Welcome back to the Healing Pain Podcast with Dr. Matthew Phillips And Sarona Rameka
We’re discussing both the research and clinical applications of the use of a ketogenic diet to treat neurodegeneration autoimmunity and cancer. We’re joined by not one, but two guests. I know you’re going to love and learn lots of great information from. Our first guest is Dr. Matthew Phillips. He’s a neurologist who is both studying and using a ketogenic diet. Our second guest is his patient Sarona Rameka, who is a stage-four cancer survivor. Dr. Phillips is a full-time clinical and research neurologist in New Zealand.
His passion is to explore the potential feasibility, safety and efficacy of metabolic therapies, particularly ketogenic diets and fasting in creating alternate metabolic states that may improve not only symptoms, but also function and quality of life for people with a variety of neurological conditions. Sarona is the first documented person in the world to utilize fasting and ketogenic diet as the primary management strategy for a metastatic cancer in the absence of surgery, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy culminating in a near complete regression. Nearly three years after being diagnosed with inoperable metastatic cancer, she shows no signs of disease and leads a full and active life. Without further ado, let’s meet Dr. Matthew Phillips and his patient Sarona and learn all about the implications for a ketogenic diet.
Watch the episode here:
Fasting And Ketogenic Diets In Degeneration And Cancer With Dr. Matthew Phillips And Sarona Rameka
Thank you. It’s nice to be here.
Dr. Phillips, thanks for accepting my offer to be on the show. I know we have a lot to talk about with regards to how a ketogenic diet can have an impact on health and some chronic diseases. I especially want to thank you for inviting Sarona on the show to give the patient perspective, which is important, especially in this era of personalized medicine. Sarona, thanks for being here. I would love to start with you before we get into some of the science with Dr. Phillips. Tell us a little bit about your story and how you first heard about the ketogenic diet, and your experience with being on a ketogenic diet.
Matt was originally my neurologist. I had a system condition, Myasthenia gravis. I was seeing Matt for that. I was 37 and pregnant with my first baby. I was one week away from giving birth and having difficulty breathing throughout the whole pregnancy. Every time I’d go into ANA, the doctors would put it down to the baby pushing on my diaphragm. One day, I couldn’t breathe and I was in so much pain. When they took me into hospital, they found out that I had tumors in my heart, lung and on my chest. They measured 19 centimeters. I gave birth and then I was meeting with oncologists. Right in the middle of those meetings, I’d already planned a meeting with Matt for the Myasthenia gravis.
It just happened to be that they look at this crazy chaos that was going on. I went to see him and to be honest at the time, I didn’t see the point. We almost canceled because we thought, “I don’t need to worry about the disease when I’m fighting cancer.” It was a blessing in disguise because we got on there and we told Matt what had happened. Straight away he said, “What are you doing about it?” I had been given the option of palliative chemo. It wasn’t something that I was heading towards. We were looking for alternative therapies and I had researched about alkaline diet online. I told him I was trying to find alkaline diet, but I had no idea because there are so much conflicting lists.
That’s when Matt started talking to me about keto and fasting. My husband had already dabbled in keto a few years prior and he had always talked to me about how great he felt. I ignore him because I love sugar and processed food. I couldn’t understand the whole concept of eating fat for health. He’d done it and he was keen for it. I struggled with it a bit, just getting my head around it. Once we talked to Matt, he led me through everything and now, that’s my life, keto and fasting.
We use it as the sole therapy for fighting cancer. I came off my medication for the Myasthenia gravis and we manage that through IVIG because prior to that, I was on Azathioprine. That would suppress the immune system, but now I needed the immune system to fight the cancer. It was a real balancing act while I was fighting cancer because the first time I fasted, it’s such a meltdown with years of toxins and medication that I couldn’t walk from the Myasthenia gravis. We have to balance that the whole time. That’s a good start. That’s what I did to fight the cancer. For years, the struggle was maintaining that and trying not to go off course. In 2019, I ended up in the hospital with a bad relapse with the Myasthenia gravis. I was on a ventilator for three weeks. When I came out, we discovered that the tumor had shrunk by 96%.
Cancer is a big thing and that helped resolve that. Give us an idea of what other symptoms you noticed resolving as you start to adopt this ketogenic style of eating?
It was a crazy time because we knew that when I was doing the keto and the fasting, my immune system was on super boost. We knew that because the Myasthenia would present rapidly. We knew that it was working right. I struggled with my family and my friends saying that this was a good thing because all I could see was I was sick from the Myasthenia. Every time I fasted, the Myasthenia would get less. It was coming under control and this is only with IVIG. I haven’t had anything for a year. I’m on prednisone at the moment, but it’s a low dose. I’ve never been able to do this before. I attributed this to the ketogenic diet. All of those pills that I was taking for the Myasthenia for so long, that was suppressing the immune system. When I’m on keto, a lot of those symptoms started to normalize. My body started getting a lot healthier. I didn’t have the lows as much. Things were coming right. I feel like I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been.
Pain starts to resolve, I’m assuming.
I didn’t have pain for Myasthenia gravis. What it did was it stopped the muscles from working. It’s just the weakness. Now, I don’t have that. I don’t see the symptoms how I used to see them.
What about the overall energy level and mood? Did you notice a change in that at all?
That’s increasing. That’s amazing because I was on a constant carb high. I would eat every half hour. The crazy thing is that even though I have the Myasthenia, I would be more energetic than my parents and the rest of my family who was on a normal diet. That was just from the ketogenic diet. I’d be like the Energizer bunny, a gallon until I crashed, which was normally about 9 or 10 and then I take a sleep.
That is nice to have because oftentimes with Myasthenia gravis, there are big complaints of fatigue, which can be challenging for people to overcome.
My husband said to me once, “If you knew that there was a diet that could help the Myasthenia, would you do it?” I said, “Of course, I would.” He goes, “Why don’t you try that?” People talk about trying paleo and trying this and that, but because I hate to try it for the cancer, now I reap the benefits for the Myasthenia. I think that there will be a time where I’m on no medication at all because I find that it’s being managed well.
To other people reading this who are thinking about ketogenic diet or have tried it, but haven’t fully gone all in, what would your advice be to them? First of all, would you say it’s difficult for someone to maintain a ketogenic diet or start a ketogenic diet?
It’s difficult to start. I wouldn’t say it’s difficult to maintain once you understand it. I’d say I’m opposed to trying it for someone who doesn’t want to do it. My core diet would be like I’d have four chocolate bars a day. I love chocolate, ice cream, and anything that’s easy. Once you understand it and get your head around it, then a lot of those assumptions go away. We like the ease of picking up things from the dairy. Now, I reap the benefits and I say the difference that my life has with quality of life. We’re not going to go back to a normal diet. I don’t want my kids too either. I hope that one day, they wouldn’t be eating or being empowered by the knowledge of what ketogenic food or eating does. It’s more about the understanding of foods and giving you head around the carbs and what they’re doing more than anything. Once people get that and have that understanding, it’s not difficult. It’s not a diet, it’s a way of eating.
I’m glad you’re talking to your family about different diet changes. That’s important because many times these motivational factors in diet start in our homes. That’s huge. Everyone’s going to read your story. You’re going to be talking to practitioners as well as other people who have conditions similar to your own. Have you thought about reaching out to other people with Myasthenia gravis and cancer? Have you done a lot of outreach to other patients?
We have quite a big community here. There’s a lot of community who do keto and we have this great doctor here a GP, Dr. Glen Davies. He started this Type 2 diabetes group. There might be over 100 patients at the moment who have reversed Type 2 diabetes. Everyone here is open to the diet for health benefits, rather than weight loss. I do have a website, BeWellFast.com. That’s sharing my journey, both on the spiritual and emotional side, as well as some of the practical steps that we did. When it comes to change though, it starts with the medical practitioners. When I was first being admitted into the hospital, no one was on board and dieticians were coming to see me thinking that I had an eating disorder. We would explain to them that I didn’t have an eating disorder.
I have a list of all the food and they hear keto diet. I was underweight too. The Myasthenia affected my bowels and I couldn’t keep anything then so I lost 10 kgs. When I go in there, I’m underweight. They wouldn’t look at the cause. They thought it was my food, but this last time has made such a huge change and this massive hospital had a keto dietician. It’s incredible the forward thinking that’s happening in the hospitals. I’m talking to people and sharing that stuff. We are fortunate to live in a place where people are open minded. It comes from hard work from the people I met. I’ve kept on pressing on to colleagues and patients, and they’re blessed.
Thank you for being here and getting us off on the right foot and sharing your story. I know a lot of people are going to benefit from it and you’ll have this forever now to share with other people who are interested. I appreciate your being here. Dr. Phillips, let’s talk about some of the science behind the ketogenic diet. We can relate to Sarona’s story. I know earlier on you did some research at first on the ketogenic diet in Parkinson’s disease. I know it’s a small pilot study but it’s still pretty significant. Can you tell us about that study and some of the outcomes?
That was done a few years ago. We had 47 people with Parkinson’s disease, which is a neurodegenerative disorder. It was a randomized control trial. Half of the patients went on a modified ketogenic diet that we designed for people with that disorder. The other half went on the optimal version of the low-fat diet that would be recommended by the New Zealand Food Guidelines. We pitted those two diets against each other for eight weeks and measure the Parkinson’s disease through various indices. We used a good measurement or rating scale to do that, a comprehensive one called the MDS-UPDRS.
We made both diets and promoted the advantages of both diets. We got people into their respective diet. At the end of the eight weeks, we found that the main finding of the study was that, the people on the ketogenic diet improved in their non-motor symptoms a lot more than people on the low-fat diet. That was a key finding because the non-motor symptoms are these hidden symptoms of Parkinson’s disease that affect the quality of life a lot more than the motor symptoms, which most people associate with the disorder. When you think of Parkinson’s you think of the tremor, a bit shaking, stiffness, walking difficulties, that kind of thing. Those are the apparent things. In actuality, that’s the tip of the iceberg to Parkinson’s.
The motor symptoms is what you see on the top. The bulk of the disorder is the non-motor symptoms. That includes things like pain big time and different kinds of pain associate with Parkinson’s. There are five pain types associated with Parkinson’s disease. It includes non-motor symptoms like urinary problems, gut disorders, constipation. Parkinson’s affects the neurons in the gut and it includes things like blood pressure issues, mood problems, big time depression, and anxiety. It includes things like apathy, fatigue, and sleep. Parkinson’s is universally associated with sleep dysfunction such as insomnia. The remarkable thing with this diet is in only eight weeks, the non-motor symptoms collectively improved by 40% compared to baseline. They were cut almost in half, whereas the low-fat diet improved by 10%.
That might have been a bit of a placebo effect, which you have to remember in trials with human patients. A placebo effect is always something to consider, but the 40% reduction in motor symptom severity in the keto group was quite remarkable. The motor symptoms improved in both groups to that same degree, about 20% to 25%, and there are various theories as to why that was the case. The salient finding from that study was that the non-motor symptoms improved and the main five that improved were urinary dysfunction, pain, fatigue, daytime sleepiness, and cognition. Interestingly, the medications for Parkinson’s, which are good at dealing with the motor symptoms don’t do much for those five. That was cool. Maybe the diet could be synergistic with medications.
The cognition part was interesting in that study as well. You have the ketogenic group and the low-fat diet group, which you mentioned because you’re in New Zealand. That would be akin to our US MyPlate type of diet. Is that right?
We tried to concentrate on healthy carbohydrates. It did not have a lot of processed sugar. There was like a smattering of brown sugar and a couple of the dessert recipes. It was a lot of starchy, root vegetables, normal vegetables as well, and lots of fruits. The things that a low-fat diet proponent would look at and go, “That’s a healthy diet.”
Did you start to use them with other groups of patients? How did that start to develop in your practice?
After the study, the trick is there have only been two trials of a ketogenic diet and people with Parkinson’s. There have been a number of them in animal models. The only other one was many years ago by Dr. Theodore Van Itallie who passed away. He was quite old. Given that there are only two studies, although it was a randomized control trial. If I have a patient that’s interested in doing it, I’ll be like, “Go for it. Here’s what you need to do.” I can guide them through it. I have a few people from the trials still doing the ketogenic diet because they experienced such a profound relief of their symptoms. Remember, these non-motor symptoms have more effect on the quality of life by far than the motor symptoms.
I have some occasional patient who comes in from somewhere and says, “I want to try it,” and they do it. That’s fine, but I don’t push it because the evidence base isn’t strong yet. It’s two studies. What I do tell universally to people with Parkinson’s, eat real food, that is a no-brainer. If they’re interested, then I help guide them to do the ketogenic diet. When you get down to the ketogenic diet, at least the one we use and the one Sarona use, including the big meal her family made for me, it’s removing three things. It gets rid of your processed sugar, grains, and fleshy food. None of those things are natural if you go back 10,000 years except berries are okay. We allow that in our keto plans. That’s all it is, and then you up the fats. It’s not that difficult to think of when you frame it that way.
Some of them might identify that as a modified ketogenic diet.
That’s what it is. It’s not one of the classic ketogenic diets or the MCT keto diet, those older diets. I liken them to model T versions of the ketogenic diet. They are restrictive and not a pleasure to eat. The diet is supposed to be enjoyable like Sarona said, she’ll never go back. That’s what we aim for because it’s a big change. If you’re not enjoying it, then it won’t last. That’s what we’ve always been aiming for is to have that modified that’s workable with people’s lifestyles. That’s not one of those older ketogenic diets.
We don’t cook just for us. We do family keto meals. Our teenagers don’t know it. That’s an example of how much they enjoy it.
When it’s modified, it’s approachable for everyone and it’s something that you can adopt for the long-term, which is important. Often those people go on diets, crash diets, all sorts of different diets that last a week or two, and then they’re off it and that’s not the goal.
It’s adaptable. We did this in a study with Alzheimer’s patients. That study is under review still. You can do a ketogenic diet that’s pure carnivore if you want or pure vegetarian. We had people of both ilks in that study. The whole point is it’s putting your body in to a state of ketosis and it doesn’t matter how you do it. It’s sometimes seen as a fad diet, but it’s not. I don’t even like to frame it as a diet. It’s a therapy. It puts your body into a state and it can be vegetarian, carnivore, a mix and whatever you want to do. It doesn’t matter. It’s about getting your body into the keto state, which has many theoretical benefits for many diseases.
Tell us in your words, what ketosis is and how it benefits human health for certain types of conditions, the ones we’re talking about.
People would define it in different ways, but I would say you’re in a state of physiological ketosis, meaning nutritional ketosis, whatever you want to call it. When you have a ketone level of 0.6 or higher in your blood, and that’s measuring the main blood ketone, which is Beta-Hydroxybutyrate or BHB. When that’s 0.6 or above, it depends on what you’re using it for or what your purposes are, but maybe ideally 1, 2 or 3-millimole per liter, then you’re in a state of ketosis. People, unless you have Type 1 diabetes and stop taking your insulin, you’re not going to get it above 8 millimoles per liter. I can fast for two weeks and it won’t go any higher.
It won’t do that in anyone without a serious metabolic disorder like Type 1 diabetes. In terms of the benefits, a lot of people focus on the ketones themselves, which are little energy molecules that the liver makes from fat. This is for your readers that don’t know much about it because I’m sure you do. When you have a ketogenic diet, you’re still using fat for energy, but it’s in the foods you eat. That’s the main difference. The ketogenic diet is like the mimic of fasting. It’s a slightly weaker version of fasting but it’s sustainable because you’re taking food in.
When you do that, either way, your liver makes these ketones. The ketones can produce more energy per unit of oxygen consumed compared to a glucose molecule. Most of the time, your muscles and brain tissue are using glucose all the time. In Sarona’s case, she’s gone on the ketogenic diet. Now, you’ve got these ketones running around and there’s not much glucose. A lot of cells such as neurons start becoming hybrid engines, they use ketones and glucose. Ketones produce more energy, use less oxygen. They produce fewer free radicals and they’re better in an energy sense for yourselves. That’s important in neurological disorders as neurons require more energy than any other cell in the body.
The ketones also have other roles. They have signaling roles that can stimulate for example the elevation, the upregulation of important metabolic regulators, such as Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor or BDNF. That’s important in signaling metabolite or energy regulator that tells the neurons to grow and maintain synaptic structure. It’s hugely important for anything neurological. The ketones do a lot. If you look beyond the ketones, the diet and fasting, what they also do is they enhance the energy status of ourselves by focusing on the health of mitochondria, which are the batteries in our cells. Our cells contain hundreds of thousands of these little batteries called mitochondria, not all of them but almost all of them. Fasting and the diets stimulate these little batteries to divide, it’s called mitochondria biogenesis, and they make them more efficient.
There’s decent evidence that they make the mitochondria more efficient at producing energy and produce fewer free radicals. They stimulate processes like autophagy, which is a cell recycling program where cells break down junky proteins, junky mitochondria, and use that to make new ones. It’s recycling and revitalizing the cells. Fasting stimulates that to a strong degree and ketogenic diets to a lesser degree. All those processes I mentioned, fasting stimulates it to a high degree and I’m talking multi-day fasts like what Sarona did. She fasted for seven days at a time. The ketogenic diet stimulates it to a lesser degree. That’s some of the benefits of the ketogenic diet and fasting in general. They make your cells more energy efficient. That is applicable to a broad range of diseases from degeneration such as Parkinson’s to cancer, such as what Sarona used to form.
I feel like I had a little microbiology and microchemistry 101 about ketosis, but there won’t be a quiz at the end of the show. For the readers, when you’re talking about cell production and energy, people are thinking, “This makes sense.” Your muscles and your nervous system needs lots of energy, and nerves can use both carbohydrates as well as ketone bodies. Talk to us about how this helps Sarona with regard to cancer because people were saying, “I get the Parkinson’s. I get the muscles and the nerves, but how does this relate to cancer?”
It’s about mitochondria health. The mitochondria are sick in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, but they’re also sick and damaged in cancer. There was this fellow named Otto Warburg about 100 years ago, who discovered that cancer cells do something different compared to normal cells. They almost universally require glucose as a fuel. They can’t use ketones or fats well. There’s not much good evidence that they can utilize those to grow. The way they use the glucose is in this process called the Warburg effect, which means it’s a process called aerobic fermentation. What they do, cancer cells consume vast amounts of glucose and they also produce lactic acid at the same time. They create a little acidic environment while consuming tons of glucose.
That is what allows them to continuously proliferate and grow. In her case, we have this large tumor that had cancer cells and it was a stage 4A tumor, metastatic. It was not a small tumor. The idea was through fasting and keto diet, surround the tumor with low glucose levels to deprive it of its major fuel while surrounding it all at the same time with high levels of ketones that the cancer cells cannot readily use. You’re trying to starve the cancer and that was the gist of it. At the same time, you are enhancing the mitochondria health of any normal cells that are around. Making the normal cells more resilient, and the normal cells can use the ketones readily. They have no problem with low glucose levels or high ketone levels. Normal cells are fine with that.
This is a thing that some oncologists call differential stress resistance. When you fast or do a keto diet, there’s a difference in how normal cells and cancer cells can cope with the stress. It’s a stress when you suddenly dropped glucose levels and increased ketone levels for all cells. In normal cells, they have no problem with that. They stopped growing. They tend to go into a stasis or survival mode, upregulate, autophagy, and other things that make them more resilient in the future. It’s this concept of making your normal cells stronger through each successive fast. The cancer cells, they can’t stop growing. That’s what they do, and they can’t use the ketones. They need their glucose and yet you’ve dropped your glucose levels to 3 or 2.5 for long periods of time.
What she did was make her body environment extremely hostile to cancer cells, but favorable to normal cells. It was a rinse and repeat, rinse cycle and repeat thing. You do a mild stress like a pulse-press. A pulse with the fast, a hard stress and then has a little press, a mild stress, the keto diet, and then another pulse with the fast, and you keep doing that. She did it for two years and the result was remarkable. Dr. Thomas Seyfried coined that term, press pulse.
The fasting part is seven days?
She did seven days fast every two months for the first year and the rest is keto diet, and then we increased it. We went seven days every month or so.
In those seven days, is there water allowed? Is it no calories? What’s the definition of fast for that?
In the first year, I would add in bone broth to maybe day 3 or 4, and that would help with the Myasthenia symptoms. The second year, it was water for the seven days.
Did the second year felt easier or you were used to it or the body was more resilient?
The Myasthenia was more under control. I’m a bit of a purist. I wanted to see the tumor gone. That was always my faith and hope is that it would go and I felt that we needed to step it up a notch.
Cancer thrives on sugar. Cancer craves sugar. We’re using two different evidence-based ways here to starve the cancer. With that, there are probably changes in inflammation, cell signaling, gene expression, and all the other things that we’re learning more about.
I didn’t go into those things because there’s so much to talk about with it but yes, the cancer thrives in an environment of acidity and inflammation and it also likes hypoxia. It thrives in a low oxygen environment. By doing these therapies, you’re improving cell respiration through the mitochondria health which means they are using oxygen to make energy more. Inflammation is dampened by both of these therapies, which won’t be good for tumor cells either. There are many levels to fasting and keto diets. Their appeal to me in the first place is medications, which I still use and I’m not an anti, although we use it too much. They typically focus on 1 or 2 targets. You ended up having someone on 10 or 12 different medications. I’m sure you’ve seen it.
The diet and the fasting are aiming to put your body into this alternate metabolic state where thousands of pathways are altered because they’re changing master regulators of metabolism, which are these few key enzymes and hormones that affect many other things. It’s like changing an instrument in an orchestra. That would be what a medication does versus changing the whole orchestra. That’s what the fasting in keto diets do. The potential power of that, I find that appealing. People can truly induce self-healing this way, rather than dabble at symptoms.
We know that my tumor grew within three years because I had an X-ray when I was 34. It got big within three years. When I met Matt and they took me through keto and fasting, that was 2.5 years that it didn’t grow, and the only therapy I was doing was keto and fasting.
It’s quite remarkable if you think of it because there’s much money poured into cancer, which there should be. It can be a terminal disease for some people and there are a lot of different types of treatments out there. Some work well and some have side effects that are not pleasant but at times, necessary. You take something like eating 2 or 3 times a day and especially the way you’re doing it, which is a modified version of the ketogenic diet.
You are taking out three different types of foods and it’s modified so it’s easy for people. You’re giving them some support and helping them with information, access and education. When you go into PubMed and you look at the number of human trials on ketogenic diets, there’s not a whole bunch of them. Why are we not seeing more? If there’s even just one case study like this, which we’re beyond one case study at this point, why are we not investigating this more and starting to encourage people with ways that are effective for them and help them, and they can nurture their bodies in many different types of ways?
The easy answer to say is there’s no money in it. It gets hard to market keto diets, and it’s hard to market something like fasting. There’s a deeper reason and it goes back a couple of hundred years. You’ve got to look in history sometimes to see why is medicine the way it is. The way we view medicine is treating people with medications and that’s what we learned in medical school. That’s pretty much it, but medicine was not always that way. Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, was treating people with fasting techniques a couple of thousand years ago. If maybe 200 years ago, there was a debate between a couple of fairly famous doctors, Louis Pasteur and Antoine Béchamp.
Pasteur was one of the biggest proponents of the germ theory of disease. Germs are out there. They’re bad. We have to kill them with vaccines and whatnot. He had a competitor or a dissident named Antoine Béchamp who was a medical doctor and scientist. He had this thing called the host theory or terrain theory of disease. He said that there are bacteria out there. If you make the terrain or the health of the body strong enough, then those foreign agents won’t be able to find purchase in the terrain that caused disease. It was more of a health center, keeping your body strong approach. Unfortunately, Antoine Béchamp did not get into specific details on how to do that.
He never talked about periodic fasting or ketogenic diets weren’t even invented. He lost the debate and Pasteur’s view came to dominate medicine and it still dominates medicine. We attack cancer, for example, with chemo and radio. We try to wipe it out. It’s a foreign thing. If you think about it, it’s our own cells misbehaving. Why aren’t we trying to attack it? Why are we not trying to adopt more of the Béchamp approach? Make the terrain unsuitable for cancer.
The idea is theoretically that the malignant cells will die because they can’t change. Good cells will want to become cancers because the environment has changed. Why are we not seeing more research? Because it’s preponderance of Pasteur’s germ theory and this kind of way that we view medicine. It’s riddle throughout medicine. It’s hard to see outside of it that there are other ways that medicine can be conceptualized. I firmly believe that eventually, we’ll get to the point where we can do a lot more against these seemingly incurable disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and stage-four cancer by adopting a different viewpoint more in line with Béchamp’s original theory.
I like what you’re saying about the idea of fighting cancer, which sounds good in a way. Oftentimes, I wonder for people who are not successfully fighting cancer through traditional methods. What that message is sending them is that they’re not strong enough. They’re not fighting hard enough. What you’re doing is helping people create a healthy environment in their body where they can nurture themselves and heal themselves. If they have to be on traditional methods, this can still be part of their treatment.
I’ll use whatever works. I’m not against anything. Some things have more evidence than others. I am evidence-based. I do like to see good research supporting the therapy. In Sarona’s case, the result was outstanding, but she’s one person. We have to think hard before we draw causal connections with too much determination. With her study though, we’ve got 6 or 7 with stage-four glioblastoma starting Sarona’s protocol in 2020. We’re still taking people in and all we’re doing with those people is the same as Sarona did. They’re doing 5 to 7 day fast every month with the keto diet in between. It’s early days and let’s see what happens. They’re still getting their chemo radio standard of care therapy and the oncologists are aware of what’s happening. Let’s see what happens when we combine Pasteur’s approach with Béchamp’s approach. Maybe we can have a better outcome for a terrible cancer like hers went bust.
I’m interested in hearing about the research. Please come back. Let us know about everything. You are like the dynamic duo. You should take this on the road. It’s good. You have the science and the more practical part coming from Sarona. I wish you both luck. Dr. Phillips, let us know how we can learn more about you and how people can follow your work.
I’m on ResearchGate. I’m going to have a LinkedIn account up soon. I’m not good at social media. I’m not on Twitter or anything. I should change that at some point. I’m happy to answer anyone who emails me. My email is always on any papers that I’ve published.
I want to thank Dr. Phillips and Sarona for being here. Thanks for sharing your stories, Sarona. Thanks for sharing the research and the great work you’re doing, Dr. Phillips. Make sure to share this episode with your friends and family who are interested in a ketogenic diet and how it has an impact on cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and chronic pain. We’ll see you.
About Dr Matthew Phillips
My foremost passion is to explore the potential feasibility, safety, and efficacy of “metabolic” therapies, such as fasting and ketogenic diets, in creating alternative metabolic states that may lead to improvements in symptoms, function, and quality of life for people with neurological disorders.
About Sarona Rameka
I am a mother of four to a beautiful blended family and am married to my soulmate Vernon. We live in Taupo on a lifestyle block and are renowned for losing our animals. I love to travel, especially to places I haven’t been… I love the Rolling Stones, cherries, and the smell of daffodils.
I am a recovering sugar-addict.
I love God.
When I was 27, I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis (an auto immune disease). My immune system would in essence, stop the transmission of nerve impulses to muscles. I had an operation (thymectomy), where my enlarged thymus gland was removed along with a very small benign tumour, and following that the disease was very well managed with medication. I was fit, a workaholic, and always on the go.
2 ½ years ago (37 years) I was 9 months pregnant with my first-birthed baby. Plagued with breathing difficulties and pain throughout the pregnancy, I thought many of my complaints were normal for expectant mothers and that I was just being dramatic! One week away from inducement, it was discovered I had tumours on my heart, lung and chest (the largest measuring over 19cm). I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and palliative chemotherapy was offered with a life expectancy of less than 12 months. We then began the process of seeking out alternative therapies.
Coincidentally, at this same time I had a routine appointment with my neurologist Dr Matthew Phillips for the Myasthenia Gravis and when we talked to him about my cancer diagnosis, he and nutritionist Deborah Murtagh introduced me to the ketogenic diet and fasting.
The next two years were intense. Physical, spiritual and emotional limits were constantly broken. The medication I was on to control the disease was an immune system suppressant, and now I needed the immune system to fight the cancer. I was walking a fine line and too far either way could kill me (and almost did). We were in new territory and as the ketogenic diet and fasting was so foreign in Western medicine, I was always having to defend myself to practitioners who thought I had an eating disorder. In two years the cancer didn’t grow and I attribute this, partly to fasting. We are so thankful to Dr Matthew Phillips for being with us on this journey. He has freely and generously given all his knowledge and we are incredibly blessed by his friendship.
Our family were amazing. My parents basically tag-teamed a whole year of living with us to look after Pepe (our newborn) so I could concentrate on getting well. I was always in and out of hospital with the disease as I came off all my medication. Our children still managed to stay positive and in peace as we navigated through scary and unstable years – I am so proud of them, they stood with us in faith and we become a tighter family through it all.
I had a pretty scary trip to ICU in 2019 (read more in near death), and had a combination of drugs (such as prednisone and octreotide) while in there to get me up and about from a Myasthenia relapse. Since then, the latest CT scan has shown the cluster of tumours to have shrunk to a small speck – at least 95% gone!! This is a miraculous outcome and is without the use of any radiotherapy, chemotherapy, immuno-therapy, or conventional cancer treatments.
I have no idea how this was possible and I give all glory and praise to God. A few years ago I didn’t know if I would see Pepe’s 1st birthday. But now I will celebrate many birthdays with her. I will be there for every milestone in our children’s lives, and my husband and I will grow old together.
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