It felt like an absolute miracle.
During that summer, I started to wean myself off the pain killers. This was awful!! I had been taking the Tramadol for almost five years and coming off them was not a pleasant experience. I couldn’t sleep and my whole body twitched terribly. I probably weaned myself off too quickly, but they were capsules so I could cut them in half. Not too bad when you go from 8 a day to 7, but when you go from 3 to 2 it’s a big jump. I took it a little more slowly coming off the Gabapentin (and I hadn’t been on them so long) so that was a little easier.
Finally I came off the Paracetamol and by the end of September I was finally on no medication. When I told my doctor that I no longer needed my repeat prescription because I was no longer in pain she was astounded; saying that she had “never heard of such a thing”. Strangely she didn’t really seem very interested in how I had done this nor did she think I should return to see the consultant who had diagnosed the arthritis.
One of the most striking side effects of the diet was my weight loss. Between May 2018 when I started the elimination diet and December 2018 I lost 70lbs. I am a mature student and started the diet while on my summer vacation from university. When I went back in September, people I knew literally walked past me without recognising me. The two photographs I have included were taken in July and December 2018 (just 5 months apart!).
Before starting on the carnivore diet I had also been suffering from menopausal symptoms, including hot flushes and tinnitus. These started around the same time as my arthritis and I do believe that there may be some link between the menopause and osteoarthritis.
I have found books from the 1950s which refer to menopausal arthritis and Dr Blake Donaldson’s book Strong Medicine describes how he used a low card/carnivore diet to treat menopausal arthritis. I had tried several different hormone replacement therapies but to no avail. Since going carnivore I have had no menopausal symptoms at all; the hot flushes disappeared and after a few weeks I noticed that I didn’t have tinnitus any more.
I have had one or two ‘flare ups’ of pain and inflammation over the past two years. These have been when I’ve eaten something other than eggs, meat, cheese or heavy whipping cream. For instance, on Christmas Day I had some Christmas Pudding and Brandy sauce which left me in pain for a couple of days.
Recently I used a spray weed killer and that too seemed to cause inflammation despite me wearing gloves when I used it. Other than that I have been pain free for almost two years and I never intend to go back to my previous life.
More recently I have been experimenting with fasting. When you eat a meat only diet you don’t need to eat as often so fasting became easy. I have always had a large appetite, but after a concerted period of fasting (2 or 3 40 hour fasts per week over 6 weeks) I have noticed that I have started to feel full on less food. I had never really had that ‘full’ feeling before so it felt very strange!
I hope that my experiences will encourage others to change their lives. I will be 50 this week and I have never felt fitter or healthier in my life. I hike, swim and exercise regularly and am looking forward to a more energetic, pain free future.