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A Lupus Victim - Life Saved by the McDougall Diet
by Shirlene Jones

This is not a story about weight loss but a story about a miracle.

My 17-year-old daughter, Vanessa, tried to join the Air Force in October 2001. She passed everything but the urine test; she had too much protein in her urine. We then went to our family doctor, who sent her for several tests. She showed positive signs for lupus.

We were then sent to a pediatric nephrologist, who looked at her records, then looked at her and said, “Vanessa has lupus nephritis and I want to put her in the hospital to do a kidney biopsy tomorrow.” When we went to the hospital, they started her on 60 mg. of prednisone and Norvasc, a medicine for high blood pressure.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified kidney tissue disease into five categories. Vanessa’s biopsy was categorized a 4, one category before dialysis is needed. Once a kidney reaches this point, there is little hope for it to get better. It can be stabilized, but often prgresses to a category 5, dialysis, and then a kidney transplant.

Vanessa was next required to take Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), a drug used in stronger doses for chemotherapy treatment of cancer patients. This drug could cause bleeding of the bladder and sterility, among the possible side effects. Vanessa was to go to the hospital once a month to have this drug administered for six months, and then another biopsy was to be performed to determine the next plan of action.

Meanwhile, my husband had been taking blood pressure medicine for over a year and was just put on a sugar pill for diabetes. In January 2002 a friend of mine gave me the book “McDougall’s Medicine–a Challenging Second Opinion.”

As I read this book I saw that it would not only help my husband but also Vanessa. As my husband and I did more research, we became convinced this was worth a try. Now, not only does my husband no longer take any medications, but Vanessa’s second biopsy was between a category 1 and 2. The doctor has never seen this happen and is now in the process of reducing the prednisone and has discontinued the Cytoxan.

Vanessa works full time and enjoys riding her Yamaha 650 V-Star. We have found that all of the recipes in McDougall’s “Quick and Easy” cookbook are wonderful. I have not found even one we did not like. About Lupus by John McDougall, MD

The Lupus Foundation of America Inc. says, “Fad diets, advocating an excess or an exclusion of certain types of foods, are much more likely to be detrimental than beneficial in any disease, including lupus.”

It is a good thing Vanessa and her mother did not read this first–otherwise she would likely be tied to a dialysis machine for life and heading for a premature, painful death.

I find it hard to understand what motivates people, like those from the Lupus Foundation, to make such statements, especially when the current scientific information does not support their negative position. Lupus is a disease of people living in Western countries, consuming the American diet. For example, lupus is rare in rural Africa–the first case of lupus was described in Africa in 1960; by contrast, today in the United States, African Americans have the highest incidence of lupus of any subpopulation– reflecting the differences in diet in these genetically similar people.

Animal studies show diet will cause and cure this disease, and there have been case reports of people cured of lupus with a healthy diet.

Lupus involves the whole body, including the immune system. In sensitive people, food proteins (usually animal proteins) enter the bloodstream through a “leaky gut.” The body makes antibodies to these foods proteins. Unfortunately, the antibodies do two things that cause problems:

1. Antibody-antigen complexes are formed that persist and become stuck in the skin, joints, and/or kidneys, causing an inflammatory reaction (like slivers of wood stuck under the skin);

2. Antibodies are made to these foreign food proteins that also attack the person’s own tissues (skin, joints, kidneys and other tissues).

By both mechanisms the tissues become inflamed, eventually die and are replaced by nonfunctioning scar tissues. People with lupus commonly suffer with a characteristic “butterfly rash” on their face, severe deforming arthritis and nephritis of the kidneys. Traditional medical treatments fail to arrest this disease. A healthy, pure-vegetarian, low-fat diet will dramatically benefit and often cure people of this disease–as in Vanessa’s case. Approximately 1.5 million people in the U.S. suffer from lupus–you must know someone you can help. The same applies to other forms of inflammatory arthritis.

Even though these results do not occur with everyone, they are typical for people who make the diet and lifestyle changes of the McDougall Program.

For more information, contact the McDougall Program by phone at (800) 941- 7111 or (707) 538-8609, by e-mail at , or check the Web site at