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puddleduck’s progress (CFS symptoms)

Hello there! 🙂

I’m starting this thread in hopes of posting progress reports once a month or so. Since I’ve been eating low VA for four weeks now, here’s the first one.


But before I get to that, I want to thank Grant Generoux for giving away his books for free. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have read “Extinguishing the Fires of Hell” if it had been for sale on Amazon or wherever. I don’t buy diet guru books anymore, and ETFOH would’ve come across as one of those. Now that I’ve read it (and am part way through “Poisoning for Profits”), it seems to me Grant is onto something huge, and also writing from a place of sincerity and goodwill. So thank you, Grant, for your generosity and integrity.

I have two main reasons for joining this experiment:


#1 - I ate a large amount of Vitamin A in childhood (and after that, too).

(FYI I made a TLDR at the end. :P)

When I first read Matt Stone’s blog post about this theory, I didn’t think it applied to me since I was raised on a mostly vegan whole foods diet (no fortified breakfast cereals or milk for me). I was wrong (to be fair, this summer and autumn I was dealing with an enormously stressful situation in my personal life, so I wasn’t in a good headspace for thinking, in general xD).

Anyway, this winter, I downloaded ETFOH, read it, and looked up which foods are highest in vitamin A. At that point, I was like, “STOP! Wait a minute. Fill my cup put some liquor in it.” (Sorry, playing Uptown Funk...)

Three specific food situations in my past sprang to mind:


The first: As a kid, I was fed whole grain porridge every morning. Sounds awesome, however because our diet excluded dairy and sugar, we used dehydrated carrot juice powder as a topping. It was a similar consistency to sugar and almost as sweet. I’d put a tablespoon or more of that nonsense on my porridge almost every day.

How much vitamin A did that contain? I just looked up the exact product we ate, and it turns out that one tablespoon has 6,370 mcg?! Well that’s just great... 😐


The second: When I was fifteen, I convinced my mom to start buying dairy (we’d used soya/rice milk and vegan butter spread before this) and cod liver oil. (I’d discovered the Weston A. Price Foundation and was afraid I was so skinny because of my low-fat vegan diet in childhood.) Less than a year after making these dietary changes, at age sixteen, I experienced a sudden and dramatic health crisis.

Seemingly overnight I went from this healthy optimistic drama-nerd/bookworm kid who was in a pre-professional dance program (I was at the dance studio five days a week) to a clinically depressed, anti-social cynic who hid in her room alone and didn’t even have the energy or brainpower to kill myself, even though I wanted to almost every day. 

The thing is, it wasn’t as though I progressively got sadder and weaker until I couldn’t go on anymore. That’s what has always bugged me the most about what happened to me—it happened quickly. I’d given one of my best dance performances ever like a month prior (I remember my instructor saying my hard work was paying off), and then, in the middle of a morning ballet class I felt extremely weak and tired and had to excuse myself. My mom thought I must have a flu. Once I got home, I couldn’t stop crying. I never went back to the studio. It was literally that fast.

And one of the worst parts was that I couldn’t read anymore. I’d read a sentence, and then have to start over again because I didn’t remember what I’d read. From what people who’ve had a concussion have told me, it was as though I’d fallen and hit my head. But I hadn’t.

Oh right, another weird (or not so weird now that I know about VA) fact: My hands were bright red all the way to a line at the wrist. This only started the winter of the crisis (or possibly a little the winter before, but certainly not earlier than that). They were so dry, nothing would sooth them, and they cracked and bled a little.

Because I was so sure the vegan diet of my childhood was the reason I’d become ill, I committed to the WAPF diet even more than before: I took the cod liver oil daily. I eliminated refined carbohydrates completely. I drank whole milk and ate liver. I modified this diet several times over the years following, but ultimately continued to eat vitamin A and continued to be very ill (I was suicidal and legitimately did NOT have the energy or focusing ability to do most things healthy kids my age could, and this continued for seven years). 

I know this post is going to be so long, but since Grant’s theory is the only one I’ve ever read that MIGHT explain why the heck that happened to me, I feel compelled to share in detail.


The third: This situation ultimately led me to give up my WAPF ideas. At the time, I was getting alternative treatments for my anxiety and sensory processing issues, and those professionals recommended an extreme diet that was supposedly helping autistic and clinically anxious people alike. I decided to try it for a few months. I’m pretty sure I stopped before the third month, because my mental health had deteriorated even more.

Basically, I was eating a minimum of three sweet potatoes per day (which means around 100,000 IU of vitamin A per day, or over 4000% of the daily recommended value 😱).  On top of that, I was eating maybe a third of my daily caloric requirement, and was somewhat emaciated.

During those two months, I was manic and delusional. My insomnia was even more severe than usual, and my appetite disappeared entirely (one of the symptoms of VA poisoning 🤔). I went to two doctors the month after I stopped the diet, and one of them put me on lithium (for bipolar disorder) based on my symptoms.


TLDR: I ate an enormous amount of vitamin A from *natural whole foods* not supplements, and had unusually poor health, mentally (clinical depression/mania) and physically (chronic fatigue syndrome) as a teenager.


#2 - I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms.

In 2014, I started Gwyneth Owlyn’s Minnie Maud method (now called the Homeodynamic Recovery Method), which allowed me to completely recover from clinical depression/mania, panic attacks, and insomnia (no, I’m not on any meds now). It also brought back my appetite at last! 

If VA toxicity was a major contributing factor in the development of my illnesses, then increasing my caloric intake on Minnie Maud (3,000 to 6,000 calories daily, along with eliminating fruits and vegetables, while consuming a primarily refined-food diet for the first year or so) must’ve been enough to allow my body to start to detox it (or, as Matt Stone suggests, perhaps recovery from anorexia increases the size of the liver). 

My fatigue has improved tremendously since I was ill, but I still can’t keep up with my parents energy levels, let alone people my own age. I’ve come to accept life with a permanent disability, which isn’t the end of the world now that I’m mentally stable, but it would be awesome as heck if this works and I could have more stamina. *dares to hope*


Current Symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of memory and concentration (brain fog)
  • Extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise
  • Hormonal imbalance 
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Low motivation (not always, but this understandably tends to accompany the exhaustion)
  • Drowsiness (sometimes this is accompanied by feeling cold)
  • Low appetite still hits me under stress, and it’s hard to fight it
  • Tooth decay 
  • Eyesight has worsened every optometry appointment since I was a kid
  • Cystic acne on back (face never has it anymore)
  • Can’t twist my back in one direction (like an injury that never healed)
  • When crouching my knees and hips can ache
  • Fingernails break easily
  • Hands get rough and dry and wrinkly in winter (they’re not red anymore, though)

Month One Progress Report

From the above list, only one thing is showing any improvement so far: my back acne is almost gone.

I’m getting lots of bad symptoms though:

  • My digestive system is irritated (I normally have very good digestion)
  • My brain feels like there’s water running over it, almost a tingling sensation
  • Vivid dream recall (okay well that’s not bad, just different 🙃)
  • Irritability and headaches more than a few days (I NEVER get headaches, so this is odd)
  • Exhaustion and low motivation (more than normal)
  • Major brain fog (I couldn’t remember anything during the first week lol)
  • Zit in the middle of my forehead, where I always used to get acne as a teen (haven’t had that for years and years)

But this doesn’t dissuade me at all, because when I did Minnie Maud it was pure emotional and physical torture for the first four months (I stayed in bed almost the whole time). I’m planning to give this a minimum of three months before reconsidering my course of action. 😋


Vitamin A Intake + Foodlist:

Vitamin A Intake: 100 IU daily, maximum (so far I’ve averaged 38 IU—I’m tracking everything I eat on chronometer)

Breakfast: Lemonade and Porridge

Juice of 1 lemon + 1/3 cup sugar (for vitamin C)

1 cup of freshly cracked brown or white rice porridge, OR rarely I’ll have oatmeal instead

Other meals are some combination of the following foods:

  • Brown or White Rice
  • French Bread (or whatever bread you can buy at the store without eggs/dairy)
  • White Corn Chips
  • Unbleached or Freshly Ground Whole Wheat Flour (wanted to go GF, but it’s easier for me to eat enough if I don’t, and the liver isn’t gonna detox without calories)
  • Sugar
  • Oil (Olive, Sunflower, Coconut, + Earth Balance Original, without beta carotene)
  • Beef (including hamburger)
  • Black Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • White Potatoes + Potato Chips
  • Cauliflower
  • Mushrooms
  • Coconut
  • Cocoa powder
  • ETA: Nuts and Seeds (John’s post reminded me I’d forgotten these: small amounts of almonds, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, flaxseed, and cashew nuts.)

I did try small amounts of some low-ish VA fruits, but I don’t think I’m gonna make these a regular part of my diet until I notice more changes:

  • Pineapple
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Apples

One last thing, I’ve literally cried thinking about how many people’s untimely deaths could be prevented if vitamin A toxicity is as widespread as it appears to be. So my expectations of this theory are kinda high lol. xD It’s just so exciting to see something WORK and help people recover from their diseases, just like Minnie Maud did for me. 

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Doublecapricornpano200OrionCurious Observereliza1275empirebuilder31rockarolla

P.S. As I mentioned in another thread, my little dog (who has heart trouble and was eating a liver-based diet) went low-VA with me. So far, her fur has gotten much softer and her skin isn’t flaking so much. She’s also a bit more bouncy and playful! 🙂

Doublecapricorn, empirebuilder31 and J have reacted to this post.

Beautiful @paddleduck! I did MM too staring in the summer of 2014. 🙂

I don’t think I actually ever had an eating disorder now but eating more and mostly refined food helped me too. It’s a shame I ate so much dairy though because it’s fortified with A and explains why some of my symptoms got worse!!!

I’m  excited to follow your story. Bella

puddleduck has reacted to this post.

How old are you if you don't mind sharing

puddleduck has reacted to this post.

Thank you Puddleduck for sharing your story! Wishing you speedy success!

puddleduck has reacted to this post.

hi puddleduck - you are amazing!

I've been meaning to post something that may be significant, so I think this is the appropriate place and time. Reading about your struggle is quite an inspiration to all of us who are trying to figure it out. I'm 4 months into a very low retinol intake. I'm not tracking it but it matches your's pretty close, with a tad of butter from Ireland, some nuts, and a few other things.

I can't recall where I stumbled across PhotoBioModulation (PBM), but that's where my reading efforts have been for a couple of months.  I'm pretty sure Infrared LED therapy works against retinoid-induced damage and inflammation. It may even help alter the molecules involved. There's a Dr Wilding (see YouTube) who uses a full-body NovoThor light machine and he's reporting great results with various autoimmune conditions. It has literally taken over his practice by word of mouth. I went to Ohio recently just to experience one of these machines for a few days worth of sessions - 15 minutes each day - and have a small Joovv panel I'm experimenting with, while shopping larger LED panels built in China. I'm going to make a 3-sided booth for daily sessions of 660nm Red and 850nm Infrared. You can buy 180 LEDs in a fan-cooled assembly, a 50:50 mix of 660nm and 850nm, for $300.

PubMed searches on PBM studies yield a rich vein of material. Nerve regeneration, elimination of amyloid plaque, mitochondrial stimulation and increased ATP production, vasodilation via Nitric Oxide pathways, burn healing, macular degeneration, arthritis, and much more. PBM appears to be a powerful way to reduce inflammation and promote healing. If money is no object, Joovv makes great equipment for home use. I'm shopping direct from manufacturers in China, since prices are 5 times lower, even with shipping costs. There are wavelengths other than 660 and 850 nanometers that are known to have beneficial effects, but little is known about how they do what they do.  It appears there's some involvement of a Capsaicin receptor, which is a heat-sensor. The Capsaicin molecule looks very familiar. See Wikipedia.

That's a wrap for now. Hope all goes well. I'll post more as time permits.


pano200, puddleduck and Ourania have reacted to this post.

Can you share the Chinese manufacturers name? I have two red light devices ( smaller ones) from Redlightman

One is red light 670 and one near infra red light 830nm

Hi Guest - yes, it's Shenzhen SungrowLED Technology Co., Ltd

The site is sgrowled.com

My brother has their 900 Watt unit. He likes it. I'm probably going with the 1,000 Watt since it's a tad longer, almost 3 feet total.

These don't "gang" like Joovv panels, with one power source flowing through multiple units - basically in series. And they don't have a timer. But the price for those conveniences is quite high.

I've had rapid response to questions from Abby Lu - sales5@sgrowled.com

I don't like the rigamarole of Alibaba, so I contacted her directly and verified they take PayPal payments, which I prefer.

I think my brother got his within 10 days, not bad at all.

She did mention that orders above $800 face a tariff, but I've yet to clarify what that percentage added actually is.


This following PubMed review by Michael Hamblin has some amazing stuff in it.

Shining light on the head: Photobiomodulation for brain disorders


This paragraph grabbed my attention.

It is quite clear that there must be some other type of photoacceptor, in addition to CCO, as is clearly demonstrated by the fact that wavelengths substantially longer than the red/NIR wavelengths discussed above, can also produce beneficial effects is some biological scenarios. Wavelengths such as 980 nm [14], [15], 1064 nm laser [16], and 1072 nm LED [17], and even broad band IR light [18] have all been reported to carry out PBM type effects. Although the photoacceptor for these wavelengths has by no means been conclusively identified, the leading hypothesis is that it is primarily water (perhaps nanostructured water) located in heat or light sensitive ion channels. Clear changes in intracellular calcium can be observed, that could be explained by light-mediated opening of calcium ion channels, such as members of the transient receptor potential (TRP) super-family [19]. TRP describes a large family of ion channels typified by TRPV1, recently identified as the biological receptor for capsaicin (the active ingredient in hot chili peppers) [20]. The biological roles of TRP channels are multifarious, but many TRP channels are involved in heat sensing and thermoregulation [21].

The thing that jumped out was the references to structured water AND a capsaicin receptor. It's a long story but suffice to say, there's a "structured", Catalyst Altered Water product called Willard Water that heals 3rd degree burns without pain, blister or scar. Nobody believes it until they see it or experience it. Harry Reasoner interviewed Doc Willard for 60 Minutes back in 1980 and got live video of a welder who had accidentally melted his polyesther pants to his inner thighs. This guy treated himself with bathtubs of diluted Willard Water. Harry Reasoner came back with his film crew awhile later and video'd this guys healed skin. You can see this 60 Minutes program on YouTube. I've had similar results with an 800 degree burn on my forearm due to sizzling it on an exhaust stack of a dump truck that was running with no mufflers.

Anyway, there was an interview that Mercola did with the guy involved in NovoThor and LumiThera - one James Carroll. He said in passing that NIR therapy was healing burns with no pain. So, I'm thinking the Willard Water effect is in play somehow. The main pathway identified for 850nm wavelength LED light is the Cytochrome C Oxidase releasing Nitric Oxide as I understand it so far. So that can explain many effects of NIR therapy. But it sounds like one of these other wavelengths is doing something different. Just knowing that the process of ATP production, resulting from mitochondrial stimulation due to NIR light, produces water as a byproduct, makes ya think that water might be "structured" and doing the same thing from the inside that old Doc Willard speculated his discovery was doing to nerve tissue from the outside - which was turning off the pain receptor (maybe the heat receptor?) so the body wouldn't respond with a massive inflammatory reaction, and thus allow the burned tissue to heal, one cell layer at a time. Doc called it "healing by first intention".

Who knows, the Capsaicin receptor part of it may fit with Grant's discoveries somehow too. Remember him talking about Hillary Clinton eating really hot peppers every day? And I've been lately wondering about the "burn" of Retinoic Acid and how is that any different than other kinds of burns from various heat sources. I have a friend in her 70's who just went to Florida for the winter and had shingles break out around her midriff - big blisters and all. Hit her threshold of Retinol? Triggered repositories in the skin tissues by exposure to sunlight? Sent her to Grant's site to get up to speed on the subject.

Anyway, hope you have great results if you pursue the NIR therapy. I'll check in occasionally with updates once I'm doing daily sessions. From what I've seen and heard, it takes awhile but the effects are cumulative, as long as you get rid of the source of the inflammation, which we're well aware of due to Grant's ground-breaking work. Thanks again, buddy!!



Ourania has reacted to this post.

Ooops, forgot to login on those two responses above.

Hi puddleduck,

The use of lemon juice as a source of vitamin C might be negatively affecting your progress. Because there was a study from 1963, titled:

The Effects of Vitamin A and Citral on Epithelial Differentiation in vitro. The Chick Tracheal Epithelium.

By Margaret Aydelotte

My interpretation of it was that citral was possibly acting as a surfactant and thereby making the effects of vitamin A more acute?

Also, there is some evidence that citral might lead to greater levels of retinaldehyde, and the aldehydes are documented to cause headaches and are the downstream metabolite of alcohol detoxification ( and thought to be a substance that causes hangovers).