How I tackled rheumatoid arthritis head on

Comedian Clint Paddison was diagnosed at the young age of 31 with debilitating rheumatoid arthritis. This is his story of how he spent years researching ways to come off the toxic medications prescribed to him and how today, he is pain free, drug free and back to maximum energy.

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First published by Go Vita in Go Magazine - March 2015

“I woke up one morning in 2007 with sore feet. At the time I was 31 years old and felt quite fit and healthy so I thought nothing of it. However, the pain quickly spread into my ankles, left knee, fingers, wrists and within a few months it was even in my chest and jaw. With every deep breath I would feel pain, and with every bite of food I would be in pain.

My GP ran some blood tests and declared that I had rheumatoid arthritis (RA). He explained that it is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the lining of the joints causing severe pain and eventual disability. He said, ‘Of all the diseases that I would not want to get, this would be at the top of my list!’

I then went to a rheumatologist who suggested strong drug treatments to minimise long-term joint damage. I was keen to avoid the toxic drugs, but my condition deteriorated over the coming 12 months so I eventually gave in and started taking the medications.

After starting medication I gained partial pain relief. However, the combination of the drug and the disease left me extremely fatigued. I was also still worsening, in spite of the drug, and my required dosage was increased accordingly to maintain the same relief. There were mornings where my wife, Melissa, had to help support me to the bathroom.

Worse still, my medications restricted me from being able to start a family - something Melissa and I wanted dearly. Finally, during another visit to my rheumatologist for more drugs, I decided enough was enough. As I sat there in pain, with my body and future outlook deteriorating I thought, ‘I will do anything it takes to stop this living nightmare.

I placed my faith in my educational background, as a scientist and researcher, and committed all of my energy towards finding a natural alternative to treat the RA. I committed myself to getting rid of the pain, getting off the drugs, getting my energy levels back and, hopefully, even becoming a father. I scrawled the headline, ‘Pain Free, Drug Free and Back to Maximum Energy’ on a piece of paper and stuck it on the fridge.

I continually tested supplements, natural herbal remedies, alternative treatments, exercises and potential food allergies in the search for triggers and pain relief. With my scientific mindset I firmly believed that this disease had been triggered by something and the underlying cause could be identified and halted. Like many good scientific discoveries, one of my greatest epiphanies came about by accident. I experienced a severe bout of food poisoning. This led to 24 hours of vomiting and diarrhoea. Consequently I had to rest in bed, where I lay there fearing the increase in joint pain that comes with lack of physical movement. To my amazement the opposite occurred and when the purging was complete I felt incredible!

This unplanned cleanse resulted in a rapid and significant decrease in pain and joint swelling. This made me convinced that there was a link between my joint pain and my digestive system. ‘All I have to do’, I thought, ‘is work out how to get these same results without having to vomit and have diarrhoea for the rest of my life!’

So, I began to undertake major dietary experiments – I increased my consumption of leafy greens and began drinking wheatgrass shots, green juices and green smoothies. I started going to Bikram yoga most days so I could keep up my ability to walk. I gained a lot of my energy from sprouted nuts and seeds for several months, before shifting onto some easy-to-digest foods like brown rice and sweet potatoes.

Slowly my strength returned and my pain subsided. After two years I was off all of my medications and the heat and swelling in my joints disappeared. Although I have been left with some joints that were permanently damaged from the RA, blood tests have confirmed that my inflammation has gone. My rheumatologist has told me he has never seen a recovery like it.

I have been off the drugs for over three years and I now want to help others battling this disease. I have launched an initiative called the Paddison Program for Rheumatoid Arthritis and nearly 3,000 people in 51 countries have embraced many of the strategies I’ve used. My wife and I have received heartwarming and extraordinary stories from people following this program who have experienced life-changing results also.

I believe we have found a way of mitigating many of the worst symptoms of RA by harnessing current scientific findings on the links between diet and the disease. It’s a two-step approach:
1) Reduce food sensitivities in the short term via an elimination diet over 12 days.
2) Gradually reintroduce foods to see which specific item people are sensitive to. The second phase is also part of a longterm approach to improving gut health with specific plant-based foods such as quinoa, brown rice, miso and seaweed. I’m not suggesting that drugs for rheumatoid arthritis should be avoided. I am saying that extraordinary nutrition along with re-establishing optimal gut health can be just as life changing. For me, one of the best aspects to this was that Melissa and I had our first child, Angelina Mae Paddison, on the 5th April 2014.”

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Clint’s Go Vita shopping list

  • Bromelain – An extract from pineapple that assists digestion through the breakdown of proteins and it may also reduce inflammation.
  • Potassium – Shown to reduce symptoms in RA patients since potassium is linked to the body’s natural pain-relieving mechanisms.
  • Betain hydrochloride – An aid for increasing digestive acid in the stomach, which can be low in RA sufferers.
  • Probiotics – Friendly microbes to improve the bacterial balance in the digestive tract.
  • Curcumin – An effective pain reliever naturally derived. It has been shown in one study to relieve RA pain more than a common NSAID drug.

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