The Inflammation and Pain Caused By AS Was Gone For Good

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!

I was doing great with my health following the USDA recommended high carb, low fat and moderate protein diet until the spring of 2000 when my health took a turn for the worst! I had recently turned 39-years-old when my body started to stiffen up.

I was working out at the gym three times per week, jogging 30 minutes twice a week, playing hockey twice a week, working at a stressful job, a father of two kids and a husband. The stiffness initiated in my neck then shifted to my jaw causing it to go out of alignment, which made it difficult to talk. As the stiffness left these areas, it moved to my lower back for a while, fortunately bypassing my hips and knees ending up on the front bottom pad of my right foot and finally stopped at the Achilles tendon on the left leg. All of my fitness training came to a screeching halt and I had difficulty working at my job.

It was very interesting how the stiffness diminished by the end of the day but every morning I woke up stiff, sore and in considerable pain. I set up an appointment with the doctor who ordered various blood work tests as well as other tests to determine the cause of the stiffness. After six weeks coming up with no diagnoses, I was referred to a Rheumatologist. The Rheumatologist conducted a different round of testing including blood work for identifying the human leukocyte antigen known as the HLA-B27 antigen. The test results were positive for the antigen and along with other physical indicators I was diagnosed with the incurable disease Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), which is classified as an autoimmune disease. I was excited to finally find out what was causing the stiffness but was unaware of the significance of this conclusion.

AS is a type of arthritis in which there is long-term inflammation of the joints of the spine. Typically the joints where the spine joins the pelvis are also affected. Occasionally, other joints such as the shoulders or hips are involved. Eye and bowel problems may also occur. Back pain is a characteristic symptom of AS, and it often comes and goes. The stiffness of the affected joints generally worsens over time.

The Rheumatologist prescribed a daily dose of an anti-inflammatory drug along with a weekly dose of an immune-suppressing drug. In about four weeks I was feeling great as the pain and stiffness reduced to the point I could start to function semi-normally. This was great I thought.

As time passed I was still able to functional semi-normal, but I started to wonder why I had to go for liver and kidney blood work every month. How dangerous was the medication to have the doctor order monthly blood work to monitor my liver and kidney function? This was the impetus for the start of my journey to taking my own health into my own hands and find alternative natural methods to put AS into remission.

I started researching everything I could get my hands on regarding AS. Still, there was nothing concrete I could find on non-pharmaceutical treatment, so I decided to start with my diet. I was eating a healthy diet according to the US Dietary Guidelines of low fat, 6-11 servings of bread, cereal, pasta and 2-3 servings of meat and meat products per day. I had read gluten causes a lot of issues for people; therefore, I decided to remove all gluten from my diet.

Removing gluten helped a little with the stiffness, but it was still present. Over the next four years I tried numerous diets; vegetarian, vegan, fruitarian, raw foodist but still could not entirely eliminate the symptoms caused by AS. I even went to the extent of having the mercury fillings removed from my teeth by a Biological Dentist. To this day, I am still glad I had the fillings removed and pleased I followed the various nutritional approaches as they provided insights on how these diets helped in some areas but not in other areas.

To bridge the gap between conventional medical and alternative medicine I decided to set up an appointment with an Integrative Health practitioner whose approach was to send a 20-page intake form to complete prior to a two-hour face-to-face appointment. After completing the form, attending the initial appointment I returned for the follow-up appointment where the doctor replayed my life based on the information I provided in the intake form, key points from the first appointment and follow-up blood work.

Immediately he recommended adding in animal protein to my diet (I was a raw foodist at the time) along with various nutritional supplements that started my road to recovery. The stiffness started to lessen but still not completely gone. It was not until I switched over to a Paleo/Primal lifestyle of no grains, low carbs, moderate animal protein and good quality fats that the stiffness/inflammation started to disappear in parallel with reducing my prescribed medication under the direction of the Rheumatologist.

Fast-forwarding to December 25, 2010 I received the best present ever by taking my last immune suppressing and anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs for AS. The inflammation and stiffness in my body caused by AS was gone for good as long as I stayed away from inflammatory foods such as; grains, bad oils, excessive training and a stressful lifestyle and lived a Primal lifestyle.


I will never forget the words the Rheumatologist said at the last appointment as we both agreed the medicine is no longer required. He said: “I’ll see you in two years when your AS is back.” I am still amazed today why the Rheumatologist did not want to know what I did to eliminate AS, with the hope he would research what I did and pass on this information to other patients.

To this day I am still free of AS, live a normal healthy lifestyle and have never returned to see the Rheumatologist. I do not discount the work the Rheumatologist did to get me back to semi-normal with the help of pharmaceutical drugs but there are alternative natural solutions available that are less dangerous and more effective.

With this good fortune, along with the extensive knowledge and experience gained beating AS, I have set my mission in life to assist other people struggling with autoimmune diseases. Helping them reduce and/or eliminate their inflammation with modifications to their diet and lifestyle with choices based on their situation with the end goal of reducing or eliminating their dependency on the dangerous pharmaceutical drugs required to keep autoimmunity at bay.

Since finding success following the Primal lifestyle, I was motivated to enroll in the Primal Health Coaching program to achieve the qualifications to coach clients with health and lifestyle challenges including a condition I had battled to overcome, AS an autoimmune disease.

Bill Stringfellow, Primal Health Coach

On paddle board


About the Author

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

37 thoughts on “The Inflammation and Pain Caused By AS Was Gone For Good”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Thanks for sharing your story, Bill. A primal/paleo diet and lifestyle has been shown to eliminate many health issues. I’m not surprised, however, that your rheumatologist didn’t think it would work for you. Most physicians deal in pharmaceuticals. They don’t know or understand that there are often better ways to correct health issues.

    It should be noted that simply testing positive for the HLA-B27 antigen doesn’t necessarily mean a person has or will get AS, although most people who do have AS also test positive for the antigen.

    1. Yes, you are correct just because you have the antigen it does not mean you have AS but they usually only test people with AS symptoms thus the numbers are skewed. Thanks for clarify the point.

  2. “I do not discount the work the Rheumatologist did to get me back to semi-normal with the help of pharmaceutical drugs”

    Nice of you Bill … but I do! He had no interest in changing his allopathic medicine narrative / bubble regarding how to address AS and RA, sad.

    What an awesome story of your road to recovery, I get pumped up every Friday reading such insightful and heartfelt stories.

  3. Congratulations , woo hooo, thanks for posting this !

    About this part:

    ” I am still amazed today why the Rheumatologist did not want to know what I did to eliminate AS”

    Sadly, that seems to be the most common reaction

    1. Simple two-fold answer. One: Very few people have a balanced ego to accept they are wrong, especially when they have spent big money to learn and practicing being wrong. Two: Even fewer people work to purposely eliminate their primary cash flow.

      1. Perhaps more importantly, the Standard of Care is pharmaceuticals. So the doctor can be sued for malpractice if they bypass drugs for lifestyle. This is also true for cholesterol and statins.

        So ego and greed are not the primary reasons that this happens, I believe.

        Doctors, please correct me if I’m incorrect.

        1. Jeff
          I agree and also agree regarding the antigen and AS diagnosis. Bill may well have had a syndrome of spondyloarthropathy.(itis)..which might have a laundry list of causes, including autoimmune responses to prior infections and inflammatory bowel disease…..or maybe….no known cause. It might be anticipated he would respond to immune suppression and pain relievers.

          If the MD did not follow standard of care….that is just about certain death in a malpractice suit. I would almost bet that even a functional health practitioner, whether MD, ND, or whatever…..would have been very careful not to engage in the lifestyle gig….without some cover from a rheumatologist.

          Expect more of this , despite the doctors best efforts ot avoid…..but symptoms and lab tests get in the computer and algorithms dictate the treatments….and expert panels or guidelines had better be heeded or 1) no third party payment, 2) disciplinary action by medical group or even licensure, and 3) exposure to lawsuit.

        2. I agree; the litigious aspect is a dominant factor too

          1. It’s not ust western doctors who have this blind spot. if you search the web you’ll find intelligent educated people who insist that all heart disease is related to hypothyroidism, period. Other say it’s inflammation and your cholesterol level are meaningless. Others are convinced that cancer is your fault and if you eliminate such and such you will never get cancer. Or maybe it’s crystal therapy, or Chinese medicine and acupuncture – could be anything really – but the one true answer solution, a ones size fits all approach is very attractive to true believer types and it’s a really good way to sell your message and develop a brand.

            Mark is really unusual in that he build an empire on the 80/20 rule and the idea that getting it mostly right is good enough.

          2. Clay
            We should all move back from our favorite “positions”…and at least acknowledge that the life process is highly opaque. A tendency to reductionism is problematic as is that of induction.

            A little humility is required.

  4. Amazing story!!!! I am just dumbfounded that conventional medicine will not recognize the benefits of this diet and lifestyle to cure autoimmune disorders and many, many other chronic health conditions so rampant in our country now. . How many stories like yours will it take? Congrats on your restored health! 🙂

  5. Oh, I am so happy you decided to become a certified Primal Health Coach! Your service will rescue many from the misery of AS and other illnesses. I am flabbergasted that a medical doctor would predict you would fail in your fight against AS, when it is so clear that he and conventional medicine had utterly failed you. You speak of your good fortune, but it was your own courage and tenacity and patience, as well as Primal principles of course, that brought about this success. Well done and Godspeed!

  6. What a terrific story! Congratulations to you.
    (Still shaking my head over the rheumatologist’s parting words. Amazing….)

  7. Once again, almost all roads lead back to Primal/Paleo after a very nasty prognosis. Too many times doctors pronounce something as incurable that is very much food and lifestyle related. Hope you have a successful coaching career Bill.

  8. What an inspiring story. For 20 years I suffered with symptoms related to undiagnosed celiac disease. i had severe intestinal distress, sore joints, blistering rashes, depression and other issue. I only found relief after a chiropractor suggested eating paleo. Now I am symptom free. I did go to a G.I. Dr. to confirm an official celiac diagnosis so that it os on record, but I am the one who figured it out. I try not to be bitter about my experience just grateful I finally figured it out.I think every doctor needs training in nutrition, but unfortunately it seem many of them are only trained to sell pills. So glad to see another autoimmune disease sufferer find relief through good nutrition.

  9. These types of success stories have always been my favorite. Using Paleo/Primal principles to move forward to good health and life in general are proven to be what’s required to get the job done.

    Whatever the reason was you chose to march to your own drummer and listen to common sense and what worked for you. Congratulations on a job well done and thank you for reminding the rest of us on how to do it!

  10. For 5 years I suffered from undiagnosed AS. I was 37 when I first experienced pain. Symptoms would come and go, bringing on spinal pain between my shoulder blades from 2am onwards. All I could do for relief was get up and walk around, then finally fall asleep upright.

    I was finally diagnosed 2 years ago. Knowing the problem was empowering. I quit my stressful job and the acute arthritic spinal pain subsided, I was able to sleep all night!, but still the aches were there. I didnt make any changes to my healthy balanced diet, but I was able to eliminate all my AS symptoms when I learnt about and started daily breathing exercises to tone my vagus nerve (the rest & digest nerve).

    For me stress was driving the inflammation in my body. Exercising the vagus nerve helped my body to fully rest and therefore stop attacking itself.

    I have been pain free since April 2017 🙂

  11. Another great story, and another Dr with no intellectual curiosity about the fundamental nature of a disease they treat. Sadly, a cousin just finishing her residency continues to be educated in outdated dogma such as saturated fat is bad.

    1. Conventional medicine has major shortcomings. Maybe worst of all is that it’s entirely profit-based without any real requirement to produce results in order to receive payment from insurance companies. It’s no wonder many people turn to alternatives. I love stories like this one, where people have seen their “incurable” illnesses disappear through nothing more than diet and lifestyle changes.

  12. Good for you Bill for taking matters into your own hands. Minutes before I read your success story, I saw an article on Ankylosing Spondylitis, on Apples app news; how weird is that?

  13. Oh my goodness! I have AS, and have played around with so many different diets. Two years ago I started the Autoimmune Protocol, and elimination diet. I have slowly added other foods back in, noting a strong reaction to gluten, nightshades and soy. Still having pain and inflammation but am managing through diet. I came upon this article but pure coincidence, as my husband loves primal blueprint! Now, I’m convinced maybe the key to full remission would be a true primal diet! The key is being able to afford it, as we have a large family and a limited budget. Thank you for sharing!!

  14. Good for you Billl for taking matters into your own hands;it definitely paid off. Minutes before I read your article I came across an article on apples news app, concerning Ankylosing Spondylitis. How add is that?

  15. Wow, Bill, thanks for sharing! Totally look forward to the Friday success stories and yours is truly inspiring. Like you I experimented with many different dietary protocols before landing on paleo/primal and never looking back. So frustrating to hear what your doctor said about seeing you back in two years, but he was looking at things through his own filter. In the meantime you are spreading the word and inspiring people!

  16. Brilliant stuff. I have AS and was able to reduce medication on a paleo diet. Ultimate goal is to drop all of it. Wish I’d known about this lifestyle before I needed a hip replacement.

  17. Your story is so inspiring! Rheumatoid arthritis caused me to become disabled and I had to stop working for five years. It was awful dealing with the pain and feeling like a burden to my family. I gave up gluten and am now 90% arthritis free. My rheumatologist was amazed but only cautiously supportive. I am now off all of my medications. (I also had to be regularly tested for liver and kidney function.) I still haven’t completely gone primal/paleo/keto, but that is my 2018 goal. I’m looking forward to better health and losing a lot of weight I put on from the steroids and inability to exercise from the RA.

  18. I got diagnosed with Reactive Arthritis in 1982 from food poisoning when I was stationed in the Philippines. . I have had many years of remission, I am almost 56. I will try this diet soon. I did best with remissions in tropical or desert climates. I am HLAB-27 negative.

  19. I changed my diet 2.5 years ago to lose some weight as I was told I was going to need a knee replacement and hip replacement soon. I didn’t want either of those at the weight I was at the time. I started a LCHF diet and the first thing to go was gluten and sugar. After one week my severe IBS was gone. I researched what other symptoms gluten could cause and found out that asthma is one symptom that gluten can cause. I suffered every winter with severe asthma. Two inhalers, nasal spray and nebulizer 4 times a day without much relief. Since I went gluten-free it has not returned. My diabetes is totally under control and getting rid of omega-6 oils that cause inflammation I no longer suffer from Fibromyalgia and most of my osteoarthritis is vastly diminished. I lost 50 pounds, still have several more to go, but my 12 meds a day is down to 1. My cholesterol is lower than it has ever been and turning 65 I felt like I was 40. We definitely are what we eat and I will never go back to what I used to eat. I love my way of life and all the great foods I get to eat and now have great health too.

  20. Inspiring, but the dietary modifications did not work in my case. The AS is still raging. I wish the Paleo approach had been more effective.

  21. got it dont want it. AS, bone mass loss, painful joints. thyroid issues etc. dont want the meds. doing keto, so far so good. pain still there. putting up with it. nice to know someone has found answers and solutions, i support the drug companies if they provide good non toxic drugs! i have tried the nsaid routes, blah. joe rogan videos have been helpful.