AIP Medical Study Results

We are absolutely beside ourselves at Autoimmune Wellness. After a year of waiting, the results of the first-ever medical study of the Autoimmune Protocol are out, published by the journal, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, and available for everyone to read for free! If you’d like to read the full article now, you can find it here.

How Did We Get Involved in A Medical Study?

In December of 2015, we were contacted by Dr. Gauree Konijeti, the Director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program Division of Gastroenterology at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California. Dr. Konijeti told us that a patient with inflammatory bowel disease had introduced her to AIP and the patient’s improvement was so remarkable she was inspired to learn more. After further discussion Dr. Konijeti explained that she’d like to undertake a medical study of AIP to evaluate its potential efficacy for patients with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. She asked if Angie’s online group health coaching program, SAD to AIP in SIX, could be used to help the study participants transition to AIP. Our answer, of course, was, “YES, YES, YES!!”

Medical studies take lots of time, planning, and money to get off the ground. It wasn’t until September of 2016 that we were finally ready to get underway. Angie, joined by Amy Kubal, RD and Nicole Erickson, NTC, spent six weeks helping the participants, all of whom had Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, slowly work their way through eliminations until they reached the full AIP elimination phase and then spent another five weeks in a maintenance phase. During the process, just like in SAD to AIP in SIX, the participants were introduced to important lifestyle changes too (like sleep, stress management, movement, and support).

We waited another year for all the results to be calculated and the study be published, but now they are ready to be shared!

What Were the Results?

Let’s just cut to the chase and look at the best line in the whole publication!

“Clinical remission was achieved by week 6 by 11/15 (73%) of study participants, and all 11 maintained clinical remission during the maintenance phase of the study. We did not hypothesize, a priori, that clinical remission would be achieved so early (week 6). Indeed, this proportion of participants with active IBD achieving clinical remission by week 6 rivals that of most drug therapies for IBD . . . (Konijeti, et al. 2017)”

YES, you read that correctly!

(There were 15 participants, nine with Crohn’s and six with ulcerative colitis.)

  • By Week 6 (that was full AIP elimination), 11 of the 15 participants were in clinical remission (six with Crohn’s, five with ulcerative).
  • All eleven participants maintained clinical remission through the maintenance phase.
  • Seven of the 15 participants were on active biologic therapies but not in clinical remission at baseline, this suggests that diet can be an important component of successful treatment.
  • Patients were advised no medication changes before study start, however one participant self-discontinued oral biologic therapy but still achieved clinical remission by week 6.
  • Another participant self-discontinued oral biologic therapy, but continued biologic suppository and still achieved clinical remission.
  • Two of the participants were able to discontinue steroid therapy.

To learn in-depth about the study methods, measures, analysis, and results, you can access the full article here.

What Does This Mean and What’s Next?

“It’s woooorking!” That’s a little thing Angie usually says to the members of SAD to AIP in SIX, when they start to report health improvements. Sometimes at the beginning they aren’t quite sure it will work and when the first health improvements pop-up they are often uncertain the dietary and lifestyle changes could actually be the cause. That line is meant to be a humorous nudge about having confidence in the body’s response. In the future, we might be able to inspire confidence more easily with study results like this!

These results help the community put data behind our conviction that this process is benefiting so many of us. More importantly, it opens the door for big conversations with the medical community and massive changes in the standard of care for those with autoimmune disease. It’s our hope that the experience of Dr. Konijeti and her initial patient describing AIP inspires all of you to speak up at your medical appointments. We may be surprised how many more forward-thinkers exist!

Our fingers are crossed that the future will hold more research. The opportunity to duplicate the process with other kinds of autoimmune diagnoses is top of our wish list at Autoimmune Wellness! We also hope Dr. Konijeti and other researchers like her will have the chance to conduct larger studies and address any limitations encountered by this first study. Again, it is our voices and support of the organizations funding this research that can help this become a reality.

And for those of you wondering, yes, Angie was tempted to tell the research team when results started coming in, “I told you . . . it’s woooorking!”

About Angie Alt

Angie Alt is part of the blogging duo behind Autoimmune Paleo. She helps others take charge of their health the same way she took charge of her own after suffering with Celiac and other autoimmune diseases; one creative, nutritious meal at a time. Her special focus is on mixing “data with soul” by looking at the honest heart of the autoimmune journey (which sometimes includes curse words). She’s also a world traveler who has been medically evacuated from two foreign countries. Strategizing worst-case scenarios is now something of a hobby. She is a Certified Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and author of The Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook: Eating for All Phases of the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. You can also find her on Instagram.

63 comments

  • Danielle hilton says

    That is very exciting news! But I am currently lying in bed after just restarting enema steroid treatment for a chronic flare-up and worsening of my UC and new addition of crones. I did enjoy remission too from following aip but slipped when I caught a virus and all my hard work just went out the window. Not sure what else to do but back to meds for now 😞

    • Angie Alt says

      Danielle, I am sorry to hear about the flare. Be sure to note in the study, that many of the participants started out w/ a combination of meds & AIP. Autoimmune disease is too complex for either or thinking. Use all the BEST tools in the box to get to your best health. Wishing you luck!

    • Joan Brown says

      ~~I’m so sorry! I’ve suffered from Crohn’s since Dx at age 19. I’m now 54, and have been receiving Remiciaid for about 18 years, after many years of other pharmaceuticals, therapies, flares, surgeries, etc.; it has given me a quality of life I could only imagine before its start. While I agree that diet greatly affects symptoms day to day, ultimately, when the course of the disease has become severe, pharmaceutical support may be all that helps. Please don’t be discouraged! Keeping a positive outlook also helps…peace. Joan

    • Susan Ford says

      I believe that for some people this diet is great. I have rheumatoid arthritis and desparate to void methotrexate I went on the AIP very strictly for 5 months. I followed the diet without any exceptions. My arthritis got worse and worse until I coukd no longer shower or dress myself, drive, or even open the fridge! I also went from a healthy 64km to 50km and was severely underweight. In the end I gave up and started taking the methotrexate. I gained complete benefit from a small dose of 10mg and now I have my whole life back. I have been almost completely normal for nearly 2 years. We should not make out that methotrexate is the enemy for all. For some of us it is a miracle. As always, balanced advice is best!

      • Angie Alt says

        Susan-
        At Autoimmune Wellness we are not and have never advocated only AIP. We realize autoimmune disease is too complex for an either/or, black and white solution. In some cases, we need the best of both conventional medicine and natural approaches to achieve healing, and there is nothing wrong w/ that. As you will see if you read the study, some of the participants were using both medication & AIP, which suggests the combination helped them achieve remission. I’m sorry to hear that your experience w/ AIP wasn’t effective, but I hope a combination of it and medication can bring you the level of health you want in your life.

  • Val Lynn says

    Thank you for sharing the research results and congratulations!

  • Nicolette says

    Amazing news! Not that you needed validation, but it sure feels good. My psoriatic arthritis turned around week seven into AIP (February of this year). Thanks for all you do.

    • Angie Alt says

      Thanks for sharing Nicolette! Great work!

  • This is phenomenal news. The Autoimmune Protocol works: we know that because we’ve lived it, but this study elevates it’s status from anecdotal to proven. The AIP has been dismissed repeatedly by medical professionals as ‘alternative’ and therefore not credible . Well hello, credibility! I think everyone should print a copy of this study and bring it to their medical appointments from now on… whether their doctor is supportive of nutrition + lifestyle treatment for autoimmune disease or not. It works. We know that. Now it’s proven. Hooray, Angie! Thank you for all the work you put into making this study happen. This is a great day for AIPers everywhere.

    • Angie Alt says

      Thanks for all your support over the years Petra! I have some lofty goals in mind & I’m going to keep going. 😉

  • Hello! I just want to say I am Surprised somewhat, that it took this long! Im sure because current medicine nakes alit more and drug companies, ie, Eli Lilly, Etc need to not let the public know that a huge amount of disease directly correlates to what we put in our mouth AND, thanks to you guys, also the sleep, stress factors.. Its been a long tome coming because most people rely on tangible or historical evidence. Nicely done. The only thing that I would like to add to you guys ( authors on AIP) I love all if you, is that the change occurred in these people in the prep to AIP and I know for me if it were told to me ” you know if you can still apply this stuff and for whatever reason you cant give up one item in first 30 days then still do it”!!! I often thought all or nothing!! And I understand that you do need to cut ALL inflammatory agents for AT LEAST 30 days.. but I did not at first. I did paleo, a tad better, did my form of AIP but continued on just a few paleo ok items and also a bit of sugar. No sugar sub. I know the following rules are best for at least 30 days to see how we do!? I just heard from many many people they cant do it 100% and just want one cup of decaf and they could do it. So they throw the idea away and dont get better. I did great with my modified AIP and still am. I think what you could publicize is it absolutely can help if you keep one ir two items and see what happens! Give them hope because I think most people will feel alot better even with a few vices they may or may not feel the need to cut out more. How I read it, its really all or nothing. ( I understand that too) BUT we have to just grab it and see. Everyone is different so Im saying YES to AIP but please support and understand it may work fabulous for some on it modified a bit. Shouldnt be all in or all out!! Thank you!!!

  • Carrie Turansky says

    I’m glad to see the results of this study. I’ve been following AIP for two years and have experienced a great improvement in my health and remission of Crohn’s disease.

    • Angie Alt says

      Thanks for sharing Carrie! Great work!

  • Michael Valladares D.O. says

    Could you kindly email me the study. I’m a Gastroenterologist in South Florida. I would love to read it. Thank you so much for your work and dedication in the Autoimmune world! MV

  • Joy Thoma says

    Just wondering if anyone out there has had success with AIP for uveitis or multiple sclerosis. Thanks!

    • Angie Alt says

      Yes, Joy, there have been successes w/ MS & AIP. That said, we can’t promise anything, you just have to give it a try!

  • tess says

    Absolutely Brilliant!
    Thank you for sharing!
    Finally clinical validation of exactly what I have experienced – whilst me health greatly improved on the SCDiet, it improved even more on the AIP.
    My gastroenterologist also enquired about my diet …. ‘What’s this diet you’re on – your blood work is almost perfect … and you only have scaring in your bowel now!’
    BLISS!

  • Nicole Harris says

    Very exciting!

  • Kat says

    This is wonderful. I would just like clarification of one point: “Clinical remission was achieved by week 6”. I thought that on the SAD to AIP in Six programme that at 6 weeks you’ve only just hit full AIP. Does that mean that for quite a few people they in the end will be able to reintroduce quite a few things (i.e. while they were still easing into the elimination phase they were already going into remission). ? That gives me a lot of hope as I get overwhelmed psychologically by restrictions and keep sabotaging my efforts to go AIP (or even just full paleo). If in the end all I have to do is be paleo then that would be amazing.

    • Nadine Lee says

      Yes, all those that got remission did so really just when starting full AIP. That is a rapid response rate. They did 5 weeks of full AIP with no reintroductions and maintained remission status.

      Note, that 2 subjects of the 15 were lost to follow-up, so it was remission in 11/13 remaining on the study = about 85%. Of the two not having remission, one (UC) was stable and one (Crohn’s) improved, but not to classify as remission.

      There was improvement in number of bowel movements and amount of blood in them. Improvements happened in patients despite longstanding disease, need for biological treatments (worse disease), etc. Three patients were on steroids and two were able to stop them, the third is unknown because they left the study.

    • Angie Alt says

      Yes, Kat, what it means is that many folks will be able to reintroduce a great deal of the foods back into their diets. Healing was probably steadily picking up pace during that six week process. If you think AIP could help you, give it a try & get support so you avoid overwhelm. The point is to heal, not burden your heart or mind.

  • Emma says

    Congratulations Angie and Mickey, this is wonderful news and incredibly validating! I have IBD and had significant symptom reduction within days of trying AIP. With 3 young children underfoot I found it difficult to keep it up but after reading this I am inspired to try it again and this time stick with it!! How wonderful to think that diet alone can bring about remission, how wonderful to not rely on pharmaceuticals and use a natural approach. The world needs more of this, keep up the amazing work!! Thank you so much for all that you do. Emma xo

    • Angie Alt says

      Thanks for sharing Emma! We are going to keep going, our mission isn’t over yet!

  • Barbara says

    This is such wonderful news. Congratulations Angie and Mickey.

  • I am BEyond thrilled about this study! I started the AIP to heal from Crohn’s Disease 2 years ago. Angie’s SAD to AIP course opened up a whole new realm of possibility for me. After years of feeling like food was my enemy, the AIP protocol gave me hope! I started getting super creative in the kitchen with the few things I could stomach, and I fell in love with food again. I even started a company based on a re-intro AIP recipe that my husband and I perfected. Now we run paleyobakery, a plantain waffle and batter company. Our mission is help people feel love through food.

    I have recommended the course and diet to so many friends and customers!

    Thank you, Angie & Mickey for all you do to help people find hope and healing.

    In health and happiness,
    Mama Emma

    • Angie Alt says

      Emmanuela!! How nice to hear from you! I am so happy you are well & started a company!! Thank you for sharing!

  • Bonnie says

    Do you know much about this rare autoimmune condition called Amyloidosis, I have it in my lymphatic system, I probably have had it over a decade, so far the blood tests seemed fine but I have an amyloid nodule behind my ear which is getter”fatter” 🤔 Slowly but definitely. Will appreciate input. Thanks.

    • Angie Alt says

      Hi Bonnie, I’m sorry, but I do not know much about Amyloidosis. If you think AIP would help, just give it a shot. You never know until you try!

    • sabina says

      there are quite a few forms of amyloidosis, but if it helps your form of it, that’s quite amazing. as i understand it it’s quite an “idiopathic” condition…especially the form in the blood and the cardiac version, but it’s wonderful to hear that this has given you help, and hope. thanks for sharing!

  • jmes says

    Just wanted to say congratulations guys! On day 3 of AIP – looking forward to the results 🙂

    • Angie Alt says

      Thanks for reading Jmes! And keep going!

  • Tafa says

    This is really interesting. I’ve been AIP for two years and it has changed my life. Just wanted to say though that a study of 15 people is considered very small, as studies go. Sure it is better than nothing, but naysayers will be swift to point that out. I hope that these positive results will pave the way for larger studies, but I know that it is hard to get funding when no one stands to make any profit.

    • Angie Alt says

      Tafa, thanks for sharing your success! Great work! In terms of the study size, be sure to read the paper. The researchers are aware of the limitations & hopeful about taking things further.

  • Adina says

    congratulations! this is huge news. take THAT, western medicine!

    • Angie Alt says

      Hahaha Adina! We hope Western medicine will take note & look to collaborate. 😉

  • Aly says

    I just can’t understand why more people
    don’t even give dietary changes a try, when they are suffering from these MISERABLE problems.

    • Angie Alt says

      Aly, it’s a tough situation. Many people need to hit rock bottom first or find the kind of clarity that makes them feel secure in taking such a leap. Hopefully this study will help more folks find that clarity!

  • I am soooooo proud of you, Angie! You are changing the world. I’ll be sharing this far & wide.

    • Angie Alt says

      Thanks Eileen! It’s good to have women like you working just as hard right by my side since Day 1. WE are changing the world.

  • Naomi says

    I’ve only been following AIP for the last 4 months, but have noticed significant changes in the symptoms that I’ve been battling with over the last ten years related to IBD and Ulcerative Colitis. I got super excited reading this, and can’t wait to see how it shapes discussions and practises moving forward!!

  • Steve Karan says

    Well done!!! Nice to see the AIP diet can be used as an adjunct to current IBD therapies!!!

    As a Crohn’s patient myself, initially I too struggled with diet and trying to control my disease and to put it into remission. I have been having bowel symptoms (IBS/IBD) since 1995, and finally received the formal diagnosis of ileal Crohn’s disease in 2007. I have been on Entocort (budesonide) since and have been stable, however, I would eventually like to eliminate Entocort altogether.

    Despite being on medication, it’s simply a band-aid that doesn’t heal or cure my disease, but rather attempts to keep it in check, not in remission; big difference. As such, we think we can eat anything we want because the medication will make us better when symptoms arise; WRONG!!! If we abuse our bodies and our diseases, then they will fight back and abuse us!

    After years of trial and error of trying to identify food triggers that would aggravate my disease, only through complete elimination I was able to keep my diease in remission. By doing so, I have not returned to hospital with any bowel pains since 2007, and have very infrequent flares, usually caused by something I ate. I eliminated all junk foods (soda/pop, chips, popcorn, peanuts, etc…) cause that’s what they are, junk; empty calories completely devoid of nutrition. As I have an ileal stricture, I also have to watch my intake of insoluble fiber, so I rarely eat salads (small portions), raw vegetables, nuts or seeds. Instead, I eat a lot of basmati rice, cooked vegetables, all meats, and fresh fruits. Due to my disease, it’s difficult to strictly follow AIP, but I do my best to adapt and use AIP to tailor my diet accordingly. Since I can’t get nutrients from these eliminated foods, I replace them with supplements, and I seem to be doing better, as quantified by more regular bowel movements (used to be 4-5x/day, now 1-2x/day or less), formed stools, and much less watery stools/diarrhea.

    For those that think elimination diets are hard, they certainly are as I too balked when I first read AIP. However, using the AIP diet as a guideline along with results from an IgG Food Sensitivities test, I have been able to customize my diet and keep my disease in remission with less and less frequent symptoms and flares.

    Once I recognized and accepted that there is no cure for Crohn’s, and that medication does not reverse disease, I was able to accept a change in my diet, which ultimately kept me stable and out of hospital. Remember, we are what we eat, and a diet is not something we go on to lose weight, it’s a lifestyle change in an attempt to manage and improve our health over the long-term.

    • Angie Alt says

      Thanks for sharing Steve! Great work!

    • Martina says

      Hi Steve,
      I have the same type of Crohns with stricture as you do. I have been on a lot of meds but they make things worse for me!! Had a colonoscopy a couple of weeks ago. You have inspired me with your email & I would love to know more abut what you eat.I have tried AIP but struggle as you quite rightly say about fibre being an issue for us.
      I would love to know more about your diet. Not sure where you live but I am in Australia.

  • Pat Fritzler says

    I have Ulcerative Colitis and started doing the full AIP diet the day after I received Sara Ballentine’s AIP Cookbook (late August). By early December I had successfully tapered off all Prednisone and was in remission. I continued on with the full AIP diet but within 6 weeks the symptoms began to return and sadly I have not been in remission since. I continue to try various combinations of AIP and SCD and anything else I think might work. Currently I am working with an ND to discover the root cause and learning about how the genes I have may be playing a role.

    • Angie Alt says

      Keep trying Pat! Perhaps a combination of the best of conventional & natural treatments will be the right answer for you!

  • Caitlin says

    Does AIP help with vaginal Lichen Scelrosus? Thank you 😊

    • Angie Alt says

      Caitlin, we can’t promise anything, but it is worth a try! I have it and I know many others w/ it who have had success.

      • Caitlin says

        Wonderful, thank you. So with success do you mean remission or still using steroid creams?

        • Angie Alt says

          Hi Caitlin-
          It’s different for everyone. Some folks, esp. if it is caught very early might achieve remission, others may need a combination of diet & steroid cream initially or on-going. Either way the diet can be a powerful contributor to overall healing.

  • Andrea says

    Hi Angie
    Do you know if AIP has helped in stabalising
    Autoimmune Thyroid problems? ( I’m hyper)

    • Angie Alt says

      Hi Andrea-
      Yes, we’ve seen it work for many people w/ thyroid issues, however, we can’t promise anything. Ultimately it is up to you to give it a shot & see if it is helpful in your situation.

  • Wendy says

    Hi Angie, I LOVE this article and this blog.
    I suffer from inflammatory bowel disease and am getting ready to start the AIP this week as medications have all been failing me. I am excited to see how it will work to help heal my gut and will be blogging about the process to hopefully help anyone else going through this process as well.
    Thank you for writing and for pouring your heart out to all of us! It is so helpful to hear from others who have been there and have paved the road!
    This is such a great resource and gives hope!

    • Angie Alt says

      You are so welcome Wendy!! I’m wishing you so much wellness!

  • Tonya says

    Hello,
    Can someone tell me how to keep weight on while on the AIP? I tried this diet in April of this year. I had to stop after 4 weeks as I was losing so much weight and felt awful. I went on it in hopes of it helping a condition called oral lichen planus.

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