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    Thanks for this interesting video. “Treating Asthma and Eczema With Plant-Based Diets”

    I have my doubts about this placebo effect thing though.
    I understand this effect in the case of a sugar pill: your doctor is giving you the pills so this gives you the positive feeling that it works, which helps to heal better.

    But now in this case people are put on a vegan lifestyle. Were they as positive about vegetables, and cutting out there beloved meats and dairy, as they would have been on taking pills?
    If they were so positive on the vegan approach then why were they not vegans in the first place?

    I suppose that the mind not only effects the healing process positively in a positive state, but allso effects the proces negativly when it is in a negative state.

    Maybe we have to conclude that the vegan experiment worked out very positive DESPITE the placebo effect!

    Martin van Gastel

    • Not quite sure what your point is from first paragraph to the end, Martin. Are we talking about their beloved meat and dairy or your beloved meat and dairy? ;-)

      Since only 1% of the the US population, for example, are vegan, what are the statistical chances that they would be vegan already before the study? Not to mention that already being vegan would be a confounder that would likely disqualify them from participating in the study to begin with.

      Are you attributing the objective variables to placebo?

      • MARTIN

        Somehow you are reading the exact opposite as what I meant. Maybe my bad english is the reason here, but no, i wrote this from a vegan position.

        In my opinion people often try to downplay this kind of research with the placebo argument (the placebo effect is the reason of the improving health effect not the diet). but i think this research had a positive outcome/health improving effect IN SPIDE OFF the possible NEGATIVE placebo effect (healing goes slower) of the probably skeptical participants.

        I presume that the participants were not vegan, if they were vegen they wouldn’t be on this research at all.
        No, They are probably were missing there usual “standard american diet” and with this negatively affecting the research. But still the vegan approach is working!


        • Thanks for the clarification. English is a tough language to wrestle. You’re doing great! Thanks for commenting.

    • Wedi yatok

      Good point, Martin. (I understood your English just fine.) It would have been good to interview each participant at the start to determine their attitudes toward a vegan diet, including having to do without their beloved animal products, as well as their expectations about how the vegan diet might affect their condition. If the average attitude was negative, that would tend to make one discount the placebo effect being responsible for the average positive outcome.

      In any case, we know that whether the placebo effect is partly to blame for the outcome or not, the therapy worked, and others can also expect it to work. The placebo effect is not a pretend effect. It is a real effect, it just has its roots in something other than the biochemical effect of the therapy one is trying to test. Either way, the therapy worked. If studies show that for most people, when they have a positive expectation that healing will occur as a result of the ingestion of a placebo, the healing takes place, then that is a much better therapy than some side-effect-laden drug, even if there is no scientific reason the placebo in and of itself could have provided the healing.

  • Laloofah

    Subjected to vegan food?” Interesting turn of phrase. I’m subjected to loud noise, rude people, and the dentist. I relish vegan food! :-)

  • Merio

    i think i could told my experience… in few words i suffer practically of zero pathologies in my young life (only 23 years old) and sounds great uh ? Nope because since 16-17 years old i start to suffer from atopic dermatitis and i could swear about god that i will never wish this disease to anyone… it is a nightmare that never ends… anyway putting aside the sad part of the story, one day i get interested in human nutrition and step by step i start to get informed and after some reading i chose the plant based diet road… what can i say: it works great… i need some more time because i live in a “toxic” environment (ignorance is the main culprit) but victory is near !!. Wish me good luck !!
    i tried both corticosteroids and cyclosporine A (Neoral) and of course they suppress everything (no side effects in my case, thank God) and gave temporary relief but curing your disease with a diet it is one hundred thousand times better… and about the toxic environment, well without it probably my health would have been recovered months ago…

    • Coacervate

      That’s great news Merio. Glad you are seeing. You will inspire others. I agree that ignorance is the worst “toxin” of all :) When you vanquish that you don’t need luck! But i wish you good luck anyway.

      • Merio

        Thank you very much !! But the real tragedy is medical ignorance about diet and health (my dermatologist was irritate when i ask if there was some diet connection but at that time i was at my first step about human nutrition)… i really think there is some sort of agenda to make health professionals ignorant about this issue…

        • Coacervate

          My dr is similar. She is very supportive of my weight loss and good chems but becomes uncomfortable when I bring up nutrition…as if she knows she has to support whole plant food eating but her heart just is not in it. She always insists on checking B12 even though i tell her repeatedly that i take a supplement. and then its iron and calcium…

          And always the protein thing comes up.
          “We need protein don’t we?”
          No, I say, we need good nutrition. There is more protein in broccoli than steak and she look at me like “you crazy? you flip your lid?”. Maybe on the space station you need a protein pill and a fat pill and so on. But here on the good Earth every Dr must know by now that people need good food to be healthy.

          Something seems very strange. You are in italy, I am in new zealand. Our North American cousins hear the same line of stuff. so much of the world is in this strangle hold. Who pulls the strings? Why? Can be a bit depressing to think about, questo dolce vita ; )

          • Merio

            As a italian oncologist (Franco Berrino) told recently:

            If we get sick the GDP goes up, there is (economic) growth[…]

            We fail to understand that the best hospital is the “closed” hospital… and we forget also of “primum non nocere”… but i’m not afraid, thanks to people like Dr Greger, one day we will win and health would be restored in all the countries…

          • Lt. Nimitz

            Unfortunately we cannot close all hospitals because remember that “People can still be hit by a bus or any other means”. Hospitals must just stop treating diseases that are shown and documented to be food or “mouth” related.

  • marge

    Count me in as one of the asthma sufferers who, on a vegan diet, was completely symptom-free. I began the vegan diet because of my husband. He had heart disease and read that a vegan diet is capable of reversing heart problems. So I did too. We both lost about 40 pounds, and I no longer suffer from asthma. I also am no longer on pain medication for arthritis. The only bad part of all this is learning to cook all over again, which isn’t that bad, really.

    • mbglife

      Marge, I love your story! It reminds me of the early stories that Pritikin published in his Pritikin diet books back in the 1970s. I’d read about bedridden people in their 60s and 70s who were too sick to perform heart surgery on, so diet change was their only other option. With in months they were no longer bedridden and many went on to walk miles every day; some even even “ran” marathon type races, even at their senor ages. And don’t forget the story of Dr. Gregor’s grandmother. I love these stories because they are so hopeful for ourselves and our loved ones, and are essentially without risk. BTW, can you report any test results or symptom improvements for your husband? How long have you been vegans?

      • marge

        We have been on the vegan diet 2 complete years, going on 3 with no plans to change. My husband is monitored regularly and recently underwent a stress test that he aced. He walks up and down hills rapidly daily with our lab, which he wasn’t able to do before. I know all this is anecdotal, but the proof is in the living.

        • mbglife

          Thanks for the follow up. Great story with a beautiful ending.
          -Mark G.

        • JacquieRN

          Thank you for sharing your story. Did you and your husband find it hard to change your diet? How did you decide to be “vegan”?

  • Margot

    I have completely recovered from a life-time battle with asthma and allergies by adopting a whole foods, plant based diet. For most of my life I went through a ventolin inhaler every two weeks and more flovent and prednisone than you can imagine. No one in health care ever suggested nutritional intervention, until I had the good fortune of having Brenda Davis, R.D. as my nutrition instructor at WCCMT in 1996. It wasn’t until several years later, when my little boy showed signs of asthma that I actually dove in fully to a plant based diet; having already given up meat, dairy was the last to go. Within 3 days my son and I were asthma free.

  • Tobias Brown

    As asthma is such a common, debilitating, and costly malady, why aren’t there more rigorous studies going on EVERYWHERE to definitively corroborate the findings of this cited study? Wouldn’t you think that science and medicine would be all over possible solutions here?!

    • Merio

      the problem is the same with other pathologies: there is not financial benefit to research like this… you can’t patent a diet, but novel compounds… and add the “double blind” concept to the problems because you could not study a diet like a drug…

      • True that, especially about the impossibility of blinding food. People like Gary Taubes and other low carber/Paleos love playing their tunes in that confounder gap to discount studies like Ornish and Esselstyn.

        • Merio

          All the paleo lovers got to search for PlantPositive site and The Primitive Nutrition series… bad times for them…

      • mbglife

        Makes you wonder why non-profit asthma-organizations don’t fund some studies.

        • Merio

          well, it depends about the study you want to make… for statistical reason you want a good number of patients and follow them properly so you need a lot of money and most important what do you want to find ? I think it is not so easy to design a good study that hit the health community..

  • Darryl

    Remember rapamycin, the mTOR inhibiting compound with effects partially mimicked by lower-leucine plant based diets? An analogue is approved for eczema. Eczema, like cancer, atherosclerosis, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, scleroderma, acne (I could go on) appears to be exacerbated by the excessive growth signalling from Western diets.

  • Svetlana

    I also have my story of suffering from astma and dermatitis. When i was 11 years old i decided do not eat butter, sugar, dairy, eggs and to be vegetarian. My health started to be better, i could run and swim, because astma i almost could not breathing during summer time. After i stopped to drink medicine and slowly, slowly, step by step became vegan. Now i am 30 and i am running marathons, swimming and preparing to participate in Iron Man. That is my story….Nobody told me about plants and to be vegetarian, i just tried and trusted my intuition and my body.

    • mbglife

      Svetlana: it’s wonderful to hear about your success. Congratulations on figuring it out, and the good sense to give what so people won’t. Thanks for sharing your story and best wishes for a lifetime of good health.
      -Mark G.

    • kite07run
  • Lee Johnson

    For those dealing with eczema while totally plant-based, my recent diagnosis might help.

    Turns out I’m sensitive to nickel. Allergist told me to go “nickel-free” with my diet; which for the most part meant doing without my daily habit of a handful (or 2) of walnuts or almonds. Eczema I’ve been dealing with since 2009 has cleared up with that change.

    Supposedly almonds and soy have nickel also. I still have almond milk with my daily breakfast cereal, but it’s still clearing up. But I’m now using mostly corn-based cereals (Natures Path Organic) as supposed to those made of wheat (another nickel source).

    Try reducing nickel in your diet, see if it helps you too.

    • You are correct that nuts are a source of nickel. It is always rewarding to read about success stories such as yours. Congratulations. It is also nice to read about a physician who informs patients about nutritional approaches to chronic diseases such as eczema.

    • mbglife

      Lee: Thanks for the tip. I eat walnuts and almonds every day and wheat on most days. I had horrible, bloody, cracked eczema skin on the bank of my knees every day for 20 years until I gave up soy; then within 10 days it was all gone, and 5 years later has never returned. I still have a small patch on my face. I’ll try going wheat and nut free for a few days. I’d hate to give up all nuts, given their heart healthy properties. Do you know if other nuts are lower in nickel?
      -Mark G.

    • mbglife

      Here’s a study on pubmed about nickel sensitivity and levels in various foods.

      • Lee Johnson

        That’s a good article. Thanks for posting.

    • My fiancee and I also ran into this issue. We went plant-based and BOTH developed nickel sensitivity: mine shows up on my right foot, her on her hand. For us, we had to reduce almonds and we had to go easy on the “chocolate ice cream” (pure cocoa powder blended with frozen berries) as cocoa contains a TON of nickel, turns out. After that, we both noticed a clearing up of our skin issues.

  • guest

    this is all such wonderful news! I can’t wait to find out what the results of the trials of vegan on MS are when they come out, as the good doctor told us he is following.

    • Dr. McDougall’s Foundation funded the study on MS which is being done by Oregon Health and Science in Portland. Dr. Bourdette who is the lead author presented at the McDougall Advanced Study Weekend at the beginning of the study. He felt given the time course of the disease(long) and the short duration of the study ( 1 year) plus the numbers involved it would be unlikely to show a significant result. He hoped the study will lead to a larger study. Another physician involved with the study shared the nonMS results. They were impressive as far as weight reduction, improved fasting glucoses and cholesterols. There are no downsides to the diet even if the effect on MS is small you don’t want to add another chronic disease such as diabetes, obesity or arterial disease on top of it.

      • Thea

        Dr. Forrester: re: ” He felt given the time course of the disease(long) and the short
        duration of the study ( 1 year) plus the numbers involved it would be
        unlikely to show a significant result.”

        I’m not sure I understand this. The above sentence sounds like conjecture. ie, “His initial thoughts before the study were that bla bla bla.” But my understanding is that we are a month away from when the results were going to be published. So, I would think we have the results now, even if they have not yet been published. We should be past conjecture. Was he actually saying that the study does not in fact show a significant result? Or he was hinting that that would the be the (disappointing) conclusion? Or am I not understanding something?

        I do understand the last part of your paragraph and think that is a significant point. I’m just wondering if you can clarify what you thought you heard about the effects on MS itself from the small study. :-) Thanks.

        • Hi Thea, Sorry for the confusion. Let see if this helps. There were I believe 40 patients in the intervention group and 40 controls. The study lasted a year only. The time course of MS is over years. As I understand from the two presentations that I have heard historically it would often take well over 4 years to make a diagnosis due to the infrequent attacks. Given small numbers in the study and long time frame it would be difficult to get statistically significant results. I’m hoping we will see significant results but don’t want folks to get their hopes up too high or if there isn’t a significant result to conclude that diet isn’t a factor. Hope this provides a bit of clarity.

          • Thea

            Dr. Forrester: That helps a lot!! Thanks for the clarification. I appreciate it. And it will help me understand the results when they do come out. Thanks!

  • Robright

    Sweden still allows smoking in hospitals (nurse whose asthma was aggravated by smoking co-workers).

    I have been vegan for 20 years and still have asthma – refuse to take the everyday medication but have a rescue inhaler – do not use it every day, but I know my breathing is compromised. Your previous post mentioned eating seven servings each day – I think I should start counting – any other suggestions?

    • Baard

      I would suggest that you try to limit/avoid seeds and grains and see if it helps. Most tubers(potatoes/sweet potatoes), squashes, fruits(except citrus), salads and most vegetables could be safe.

      For more information on a diet that worked for one person I recommend the blog of Burgess Laughlin:

    • Roseveg

      Get off all gluten-grains immediately, and don’t even ingest these in minute amounts. Also consider corn and barley avoidance. If you like grains, eat white rice, brown rice. But please, avoid gluten grains! Give it time. Be patient.

      Also, consider avoiding all spices. They are not “foods” that can provide for life. In some cases maybe they are “healing”, but seem to aggravate a lot of humans.

    • guest

      Avoid all soy products, no matter how it is prepared. No soy milk, soy beans, tofu, avoid it all. Eat fresh veggies and fruit.

  • HemoDynamic, M.D.

    And of course it depends on which medical standpoint we’re looking from: if their standpoint is to watch their patients get better then yes a vegan diet is the best way to practice.
    If, however, their standpoint is to make a lot of money then the vegan option would be the worst one; because if they don’t have a sick patient they will NOT have a patient in their office and they won’t be able to afford to buy their meat they so love. It’s the American way.
    Nice research paper find!

  • Charpenay -schaffer

    Thanck you

    • toothin

      Yup, the Sickness Industry thrives! I was sent to dermatologist who had no interest in any of my ideas of food sensitivities or parasites, just writing scripts for cort.cream.
      I’ve been doing my own research/food eliminations for 2 years and the elimination list became very long. I’ve been going the vegan route for quite some time and had fairly good results. BUT I am dangerously underweight. Any ideas how I can regain weight?

      • val

        Maybe lots of nut butters Toothin??? Great nutritional density AND calorie density…almond butter comes to mind..oh my…I need to NOT buy it! LOL!

      • Thea

        toothin: Good for you for figure out your own health path!

        know that lots of people want to lose weight, but being dangerously
        underweight is also a serious problem. I hope you are able to figure it out.

        To expand a bit on val’s idea:
        The way to gain weight is to eat more calorie dense foods. It sounds
        like you have eliminated a lot of foods, but hopefully some of these
        will work for you: nut and seed butters, avocados, dried fruits, and olives are all quite calorie-dense. You can make some really delicious nut “cheeses” that would be calorie dense and a pleasure to eat.

        you may not be a teen and/or an athlete, I think the following page
        from the Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) has some great ideas and might
        be of help to you:

        Hope that helps and good luck to you!

        • Adding to Thea’s excellent suggestions you want to make sure you are consuming adequate calories which on a vegetable and fruit based diet is a difficult. Adding in enough complex carbs and not doing too much raw will help as well. Cooking our foods increases caloric absorption by aiding digestion. If you are very active and exercise alot it can be a challenge. Alot of my patients who think they are too thin are actually too thin compared to standard americans. Best wishes.

  • Felix

    Hello Dr. Greger. Do you have any info on gingko? My parents want to use it, but have read that the actual leaves contain harmful components and that extracts are better in this instance. Surprisingly, I could not find anything on your site. Did I miss something or is this a good idea for new videos? :-)

  • Evan

    May I please review what the hospitals served the patients – meals that were served?

  • I have heard about plant based diets for asthma treating for a while but have never seen an explanation about it. Thiis will probably help our family get in a healthier shape.

  • EP_2012

    Why mention placebo effect if the patients had been on several medications in the past and could have also easily have improved through the placebo effect (although they didn’t). Results are what matters and to have 92% of people show improvement, many getting off medication, is amazing.

  • CEC

    I have noticed that my eczema which can get out of control (even on a 100% plant based diet) is controlled when I drink nettle tea. I have also noticed my seasonal allergies are also mitigated by consuming nettle tea. What can you tell me about nettle tea along these lines?

  • Penny Anonymous

    I think I may have developed some eczema since becoming vegan. What’s up with that? Since Aug 15, 2014 I have not knowingly eaten more than a smidgen of anything not plant-based (a roll here, a piece of bread there – really very little). Since March of this year I have been on a low oil (occasional dinners out – I do not cook with oil at all) diet as well. Yet I developed a strange looking rash that got scaly like the picture above. Is my body driving out all the mean toxins or something? Also, my reactions to the bad air at work is more severe now rather than less. This seems to fly in the face of the evidence provided above. Not that I am going back to animal products, but I am wondering why…

    • Johanna

      I got my eczema on the backs of my hands following treatment of a cat claw infection/ringworm. I am also a vegan for some years. Like many others, my eczema disappears in the summer and reappears in the winter. A product recommended by my dermatologist and made by Mayo Clinic personnel(?) seems to help: Vaniply. Vanicream, made by the same company, does not seem to be as helpful. They also make a soap which I do use.

  • Lynn

    I had been on Advair and Albuterol for 10 years. Went vegan last winter. No more meds!

  • Maarten

    I was diagnosed with hyperkeratotic fissured hand and foot eczema. Also a life long history of ear infections and bronchitis. Tried to get it under control for years. Only option for the eczema: steroid creams (=stress hormone) for the rest of your life. It’s genetic they said. Learn to live with it. I’ve been a vegetarian for 12 years but based on this video I quit using dairy products. All my symptoms are gone COMPLETELY. My GP was at a loss for words and had no explanation. I do now! No dairy.

    • Maarteen,

      Nice work, glad you took your health into your own hands.

      Your experience is one that I have seen in numerous patients. Our profession needs to recognize that a bodies response, such as eczema, is well known to be connected to our intake and/or response to external triggers.

      Finding them can be as straight forward as an elimination diet, first proposed in 1926….. but it takes some time and dedication….as an fyi Thorne research has an excellent booklet for this purpose. The second issue is that in medicine there are competing means of chemically determining allergies with none being 100% accurate. Some practitioners continue to use the 1950’s scratch testing vs the much more accurate blood-based, of which there are many methods. Again let me state, none are able to detect all of your allergies. Dr. Alan Kadish NF moderator