Lead author Neal Barnard said that this new study gives a ray of hope for a condition where there are no other good treatments. Barnard added that for an individual patient, it can be miserable and also depressing because there are no good treatments and it just gets worse and worse.
He noted that by setting aside animal products and oily foods, people can become healthier and their pain can diminish and perhaps even go away. The vegan diet focused on vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes.
Overall, most participants on the vegan diet appeared to avoid animal products and about half stuck to low-fat diets throughout the study. After 20 weeks, those on the vegan diet lost an average of about 15 pounds, compared to about one pound among those in the comparison group.
Several other measures of health, including blood pressure, improved among the participants on the vegan diet, compared to the control group. Those on the vegan diet also reported a much greater drop in pain, compared to the control group, the researchers report.
A test of the nerves in the foot also suggested that the vegan diet may have slowed or halted nerve function decline, compared to the control group. Barnard and his team acknowledged larger trials would still be needed to show a vegan diet helped relieve pain related to type 2 diabetes.