Back in Circulation: Sciatica & Cholesterol

Back in Circulation: Sciatica & Cholesterol
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Atherosclerotic plaque clogging the arteries feeding our spine may lead to low back pain, disc degeneration, and sciatic nerve irritation.

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Low back pain became one of the biggest problems for public health systems in the Western world during the second half of the 20th century. The lifetime prevalence of low back pain is reported to be as high as 84%, and chronic low back pain currently affects about 1 in 5, with 1 in 10 being disabled. It’s an epidemic. Are people just lifting more heavy stuff? No. Mechanical factors, such as lifting and carrying, probably do not play a major role in the disease. Well then, what causes it? I’ve touched on it before; atherosclerosis can obstruct the arteries that feed the spine and this diminished blood flow can result in various back problems. This can be seen on angiography, showing normal arteries on the left and clogged on the right, or on autopsy, where you can see the openings to the spinal arteries can get squeezed shut by these cholesterol-filled plaques on the right.

Autopsy, because back pain may predict fatal heart disease, just like clogs in the penile arteries—erectile dysfunction—can precede heart attacks, because it’s the same disease; clogged, crippled arteries throughout our entire vascular system.

Now we have MRI imaging that can show the occlusion of spinal arteries in people with back pain, and the degeneration of the discs. Normal blood flow in someone without back pain, versus constricted blood flow in someone with. They showed that patients with long-term lower back pain had these kinds of arterial clogs, and those with high cholesterol appeared to suffer more severe symptoms. Those with narrowed arteries appear about eight and a half times more likely to have suffered from chronic back pain.

This makes sense. The discs in our lower back are the largest avascular tissue in the body, meaning our discs don’t have any blood vessels. Thus, its nutrition just kind of diffuses in from the margins, making it especially vulnerable to deprivation. Using MRIs you can measure the effects of impaired blood flow on that diffusion, and see how this can turn into that. Although disc degeneration has multiple causal factors, with genetic, occupational, and mechanical influences, alteration in nutrition has been proposed as the final common pathway. By age 49, 97% of the discs of those eating the standard American diet show at least grade 2 degradation.

Cholesterol plaques in the walls of the aorta can obliterate the orifices of lumbar and middle sacral arteries and may decrease blood supply of the lumbar spine and its surrounding structures. Structures with precarious nutrient supply, such as the intervertebral discs, may suffer and gradually degenerate from this lack of blood flow, as well as herniate. Not only is there a relationship between cholesterol levels and disc degeneration; there’s an association between cholesterol levels and disc herniation as well.

This compromised blood flow may also damage the nerve roots that come off the spine, causing sciatica. Sciatica is back pain that radiates down the legs, causing additional pain, numbness or weakness, and prolonged disability and may affect as many as 1 in 20 people. And independent of weight, and some other factors, clinical sciatica may be associated with cholesterol as well. See, the nerve roots, which are most commonly associated with sciatic pain, are supplied by some of the arteries most vulnerable to atherosclerotic plaque formation. Obliteration of these arteries by cholesterol buildup results in compromised nutrient supply to the nerve itself. And that lack of oxygen to the nerve may be playing a role in sciatica pain.

Reduced blood flow also hampers the removal of waste products, such as lactic acid, which can in turn irritate the nerve endings, causing pain and deterioration.

Because of this vulnerability, discs degenerate far earlier than do other musculoskeletal tissues; the first unequivocal findings of degeneration in the discs of the lower spines can be seen starting around age 11. By the early teen years you can already see the discs starting to degenerate. This makes sense. As I’ve talked about, nearly all kids have the beginnings of atherosclerosis by age 10.

And sadly, low back pain is now common in children and adolescents as well, and it is becoming a real public health concern. And it’s getting worse. It’s like kids now getting disorders like adult-onset diabetes. Teenagers starting their lives out with a chronic disease. That’s why it’s never too early to start eating healthier.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Low back pain became one of the biggest problems for public health systems in the Western world during the second half of the 20th century. The lifetime prevalence of low back pain is reported to be as high as 84%, and chronic low back pain currently affects about 1 in 5, with 1 in 10 being disabled. It’s an epidemic. Are people just lifting more heavy stuff? No. Mechanical factors, such as lifting and carrying, probably do not play a major role in the disease. Well then, what causes it? I’ve touched on it before; atherosclerosis can obstruct the arteries that feed the spine and this diminished blood flow can result in various back problems. This can be seen on angiography, showing normal arteries on the left and clogged on the right, or on autopsy, where you can see the openings to the spinal arteries can get squeezed shut by these cholesterol-filled plaques on the right.

Autopsy, because back pain may predict fatal heart disease, just like clogs in the penile arteries—erectile dysfunction—can precede heart attacks, because it’s the same disease; clogged, crippled arteries throughout our entire vascular system.

Now we have MRI imaging that can show the occlusion of spinal arteries in people with back pain, and the degeneration of the discs. Normal blood flow in someone without back pain, versus constricted blood flow in someone with. They showed that patients with long-term lower back pain had these kinds of arterial clogs, and those with high cholesterol appeared to suffer more severe symptoms. Those with narrowed arteries appear about eight and a half times more likely to have suffered from chronic back pain.

This makes sense. The discs in our lower back are the largest avascular tissue in the body, meaning our discs don’t have any blood vessels. Thus, its nutrition just kind of diffuses in from the margins, making it especially vulnerable to deprivation. Using MRIs you can measure the effects of impaired blood flow on that diffusion, and see how this can turn into that. Although disc degeneration has multiple causal factors, with genetic, occupational, and mechanical influences, alteration in nutrition has been proposed as the final common pathway. By age 49, 97% of the discs of those eating the standard American diet show at least grade 2 degradation.

Cholesterol plaques in the walls of the aorta can obliterate the orifices of lumbar and middle sacral arteries and may decrease blood supply of the lumbar spine and its surrounding structures. Structures with precarious nutrient supply, such as the intervertebral discs, may suffer and gradually degenerate from this lack of blood flow, as well as herniate. Not only is there a relationship between cholesterol levels and disc degeneration; there’s an association between cholesterol levels and disc herniation as well.

This compromised blood flow may also damage the nerve roots that come off the spine, causing sciatica. Sciatica is back pain that radiates down the legs, causing additional pain, numbness or weakness, and prolonged disability and may affect as many as 1 in 20 people. And independent of weight, and some other factors, clinical sciatica may be associated with cholesterol as well. See, the nerve roots, which are most commonly associated with sciatic pain, are supplied by some of the arteries most vulnerable to atherosclerotic plaque formation. Obliteration of these arteries by cholesterol buildup results in compromised nutrient supply to the nerve itself. And that lack of oxygen to the nerve may be playing a role in sciatica pain.

Reduced blood flow also hampers the removal of waste products, such as lactic acid, which can in turn irritate the nerve endings, causing pain and deterioration.

Because of this vulnerability, discs degenerate far earlier than do other musculoskeletal tissues; the first unequivocal findings of degeneration in the discs of the lower spines can be seen starting around age 11. By the early teen years you can already see the discs starting to degenerate. This makes sense. As I’ve talked about, nearly all kids have the beginnings of atherosclerosis by age 10.

And sadly, low back pain is now common in children and adolescents as well, and it is becoming a real public health concern. And it’s getting worse. It’s like kids now getting disorders like adult-onset diabetes. Teenagers starting their lives out with a chronic disease. That’s why it’s never too early to start eating healthier.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to The Wedding Traveler and Andreanna Moya Photography via Flickr.

Doctor's Note

There’s a condensed version of this in my live disability presentation: From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food. I’m glad I’m finally able to lay out the entire thing.

I noted how it was like impotence as a predictor of an early demise—here’s the video: Survival of the Firmest: Erectile Dysfunction and Death.

The beginnings of heart disease by age 10? Sad but true: Heart Disease Starts in Childhood.

Thankfully, the clogs in our arteries can be reversed! See, for example:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

80 responses to “Back in Circulation: Sciatica & Cholesterol

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  1. Oh this is such a cool and vital video. One of my my all time favorites. Thought provoking and far reaching in what it speaks (IMHO). The ED science you have published was on par with this as well.




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  2. We are made of tubes.

    And when these tubes start to close we’re gonna have big problems.

    It seems to me that a man’s life on a SAD diet and similar is nothing else that a story of tubes that slowly closed up ’till the point of no return.

    :-(




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      1. Oh yes !
        I have a dream: that one day the first line therapy for a vast amount of diseases will be diets.

        I hope that Dr Ornish and others could find more evidence about WFPB diet applied to cancer.

        No more pills, but veggies




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    1. Though, the real problem is not in red tubes but in yellow ones. I mean the blood just supplies our cells.. but they poop into the lymph. And when the “sewer” gets backed up. Well, that’s a sh*tty situation. The tissue around that blockage degenerates, the popular expression is ” gets sick”. The type of disease depends on which tissue is affected. There is more reasearch to be done (as always) but a huge part of reasearch is already done – on glymphatic system, a lymph system of the nerve system.

      A big discovery is that there is a big player among all acid waste in lymph. It is a protein. Apparently it does great damage to the body, especially to the kidneys. The kidneys seem to filter and pull the lymphatic waste out of the body. (i think that is not in these references)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glymphatic_system
      http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/labs/nedergaard-lab/projects/glymphatic_system




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      1. I think the red ones (talking about atherosclerosis) are the principal actors here damaged by the inflammatory process that affects the intima layer ’caused by many mechanism but surely with a pivotal role for LDLs.

        Anyway i will check you sources in future.




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      2. On kidneys:
        “”… the weight of the kidneys in these rats increased by 22%, the capillaries filtering blood to the kidneys increased in size by 13%, and the collagen around the capillaries by 32%.”
        “Eating large amounts of fruit and vegetables reduces the risk of kidney stones forming,” advises Dr. Aparicio.
        http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/271663.php

        “However, proteins from the blood can leak into the urine when the filters of the kidney, called glomeruli, are damaged.”
        “People with diabetes, hypertension, or certain family backgrounds are at risk for proteinuria. (People on high protein diet.)”
        http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/KUDISEASES/pubs/proteinuria/index.aspx

        All those findings indicate that kidneys are a filtering system in our body (nothing new here) and the protein (that damages our tissues, provokes inflamation, ect.) hurts them. If we put all that together – the lymph system has to pull all excess protein out of the body, except the kidneys cant handle the load of a SAD. The result is kidneys wont filter waste anymore. Beacause they cant.

        “Regression analysis showed an association between increased consumption of animal protein and a decline in renal function suggesting that high total protein intake may accelerate renal disease leading to a progressive loss of renal capacity. (In people with pre-existing renal condition.)” There is still lack of evidence for pepople with normal renal function. But disease doesnt come from thin air, there is a progress from a healthy kidney to a total failure. On mice those changes are easily detectable.
        There was a study on overweight people with supposedly healthy kidneys:
        “In this study, 65 overweight, but otherwise healthy, subjects adhered to a low or high protein diet for six months. In the high protein group, both kidney size and GFR were significantly increased from that measured at baseline.”
        http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/2/1/25

        Researchers conclude with “not enough evidence”, i disagree with that. Evidence is there it just hasnt been put togheter correctly.

        My conclusion – high protein diet is as bad as high fat diet. Kidneys appear to filter lymph system as well as the blood, we dont know for sure. Waste has to come out somewhere.




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  3. Before I made the cold turkey switch to a low fat plant based diet 1 and 1/2 years ago I know this was a main prohibiting factor to healing my lower back pain. I had a history of high blood pressure & used to experience multiple heart palpitations during the day due to my overly carnivorous ways. I couldn’t even lie on my left side at night with my heart facing down because I could feel my heart beating harder than normal! 1 and 1/2 years later all of that is history with the help of proper diet, light exercise and inversion therapy I can run again, sleep however I want, and not worry about the onset of a sudden heart attack from my constantly palpitating heart!

    It is a shame that more people do not focus on diet as part of their recovery efforts! I have had multiple chiropractors agree with my decision to change my diet and they have told me how little their usual patients actually apply themselves in their own recovery or even realize the role that diet plays in their back troubles!




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  4. Thanks for this video Dr. Greger! I’ve had lower back pain before but I haven’t experienced them again after turning vegan. I’m just 25 years old by the way. I have a question though. Is it possible for the damaged disks to repair themselves or is the damage permanent?




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    1. It is possible for them to repair depending on the issue and the severity. I would advise you find a good chiropractor to help you determine what the root cause of your pain is and also to find out what therapy will work best for you. I use an inversion table and have had excellent short term and long term results (pain goes away after 2 minutes on it) but everyone is different.




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  5. Great video Dr. Greger! I’ve had lower back pain before but I haven’t experienced them again after turning vegan. I’m just 25 years old by the way. I have a question though. You say the clogs in our arteries can be reversed but can the damage to my spinal disks be reversed or are those permanent?




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  6. THIS IS INCREDIBLE!
    My father, and most of his family, as well as my husband’s father, all suffer from chronic back pain. It is something that has been disabling for some. Actually, I used to suffer from it often, but now that I think back, since I became vegan 2 years ago I haven’t had a single bout!
    AMAZING! Dr. G thank you so much for all your amazing work!




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  7. Dr. Greger, This video makes me wonder about osteoporosis in the lower lumbar spine too. Do you think this condition would contribute? It seems logical.




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  8. This has been revolutionary for me!!!!! In 1991, I caught a 600 lb patient falling out of bed, couldn’t walk well for the next 3 years until I had what was called the Vermont Fixator Procedure. Post op, I continued to have debilitating back pain. I was an omnivore at the time. My pain levels were so bad, I was unable to work, and was given large amounts of narcotics to control the pain. Well…several years later, yup, I found myself addicted to those narcotics. I went to rehab, stopped all pain meds, and CHANGED MY DIET at the same time. Within 6 months, all my pain was gone. I always attributed the loss of pain to having stopped the narcotics, and am now wondering if the dietary changes (vegan) actually had more to do with it than anything else. That’s my current guess…..

    I’m now a massage therapist, and tell all my clients who present with low back pain about my experience. One of them has taken the info to heart and has joined the vegan “ranks”!!! Her back pain is much better!!!

    Thank you for all you do!




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  9. Being vegan,mostly raw foods for several decades didnt stop me from having lower back pain every time I flew long distance,now exercise on an inversion table with two 5k weights;ten minutes a day, havent had the problem since.




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    1. I am with you on this. The inversion table saved my life! If you don’t take the pressure off discs that have been narrowed then how are you supposed to heal!




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  10. I have terrible sciatica pain. Mine is literally a pain in my….butt! I don’t have any lower back pain, but it is definitely my sciatica. It starts at my butt and travels down my leg, No numbness or tingling, it just hurts. Sitting makes it worse. Some days are fine and other days it hurts like crazy. I’m 50 and I’ve been whole food, oil-free, plant based for almost ten years. My cholesterol and blood pressure are both very low. I don’t take any medications. I’ve never had a weight problem. I do try and walk five miles a day and that is always on cement sidewalks. Should I be concerned this is somehow related to a plaque buildup?




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    1. http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/sciatica/what-piriformis-syndrome – check this out when you have a free minute. I had this as a result to nerve issues with my back and your symptoms sound exactly like what I had! I saw a deep tissue massage therapist that was able to release my piriformis muscle from clamping down on my sciatica nerve. Once she did that it was instant release and my butt instantly warmed from blood flow! The piriformis muscle can cut off blood flow to the nerve causing pain and numbness down the leg!




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        1. No problem! When you go just let them know you that you think you may have a piriformis issue because this type of thing is very common but it wont heal unless you work it out (deep tissue). From my personal experience I had to go back a few times each week to keep working it.




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        2. Oh yea, and it defiantly does not sound like your issue is diet related! This sort of thing can occur as your body’s natural reaction to any kind of physical stress! And I do mean ANY kind!




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      1. Ditto that Thanks for the link. Reminding me to do my stretches and to ask about pirifomis. I’ve had a bad case of (I thought) sciatica this week and a round of steriods just takes the edge off. I’ve been WFPB low/no oil for 3 years am hoping it is not cholesterol (still haven’t gotten under 200 yet though). I do get monthly massage, but sit a lot when home – on my feet all day teaching.




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    2. Try a 3 month period of zero gluten grains and no soy. I’d even suggest going grain free. Eliminate all nightshade fruits and vegetables (goji berries are in this group!). Maybe go raw vegetables and fruits and some seeds and nuts. I know that oats are gluten free gut they caused me worse issues than even wheat and other gluten grains.




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      1. I am already gluten free. I won’t give up nightshades unless I can’t move. I eat potatoes almost everyday and wouldn’t be happy without them in my life. If I was truly in massive pain, I’d try it, but while this is a literally a PITA, I can deal with it.




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        1. Usually the foods we are most reactive to are the ones we think we can’t live without. Are you open to eliminating ALL nightshades for two weeks just to see if and where it makes a difference for you? I developed a reaction to nightshades when I ate an usual number of them during a week when I had a mild stomach virus. My body’s reaction was to retain water. I gained 8 pounds in one week, mostly in my legs. I lost the wait within 3 days once I stopped eating nightshades!




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    3. I hope you have good shoes that can soften the impact of walking on concrete. Can you walk in the woods, or on a beach where you live? That might also help. A dirt path is easier on the back than concrete.




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  11. Nutritionfacts.org has suggested that eating less animal meat is a path to true wellness and ability at any age. For high cholesterol, this site might recommend a vegan diet, a grapefruit, beans, a Brazil nut once a week, a handful of hands most days (almonds), some cocoa or maybe dark chocolate, whole grains (Cherrios or oatmeal), Strawberries, kiwi, red rice, and amla powder or tea. These are powerful ways to lower LDL, and help blood flow. Definitely less smoking, more exercise, a healthier plant based diet, and less haunch could save your life and modulate your pain and health costs.




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  12. I dealt with chronic sciatica for 6 years. Since I switched to a vegan diet 6 month ago (thanks to Mr. Greger) it went away within weeks. After 49 years on a SAD diet I am amazed that my body was able to heal so fast. It is not always easy to stick to a vegan diet, but the benefits are undeniable.




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    1. It gets easier. I struggled in the first 6 months, after 1 year my mind/senses completely turned off animal products and gave me the ability to resist junk food!




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  13. I SO respect and appreciate all the information you post – thank you! I have combed the site, and internet for that matter, for information about cold sores and best foods to eat to lessen outbreaks, to no avail. i have only been able to stave off outbreaks by being sensitive to the tingling feeling prior to one erupting, at which point I pop a few Lysine pills for a few days. If I catch it in time it works, but surely there must be certain foods I could be eating daily so I would not have a ….Lysine deficiency?! …or is that not a logical conclusion? Anyway, what could I add to my diet to help lessen outbreaks? I’m a vegan, but overweight by 30 lbs because this is a new way of eating for me.




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    1. Nancy, I’m not sure if the following video is talking about cold sores, but I thought it might help:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/apthous-ulcer-mystery-solved/

      If eating whole plant foods is new-ish to you and if the above video is talking about the same problem you are talking about, then maybe your problem will disappear after a while simply due to your new diet and the antibodies going away??? (I don’t know if that’s a true or not. I’m not a doctor. I’m just guessing.)

      Good luck. I hope someone more knowledgeable will also answer you.




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      1. Thea, I used to get those Apthaus Ulcers once or twice a year (didn’t know what they were until the picture in the video). Very painful for two to three days. I’ve been plant based for over three years and now realize that I haven’t had one of those ulcers since going plant based.




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        1. Joe: That’s awesome. I hear stories like that all the time: “I went plant based for reasons X and Y. But you know, it actually fixed W and Z, and I had no idea that would happen. I’m really happy about that.” Eating plant based is not a guarantee that anything will be fixed, but it sure does up one’s chances.

          Thanks for sharing Joe!




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    2. Here’s my cold sore story. I hope it helps. Pre-vegan: If chicken skin touched my lips, I got cold sores within hours. Post-vegan: I still get them occasionally and I can only tie it to citrus foods and drink. I’m very careful to not let an orange slice or citrus dressing touch my lips as I put it in my mouth. And I drink citrus juices through a straw, if I drink them at all. Also, I make sure I’m not eating too much salt and letting it touch my lips, like salted nuts. My tastes have changed now and I don’t like such salty things. If I do feel the tingle, I instantly put Blistex medicated ointment on the area and it doesn’t break out.




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    3. Even as a vegan, I had to eliminate all grains — especially rice and gluten grains and corn —in order to prevent cold
      sores from occurring. I still eats pecans and macadamias and some pumpkin seeds (all raw seeds and nuts, never
      heated or roasted!) and have no problems with cold sores. I also avoid the high omega 3 seeds like flax and chia.
      But both brown and white rice, all the rices and most other grains – – – – triggers the cold sores. I’d forgo the soy
      bean and all its products, just to be safe.




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    4. My cold sore outbreaks are related to stress and sun exposure. Even if I am sleep deprived my body interprets this as stress and I will have an outbreak. I use chap stick constantly to ward off sun exposure. I have had only 2 or 3 outbreaks in the last 5 years. I practice yoga and am in a happy relationship. Good Luck to you.




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  14. I’ve had chronic back pain for 17 years. It started when I was 13 and progressively got worse ever since it started. Doctors said it was a weight problem (I was overweight), but no one would tell me how to lose weight. “Diet and exercise” isn’t helpful without additional details. I eventually figured it out myself and lost the weight years later. I’ve been 165lbs for 6 years which is healthy considering that I’m 6′ tall, but my back pain kept getting worse. Doctors suggested pain management (drugs) but I refuse to take pills for “comfort,” but I do take B12!

    Although US medical practitioners did convince me that losing weight was important, I would still consider my case to be a complete failure. I essentially gave up and continued living with a progressively worsening lower back. Tried yoga, weight lifting, stretching, surfing, rock climbing, and switched to a very firm mattress but nothing helped prevent mornings of excruciating pain. I went vegetarian 2 years ago but that didn’t help either. If anything, my back pain got noticeably worse, as did my cholesterol thanks to cheese and oil.

    Finally, I discovered this website about 3 months ago, watched every single video (nearly 1,000 of them) and went 100% whole food plant-based, very low / borderline-no oil, salt, etc. Every vital stat has *dramatically* improved. My back pain still persists at some points throughout the day but I have become much more functional and often wake up pain free. I was even able to return to yoga over the past few weeks and continue to practice every day. I feel as though my back is finally healing itself, often accompanied with a subtle sensation of warmth.

    Dr. Greger, “thanks” is an understatement.




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    1. A powerful story, thanks for sharing! Watching all of the videos is truly a noteworthy feat in itself. I have seen every video too but I have been here a lot longer then 3 months. Having all this information available to us for free is incredible.




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        1. I’m sure every tax deductible dollar that we send goes a long way, even if it just convinces more powerful donors to contribute. I’ve also offered engineering time to help maintain the website. There’s few resources as valuable as this one for me and my family.




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      1. It is incredible and extremely valuable, and for that reason staff guys like you should help keeping it credible by proof reading upcoming video transcripts.

        There have been a number of video’s in the past year I was here that were either wrong, pushing things as fact that were at most plausible or not even that. It would be a shame if that were to backfire and have Dr. G end up in court of discredited.




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          1. PCB’s in fish oil supplements being responsible for the IQ difference, and the graph in one of the Alzheimer’s rapidly pulling itself to the front of the pack as cause of death. Those two I really had trouble with and come to mind straight away.

            First topic, concluding and claiming PCB load in fish oil being responsible for the difference in developmental IQ vs breast milk while breast milk carries a load 192 times higher than the fish oil is just ridiculous. In fact the fish oil 50 ng number compared favorably vs tap water acceptable numbers if I remember correctly.

            On Alzheimer’s, there have been graphs presented seemingly showing an alarming increase in Alzheimer’s numbers, conveniently forgetting the post education knowledge updating campaign on the subject. Off course this will result in higher numbers of reported cases. A scientist cannot seriously assume that an illness did not exist before we discovered it.
            That same type of mistake was commented on and subsequently ignored, which is even worse BTW, by explaining a bump in the line cause by a redefinition of the disease and then filing it under “a rise in true numbers” instead of previously missed diagnoses.

            And again on the topic of Alzheimer’s an average rise in mean age of death of 6 years was not taking into account in explaining the rise. All in all when all the diagnoses problems, awareness re-education and higher average age per 100.000 gets factored in you get an extremely flat line and maybe a very modest rise in actual numbers. Certainly not warranting words as alarming rise, epidemic proportions, fast becoming something it wasn’t before. Completely irresponsible in the way it might upset people terribly and could even trigger panicky avoidance of who knows what.

            Then with all this alarm bell ringing you look for ways to help prevent this and to end up with saffron among other things.
            And you see no follow ups on those promising saffron studies done in Iran, Iran the producer of 95% of all the worlds saffron.
            With those Iranian results researchers should be jumping on saffron if only to safe their own grandparents and parents.




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            1. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/saffron-for-the-treatment-of-alzheimers/

              The same graph in this clip was used in a video this year, but for the life of me I can’t remember which one (not a joke).

              I clearly commented on this one which I only now notice is older, I though I commented on the newer one, my bad.
              I’ve slept only a few hours last night, I’ll try to find the more recent overselling of Alzheimer’s as an emerging threat tomorrow.
              My apologies for having to cut it short for this evening but my mind is shutting down. Regards.




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    2. GREAT! It took me just over a year to be back pain free on a WFPB diet! Stick with it and you will not be sorry! I too am grateful to Dr. Greger for putting out the science that explains why I feel so much better on a day to day basis compared to my many yeas on the SAD diet!




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    3. “I went vegetarian 2 years ago but that didn’t help either. If anything, my back pain got noticeably worse, as did my cholesterol thanks to cheese and oil.”

      Interesting. Two gals I know are dairy eaters and both have miserable pain not only in their back but also leg joints, etc. I keep urging them to just chuck the yogurt for a few weeks and see what happens. Nope, they’re too hooked. You can lead a horse to water…….




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      1. I was also eating about 8 eggs a week and making smoothies with yogurt. I’m sure it was all contributing in some form or another. Dropping eggs and all milk derived products makes a big difference right away. My wife’s total cholesterol dropped from 215 to 156 just 3 weeks after switching to whole plant foods, and she’s been vegetarian for 15 years.




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  15. Thanks Dr.Greger. I’m 48 years old with chronic lower back pain for more than 15years. At this stage of my life I’m disabled with 6 surgery including a spinal Cord stimulator. I’m in pain 24’7 to the point that some times I just give up and want to end my suffering. Can you give me some advice.?




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    1. Read PREVENT & Reverse Heart Disease By Dr Esselstyn and follow the plant based low fat diet and it will help your back problems. I t has a lot of recipes to get you started. Good luck.




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  16. Yes. This is fantastic information and I am living it. Since I have gone SOS and plant-based I have improved my degenerative back disease and feel improvement in my lower back health. I have had two back surgeries and I think this life style change is the only answer to my lower back degeneration. Once again thank you for giving me the tools to improve my health and quality of life.




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  17. I’ll ‘back’ you up on this data! ;)

    Pain in the back is the most common presenting complaint in my patients.
    It is also the single biggest reason that patients are on Opiates (Morphine) or Semi-synthetic Opiates (eg. Norco or Vicoden).

    And the only thing that I have seen that consistently helps recover these patients is eating a whole food, low fat, plant based diet.




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  18. I had severe lower back pain to such extent that my Boss did not allow me to continue working & sent me home (I was bent to one side). I saw a neurologist and he want MRIs and said I may need surgery and suggested I rest in bed for a week. But it got much worse and I then went to a chiropractor who straightened my back and said exactly the opposite, that I should not rest, but instead do exercise and go back to work. Within a week I was normal. Since I became vegan and swim, I have lost 40# and have no physical aches.




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  19. Dr Greger, I wasn’t sure where to post this question, but here goes :) Is there scientific research to support the wearing of long sleeves and long pants all year round? I have heard that the heart and other internal organs can become overworked if the limbs and extremities remain uncovered. Is this the case in temperatures above say 25*C? Supposedly the heat gets trapped under the clothing and therefore the limbs are chilled and the torso over heated. I can see this could be true in the colder seasons, but how about in Spring and Summer? I believe the theory behind completely covering the body is to create and maintain a perfect circulation.

    Many thanks.




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    1. Drinking 7-10 glasses of green tea is recommended. It can extend your life ten years. The skin needs to breath so be sure you allow some of your skin to breath. Even your intestines need to have exposure to air. There are strange reports of performers dying of skin poisoning when their bodies are completely painted and men dying from leaving opiom suppositories in too long. I hope you feed your mitochondria with a nice B vitamin, as I would like to do.




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  20. Hi I was wondering if there is any research on diet and spine recovery after trauma such as a broken back. My father in law broke his back when he was in his late 20s and he is now 57, suffering from chronic back pain. Unfortunately, he takes oxycodone, and his diet is primarily based of meat, sweets, bread, milk, etc. After watching this video I now worry about his arteries and how they might be affecting his spine. I appreciate anyone’s feedback, thanks!




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  21. What about fasting? Several friends decided to go on a Daniel Fast. They experienced pain in their legs and back. Could their healthy eating cause the body to detox in a manner that causes pain?




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    1. Dear Janee, When I reviewed the Daniel Fast (at least as defined by the researchers in the following study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20815907 it was defined as “21 day ad libitum food intake period, devoid of animal products and preservatives, and inclusive of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.” This sounds very much like a whole food plant based diet that has been shown to be associated with optimum health. (although “preservatives” would need to be expanded to mean processed foods in general.) The study I cited shows it was safe and health-promoting for subjects. I would not suspect that healthy eating caused your friends the pain they experienced. It’s possible they were not drinking enough water, eating too little or not getting all the nutrients they needed by having a VARIETY of fruits and vegetables which could cause fatigue and muscle cramps. Keep to a whole food plant-based diet with adequate hydration and you should not have those problems. If you need further clarification check out Dr Gregers videos on whole food plant based nutrition. This one would be a good start:http://nutritionfacts.org/video/improving-on-the-mediterranean-diet Hope that helps. Joan-Nurse Educator




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  22. Thank you so much for this valuable information.

    It is people like you that really make a difference in the lives of people with sciatica.

    I suffered for 12 years from sciatica and nothing I tried worked.

    Drugs, nutrition, all types of doctors…you name it–the suffering never really went away.

    Fortunately, I found out about a natural way that finally got rid of my sciatica for good.

    This article talks about it…

    http://www.bestquicktips.com/sciatica

    Hope it helps and keep up the good work!




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  23. This is amazing. I have an MRI that was the taken showing my herniated disc. Would the same MRI be able to confirm clogged spinal artery if I take it to my dr. Or would it ge a different test?




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    1. Thank you for your question. The usual MRI scan for back pain would not be sufficient to see the detail of the arteries so I would have thought your MRI scan would not be sufficient for this purpose. A more specialised type of MRI would need to be performed that specifically highlight the arteries.




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  24. Oh my gosh, I had a back injury when working at McDonalds when I was 15. My mum had always been obsessed with eating healthily and I’ve been vegetarian since I was 9. I always thought it was just because I lifted a 10kg bag of fries from a bottom freezer and twisted at the same time but maybe it was also because I was eatin such terrible McDonald’s food for 3 years and that also contributed! BASTARDS!




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