- Livedoid vasculopathy is a rare medical condition that results in painful ulcers affecting the lower legs and feet and can significantly impact quality of life. The cause and treatment of this condition aren’t universally accepted but one woman found significant relief through a whole-foods, plant-based diet.
- The woman’s symptoms, recurring pain, and ulcer outbreaks were managed considerably well after transitioning to a diet high in fruits, vegetables, grains, herbs, and spices, Easing off high-fat plant foods like avocados and coconuts, and eliminating meat, dairy, eggs, and fried or heavily processed foods.
- A significant improvement in her condition was noted a month into following the dietary regimen. After a period of one year, she reported total symptom relief, which was maintained as long as she adhered strictly to her dietary regimen.
- Although it’s important not to make conclusions from a single case, there seems to be a correlation between diet and the disease severity given the significant improvement and recurrent symptom outbreaks upon diet deviation. Diets high in fat, salt, and sugar were postulated to potentially contribute to livedoid vasculopathy by damaging arterial lining cells.
For individuals experiencing livedoid vasculopathy, a rare and puzzling medical condition that triggers painful ulcers in the lower legs and feet, recent scientific insights sparks newfound hope. The condition doesn’t have a well-acknowledged cause or universally accepted treatment, but one case indicates that a diet based on whole foods and plants might provide relief from this uncomfortable disease.
An Unusual Case of Livedoid Vasculopathy
The woman began exhibiting symptoms in 2006, but it wasn’t until 2013, following a skin biopsy, that she was diagnosed with livedoid vasculopathy. In 2016, she was given antibiotics to treat an infected ulcer in her lower left leg.
The symptoms she reported included swells on her feet as well as intermittent red, itching patches on her lower legs and feet. These patches would subsequently transform into painful oozing ulcers that ranged in size from 1 to more than 10 millimeters. These ulcer outbreaks recurred every few weeks to months, in some cases following minor injuries or when her clothing rubbed her legs.
While compression socks provided some relief, any lapse in wearing them would result in additional ulcers.
Transition to a Plant-Based Diet
She was amenable to nearly any form of treatment in an endeavor to locate a solution to her problem. A whole-foods, plant-focused diet was recommended by her physician since it fosters blood vessel health and does not induce adverse side effects, a vital consideration for a condition often related to poor blood circulation.
This diet, consisting of a variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains herbs, and spices, curtailed intake of high-fat plant foods, such as avocados and coconuts, and completely eliminated meat, dairy, eggs, fried or heavily processed foods, and refined oils.
Healing and a Fresh Lease on Life
A month after switching to the prescribed diet, the woman reported a notable enhancement in her condition: her ulcers had started to heal and her discomfort and pain had significantly subsided. Remarkably, a year into her diet, her symptoms had utterly subsided for the first time in eight years.
The only recurrence of ulcers was noted when she deviated from her strict dietary regimen. Even these were less painful and irritable than those she previously experienced. By 2018, she had lived symptom-free for 1.5 years, a significant reprieve that she referred to as “a new lease on life.”
Correlation with Dietary Intake
However, the authors of the study, including Morgen Smith from the Plant-Based New Zealand Health Trust located in Gisborne, New Zealand, cautioned against drawing hasty conclusions from this single case. Despite livedoid vasculopathy sometimes resolving on its own, the woman’s experience and her symptom resurgence when not adhering to her diet suggests a possible correlation between the disease and dietary choices. They propose that a diet high in fat, salt, and sugar can potentially damage arterial lining cells, which may contribute to this condition.
Livedoid vasculopathy has a low prevalence, affecting only 1 in 100,000 people, primarily women in their 30s. These ulcers can leave notable scars and greatly impact the quality of life for affected individuals.
Learn more about livedoid vasculopathy from the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center.
Source: BMJ Case Reports, news release