I’m Taking Patients Off More Medications Than I’m Prescribing

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

In 2011 I was 80 lbs overweight, I was on 8 medications, I was sick, sad, and scared. As a doctor, I couldn’t understand how I’d ended up there. I “knew” what to do. I just had to eat less and exercise more, right?

I’d done Weight Watchers (which worked for a while, until I gained all the weight, plus more, back), seen a nutritionist, a therapist, and even a hypnotist to control my lack of willpower.

I was eating low-fat meat and dairy, whole grains, and tightly controlling my portions. I ate vegetarian meals frequently and snacked on pretzels and hummus, and chips and salsa. I went to the gym 3 times a week and did 30 minutes of cardio. I was doing everything “right,” and this was me.

320_image1One day a friend, who had no medical background, told me he was going to do this “Paleo” diet. Meats, eggs, nuts, fruits and veggies. No grains, no dairy, no legumes. I was horrified. “You can’t do that,” I said, “you will DIE!” All that meat and eggs and fat would spike his cholesterol, no dairy and his bones would all break, no grains and he wouldn’t get any fiber. “Wait,” I said. “Don’t do anything crazy. Let me research it and get back to you.”

So, I set out to save my friend’s life. To find evidence to convince him that this Mark Sisson guy was crazy. What I found was shocking. I read Loren Cordain, Robb Wolf. And it all made sense. From a biochemical standpoint, based on everything I knew about physiology, it all made sense.

Well, I knew that couldn’t be right, so I set out looking for criticism of the Paleo diet. And none of it made sense. The criticisms were weak, they were not based in science.

So, I did it. For 4 months I ate Paleo. I lost 20 lbs, I felt better, and I wasn’t so damn hungry all the time like I’d been on Weight Watchers.

Then life, a move, and a divorce got in the way. But in 2013 I found It Starts With Food. I read it while I polished off a box of donuts and cried. I didn’t know why I couldn’t stop the donuts, but Dallas and Melissa told me. I did a Whole30. I kept reading medical articles supporting this lifestyle. I met Dallas Hartwig in 2014. I was still struggling because over enthusiastic exercise had led to injuries. He told me “Just walk. You can still be an athlete if you just walk.” So I started walking. And walking.

320_image2And in 2015 I walked a half marathon. I got serious about eating well. I started dropping medications (with my doctors permission). I had followed Mark’s Daily Apple sporadically, but when the New Primal Blueprint came out, I bought it. I still believe It Starts With Food, but it doesn’t end there. I was ready to dial in my exercise, my sleep, my relationships, my stress.

I have lost 70 lbs, I’ve lost 6 clothes sizes. I no longer take any of those 8 medicines. I lost my depression, my anxiety, my snoring, my insomnia, my rosácea, my thinning hair, my chronic constipation, and my glasses/contacts. I’ve lost cravings. I’ve lost interest in highly palatable junk food. I’ve lost the need for “willpower” over food. I’ve climbed glaciers in Iceland and volcanoes in Hawai’i. My sex drive is back, and I have the stamina to enjoy it. I’m happy, peaceful, and calm.

I’ve cured patients of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, rosácea, IBS, PCOS, and autoimmune disease. I’m taking patients off more medicines than I’m prescribing.

I’m inspiring others. I’m inspiring my kids. I’m inspiring myself.

Happy, healthy, fit, confident. I enjoy exercise, I don’t obsess about food, I sleep like a baby and wake with the sun. I turn off my phone and read books. I have a loving relationship. Life is good.

I’m Grokking On!
Joanne Watson, MD


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41 thoughts on “I’m Taking Patients Off More Medications Than I’m Prescribing”

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  1. Awesome! I wish there were a database of Doctors who treated patients in this way. Congrats on the turnaround!

  2. If I lived in Maryland, you would be my doctor. You are awesome, and thank you for being the source of so much TRUE healthiness for your patients. I wish more doctors were like you!

  3. LOL I saw MD and thought Maryland. MD means doctor. Radiation brain. Cancer sucks, BTW. Lifelong effects even when you’ve been “cancer-free” and finished treatment years ago. Grokking on can only do so much. 🙁

  4. I am happy for your success and I like your openness and forwardness. I should forward this story to my Dr (-:

  5. Love love love it. One of the best success stories of all time. Trying to prove the Primal/Paleo way of life was wrong and learning some real science, is classic. Science wins again.

  6. Good job, Joanne. You’re looking great, although I don’t quite understand how Paleo could correct your vision. Maybe you could elaborate. In any case, it makes me happy to know that at least one MD understands that good health isn’t necessarily derived from pharmaceuticals.

    1. Inflammation. Your eyeball can actually swell. The changing shape affects vision.

      When I stay strictly keto, I wear my contacts only infrequently and they fit comfortably. When I fall off the wagon, my vision worsens and I have to wear glasses as my contacts are no longer comfortable.

    2. If you have pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome, it can give you blurry vision. Diabetes can make you go blind. When I went Primal my right eye completely went crystal clear.

      1. Yep, happened to a friend of mine. He was having vision issues, was on some meds, and was pre-diabetic. Yet he was pretty fit. It was his diet. He reduced his carbs (but only the simple sugars), upped his greens, and dropped some weight. Major changes were no pre-diabetes and vision completely fixed.

        [but, please, I ask again: can the text in the comment input box be darkened so MY vision remains unstrained? I know the answer is yes, but WILL you?]

        1. I also wish this trend of grey font instead of black would go away.

  7. Fantastic. What an inspiration. I read you stopped wearing glasses/ contacts, wow I have not heard this before as a result of eating Primal. Were you long or short sighted? How bad was your eyesight? i would love to hear having worn glasses for 25 years myself.

    1. If I may interject…. Yes it is true that eating primally will improve vision. However I have found that in order to improve my vision I need to do eye exercises. I had perfect vision most of my life, but began to need reading glasses as I aged. I am now 63 years old. I am currently using the weakest (1.5) reading glasses I can find at the store. At one time I had the stronger ones (2.0 was the strongest I ever used). If I do my eye exercises I don’t need glasses at all. The exercises I recommend were developed by Ray Gottlieb. If you do a search on Amazon there is a book called The Read Without Glasses method that shares the Bates method but also (I think ) Ray Gottlieb’s for Presbyopia. I bought the DVD and it was ok. but what really works is the chart that teaches how to comfortably converge one’s eyes (“crossing” the eyes) …. and the charts are sadly hard to find. Look for a web page called visionsofjoy.org and look for the presbyopia pdfs, or a page called drcharlesblum.com eye exercises pdf. Good luck. I truly beleive that weaning oneself off eye glasses slowly (using progressively weaker lenses) relaxing, avoiding the eye strain of too many screens (tv, computers, phone etc) and exercising the full range of eye movements, near and far etc. can cure “old eyes” .

      1. Thanks for the info, very good to know about the eye exercises. I have good eyesight and as you only use reading glasses of the lower value (I am 65) but I want to keep my eyesight as it is or improve it

  8. This is one of my very favorite success stories! Absolutely fantastic. The fact that you are a medical doctor is a powerful position in which to help others. Way to go!

  9. It’s doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to deduce that Dr. Watson has a very inspirational story to share! If only more allopathic physicians would embrace ancestral living as an adjunct to traditional medical treatment.

    1. Agree, except it should be the other way around. Ancestral living should be the primary treatment. Conventional treatment (prescription drugs) should be the adjunct, added only when absolutely necessary.

  10. We need more doctors like this!!! You look great and happy!

  11. Wow congrats on your success. Your story is very inspirational!

  12. Wonderful Joanne, just wonderful. Such a moving story, beautifully told. You did marvellous things for yourself and sharing your story is an incredible important thing too.

  13. Hey Doc Watson, I’ve lost so much faith in conventional medicine and doctors. Your story gives me hope. Maybe someday as a society we will turn the corner. Congratulations in your new found health!

  14. Congratulations, you look amazing, your before and after pics are among the best I have seen here!

  15. Love this story, thank you for sharing. I read about the improvement in eyesight and I had a thought re hearing – is it possible this way of eating could have a beneficial effect on slight hearing loss?

  16. As a Registered Dietitian, I totally get you… I spent almost 30 years teaching and living the conventional wisdom, and really not helping others, or myself. Battled the same 20-30 lbs for years, although I have been lucky enought to not have most of the other issues you mention. Now, as a Primal Health Coach and Registered Dietitian, I am actually helping people to make real changes for the better, reducing meds, improving outcomes, finding their fabulousness. It’s a great feeling. Thanks for the awesome success story!

  17. Have you heard nof CRPS type 2 severe… ?
    A Behr block, ketamine infusions (over 5 days.). ultrasound guided injections without numbing medications so you can scream when they hit the nerve?
    I only wish the public at large would look at cases with the same compassion they do for abuse, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Judge not…

  18. Love this story…not just because your transformation is so dramatic, but because you’re sharing this information with your patients. And so amazing that you are off all those meds! Thanks for sharing…I really look forward to these success stories on Friday:)

  19. What a wonderful story!! This has special impact because you are a doctor. Which tells me more than ever that the conventional approach is just not effective.
    You look marvelous! And I am so glad that you feel marvelous, too!

  20. This is my favorite story ever. How inspiring and how awesome that you are in a position to impact so much good for others. Congrats.

  21. Wow- incredible transformation, Joanne! I love that you set out to prove your friend wrong and instead became a convert. You look amazing, and best of all, you are in a position to help your patients discover their most amazing selves.

  22. So glad to read this! I really appreciate her saying how it helped her get over anxiety, depression and cured her rosacea. I’ve begun to notice the same thing, plus sleeping so much better, feeling SO much more relaxed in general. IT FEELS SO GOOD! That’s what I use for a big YES in my check list of ‘Is it good or not for me’.

  23. Inspiring story Joanne. Wonder how you cure people of sleep anea?

  24. This is awesome, Joanne! As someone pursuing a career in medicine, I’m curious about your experience leading a Primal lifestyle and practicing medicine. Have you experienced any pushback from the medical community i.e. big Pharma or your peers, especially if you you advise this lifestyle for your patients/prescribe minimally? I would love to hear more from you. Thanks!

  25. Great job!! Please be careful with that “cure” word!!!! The powers that be in the medical establishment don’t like that word, especially when you achieve it without their drugs.

  26. Am I the only one who didn’t appreciate this one?

    “Let me research it and get back to you.” Are you kidding me? The arrogance of the medical community! As if your friend isn’t intelligent enough to research it himself? Gag.

  27. Not sure if you will see this comment, but I wanted to say thank you on behalf of all your patients. I’ve never met a doctor who considered taking a patient OFF of medications. I wish you could be my doctor! I took myself off two migraine meds because my doctors never listen. Note: I did talk to a retired nurse, and we developed a plan together.