How to Reverse MS Symptoms with the Wahls Protocol

Dr Terry Wahls- reversing MS with real food

Are you or a loved one looking for a way to reverse MS or autoimmune symptoms? If you haven’t heard of Dr. Terry Wahls, this incredible M.D. and researcher was able to turn back the clock on her own progressive multiple sclerosis with lifestyle changes and a specifically tailored Paleo-type diet.

(If you prefer to hear Dr. Wahls explain her story and her methods rather than read about it, you’re in luck! I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Wahls in this Healthy Moms podcast where she explains how she designed her multi-faceted protocol to support and nourish the cell mitochondria with the power of real food.)

Her journey started as it does for many of us … searching for answers to the puzzling health problems that affect us personally.

Dr. Terry Wahls and How She Found a Way to Reverse MS

Dr. Wahls started to experience the symptoms of MS while she was attending medical school. Her first official diagnosis of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis came in 2000.

In 2003, this former national tae-kwon-do competitor needed a tilt recline wheelchair. She now had secondary progressive MS, and the drugs weren’t working. Even with her own medical knowledge and the help of some of the best doctors in the world, she wasn’t getting any better. So, armed with piles of studies, she dug into the research herself to find answers.

It soon became obvious to Dr. Wahls that it couldn’t hurt to try known brain-boosting nutritional supplements for help. This led her to consider … how could she get the same brain-nourishing benefits from real food? Her research led her to learn how a hunter-gatherer (Paleo) diet could help nourish her body and possibly heal her from her disease.

Amazingly, by changing her lifestyle and diet, Dr. Wahls was able to start riding her bicycle to work … after four long years in a wheelchair.

What Is Multiple Sclerosis?

What is this dreaded disease that strikes seemingly out of nowhere?

There’s still a long way to go in understanding MS, but in a nutshell, the immune system has an abnormal response and attacks the body’s central nervous system.

The attack targets the fatty shield around nerve fibers, gradually impeding the body’s signals to the brain and vice versa. This results in all kinds of undesirable and increasingly debilitating symptoms.

It is interesting to note that although the cause of MS is still unknown, unlike a true autoimmune disease, researchers suspect an outside environmental trigger (combined with a person’s genetic susceptibility to such a trigger). Dr. Wahls’ prescription for supporting the body’s natural detoxification abilities makes sense in this scenario.

The Wahls Protocol: Hope for MS Sufferers

Dr. Wahls now continues her work on a wider level. She conducts clinical trials to expand research on the role of diet in diseases like MS and developed her plan to reverse MS into a book, The Wahls Protocol. Since it’s been revised to address other autoimmune disorders and she’s also written a cookbook with recipes tailored to reverse MS. In addition, there is now a full seminar with workshops and certification in the Wahls Protocol methods.

I met Dr. Wahls when I happened to sit next to her during a session at a health event we both attended. At that time she had literally just received a preview copy of her book. I was so glad I had learned to speed read … I spent the whole session finishing her book! We got to meet after, and I found her so energetic and inspirational.

The Wahls Protocol is full of solid, practical advice and tips (and easy to follow at the same time). Much of the advice is appropriate for anyone struggling with an autoimmune condition of any kind. I love that Dr. Wahls focuses not so much on removing foods but on consuming nutrient-dense foods that support mitochondria function, which is so important for MS and autoimmune sufferers.

So what’s in her plan to reverse MS? These are the highlights:

Dr. Wahls’ Dietary Protocol to Reverse MS

Mitochondria are the body’s power producers, so it makes sense that Dr. Wahls pinpoints their role in optimizing brain and immune system health. Here’s the broad strokes of the dietary advice the Wahls Protocol suggests for MS and autoimmune-specific conditions:

  • Remove the 3 most common foods that trigger abnormal immune system response: gluten, casein, and albumin (the protein in egg whites).
  • Take in 9 cups of vegetables and fruits daily (fresh, juiced, blended, or lightly steamed), specifically: 
    • 3 cups leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, lettuce, etc.)
    • 3 cups brightly colored fruits or vegetables (Ideally these would be 3 different colors, and colored all the way through … so no bananas, for example … I always knew bananas were no good!)
    • 3 cups sulfur-rich vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, onions, garlic, etc.)
  • Consume bone broth and fermented foods daily.
  • Have high quality wild-caught or grass-fed protein for dinner.

(Sounds really familiar, right?)

Basically, this protocol can not only help reverse MS but can help anyone suffering from leaky gut, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, lupus, arthritis, psoriasis, chronic pain, diabetes, traumatic brain injury, depression, PTSD … and the list goes on.

Be sure to check out the Wahls Protocol book for all the details on the diet plus how to craft a nutritional supplement regimen to help reverse MS. (Dr. Wahls recommends doing this along with the help and oversight of a functional medicine doctor).

Research, Help, and Hope on the Horizon

The exciting part is Dr. Wahls’ research is receiving attention from even the mainstream medical world. In 2016 the National MS Society granted her a $1 million grant to conduct further research … a very exciting development for MS sufferers, and the real food movement in general!

And if you haven’t already, take a few minutes to watch Dr. Terry’s viral TED talk from 2011. It’s so worth the watch.

What do you think of Dr. Wahls’ protocol? Do you struggle with an autoimmune condition or even MS, and have dietary changes helped you? 

Sources: 

Find out what Dr. Terry Wahls (M.D. and PhD) knows about powerful natural ways to reverse MS symptoms with her real food Wahls Protocol.

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Reader Comments

  1. Do you think this would help with autoimmune issues. Is it different from AIP?

  2. Just watched the TED Talk of Dr. Wahls and am blown away! Huntington’s Disease runs in my family so this topic hits very close to home. I am already a big believer in natural, wholesome eating but this just motivates me even more to eat even healthier. Thank you so much for including this topic on your blog, Katie! Dr. Wahls is such an inspiration to me and so are you! 🙂

    • Nora! Huntingtons Disease runs in my family as well. I have been desperately searching for someone who lives a healthy lifestyle and also has the risk of inheriting the disease. Not sure if you will see this again but if so please contact me!

      • Hi Angela and Nora,

        Huntingtons is in my family too, my Father has it, and I have been wondering about the Wahl’s Protocol as a way to slow or reverse symptoms. I haven’t been tested yet, but I would really like to connect with some other people who are in the same boat as me and also looking for alternative means of dealing with negative genetic influences.

        Please contact me if you see this message!

  3. I just loved her talk. I have a friend who died from ALA and I tried to tell her about changing her diet to raw food and mainly greens. My family and I drink a special “green drink” every day and have not been sick in 20 years. It would be wonderful if the population could be taught more about health than illness. Get rid of the pharmaceutical companies and teach health!!!

    • Now you’ve got me curious, what is your special “green drink” and would you mind sharing?

    • can you elaborate on this special ‘green drink,’ please!?!?!

      i have a 17-month-old who is sick ALL THE TIME.
      we already do an organic, mostly raw diet, homemade elderberry, drink lots of beneficial teas, takes probiotics, so i am still on the lookout for new things to try that don’t include western medicine.
      tia!

      and, of course, this woman is an absolute inspiration and i am so happy she has improved her situation and decided to help inspire others to do same.

      • It might be the histimines… Look up the lowhistamine chef , the histamine in foods can be causing all your problems! It was for me, I thought I was eating healthy yet it was Killing me:( you need to get your child tested for food allergies.

        • I agree with Dessa, I went through the exact same kind of nightmare for the last 15 years. I was raw vegan and felt like death, lived on juices, went into adrenal insufficiency. Tried body ecology diet and thought that was killing me, nothing made sense then I found the histamine connection. I tried everything, nothing else made full on sense or worked for me. Please get your child checked out before giving them probiotics, etc. I also have the MTHFR C677t gene and that can cause histamine and methylation issues. In the world we live in today it’s important to get tested.

      • Hi. I’m so sorry about your sick daughter. Nutritionist and chef Terrell Mullins has a book and program that can tell you why she is getting sick and how to help her get well. His program is called TheWholeFoodsCure.

        – Just trying to help.

        P.S. One of the reasons she might be getting sick is because of the tiny bugs, which excrete acidic/degenerating feces and urine, that you are giving to her (pro-biotics). All bacteria produce this harmful degenerating acid. Also, putting chemical hand sanitizer on her will also cause her to become overly acidic. The sanitizer may kill the bacteria but the point of not having the bacteria is to not have them in your body producing acidic feces and urine. The acids are what break your body down and cause it to become sick. Putting the sanitizer on put acids directly into your body through your pores.

      • GI Effects stool test through Genova labs would be informative bc the majority of the immune system is in the gut. Generally, chronic immune issues are caused by imbalanced gut health.

    • Can you tell what to blend for the juice.

      • sorry for you green drink

  4. Have been reading your blog for a long time for the natural ideas and homemade remedies/cleaners…. commenting now because my oldest daughter has a mitochondrial disease and is 7. She is severely developmentally delayedand physically disabled and eats through a tube into her intestine (bypassing the stomach)…. she has been sick since she was born, is considered terminally ill, and was not expected to live past her 2nd birthday. I believe a real whole foods diet should help her, but its been so hard to come up with a diet that can be blended and given via tube. On the other hand , I have an autoimmune diseaseand I know that eating a diet similar to the paleo diet (anti inflammatory diet), helps me.
    Anyway, I had watched the above video clip in the past and I believe it… just wish I could do it for my daughter. Thanks for sharing!!

    • What if you tried making the homemade baby formula written in nourishing traditions cookbook. You can buy the ingredients thru radiant life online. Just a thought since it has wonderful and nourishing ingredients and is good for a growing baby who cannot be breast fed. Maybe it would nourish your daughter and could be put thru a tube. Also it would be grain free.

      Many blessings to you and your family.

  5. This is incredible. I love seeing people change their diseases/lives just by altering their diet! She is such an inspiration and I hope she opens the eyes of many!

  6. Thank you Katie for this insightful and groundbreaking advice from a “real” doctor. Groundbreaking since few doctors think about what they are prescribing relying on pharmaceutical vendors to “educate” them. And “real” doctor since Dr. Wahls actually investigated and researched a different way when conventional pharmaceuticals did not do a thing to help (what a surprise). Finally, insightful because you (Katie) have been a great inspiration to like-minded folks and non-believers with news that even doctors are finally discovering that conventional medicine (pharmaceutical based synthetic drugs) do not help but just mask symptoms. THANK YOU KATIE!!!

  7. Just watched the Dr. Wahls video. Am very impressed with this woman’s determination and success. I am one of the typical families that does not eat well, though I wish I could. My husband is a very picky eater and can hardly get him to eat any vegetables. Most of the veggies she mentioned I have never even tasted. It would be so nice if someone who is into healthy eating like that would have a one week retreat that served only these types of foods, along with educating why they are good, how to find them and pick the best ones out, how to fix or cook them, and get us used to eating (and liking!) them. Does anyone know if there is any such retreat like this anywhere in the country? And if not, here is an invitation to all you proponents of healthy eating out there to consider starting one!

    • Maureen – I don’t know of any “camp” like this, but I’d be happy to share some of my recipes for you. Is there a way (email?) to get in touch with you? My husband is a (formerly) picky eater from the midwest, but I now have him eating brussels sprouts, kale and even beets on occasion! Would be happy to tell you what’s worked . . .

      • Hi, my name is Kim. I have a very picky husband who only eats veggies RARELY, unless they are green beans. These hewill eat 2-3 meals per week. Any advice to get him to try (and LIKE!) others would be greatly appreciated. His parents told the kids, “Try it, if you ddon’t like it then you don’t have to eat it.” I love my mother-in-law, but she still refuses to try anything new and her son’s the same way. Please help, someone!

    • I know the way we started was to Google “paleo” recipes and cherry pick the ones that looked interesting/yummy. That’s actually how I first found this site! We still basically do this because I seem to have a problem with recycling meals. It’s worked really well though, there is seldom a meal we don’t like, we get better at identifying recipes we will like, and we eat a good variety. When we decided to make our whole family GF (the kids still get some non-paleo foods at day care where I have less control), my 2 year old’s diet mainly subsisted of grains and dairy. Now he runs to the table when we tell him there are veggies! Change will happen, but don’t expect it to happen overnight, and definitely change things up as you go along until you find what works!

    • I and my husband would be interested in such a retreat. Great idea!! I personally know that an improved diet has helped me with health issues, but there’s a long way to go.

  8. The webinair link was broken… I am so disapointed I didn’t get to watch this.. Do you know if there will be a replay of it?

  9. Great Article! With summer fast approaching, I wanted to ask since I just read your post on sunbathing and sun exposure. I agree in how sunlight is good for us. What I was wondering is, is it true sunlight leads to aging? If so, how can we prevent this?

    • Do you own research on this (or anything) but what I’ve read shows that sun exposure doesn’t lead to aging if diet is solid

  10. This video is absolutely amazing, I have been doing research on the Paleo diet myself, bc I have suffered from fibromyalgia for several years now, and I am trying to find a way to cure it with diet. This video is such an inspiration to me because it gives me hope back that I was beginning to lose, I know so many friends and family members that suffer from either fibromyalgia, MS, diabetes, or some other type of debilitating disease and it breaks my heart, and to know that all it takes is changes in your diet, instead of more medications is such a relief. We need more people like Dr. Wahls in the world, that are more interested in trying to cure people rather than mask the symptoms like other doctors and health care prof.

  11. It is amazing what diet can do to change the path of health we are on. For years I didn’t care about my diet. I was always and athlete who could get by with eating whatever, sleeping very little and treating my body poorly. Then one day it came crashing down and I was eventually diagnosed with CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). I credit my major diet overhaul as being the biggest factor in my recovery from CFS. Real food is so amazing… and it is yummy to eat. What an enjoyable, fulfilling medicine!

  12. I absolutely love this! I find it extremely helpful that she broke down the nutrition that our body needs! Knowing that i need 3 cups of sulfur rich foods a day and what sulfur rich foods are and what they do for my body makes me so much more motivated to eat those foods! I would love to see a weekly meal plan based around the nutrition your body needs instead or a meal plan built around taste or trying to avoid getting fat! Have you ever seen a meal plan like that?

  13. Is there a way to watch the Leanne Ely interview after the fact?

  14. Have been doing a little reading, but wonder what the latest thought is on oxalates in raw greens? Dr. Wahls mentions green drinks and raw leafies in salads; curious how much of that is considered beneficial compared to cooked/steamed greens?
    Loved the video, btw. Very encouraging and motivating. Thanks for bringing it to our attention, Katie.

  15. Wahl has relapsing remitting MS, not progressive MS. Huge, huge difference in terms of treatment, prognosis, and possible outcomes.

    • Then why does she use “Progressive MS” in the title of her book?

      • She has secondary progressive ms.
        That is relapsing remitting that has turned into progressive also. Has attacks and continues to decline in between attacks.

  16. I have secondary progressive MS and would love to be better so am researching the Protocol.

  17. I have fibromyalgia. My brother 4 years younger than me just died of a heart attack after battling fibromyalgia for 4 years. I am curious if this diet or is there other diets that might help. The stability meds are too strong for.my.system. and make me bed.ridden.