This is an update to my original post on starting my mom on the autoimmune protocol (AIP) for her rheumatoid arthritis while she’s visiting me from South Korea. You can read about what AIP is, and how we stuck with the diet while on a 1+ week road trip HERE.
As promised, I want to update you on the progress of my mom’s AIP journey. She left for South Korea a few days ago after visiting me for 4 weeks total. During that time, I started her on the AIP diet, and also experimented with other healing methods that I want to share with you. It was a long and challenging month of taking care of her, but it was so worth it in the end and it brought us even closer!
These are some of the tools we used after our road trip, and how they affected her progress.:
After coming home from the Pacific Coast Highway road trip, we continued with the AIP diet and it was much easier to stick to it than while traveling for obvious reasons. There were no distractions, we didn’t have to figure out how to navigate dining out situations, and I was just much less stressed out about shopping and preparing food at home.
There are so many success stories with the AIP diet, where people see results within a week or even a few days. However, this wasn’t the case for my mom (as it isn’t for many others out there). She still struggled with joint pain on her shoulders, knees, and wrists. It really depends on the individual how quickly they see results, and this goes for any kind of diet change.
However, after 3 weeks, she told me that she was beginning to feel better. She described it as feeling “lighter.” She felt like it was easier to move around and took less effort to lift her limbs, which was great news! If you are trying out the autoimmune protocol for your autoimmune conditions, I hope you aren’t discouraged when you don’t see results right away. Your body takes time to heal and sometimes it can take months!
This was one of the things that helped my mom feel better instantly. I did some extensive Yelp search to find a holistic energy and body worker, and I found someone who incorporates both Reiki and deep tissue work.
It was important to find someone who knew how to work with people who has autoimmune conditions or other diseases. They had to be gentle enough to prevent further damage while addressing the individual needs of the client. Thankfully, we both loved the bodyworker we found and my mom told me that the massage was an amazing, healing experience. I could tell that my mom was able to move and feel better after the massage.
If you are in the Marin County, I highly recommend Veronica of Angelic Touch & Holistic Bodywork. Not only is she an amazing healer, she has such a warm and loving presence!
In addition, I also massaged my mom on many mornings and nights on her shoulders, especially when she felt that her joints were stiff and tight, and this seemed to help her immensely as well.
It’s unfortunately rain season in Northern California right now, but on the several days that it was warm and sunny enough, my mom took about an hour walk outside. She’s a very slow walker because her RA affects her right knee which is constantly swollen, but she knows that she needs to get movement in as part of her healing process.
Just as important as the exercise was her exposure to sunlight. The natural rays of the sun carries Vitamin D, which is crucial for the recovery of just about any ailments. I could tell that she always felt so much better on the days that she went on her walks. I was bummed that it didn’t stay sunny for too long while she stayed here, but it definitely made a huge difference when she did take advantage of the few warm days we had in the past few weeks.
This is a bit of a controversial one, but I’ve been doing a bit of research on CBD oil and how effective it is for pain, inflammation, and various autoimmune diseases. If you’ve never heard of it before, CBD oil is the oil that’s been extracted from the cannabis plant and separated from THC, which is commonly known to give that high feeling in marijuana. CBD doesn’t have any psychological effects, however, but it does relax the muscles, reduce anxiety, and relieve pain and inflammation. It really depends on the person the dosage they need and what ratio or CBD to THC is the most appropriate.
While it may not be legal in all states, it is becoming a commonly accepted effective treatment for inflammatory diseases. When I talked to my mom about it, she instantly wanted to try it and thankfully, it’s legal in California. I picked up both topical and sublingual forms from a dispensary and instantly started her on the CBD oils. We rubbed the topical cream on the spots that were the pain spots on her body, and we started slowly with the sublingual oil, increasing the dosage a bit each day until she felt relief.
Though not dramatic, she did notice improvement right way. She felt less pain and was able to sleep much better. Though we didn’t experiment with it long enough, it seemed to work really well the short time she was on it.
If you are going through pain and inflammation, I highly recommend you research about CBD/THC oils and see what your state law is about using them.
I saved the most important for last! With ANY disease, you can’t just heal with diet and treatments alone. You NEED to make sure that your stress level is low and managed. I know it can be hard for someone going through chronic pain, but there are ways to reduce stress like meditation, movement, massage, and other activities that you enjoy.
As for meditation, I downloaded my favorite meditation app, Calm (iOS & Android), on my mom’s phone and taught her some simple methods of breathing to get her started on meditation. My mom is also Catholic and very religious, so praying on a regular basis is also a great form of meditation for her.
It’s also a reality that you’ll commonly get into arguments and fights with your family members when you are together for so long. When I felt these emotions rise, I tried my best to keep them to myself and keep her happy without stirring up negative feeling. It was understandably challenging at times, but our relationship got stronger with the experience.
Finally, we are so fortunate that we live so close to Mission: Heirloom, a restaurant in Berkeley that caters to food allergies and the AIP diet exclusively. When my mom wanted to go out to eat, we were able to dine here without worrying about any cross-contamination which was a relief in stress for me and for her, especially when we were both a bit sick of eating at home all the time. At home, I also baked some AIP desserts so she can enjoy a treat now and then without feeling deprived, and this seemed to help a lot with her stress as well.
Overall, I’m so grateful and happy that my mom was able to stay with me and start on her AIP journey. If you couldn’t tell, we are extremely close, and this experience brought us even closer. While her symptoms aren’t fully gone and she’s still on her road to recovery, I can tell that she improved a lot while she was here with the combination of all of the methods above. By the end of it, she felt lighter, in less pain, and just happier and more relaxed than when she first arrived. I hope that she can stick to the diet in Korea and continue to see improvements down the road!
If you or your loved ones are going through sometime similar, I want tell you to not be discouraged when you don’t see results right away. These things take time and you do need to try out different methods and find the ones that work specifically for you. Our bodies are all different, so we can’t expect something to work for us because it worked for someone else.
If you have any questions about my experience, feel free to contact me! I would love to chat with you and see if I can help.