The Official Website for The Specific Carbohydrate Diet

Breaking the Vicious Cycle

The Official Website for The Specific Carbohydrate Diet The Official Website for The Specific Carbohydrate Diet


Severe Crohn's Cured. Perfect Health. Ulcerative Colitis Steadily Improving

Reviewed by A Customer "jo-downunder"
October 3rd, 2009

December 20, 2009

I rewrote my review because I learned recently that children at the clinic my daughter attends are being prescribed Humira "on compassionate grounds" because they are extremely sick. My daughter would be one of the least likely of their patients to be leading a wonderful, healthy life. But she is. She was diagnosed with severe Crohn's Disease two years ago - all over the place, including in the stomach, which is apparently rare. Her doctor said, "It was a very impressive scope and we will have a very, very long association." She has followed this diet strictly (no drugs) for just over a year and a few days ago, she had her last ever appointment at the clinic. It's usual to do a follow-up colonoscopy after a year but in her case, her doctor felt it would be unnecessary. Since starting the diet, her blood work has been consistently high-normal and she has gained dramatically in height and weight. She is a tall, strong, glowingly healthy girl among little ghost children.

The hardest thing about starting my daughter on this diet was fighting her doctor over it. Despite knowing nothing about the diet, he seemed to think there was something not quite healthy about it. That is the second reason I rewrote my review. I disagree with the comment by the reviewer, Galina Kotlyar, about saturated fats. My understanding is that saturated fats such as coconut oil (medium-chain fatty acids)are positively good for you and for the heart. Since I read about its anti-inflammatory properties, I make sure daughter has heaps of (extra virgin)coconut oil. Also, having read Allan and Lutz's book, Life Without Bread, I learned that the whole 'fat and cholesterol are bad for you' mind-set is wrong. They say the body runs more efficiently on fats than carbs. Lutz has clinical experience of treating and curing thousands of patients of various diseases. Re. the SCD, Gottschall says the diet is highly nutritious depending on your choice of foods. I have found that to be the case. You don't even need to eat much cheese (dairy free is an option) or have any fruit juice - just have the fruit. The Crohn's Colitis Foundation of America says on its Website that the diet itself (SCD) "is not particularly unbalanced." I find that comment a little disingenuous since the diet essentially removes complex carbs that, for most of our evolutionary history, we never ate anyway.

You'll find J. Seidman's review in the two-star section. He recommends Wolfgang Lutz's book, Life Without Bread, for sufferers of Crohn's. It would be a good idea to get Lutz's book too. See which one is the best fit for you - do one diet or the other. I'm surprised no one has mentioned Lutz's work here prior to Mr Seidman. Wolfgang Lutz is a highly-respected Austrian physician who has had great success treating cases of Crohn's and ulcerative colitis with a low-carb diet. He discusses pediatric cases in his book. I don't actually see Lutz's diet and the SCD as in opposition to each other; the principle is fundamentally the same: carbs are causing the problem, so they are restricted. The premise of the SCD is that microbes feed on undigested carbs and so if only simple carbs are ingested, absorption is quicker and microbes are starved out. I find this theory not only plausible but likely considering the large study linking high consumption of processed sugar and Crohn's Disease. The SCD is NOT a low-carb diet; it is exactly what it says it is: it allows only specific carbs, ie. completely cuts out complex carbs such as cereal grains, rice, potatoes, table sugar, high-lactose dairy. There is also the addition of a super-strength probiotic in the form of homemade yogurt, which may be of particular benefit to sufferers of ulcerative colitis. It is NOT difficult to eat high-carb on this diet. My daughter's carb intake is very high - I have taken pains to prove that to her doctor this past year because he seemed to be unhappy about a low-carb diet for a child (After reading Lutz's book,I now realize that the low-carb prejudice is illogical and just plain wrong) but that is not to say that I recommend such a high carb intake as my daughter's. Begin with caution and 'listen to your gut.' Just because something is allowed on the diet doesn't mean you should consume large quantities of it or have it at all. Some people, for example, may be sensitive to the nightshade family which includes tomatoes and capsicum, both of which are allowed on the diet. It may take more than one attempt at the diet for you to be successful. I've persuaded my elder daughter (who has ulcerative colitis) to give it another try because she has begun to experience joint pains, whereas previously her symptoms were well controlled by Mesalazine.

Re. the strictness of the SCD, I believe that is because it was developed by the pediatrician, Dr. Sidney Haas, to treat Celiac disease not cured by a gluten-free diet, where even small amounts of gluten can be detrimental. I'm not sure about the soy restriction but there's a reference in the back of the book that relates to Celiac disease. A sizeable number of Crohn's patients also have Celiac disease. Even among Crohn's sufferers who don't also have Celiac disease, studies have shown elevated antibodies to gliadin (a protein found in wheat). Research now puts the incidence of Celiac disease as around 1 in 100 and gluten sensitivity also estimated to be very common. Get yourself or your child tested for infections or sensitivities but if you still end up not knowing the cause of your disease, the SCD approach (starving out 'bad' bacteria and overwhelming with 'good') is a sensible one, particularly if you need it to work fast.

Unlike others, I wasn't sceptical that dietary therapy could control severe disease because I used an elemental diet (everything pre-digested and in liquid form) to get my daughter into remission when she "failed steroids." It worked so fast and was so effective, it caused a bit of a stir at the hospital. She was out of pain in 24 hours and blood work normalized within a couple of weeks. Over a period of some months (There were delays with MRIs and scheduling surgery), her aggressive disease retreated to a small section of the terminal ileum, which was resectioned a year ago. The effectiveness of elemental diets at inducing remission in Crohn's patients is well-documented in medical journals. They are particularly effective with children and in the early stage of the disease. Relapse rates, however, are high once the diet is stopped, so it's not a good long-term option. Elemental diets don't just induce remission because they are liquid (It's not uncommon to have normal stools on an elemental diet,yet the entire digestive tract can be healed) but also because everything is pre-digested. The clincher for me was when I read the part in the book where Elaine Gottschall explains the link between elemental diets and the SCD: pre-digested carbs. I felt then that the SCD had a good chance of working.

I started my daughter on the SCD in hospital. This monstrous disease was back two weeks after surgery (I've read it can be back in as little time as a week) but the symptoms were less severe. The SCD coped with her disease almost as quickly as the elemental diet had and she kept going slowly on the diet and the last symptom -mild diarrhea - disappeared a couple of months later.

And the rest has been easy. When I read complaints about the difficulty or convenience of sticking to this diet, I think to myself, Are we talking about the same disease here? My daughter had no quality of life - all she wanted was to be able to stretch out in bed. I admit I put in a bit of effort with her food at first because I wanted to prove to her she could give up her pasta, rice, potatoes and still eat like a king but I don't spend a lot of time in the kitchen now. I'm not a good cook by any means. In the beginning, it was a bit 'death by pumpkin mash' but I got some good cookbooks and my daughter was pleasantly surprised that she has full 'normal-looking' meals. I use Sandra Ramacher's and Raman Prasad's cookbooks heavily because the recipes are simple, practical family ones. You do need at least to have a good blender.

The food is good and plentiful and not hard to make. The big irony of this so-called "restrictive diet" is that my daughter's diet is less restricted now than before she got sick - she used to just fill up on starches like rice and pasta and ate very few vegies,fruits, nuts or beans. She eats a wide variety of food now - she loves her food and her appetite is totally satisfied. We have eaten out and gone on holiday and she goes for sleepovers - it just takes a bit of planning and preparation. She plans to be on the diet just one more year strictly and then back to an unrestricted one. My daughter looks more healthy and is more energetic even than when she was little. At 13 now, she has clear skin, glossy hair, whiter teeth, great mental focus. I've also been wondering why her haemoglobin is so high. I think it's because if you cut out complex carbs, you need to cast the net wider to get your calories, so you need a wider range of foods, which means you end up getting more nutrients. Also, if you cut out grains, which are hard to digest, then your body doesn't need to take from its limited store of nutrients to digest them. This book has changed my opinion about what a healthy diet is.

At our last visit to the clinic, I saw a mother sitting with her head in her hands most of the time. I plan to write to the head of department but I don't know if I'll get anywhere. My daughter insisted on presenting her doctor with his own copy of this book at the start of the year. I doubt he's read much of it because a few months ago, when he saw my strong, glowingly healthy and happy daughter, he asked in surprise, "What does she eat?" If doctors don't want to promote this diet or any other, that is one thing but no doctor should ever, EVER try to put off a parent from trying this. My daughter's stricture got worse after she was started on steroids. If I'd started her on this diet straight after diagnosis, she might even have avoided resection. The two case studies by J. Fridge at Stanford University (available on the Breaking the Vicious Cycle website) are only two cases, but they stunned me - those two children were cured in a matter of months.

My daughter owes her health and possibly her life not only to the work of Dr. Sydney Haas and Elaine Gottschall but also to the reviewers here, complete strangers, who took the time and trouble to tell their stories. I am so grateful.

September 2010, update: My elder daughter's UC had progressed and the mesalazine enemas and tablets were no longer effective. 6MP was prescribed but I wanted her to stay away from that if possible because I'm not convinced it's that effective anyway. I started her on the SCD (her third attempt) but this time I made sure she did the intro diet for longer (Refer to pecanbread website) and stuck to it very strictly. The bleeding stopped altogether within three days. She lost weight at the start of the diet and had some ups and downs. Three months in and she's gained all the weight back and then some. She seems much happier and more energetic. She was reluctant to do the diet but admits that the food is incredible. has no symptoms --no bleeding,no joint pain.

I also recommend Life without Bread by Christian B. Allan, PHD.and Wolfgang Lutz, MD; The Gluten Connection by Dr. Shari Lieberman; The Second Brain by Michael D. Gershon MD; Dangerous Grains by James Braly, M.D., and Ron Hoggan, M.A.

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I was given Elaine Gottschall's book, "Breaking the Vicious Cycle." I stuck with the instructions and within only a few days, much to my amazement, the bleeding and diarrhea stopped! I've been on this diet for 5 months, following it faithfully and feeling wonderful. All symptoms have disappeared! I am a new person with energy as I never had before.
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- Anonymous
Amazon customer

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