After I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I consulted leading doctors and took the newest drugs, which, I was told, would never restore function, only delay decline. Despite the drugs, my condition worsened quickly for the next seven years, four of which I spent in a tilt-recline wheelchair. I was desperate, afraid I’d end up bedridden and demented. I used my knowledge as a physician and researcher to study the basic science and develop a diet and lifestyle protocol to feed my brain. I hoped only to slow my decline. But after a year on the protocol, I was able to bike 18.5 miles with my family. My life was transformed. Diet and lifestyle healed me.
My clinical course and the protocol that led to my recovery was documented in a published case report. Now I conduct research on diet and lifestyle and teach people all over the world the simple choices that can help reduce the symptoms of chronic illness and restore health and vitality. We teach people to drop foods that worsen inflammation (gluten, dairy, and eggs) and to stress green leafy vegetables, sulfur-rich vegetables, and deeply colored vegetables and berries. I have completed multiple clinical trials that demonstrate that others with multiple sclerosis can implement my protocol safely, and when they do, they experience improved energy, quality of life, mood, and motor function. You can review research papers and before and after videos showing the changes in walking ability as people implemented the protocol.
Not only has the protocol transformed my life, it has transformed the lives of the patients who come to my therapeutic lifestyle clinic, many of whom have complex chronic diseases, often with multiple diagnoses. On the protocol they lose weight without feeling hungry. Their blood sugar and pressure stabilize. They feel less tired and more able to think clearly. Many are able to reduce and even discontinue the many medications they have been taking for years. They report feeling more clarity and more joy. They demonstrate what I have known for many years: food is medicine or poison, depending on our choices.
The dietary and lifestyle changes that form the basis of my protocol used in our clinics and research trials are not complicated. My new book, The Revised and Expanded The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles, details how to transform your life using diet and lifestyle. It includes recommendations and strategies to personalize the dietary recommendations for vegetarians, meat eaters, ketogenic eaters, and those who need to restrict oxalates, lectins, or histamines. There is updated research on the microbiome, fasting, and neurorehabilitation strategies as well.
The best healing comes from a considered approach and the support of a team of medical professionals who can monitor your health as you make these changes and help you assess exactly what your body needs. Talk to your primary care doctor and specialists before you make any changes to your diet or lifestyle. As your health improves, your medical team can assess how and when to safely reduce medication doses as your cells recover, organ function improves, and the need for medication declines. Find a trained and certified clinician who can provide more support and assistance to you in your healing journey.
I know from experience that healing and well-being are within reach for many with autoimmune problems. The same is true for those with unexplained symptoms, troubling pain, or fatigue that physicians cannot link to a specific diagnosis. If you are ready to begin your healing journey and restore your energy and your vitality, check out my revised book, The Wahls Protocol.
If I can come back to a rich and full life, after years of severe disability, then there is hope for you. Even if your doctors have told you that there is nothing more that they can do. Conventional medicine failed me, but ancestral health and functional medicine healed me. You can have hope too.
If you have multiple sclerosis and interested in participating in our clinical trials reach out to our study team at MSDietStudy@healthcare.uiowa.edu. We are actively recruiting patients.
Article by Dr. Terry Wahls, Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner and a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa where she conducts clinical trials. You can follow her on Instagram and Facebook.