Physician heals multiple sclerosis in eight months with paleo diet

The tale of Dr. Terry Wahls is an inspiring one. Diagnosed with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, Wahls abandoned her conventional regime of chemotherapy and immune suppressing drugs for an unorthodox approach: food. Within a year of adopting what is essentially a paleo eating plan, she was able to walk without a cane and complete an 18-mile bicycle tour. Considered a miracle by many, Wahls is a thriving testament to the power of sound nutrition.

Devastating manifestation of multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, debilitating disease that leads to a wide range of motor control issues -- sometimes resulting in the need for a wheelchair. It can strike at any age, but usually occurs between ages 20 and 40 years old. When the disease sets in, the immune system attacks proteins in the nerve protecting myelin sheath -- resulting in muscle tremors and weakness, loss of coordination, fatigue, imbalance and blindness. To date, drugs have proven to be ineffective for reversing the effects of multiple sclerosis. When Wahls discovered this fact through her own experience, she turned to diet in the hope of slowing the disorder.

The search begins

Due to her medical training, Wahls realized that MS is similar to other degenerative diseases like Huntington's, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, all of which share two common traits: compromised mitochondria and brain shrinkage. When the mitochondria are not fed correctly, they wither and die. And the brain shrinks.

Confined to a wheelchair, Dr. Wahls began her investigation of supplements that might help to feed the mitochondria and slow the progression of the disease. She discovered three essential nutrients: animal based Omega-3 fats, creatine and coenzyme Q10. Even after taking these supplements, her health continued to deteriorate, albeit at a slower pace. Not satisfied, she continued her search.

Diet - The secret to healing

During the fall of 2007, Wahls had a sudden epiphany. What would happen if she was getting these crucial brain nutrients from food instead of supplements? Realizing mitochondria thrive on B vitamins, sulfur and antioxidants, she began to formulate an eating plan.

Wahls adopted a modified paleo diet -- rich in roots, organ meats, seeds, nuts, oily fish and grass-feed meats. She also included eggs from pastured chickens along with seaweed -- which is a good source of myelin-repairing iodine. Wahls shied away from Omega-6 fatty acids, sugar, grains, dairy and legumes.

For sulfur, she consumed vegetables like kale, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onions, garlic and mushrooms. Typically, Wahls ate nine cups of non-starchy vegetables and berries each day. She included high quality fats like cod liver and salmon fish oils, chia seeds and walnuts along with extra virgin olive and coconut oils. Olive oil and avocados are excellent sources of oleic acid -- an important nutrient for those with MS. Choline is also crucial for myelin sheath repair. It's found in egg yolks, beef liver, chicken, turkey, scallops, salmon, sesame and flax seeds, collard greens, swiss chard and cauliflower.

Wahls called this diet Intensive Directed Nutrition. Soon she began feeling better and had more energy. Within three months, she was out of her wheelchair and was able to walk using only a cane. With the addition of exercise, electrical stimulation and meditation, Wahls continued to improve. Today, Dr. Wahls is a passionate advocate for conquering MS without harmful pharmaceuticals. She lectures around the nation and is currently writing a new book, "The Wahls Protocol. Defeating Progressive Multiple Sclerosis Without Drugs." Further information and resources can be found on Dr. Wahls' website.

Photo Credit: Karen Struthers



  1. In recent years, the “paleo diet,” a diet based on the perceived eating habits of prehistoric people has become wildly popular. But, says paleontologist Christina Warinner, this diet is based on an incorrect view of how early humans lived. Using modern day research, Warinner traces the roots of the human diet to discover what we can really learn from the food of our ancestors.

    Science Debunks the Paleo Diet—Again

    The Paleo Diet Is Uncivilized (And Unhealthy and Untrue).

    If the Paleo Diet fad is so healthy and responsible for brain growth, then why didn't the Neanderthals survive and thrive? They had 300,000 years in Europe following the diet to make themselves into "Einsteins!" Speaking of Albert Einstein, this is what he had to say on the subject of health and survival: "Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." &

    You get better results with a vegan lifestyle, without the high risks of cancer and heart disease, which most cavemen didn't live long enough to experience. It's eliminating processed foods and eating veggies that make you healthy!

    1. A paleo diet does not need to include meat - it can easily be adapted for vegetarians and even vegans if one is careful. I think the reason so many have found the paleo way of life to be helpful is that it eliminates grains, starches, dairy and processed sugar (which tend to be problematic).

      I myself was vegetarian for almost a decade with periods of vegan and high raw. I love the sustainable aspect and truly feel it is the most ethical diet. However, I eventually had to face the fact that I wasn't thriving on it. You can read more about my decision to give up vegetarianism here:

      Over the years, I have become more flexible in my ideals and have acknowledged that everyone is different. We are all highly unique and complex. What works for one may not work for another.

      I applaud your vegan lifestyle and it's wonderful that the diet is such a good fit for you. I agree, eliminating processed foods and eating more veggies is an excellent way to improve and maintain health. Keep up the good work!

  2. Test Comment.

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  4. Most interesting recovery! I suspect that the removal of the easily oxidized omega-6 from the diet, possibly in combination with reduced inflammation due to lower blood sugar excursions without modern fast carbs can have caused the regression.

    A younger sister of mine started to develop face and hand tremors at 63 years age. We didn't say anything as we regarded it running in the family on the female side, had by both mother and grand mother. During my then visit I mentioned in an unrelated context the damaging effects of industrial margarine and vegetable oil and the advantage to go back to butter and even saturated fat as it then became clear at least for me that it had been wrongly implicated in heart disease, something really caused by sugar and blood sugar raising junk food.

    One year later we met again and we others noticed then that her tremors were gone, but said nothing as it could be temporary. Another year later same thing, so then I mentioned it. I asked her if she had made any changes and she said no. Except that after I left 2 years earlier, she took my advice and threw out all vegetable oils and margarines and since been using only olive oil and butter instead!

    So it may just be worth trying!

    Regarding "autoimmune disorder", it is an unconfirmed hypothesis. It could be as simple that myelin made of easily oxidized material - like untested omega 6 in never before seen excess - starts to degrade due to time and unfortunate levels of oxidation. If the immune system then starts to clear up the broken residues , the body is not "attacking itself".
    It is known that monounsaturated fats are low in myelin that degrades.
    If saturated fats, that are the most long lasting and hence hard to oxidize fat also is found to be low, it may just be a lack of proper raw materials that causes the problems. I recall reading of a very sharp increase of MS 1920-1930 from virtually nothing. Margarines were introduced on a wider basis the decade before. Then it of course also contained transfats but the removal of these have not stopped MS.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your story and information. Fascinating! Healthy fats are crucial—and, of course, staying away from manipulated, processed fats, as your sister discovered.

    My daughter has mild absence seizures, and I've noticed an enormous improvement with keeping her on a low-carb, high-fat (coconut/olive/butter) diet. When I slip and don't watch her diet carefully, she will predictably begin having problems within a few days. Specialized nutrition is powerful medicine—I'm a firm believer.

    Great to connect with you here—thanks again!