The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine (Anglais) MP3 CD – 16 avril 2014
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I used to run marathons and climb mountains in Nepal. I’ve competed multiple times in the American Birkebeiner 54-kilometer cross-country ski marathon (once while pregnant), earned a black belt in tae kwon do, and won a bronze medal in women’s full contact free sparring at the trials for the 1978 Pan American Games in Washington, DC. I used to feel invincible.
Then I developed multiple sclerosis. After decades of troubling symptoms I tried to ignore, I was finally diagnosed in 2000. By that time, the disease had a good footing in my central nervous system. My decline progressed rapidly. Within two years of my diagnosis, I could no longer play soccer with my kids in the backyard. By fall 2003, walking from room to room for my hospital rounds exhausted me, and by summer 2004, my back and stomach muscles had weakened so much that I needed a tilt/recline wheelchair. Within three years of initial diagnosis, my disease had transitioned from relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis into secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. In that phase, disability slowly progresses despite increasingly aggressive therapy. By 2007, I spent most of my time lying in a zero-gravity chair. I was 52 years old.
Everyone with multiple sclerosis has a story—the years of clues and strange symptoms that finally, in retrospect, make sense. It is in the nature of most neurological and autoimmune diseases that symptoms accumulate slowly, bit by bit, over the course of decades. This is what happened to me. As a doctor, I was compelled to find answers: a diagnosis and a cure. As a patient, I was compelled to save my own life.
Like most physicians, I was always focused on quickly diagnosing my patients, and then using drugs and surgical procedures to treat them—that is, until I became a patient myself. Conventional medicine was failing me. I saw that. I was heading toward a bedridden life. Since the beginning of our profession, physicians have used self-experimentation, either to prove a scientific point or to treat themselves when the conventional treatments were of limited value. In that tradition, and in the face of this chronic, progressive disease for which there was no cure, I began to experiment on myself. What I didn’t expect were the stunning results I got from my self-experimentation: I not only arrested my disease, I achieved a dramatic restoration of my health and my function. What I learned changed forever how I saw the battling worlds of health and disease.
More than a hundred years ago, Thomas Edison said, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his [or her] patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” This became my new course, my passion, and my mission. I understood health and disease in an entirely new way. I became a new person, both physically and emotionally, both personally and professionally. I also became passionately committed to helping other people become new people, too.
The stress and pressure of medical school may have been what triggered my first symptoms in 1980, years before I had any idea what they were. I would eventually call them “zingers”—intense stabs of facial pain. They lasted just a moment and would come randomly, sometimes in waves, the episodes building over a week or two and then gradually fading over the next several. They were most likely to happen during my busiest and most brutal hospital rotations, with shifts lasting thirty-six hours and allowing for little sleep. Over the years they became steadily worse, like electrical pain that felt like a 10,000-volt cattle prod sticking me in the face.
At the time, I thought the episodes of face pains were an aggravation, nothing more. I thought it was an isolated, unexplained problem—one of those medical mysteries that don’t really require solving. Even as a doctor, I didn’t think much about it. I was too busy with my own patients to dedicate too much diagnostic thought to myself. I certainly never suspected an autoimmune problem.
This was my first symptom, but it was not likely the moment when multiple sclerosis began its relentless march through my central nervous system. For at least a decade before then, probably two, my brain and spinal cord had been under siege from friendly fire—my own immune system attacking the myelin that insulated my nerves. I couldn’t feel it at first. I couldn’t feel it for years. Nevertheless, it was happening.
As the years passed, I became a mother, first to my son, Zach, then my daughter, Zebby. The rigors of parenting and full-time work distracted me, but my multiple sclerosis clock was ticking. This was a clock I did not hear, even though alarms of visual dimming and the zingers were going off. I fully expected to be an active, adventurous, vibrant woman for at least forty more years. I imagined mountain climbing with my children, even as a white-haired old grandma. I never thought my unexplained symptoms would have anything to do with something as basic as my mobility or as crucial as my thinking.
One evening at a dinner party, I was talking to a neurologist and I happened to mention that I perceived the color blue somewhat differently in my right and left eyes. Blues were a bit brighter when I used my right eye than if I used the left. She seemed interested.
“You’ll have multiple sclerosis someday,” she said. It was the first time anyone had said those words. My father died the next morning, and so her words were forgotten in the chaos of grief. Years later, I recalled those prescient comments.
The day my wife, Jackie, noticed I seemed to be walking strangely, I didn’t believe her. I didn’t even notice until she insisted we go for a three-mile walk to the local dairy for ice cream. By the time we got back, I was dragging my left foot like a sandbag. I couldn’t pick up my toes. I was exhausted, nauseated, and scared. I scheduled an appointment with my physician.
Many people who are ultimately diagnosed with multiple sclerosis go through a similar experience. Symptoms develop slowly over years, and diagnosis may take additional years once physical problems manifest and become obvious.
I spent the next few weeks going through test after test, dreading each result. Some tests involved flashing lights and buzzers. Others involved more electricity and more pain. There were more blood tests. I said little and feared much. Everything came back negative, but there was clearly something wrong with me.
Finally, we were down to the last test: a spinal tap. If there were oligoclonalband proteins (an indicator of excessive amounts of antibodies) present in the spinal fluid, then the diagnosis would be multiple sclerosis. But if this test was also negative, then I likely had what they call “idiopathic degeneration of the spinal cord” (meaning they don’t know the cause). In the long list of potential diseases I had faced, this seemed like the best option. I was hopeful.
When I got up the next morning, I knew that the results should be in my chart. I could get into the clinic medical records from my home computer through remote access. I brought up my medical record on the screen and went to the laboratory section. Positive. I stood up. I paced. Two hours later, I logged onto the system and checked again. Five times I looked up my results,
hoping they would somehow change. They never did.
It was official: I had multiple sclerosis.
In summer 2000, I moved with Jackie and my children from Marshfield, Wisconsin, to Iowa to accept a joint appointment as assistant professor at the University of Iowa and chief of primary care at the VA hospital. I was newly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I was taking Copaxone, which my physician had prescribed for the MS, and I relied entirely on my physicians for treatment decisions. I had been trained as a doctor and conditioned to believe that doctors know best. Besides, what did I know about multiple sclerosis? It wasn’t my area. I was seeing the very best people and getting the very best treatments available, so I assumed I was doing all that I could do.
I was determined not to let my diagnosis influence my new job. I was in a leadership position with plenty of challenges, and I loved it. I enjoyed teaching, and the kids were thriving in their new home. I thought I was doing pretty well, and so did my doctors. I even began to imagine I might never get much worse. I dreamed I might not even have to confess to my children that
I had multiple sclerosis.
Then my right arm and hand became weak. My doctors gave me steroids to suppress my immune cells, and my strength slowly returned, but it was the beginning of a slow, steady decline. I could see it, Jackie could see it, and so could the kids. They’ve since admitted that sometimes it was embarrassing to have me around because I was less and less mobile. Sometimes they wished I wouldn’t attend their activities, and that made me feel guilty for wanting to be there. It was a strain on the whole family, and I felt responsible. It was all my fault. I was supposed to be the provider, and I was slowly losing my ability to manage my own body. It had been only two years since my initial diagnosis.
Then something happened that changed my life. In 2002, my neurology doctor at the Cleveland Clinic noted that I was slowly getting worse and suggested I check out Ashton Embry’s MS charity website, Direct-MS, at www.direct-ms.org. Dr. Embry is a geologist with a Ph.D. whose son has MS. Dr. Embry’s son improved dramatically by changing his diet, so Dr. Embry became an active and vocal proponent of the link between diet and multiple sclerosis. This was the first I’d heard of such an idea—or, at least, the first time I paid attention. Although it sounded a little like “alternative care” to me—and, being a conventional doctor, I didn’t put much stock into what I saw as fringe medical practices—this was a suggestion from my neurologist, so I took her seriously. I decided to check it out.
Dr. Embry’s website was full of scientific references, which I began to read one by one. The articles were from peer-reviewed journals, written by scientists from highly respected medical schools. This wasn’t “soft science.” This wasn’t “fringe.” This was legitimate research. It was difficult science, too. A lot of it was in fields outside my expertise, or it relied on basic science concepts that hadn’t been part of my medical training. I had trouble absorbing everything, and the MS-related brain fog didn’t help. There was so much new information—how did I not know about any of this? After a lot of intensive reading, I determined that Dr. Embry was not a charlatan and that maybe he was on to something. What if diet could have a major impact on MS? After years of leaving my health in the hands of doctors while continuing to decline, this idea fascinated me. I could control what I ate. It seemed too easy and too good to be true. I had to know more.
Dr. Embry’s website was the first place I heard about Dr. Loren Cordain. Dr. Cordain linked changes in the human diet to the development of chronic disease in Western society. He had published a number of articles and had also recently published a book for the public called The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat, which was much easier reading than the technical scientific papers.1 I began to absorb information more quickly: molecular mimicry, leaky gut, lectins, immune modulation (I’ll talk about all these things later in this book). I began to see where Dr. Embry and Dr. Cordain were going with their theories. I began to consider that what we eat has a major, rather than a minor, influence on how our bodies work.
I was particularly interested in the idea that excessive carbohydrates and sugars in our modern diet lead to excess insulin and inflammation. The evidence that the original human diet could possibly improve my MS was compelling, but switching to this kind of diet would be a major change for me. I had been a vegetarian since my college days and I loved my beans and rice.
I loved making bread. Could I really cut out grain, dairy, and legumes, the current staples of my diet?
But I wanted to arrest my disease more than anything else. I wanted to keep walking, working, and playing with my kids. I decided to try it. Meat was back on the menu, and I gave up the now-forbidden foods I loved so much. At first the smell of meat was nauseating to me. I started slowly, adding meat to soup in small amounts. With time, it got easier.
I was hopeful about this change, but despite this switch to a Paleo Diet, my decline continued. I couldn’t play soccer in the backyard with my kids without falling. I couldn’t take long hikes with the Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts.Then it became harder to take even short walks with Jackie. Fatigue became more and more of a problem. I was disappointed, at times despondent, and tears came at inconvenient times. But I was determined. Some of the entries on Embry’s website said that recovery took five years. I realized I could not expect an overnight miracle, so I stuck with the changes. Even if progress would be slow, it was still something I could do for myself, and that came with its own sense of empowerment.
Meanwhile, I rearranged my schedule to avoid walking. My doctor told me that it was time to get a scooter, and then changed his mind and suggested a tilt/recline wheelchair because of the worsening fatigue. He also suggested I try taking mitoxantrone, a form of chemotherapy. When that didn’t help, I switched to a new, potent immune-suppressing medication called Tysabri; but before I went in for my third injection, Tysabri was pulled from the market because people were dying from the activation of a latent virus in their brains. After this, my doctor suggested that I take CellCept, a transplant medicine, which would suppress my immune cells. I often had mouth ulcers after that. My skin was grayish. I started every day tired, and despair gnawed at me each night as I lay in bed. Jackie, Zach, and Zebby were my lifeline. Jackie would hold me and tell me we’d get through everything together. We often discussed our kids and how they were absorbing the ways that we dealt with what was happening. For their sakes, I didn’t want to let my discouragement and fatigue show.
Though I had resisted getting the tilt/recline wheelchair, it actually felt liberating once I had it. I was able to go outside and stroll (or rather, roll) with my family as we hiked around the county park or the neighborhood. It did make my life easier. It weakened my back muscles, however, and the more those muscles atrophied, the more time I spent in bed. I didn’t talk about it much, but I thought it likely that eventually I would become bedridden. Sitting at my desk at work was exhausting. Then I found a zero-gravity chair, designed like the NASA chairs used during space flights. When I was fully reclined, my knees were higher than my nose and gravity held me in the chair. I had one for my office and another for my home. That helped with the fatigue a great deal, but this wasn’t how I wanted to live my life. I just couldn’t accept that this was my future.
Taking My Life Back
Getting into that wheelchair triggered something. I realized that conventional medicine was not likely to stop what was happening to me. I still hoped that the Paleo Diet would make a difference, but I hadn’t seen much of a change thus far. I decided to go back to reading the medical literature. I wanted to know if there was something more, some other avenue, something the doctors had overlooked. I had come to accept that recovery was not possible, but maybe I could slow things down. I was through ceding my power to doctors and not seeing results. I needed to be more forward thinking. I vowed to research and study and exhaust every avenue, just in case there was some other answer for me out there, something that would delay a little longer the inevitable life in bed.
At first, I began to read all about the latest clinical drug trials going on, but then I realized that those all involved medications that I’d be unable to get. This kind of knowledge would only be theoretical. So I started to think outside the box. I knew how science worked—I knew that studies on mice and rats are always the source of tomorrow’s treatments, but that it’s typically years, often decades, before anything becomes a matter for a clinical trial, let alone a standard of care. This was the cutting edge of the cutting edge, so I began to look there. I wanted to know what the brightest minds were thinking and how they envisioned the future of diseases like mine.
Each night I would spend a few minutes searching www.pubmed.gov for articles about the mouse model for MS. I knew that brains afflicted with MS shrink over time, so I also began reading about the animal models of other conditions with shrinking brains. I researched Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s dementia, Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS), and Huntington’s disease. I discovered that, in all four of those conditions, the mitochondria—small subunits within cells that manage the energy supply for that cell—stop working well and lead to early death of brain cells, causing shrinking of the brain. More searching led me to articles in which mouse brains and their mitochondria had been protected using vitamins2 and supplements like coenzyme Q, carnitine, and creatine.3
I didn’t have anything to lose, so I decided to take action. I translated those mouse-size doses into human-size ones, then made an appointment with my primary-care doctor. She looked over my list and decided the supplements were likely safe. She entered each one into my medication list, one by one, to check for potential adverse interactions with my medication list. There were none. I was excited about starting my new, experimental vitamin-and supplement routine. I began to take them and was disappointed when nothing happened. After a couple of months I stopped taking them, and a few days later I couldn’t get out of bed. When I resumed the supplements, I could get up again. They were helping after all!
This was a ray of hope. Obviously, I thought, my body was getting something from those supplements that it wasn’t getting without them—something it needed.
Next, I discovered electrical therapy. I got the idea by reviewing a research protocol that used electrical stimulation of muscles to treat people who’d become paralyzed due to an acute spinal injury. The purpose of this therapy, known as e-stim, in the research was to maintain bone health and quality of life for these patients. Reviewing that research protocol made me wonder if the electrical stimulation might slow down my disability. I talked to a physical therapist who used this technology, and he warned me that it was painful and exhausting for the athletes who did it. He wasn’t sure if it would help me, but he was willing to give it a test session.
During my first session, the therapist had me lie on my belly and applied the electrodes to my left paraspinous back muscles. I lifted my left leg off the table and held it there as he dialed up the electrical current. If felt like bugs racing across my skin. He kept dialing up the current. The bugs raced faster. It became more and more electrical, and then painful. After a minute my therapist asked if he could turn up the current again. This is the typical procedure because the brain releases endorphins and nerve growth factors that make the e-stim more comfortable, so after a few minutes patients can typically tolerate a higher dose of electricity. When that was done, we did my quadriceps muscles on my left leg, where I suffered particular weakness. After it was over, I had completed thirty minutes of “exercise” that was more rigorous than what I had been able to do in years. I began a regular regimen of e-stim therapy.
Discovering Functional Medicine
Every night, after everyone else was sleeping, I searched the Internet, looking for more information that might help me. One night I stumbled onto the webpage for the Institute for Functional Medicine and was immediately intrigued.
Its goal was to provide clinicians like myself with a better way to care for people with complex chronic disease by looking at how the interaction between genetics, diet, hormone balance, toxin exposures, infections, and psychological factors contribute to the development of disease or the improvement of one’s health and vitality.
This was exactly what I had been searching for since I’d hit the wheelchair. The institute had textbooks, conferences, and continuing education courses for physicians and other health care professionals. One course captured my attention immediately: Neuroprotection: A Functional Medicine Approach for Common and Uncommon Neurologic Syndromes. I ordered it and began studying, night after night. Although it was difficult at first, that functional medicine course taught me that I could improve the condition of mymitochondria and my brain cells. It gave me an entirely new way of thinking about brain health and how it relates to whole-body health. Although it wasn’t the way I was trained, it made sense to me. It was all logical and scientifically supported, so it resonated with me as a doctor, but it also fit into the context of my experience as an MS patient.
I also understood that it was likely that I had a genetic vulnerability, or several, that had increased the likelihood that I’d develop multiple sclerosis. I finally had a much deeper understanding of the significance to the brain of leaky gut, food allergies, toxins, mitochondria that were not providing enough energy for the cell, neurotransmitter problems, and the impact of having inefficient enzymes for the metabolism of B vitamins and sulfur. Based on what I now knew, I had a much longer list of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids that I understood were helpful for mitochondria and brain cells. I finally understood why my brain was on fire, under attack by my immune cells, and I also had some ideas about what I could do to cool the fires of inflammation that were raging there. My worldview was changing. I immediately began to plan and implement lifestyle changes that went far beyond anything I’d been doing before. The seeds for the Wahls Protocol, although not yet named, were sown.
But how would I do it? I had a long list of nutrients, but was I really going to take huge fistfuls of pills every day? And would that even work? The Paleo Diet suggested that food was the best source, but many functional medicine concepts relied on supplements. Our Paleolithic ancestors didn’t take supplements, obviously. The Paleo Diet had taught me to eliminate certain foods but didn’t necessarily tell me how to get the precise nutrients I now knew I needed. Functional medicine helped me to determine what nutrients I needed with their list of advised vitamins and supplements to take but didn’t necessarily tell me how to get them.
If I could get those same nutrients I was taking in pill form from the food I was eating, I reasoned, those nutrients might be more effective than the synthetic versions of the nutrients I was taking. In addition, I might also pick up many additional compounds—maybe thousands of compounds—that had yet to be named, that contributed synergistically to the effectiveness of a particular vitamin or supplement because they existed along with the nutrients in the original package. (Most vitamins in nature are actually a family of related compounds that are all biologically active in our cells.) I realized that I needed an eating plan specifically designed to maximize my mitochondrial and brain function—an eating plan that went beyond anything I’d already encountered. It would incorporate Paleo principles, functional medicine concepts, and my own research. Maybe that would jump-start the changes in my body I desperately wanted to see and feel.
I stared at my new list of the nutrients functional medicine suggested I needed for better brain health and wondered: Which foods contain these nutrients? I had no idea. I showed my list of nutrients to my registered dietitian friends, but they didn’t know where to find those things in the food supply, either. Next I went to the health science library. I couldn’t find any answers there, and so I went back to the Internet and began searching once again. With more work, I finally developed a long list of new foodstuffs to add to my diet that seemed to match up nutritionally. I began to add these to every meal.
That’s when things really began to change in my brain and body.
Generating the Proof
I was just about to start a new position as the primary care doctor for the polytrauma unit, treating veterans with head injuries. It was a job I wasn’t sure I could do, and Jackie and I both wondered whether the hospital had assigned me the position in order to force me to face the fact that I could no longer work. Instead, I surprised everyone, including myself. After just three months practicing the new diet, gradually increasing my e-stim exercises, and practicing daily meditation and a simple self-massage, I could walk between exam rooms using just one cane. After six months I could walk throughout the entire hospital without a cane. But it wasn’t just my body that had changed. I experienced and saw the world very differently. The old me—the conventional internal medicine physician—had been struck down like Paul on the way to Damascus. The old me, who had relied on drugs and procedures to make my patients well, who had been made progressively more feeble by my illness, had been replaced with someone who understood intellectually and physically that disease begins at the cellular level, when cells are starved of the building blocks they need to conduct the chemistry of life properly, and that the root of optimal health begins with taking away the things that harm and confuse our cells while providing the body with the right environment in which to thrive. I finally understood what I had to do to provide my cells with all the building blocks of life they needed to heal. I was doing it, and it was working.
This completely altered how I practiced medicine. I began teaching residents and patients in our primary care clinics how to care for themselves in a way I had only just discovered as optimal, using diet and health behaviors for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, mood disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, and traumatic brain injury instead of relying only on drugs. The residents learned that diet and lifestyle are powerful treatments, often as effective, if not more so, than drugs. The patients in the traumatic brain injury clinic were also eager to learn what things they could do to speed the healing of their brains. In patient after patient, I watched symptoms and the need for drugs decrease as diet and lifestyles improved.
The many people I helped notwithstanding, however, anecdotal evidence wasn’t good enough for me. There was no question that the medical establishment wouldn’t believe, let alone endorse, my protocol without a clinical trial. I felt compelled to apply the same rigor to my own work that I had required when researching what to do for myself. I needed definitive tests to determine whether this would help others. I decided to begin the long, complex, and expensive process of doing a clinical trial to prove that my new protocol didn’t just work for me—that it would work for anyone with a similar affliction. That meant designing a clinical trial, writing the grant, securing funding (in a world that funds less than 2 percent of grants), and getting my study approved by the Institutional Review Board (the committee that oversees research at the VA and university). In less than eighteen months, I achieved the seemingly impossible. On October 6, 2010, we enrolled our first patient.
In fall 2011, a group organizing a local TEDx talk asked me to submit a proposal to speak. For those not familiar with TEDx, it is an offshoot of TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. This is a set of nonprofit conferences on a variety of topics that are filmed and available for public viewing on the Internet. TEDx is similar. Conferences are organized locally but are also available to view for free online, and speakers are not paid. Millions of people view the TED and TEDx talks, however, and many have gone viral. I would have eighteen minutes to tell my story and explain how I designed a diet specifically for my mitochondria and my brain. I agreed.
In my TEDx talk, I explained the specifics of my intensive nutrition plan, and I challenged people to become ambassadors for their mitochondria and to eat for health. At the end of November, that TEDx talk, “Minding Your Mitochondria,” was placed on YouTube. It spread into the Paleo community, the MS community, and the functional medicine community. Within a year, that lecture had more than 1 million views. I’d touched more lives than most physicians or scientists will touch in their lifetimes. I felt like I was helping to change the world for the better, and that was exhilarating, but I wanted to do even more.
My mission was never clearer. I needed to continue to do the research so I could reach my physician colleagues and eventually change the standard of care. I needed to continue to teach the public because I believe the public will soon be far ahead of the medical community when it comes to understanding the power of food to reclaim and maintain health.
The next step was to write this book.
Meanwhile, I’ve expanded the lab, we have additional studies under way, and our preliminary results continue to be very exciting. We have submitted the first study’s safety data. Once that paper is published, we will work out our next papers, which will describe in detail the outcomes data, specifically showing changes in fatigue levels, mood, thinking, and walking ability. We have several other trials in the works so we can continue to refine and improve and disseminate information about the limitless potential of this lifestyle.
I still have multiple sclerosis, but now I also have my life back.
It will take many years and millions of dollars for us to do clinical trials that can prove that the Wahls Protocol is effective for multiple sclerosis and other chronic diseases. I am busy writing and submitting grants to conduct those studies. In the meantime, I invite you to read my book, take my story to heart, and talk to your family and your physician about the protocol. Because here’s the most important thing I want you to realize: Your doctor cannot cure your autoimmune disease. Your medication can only ease your symptoms, sometimes with side effects that make you feel even worse. But this is not the end of the story. The power of healing is within you. All you need to do is give your body what it needs and remove what is poisoning it. You can restore your own health by what you do—not by the pills you take, but by how you choose to live. When you eat and live in accordance with the needs of your cells, your body can finally concentrate on healing, and that is when the dramatic changes will happen for you.
The purpose of my years of self-experimentation was to determine exactly what the body needs to fight back against autoimmune disease. The result is the Wahls Protocol: a systematic and aggressive intervention into your body’s downward spiral. It is a mending of your broken biochemistry that comes not from your doctor or your pharmacist but from you, making changes that are entirely under your control. It is a restoration of your body’s healing power generated by altering what you eat and do each day. You don’t have to wait until all the proof comes in and is vetted by the medical community. You don’t have to wait until a “food prescription” becomes part of the standard of care in your conventional doctor’s office (which I believe someday will happen—it is the only rational course). You can have this information right now. Food is the bedrock of health. Our food choices can either lead to disease or create health and vitality.
As you implement the Wahls Protocol, you will likely begin noticing that your thinking is clearer, your moods are better, and your energy is coming back. Those over their ideal weight will find that their weight normalizes without hunger. In my clinics, when people come back in three months, everyone who has fully implemented the diet has begun noticing all these things. For the next three years, I typically see my patients “youthen”—they look younger and younger each time I see them as their cells revitalize and their bodies become healthy once more.
If I can rise up from a tilt/recline wheelchair by changing the way I live my life, consider what the people you love, your community, your country, and the world would look like if everybody began eating and living to optimally fuel their cells. We could restore health and vitality to the world and dramatically lower the cost of health care, saving billions of dollars. What choice will you make? How will you choose to live the rest of your life? With disability? Or with vitality? It’s all up to you.
Reprinted by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Terry Wahls, M.D., 2014.--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Relié .
Revue de presse
“In The Wahls Protocol, Dr. Wahls provides elegant first hand validation that diet truly represents the most powerful medicine. This book is totally supported by the most leading edge research and provides a beacon of hope when compared to the ever changing landscape of pharmaceutical recommendations for multiple sclerosis.”
—David Perlmutter, MD, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Grain Brain
“Groundbreaking! Once you understand why you need to eat for health, Dr. Wahls delivers a detailed road map, guiding you step by step. This will be life changing for many. “
—Robb Wolf, New York Times bestselling author of The Paleo Solution
“Using clear language, Dr. Wahls teaches how our food and lifestyle choices create health or disease depending on our choices. For anyone suffering from autoimmune or other chronic health problems, this book will be life changing.”
—Mark Hyman, M.D. #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Blood Sugar Solution.
“Whether or not you struggle with autoimmune diseases, I can't recommend The Wahls Protcol highly enough. Dr. Wahls provides a clear, in-depth, copiously researched dietary and lifestyle protocol to help you take charge of your health and your life. An absolute must-read book.
—JJ Virgin, New York Times bestselling author of The Virgin Diet
“Terry Wahls is a hero to many for her discovery that a nourishing ancestral diet can heal multiple sclerosis. In The Wahls Protocol, Terry sets forth a straightforward plan for achieving good health through good food. Not just for MS patients, The Wahls Protocol is a fascinating tale that proves the wisdom of Hippocrates: ‘Let food be thy medicine.’ Try it, it works!”
—Paul Jaminet, Ph.D., author of Perfect Health Diet and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Evolution and Health
“Dr. Wahls teaches you how to eat and live so that you can upgrade dramatically your brain and body.”
—Sara Gottfried M.D., New York Times bestselling author of The Hormone Cure
“Terry Wahls' new book is one of the most important books on health ever written. That's not a hyperbolic statement, just plain fact. If doctors would take this incredible information to heart (and into their practices), the health crisis in this world would be over--the cancer industry crushed and the rise in autoimmune conditions would fall. True health reform is contained within these pages. I cannot recommend a book any more highly. Bravo Dr. Wahls!”
—Leanne Ely, C.N.C., New York Times bestsellling author of Saving Dinner
“I've long recommended that anyone diagnosed with MS who is also interested in health and healing research the work of Dr. Wahls online, but the game has now changed. The Wahls Protocol will be the go-to resource for anyone suffering from MS or another autoimmune condition who is ready to fight back. Dr. Wahls outlines a clear-cut, stepped approach to dietary and lifestyle changes--supported by her extensive research and testing of the plans--that will put anyone on a path to better health. Whether you have MS or not, The Wahls Protocol is a goldmine of easy-to-follow, real-food nutritional guidelines that will leave you feeling so amazing it'll make you wonder how you ever ate any other way.”
—Diane Sanfilippo, BS, NC, New York Times bestselling author of Practical Paleo
“The Wahls Protocol is one 'ah-ha' after another of how Terry Wahls’ realizations may help you in your health journey. Not only will you be captivated by what you read, you'll also learn how to be healthier. Highly recommended.” --Dr. Tom O'Bryan, creator of “A Grain of Truth: The Gluten e-Summit”
“Terry Wahls does an amazing job at highlighting the importance of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and essential fats) as an integral part in preventing and reversing disease. Her story is incredible and brings hope to millions needlessly suffering. The Wahls Protocol is a must read for anyone looking to reverse autoimmune conditions naturally.”
—Mira Calton, CN and Jayson Calton, Ph.D., authors of Rich Food, Poor Food
“The best treatment for multiple sclerosis, autoimmunity, and chronic disease is teaching people how and why to eat and live for optimal health. By combining the latest science with the all-important factors of nutrition, exercise, and healthy lifestyle, The Wahls Protocol goes beyond conventional treatments and empowers you with real solutions."
—Ann Boroch, C.N.C., author of Healing Multiple Sclerosis: Diet, Detox & Nutritional Makeover for Total Recovery
“Dr. Wahls engages us with her personal story of triumph over multiple sclerosis while educating us on the importance of a nutrient-dense diet for our cellular health. You will find yourself drawn in and inspired to take control of your own health as Dr. Wahls shares her experiences, knowledge, and compassion. The three levels of The Wahls Protocol provide a concrete plan—including both feasible diet and lifestyle changes—to help you on your road to recovery.” --Sarah Ballantyne, Ph.D., author of The Paleo Approach
“The Wahls Protocol is essential reading for anyone suffering from a chronic disease and wanting to regain their health. All the therapies which restored Dr Wahls to well-being are described in detail and are succinctly summarized in the appendices. The huge amount of scientific information, clear explanations, and practical advice makes this book an invaluable resource and indispensable reference.”
—Ashton Embry, Ph.D., president of Direct-MS
"Only Terry Wahls, M.D. could have written a book as important as The Wahls Protocol. Her discovery of a path to recovery from disabling multiple sclerosis after failing to respond to the traditional medical approach is not only a story of great personal triumph, but a manifesto of hope for many others with various chronic illnesses for which drug therapy has not worked. This is a book that provides a program that can be applied by anyone who is searching for solutions to health challenges."
—Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D., president of the Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Institute
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Much much better than her previous book, all the detail I need.(oui je suis bilingue) sorry!
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I started following an early, basic version of the Wahls Protocol the day after watching Dr. Wahls' TEDx Talk last October. I explored her website, read and listened to countless interviews, and read her first book Minding my Mitochondria- and in November 2013 I started a more strict approach to diet and lifestyle based on her recommendations. It was hard for my wife to live with these changes and have to put up with my new dietary limitations, but I did it anyway. I have to admit I did NOT really feel anything different at this point.
In March 2014 everything changed. The Wahls Protocol was finally released (I had pre-ordered since November). I gave the book a first read in less than 24 hrs and immediately had ten times more information. In this book, Dr Wahls goes into detail about every aspect of the dietary and lifestyle changes she recommends, which includes supplements, exercise, electrical stimulation, meditation, etc., and she details three different versions of the Wahls diet so anyone can find a level they can learn to live with.
This is where it gets interesting. I actually convinced my wife and my mother to read the book and follow different levels of the protocol with me for one month. Just to give it a test drive. It has been three weeks today, and the results have been noticeable:
- I have RRMS, and am still in early stages of the disease so when I'm in remission, which is 90% of the time, I have no symptoms. Or so I thought! It turns out, I actually DID have fatigue issues and brain fog! These things have probably been developing slowly inside me for years so I didn't even notice them until I they were gone! In ONLY three weeks I have felt a real change and am honestly amazed of how different I feel. I know it sounds hard to believe, but you have to try before you judge. I have been on the Wahls Paleo (i.e. intermediate level of the diet).
- My wife is a perfectly healthy 27-year-old woman. She is slim, she goes to the gym, and she does yoga on a regular basis. She never gets sick and seems as healthy as one can be except for the occasional headache. She also started on a strict version of the Wahls Paleo. She uses a Polar Loop Activity Tracker all the time, and this has showed results already. My wife went from an average sleep efficiency of 78% to 96% during the first two weeks, and stayed there ever since. She feels a lot more rested and the Polar Loop is actually measuring and showing these results as concrete data. Additionally, she used to get headaches at work about once a week, and hasn't had a single one since following the Wahls Paleo. And she also claims to feel more energetic, which is probably due to the more balanced diet and deeper sleep.
- My mother is 54 years old. She has been on the Wahls Diet (i.e. Level 1 version) for three weeks. She is also slim and works out some. She has felt differences in the quality of her sleep (non-measurable though because she has no tracking device), BUT, she has always had sinus problems and has sinusitis on a very regular basis, and always gets headaches (I'm talking two or three times a week), and these have been gone. Not reduced; gone. For the past week and a half she hasn't had one headache or one sinus problem. This is the first time she has gone ten days straight with no headaches in decades. It sounds ridiculous to say this happened because of modifying her diet for three weeks, but I swear it's the truth!
Again these are preliminary results as we have only been on the diet for three weeks. And only I have been doing the electrical stimulation, meditating, exercises, etc. But I am convinced this book can change anyone's life if you're willing to give it a try. What have you got to lose? Just give it a one-month trial to see if you feel different. I guarantee you won't regret it.
I will update this review as time passes to comment on any other progress that may occur...
----- Update March 20, 2015 -----
So after roughly a year of following the ideas in this book, I have learned a lot and really perfected my diet and lifestyle. I have now read many other books by Sarah Ballantyne, Dr. Perlmutter, Amy Myers, Jimmy Moore, etc., I have found countless Blogs and Cookbooks, and I even have iOS Apps that make my life way easier (MyPaleoPal is excellent for tracking and ideas, for example).
I started following Dr. Wahls' ideas and recommendations a year ago, and have strictly been on her Wahls Paleo Plus for a while now. I supplement with many products, and have now totally gotten used to eating only twice a day, as well as eliminated my sweet tooth! (I admit doing the 21-day Sugar Detox last year probably helped this last part). I now enjoy eating and even cooking more than I ever had before, and my entire family is still reaping the benefits from all this knowledge.
Just to detail a bit more: I follow the Wahls Paleo Plus diet, mixed together with the AIP just to make it a little more challenging. This means no nuts, seeds, nightshades, or coffee, on top of Dr Wahls' strictest protocol. I also swim every other day, meditate and work my core muscles daily, and sleep 7.5-8.5 hours every night.
Is it worth it? You be the judge: my last relapse was over a year ago, I can now bike for 45minutes and totally withstand heat sensitivity, I can swim for as long as I want to, I walked over 120,000 steps in a week last december during Christmas break (used a pedometer to keep track), I'm sleeping like a baby, and, MOST IMPORTANT: I stopped my MS medication two weeks ago (under my neurologist's supervision of course, and having sworn to go back on it if my status changes negatively). Today I feel better than ever, and that injection I used to hate and use every week hasn't been missed for one second.
Dr Wahls, through this book, gave me my life back. I don't care what other people say or think about this book, I am living proof that these ideas can work. Like I said a year ago: try it, what have you got to lose? And you can gain SO MUCH, you have no idea.
This book is a huge improvement over the first book, which was amazing, and was exactly what I needed when I was desperate and with no hope left. Dr. Wahls' first book, Minding My Mitochondria, changed my life dramatically. This new book is an easier read, but still full of Dr. Wahls passion for sharing this vital information, and getting it right. Her life is at stake, and she wants to help as many people as she can - in my opinion, it is obvious that this book is a true labor of love for her. It is a good place to start if you are new to a Paleo lifestyle, as well as those who have started in the past but felt confused over details. It is also perfect for people like me, who are committed to it and want to go even farther into their healing process, tweaking their diet, exercise, and including more electrical stimulation, meditation - whatever they can do that can have a real impact on their health, if they are willing to commit to taking responsibility for their choices.
I have progressive MS and had spiraled down over the last 14 years. Three years of self-injections of Betaseron, Avonex, and Copaxone did nothing to help me; they made me feel worse. I suffered from severe, debilitating fatigue, 24/7/365. I fell frequently because my balance was totally shot. I could barely walk without assistance, or even lift my arms to brush my hair or teeth. I slept on the couch because I was too exhausted to drag my body upstairs to sleep, or shower. I rarely left the house, except for appointments that I couldn't put off any longer, or family celebrations with the our grown kids. I finally got rid of my car because my reflexes had slowed so much that I felt I could potentially be a danger to myself and others.
Getting rid of my car was the lowest point: loss of independence with absolutely no hope for the future. If I had been suicidal I would have gladly ended my life, because I had no energy left to live. I actually have a positive attitude most of the time, but I knew I would never ski again, or hike, bike, or camp. Gardening was out of the question. I didn't cook, shop, or ever clean the house. My husband, whose busy career took much of his time, did the best he could, which meant my diet was mostly easy processed food or take-out. I had become totally isolated. It was a sad way to live. I was simply waiting to die.
A few weeks after I sold/gave my beloved Prius to my son, my daughter urged me to look into some doctor that had MS and wrote a book about how she healed herself with diet. Sigh. Yet another diet. Yeah, right. But I love my daughter, so I searched online. I found Dr. Wahls TEDx talk - and I was inspired so much I ordered her first book. This was over two years ago.
My life started to change within 3 days of reducing grains and sugars and eating more produce. I had a slight increase in energy, and cleaned a tiny spot of kitchen counter between the sink and the coffee maker. Did I just do that? Even my husband noticed. It was different, and just that little bit was enough to motivate me to keep going. Within a month I noticed my balance was slightly improving. More motivation to step it up. I reduced dairy, and started juicing and making smoothies to get my veggies and berries in. I had stopped eating white potatoes, and soon started avoiding soy, legumes all processed and packaged foods. I tried to buy all organic produce, and eat only high quality wild or organic, grass-fed seafood, poultry and meats. I was moving more and more, cooking my healing foods, and shopping with an automatic cart, so I could sit. Eventually I graduated to my walker (with a seat), because it felt good to move again.
After a year, a friend offered to drive me to the gym again, so I started working out a bit, and she helped me move between machines. Finally I started taking my walker, and then made my husband buy a car so I could have his Prius - I needed my independence back, and I was ready. I also realized more and more how I had to be strict and consistent with the foods I ate. I avoided eating ALL grains, sugars, dairy, processed/packaged foods, soy/legumes, rice. I only ate my 9-12 cups of organic produce and well-sourced animal protein - fish, poultry and meats and their organs, fats and bone broth, plus some seaweed/dulse, nuts/seeds (and their milks, oils and butters). Coconut became a favorite, as did avocados.
My gym workouts were good for a while but I began to hurt myself; I could barely remember how to walk, because my body was so messed up. I started working with a personal trainer at the gym, after he actually convinced me that he could wake up my severely weakened muscles, when giving me a free hour-long evaluation where I could not even do a squat, or get up from the floor. I signed up for hour-long sessions, 3 times a week, which I still do to this day (about 10 months now). This also has been life-changing for me. I can now walk unassisted, I don't fall and I only use my walker at the gym where I work myself to exhaustion, but I recover very quickly. I can now do a deadlift with 115 pound weight, I can squat, carry bags of groceries upstairs, and take many different classes at the gym, with modifications, such as Zumba, spinning, step, yoga, Pilates, and I love to walk outside to get the fresh air and sunshine. Treadmills are okay in bad weather, as long as I have my music.
I finally bought a Vitamix (I stopped juicing - I want the nutrients in my body) and I still use it every single day for getting a huge amount of veggies and berries. I will do anything within my power to improve my health even more. I even wear Vibram FiveFingers Womens Bikila Evo (toe shoes) and avoid wearing any other shoes (my first trainer urged me to try them, I thought they were hideous looking, but then I tried a pair on - wow ). I fell in love with them. and I have at least 10 pair that I wear everywhere: to the gym, shopping, even to weddings. I have some numbness in my feet (less now than a few years ago), and now I can feel the ground, instead of feeling like I am walking on blocks of styrofoam. This has also helped to improve my balance. I have come a long way in the last two years, and I will continue with what works for me. Failure is not an option. I choose my health ... and my family wins as well.
I intend to get back into meditation, and doing more e-stim, and see if I can improve my workouts and diet even a little. I have a positive attitude, I have hope, and I am my own best friend now. I take full responsibility for my healing. I love my life. I believe in Dr. Wahls. I am a true Wahls Warrior!
APRIL 2015 UPDATE: My body loves eating the Wahls Paleo Plus way. I had been on weight loss diets all my life, and that was a struggle, because I could never shake my addiction to sweets, carbs, etc. I have lost 90 pounds in the last 3 years since discovering Terry Wahls. I weigh less than I did the 8th grade, amazingly. That is a nice side effect of eating the delicious foods my body needs (plenty of good fats, lots of organic produce, and moderate amounts of animal protein, plus lots of amazing spices and herbs. Oh, so good!)
Terry also talks about the importance of moving our bodies and having strong emotional bonds with the people in our lives. That last one has been harder for me in the last year, and the stress of it taught me a lot about how my body reacts to negative thoughts in my mind. Healing the body, mind and soul is all tied together, and it is a wonderful journey. I need to also thank Eckhart Tolle, author of 'The Power of Now', 'A New Earth', and his videos, for helping me. Life is amazing, if we open ourselves to all the possibilities.
It's so well done. The content is great and it's been so finely edited that it reads very well too and gets right to the point with no waffling. A lot of information is condensed into a very short space. It's an enlightening and inspiring read with just the right amount of facts and personal information about the author.
There are three levels of the Wahls protocol. The Wahls Protocol, Wahls Paleo and Wahls Paleo Plus which is the most strict and is for those that are the most ill. I'm only really a supporter and recommender of the third level of the protocol, Wahls Paleo Plus.
The other two protocols contain things like soy milk and yogurt and cheese (ugh!), soy flour, potato flour, packaged gluten-free foods such as crackers. Many allowed foods are extremely high in carbohydrate and anti-nutrients and very low in nutrients. This seems to be because the author is trying to make the programs easy to adjust to for those coming off a very junk-filled diet, which makes a lot of sense from that perspective and from the point of view of getting subjects in a study to adhere to the diet properly which is more likely if it contains a more of the foods they are used to.
But from a purely nutritional standpoint it's really not ideal. I and many ill people I know would be a lot sicker, fatter and have blood sugar all over the place if we ate the estimated 244 grams of carbohydrate on the Wahls Protocol, or even the estimated 178 grams of carbohydrate on Wahls Paleo. I doubt I was even eating anywhere near so much carbohydrate even before I went on a lower carb diet to treat diet-related insulin resistance issues and weight gain from same. One listed breakfast contains two whole cups of sweet fruit in it, a massive amount to eat at one sitting. The book also (bizarrely) claims that all three Wahls Protocols will improve blood sugar numbers. In my opinion for some of us at least this is only true for the ketogenic (or near ketogenic) Wahls Paleo Plus program.
Wahls Paleo Plus includes nutrient dense foods such as 6-12 ounces (180 - 360 g) of meat daily (some as organ meat and some as wild caught fish), coconut oil and milk in abundance for high ketones, 6-9 cups of vegetables daily depending on your size (and less than this if you're a very petite woman) mixed between greens, high sulfur veggies and colourful veggies, seaweed or algae eaten daily, cultured foods eaten daily such as homemade coconut yogurt or sauerkraut, up to 4 ounces (120 g) of soaked and sprouted or dried nuts and needs daily, up to 1 cup of fruit daily with berries and other low carbohydrate fruits preferred (as part of your 6-9 cups), plus olive oil, ghee and animal fats as desired.
The high amount of ketones produced from MCTs in coconut oil mean you can eat more vegetables and still stay in a ketogenic state. Roughly just over a third of daily calories are to come from coconut oil: 4-6 tablespoons of pure oil or the equivalent in coconut milk. The diet is roughly 65% fat by calories.
Wahls explains that Paleo Plus is a modified MCT ketogenic diet. Ketogenic diets have been shown to be beneficial for many types of neurological and other diseases and are very safe. Switching over form a sugar burning metabolism to a fat burning metabolism can take 3-6 weeks however, and can make you feel awful at first. Some recommend making this change gradually, while other find it easer to just get it over with and jump right into it (as I did). Once you're keto adapted the mental clarity and extra energy it brings you is pretty amazing, as is the loss of the need to eat quite so often. Fat is a slow burning fuel, while sugar burns fast like kindling, as nutrition expert Nora Gedgaudas has explained.
Wahls recommends doing urine ketone strips to measure your ketosis but adds that blood ketone tests are far more accurate. Some blood sugar monitors can also take ketone test strips and will give you a ketone measurement using just a drop of blood. To be in ketosis numbers should be between 0.5 and 3. It's so great to see an extremely specific and detailed food plan for serious disease so we can make sure to get every benefit out of our diet that we possibly can. The information was so helpful, even though I was doing most of the recommendations already.
Wahls also supports ideas such as:
* Supplements can in some cases be helpful, but they can never replace a nutrient dense and healthy diet. A proper diet must always come first. Foods contain many beneficial cofactors and other compounds not included in supplements and many that we have not yet even discovered or named.
* Getting evaluated for potential food allergies, toxic load issues and more personalised nutritional needs by a practitioner of functional medicine is a very good idea. The Institute for Functional Medicine can help you find a provider in your area.
* Drugs are not the answer. Let food, good wholesome food be thy medicine.
* "Between the unexpected, unpleasant events in our lives and our response to those events is a space, and in that space we have a choice in deciding what our response will be. We can either give up or get up each day and do our best."
* "Epigenetics is how your environment talks to your genes. Our cells are capable of reading the state of our environment and activating or deactivating genes. This means that, based on the choices we make, we can turn on genes for health or turn off those health-promoting genes. In other words, it is your health behaviours such as diet and activities, that determine whether the health-promoting or the health-robbing genes are active. For some conditions, such as cystic fibrosis or hemophilia, our genes are an important factor, often the cause of the disease. But for the obesity, heart disease, mental health and autoimmune epidemics that are driving up the cost of health care in the U.S. and around the world, there are no single genes that are the culprit. Instead, for each of these problems, multiple genes are involved, and they interact in a complex way with the environment."
* We need to stop blaming our genes for our illnesses and work on making the best of the 70% that is under our control.
* "Yes, it does cost more to eat vegetables. But you will pay the price either way--for food that restores your health and vitality or for doctor visits, drugs, surgery and loss of work due to health problems."
* "Functional medicine is really looking at health of the cell. And what can we do to help the individual make the environment for their cells, an environment for doing the biochemistry life more ideal. So that comes down to the fruit you eat or do not eat, the quality of the air you breathe, the water you drink, the toxic load that is in your body is a result of the exposure you had over a lifetime because if you couldn't get the toxins out the day you were exposed to them, they get parked in your fat and did you know that your brain is 70% fat? So if you can't get the toxins out you had today with your whatever your exposure was, you're parking it in your fat and your brain which is going to create havoc over time."
Hard to argue with any of that! I agree with all of it. Most of the above are quotes from Dr Wahls, from her many websites. Functional or holistic medicine just makes so much sense. It treats the actual cause of diseases, rather than just blindly drugging everything and focusing on endlessly chasing and minimising symptoms.
There are 3 basic principles of the type of medicine discussed by Wahls and others in this same field:
A. Get the good stuff in. Give your body the fuel and tools it needs to work at an optimum level. Good food, nutrients and all the proper vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Make sure you aren't deficient in any of the major nutrients as the different nutrients all work together.
B. Get the bad stuff out. Make sure your body can detoxify out all the toxic substances and toxic by-products of bodily processes properly. Stop as many toxins from getting in in the first place, and do things which aid detoxification to get rid of the ones you have.
C. Reduce your body's total load. The total load concept is that lessening the body's overall burden/work and stress level in one area, will improve health generally and improve the body's ability to heal because the body's total load (or burden) is lessened. Fixing one problem frees up bodily resources that can be then be used to help other parts of the body function getter or to heal. In other words, you need to look at the body as a whole in order to heal, and not just the one part of the body that is generating the most symptoms.
A special note to M.E. patients on the Wahls protocol:
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is a neurological disease similar in some ways to MS, which also causes demyelination and mitochondrial dysfunction as well as significant vascular and cardiac issues.
For those with my particular neurological disease, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, it is important that activity levels be kept always within very strict limits, or else relapse will occur. (Death is also a risk in M.E. if overexertion is severe. This is not about symptoms or feeling fatigued, but a problem of cardiac insufficiency, reduced circulating blood volume and POTS and so on which is serious and non-negotiable. Overexertion always causes a worsening of the disease.) But of course activity levels can and should be raised slowly to keep in line with health improvements in M.E. - this is something that happens naturally anyway.
For those unfamiliar with the disease, many M.E. patients are housebound and almost entirely bedbound (and far too ill to use wheelchairs for even small periods of time in a day or week) and limited with even basic communication and reading; which is also part of why I am trying hard to summarise the work of Wahls for them as much as possible. Daily stretching, balance work and cardiovascular exercise is probably a great recommendation for almost everyone but should be omitted by M.E. patients unless they can do this without becoming more ill or symptomatic. The advice on pushing through symptoms is also not relevant to M.E. patient as many are severely ill due to doing exactly this for many years.
Also, Wahls says: 'It is common to have some level of detoxification (more fatigue, headache) in the first week which resolves and then improves markedly by week two.' I would say that for M.E. patients this statement is not quite right and is an enormous understatement. M.E. patients will often have quite severe healing reactions to supplementation and changes in diet. These can be severe enough to make a patient no longer able to feed themselves or do other tasks of daily living, as well as leave them in agony. They can also last FAR longer than just a week!
It is important for anyone ill to make the dietary changes gradually, and for patients with M.E. this caution should be taken very seriously. Jumping in with both feet too fast could leave you very very ill for months afterward. Healing reactions are a good sign that healing is occurring, but need to be controlled so they don't become overwhelming. Switch to the full Wahls Paleo Plus diet over a few months at least. Slowly but surely is the way to go! Improvements will almost certainly be slow too, so patience is necessary there as well, especially when the illness has been severe for many years or even several decades or more.
M.E. patients will also often do far better eating cooked veggies rather than raw, which can be too difficult and painful for us to digest and may not cope at all well with prolonged fasting. (For more M.E. patient-specific tips and cautions see the HHH and HFME websites.)
This diet is described as an MS diet, but really this diet is the diet we have all evolved to be best suited to. All of us need such a nutrient-dense and low-toxicity diet, and so I hope people with all sorts of diseases look into the Wahls diet and not just those with neurological diseases. The diet can also help where there is not yet a correct diagnosis. We all need the right amounts of the nutrients that enable healing, no matter what disease we have.
For some people following this diet plan will be enough, but for others a higher level of intervention will be required in addition to the diet. The first step toward healing has to be an excellent diet and good gut health, combined with minimising toxin exposures. If more help is needed then, as Wahls explains, it is best to see a Functional medicine expert so that it can be determined what extra supplements or other supports you may need. The key is learning about your own 'biochemical individuality.' There are so many tests now which can be done to determine where your detoxification pathways are failing, which nutrients you need more of or have problems utilising or why your gut is still not functioning right.
For those that can't find or can't afford to see a Functional medicine expert, or cannot see any medical expert due to being housebound etc., an excellent companion to Wahls book are the books by Functional medicine experts such as Dr Sherry Rogers. Dr Rogers tells you exactly which tests may help you, how to treat more complex gut problems and how to go about following a more intensive detoxification regime involving a detox cocktail and FIR sauna use. Dr Rogers books are to some extent `do-it-yourself' health books but ideally Dr Rogers recommends that you get well with the help of a qualified practitioner that will be able to order the appropriate tests for you, and also help you interpret them.
Dr Sherry Rogers writes in `Detoxify or Die',
`I have to laugh when people ask me if I do alternative, herbal, acupuncture or holistic medicine. 'No,' I reply. 'We do state-of-the-art medicine. In other words, we find the biochemical, nutritional and environmental causes and cures rather than blindly drugging everything. Sure, herbs are gentler, safer and more physiologic than drugs and holistic medicine attempts to incorporate many diverse modalities, etc. But there is no substitute for finding the underlying biochemical causes and cures. This is real medicine. This is where medicine should and would have been decades ago, if it had not been abducted by the pharmaceutical industry.'
Following a super-high-quality diet is also the foundation of Dr Rogers' treatment plan and so starting with the Wahls diet (which is the best there is, along with Primal Body-Primal Mind) and then moving on (if necessary) to follow Dr Rogers' advice on advanced detoxification techniques just makes so much sense. The best book of hers to start with is Detoxify or Die. It is just brilliant and very easy to read as well. It has so much good information and support for sauna use and so much more. Her book 'The Safe, Effective Way to Prevent and Heal Chronic Gastrointestinal Disorders' is also excellent.
In addition to books by Dr Sherry Rogers I'd also recommend books and articles by Dr Lawrence Wilson (particularly his book on sauna use), Dr Klenner, Dr Abram Hoffer, Andrew Saul, Sally Fallon and Mary Enig and any and all of the vitamin C and orthomolecular experts such as Linus Pauling and Dr Thomas Levy. Other excellent books on diet and nutrition (with huge amounts in common with the Wahls diet) include the BRILLIANT Primal Body-Primal Mind by the also brilliant Nora Gedgaudas as well as books on the GAPS diet for the treatment of dysbiosis and a diet-based plan to heal the gut.
Gut health is so important and if gut health is poor, then your body can't properly use all the wonderful nutritious food you are eating. Many of us need to heal the gut first of all, and this may at first involve supplements such as Betaine HCL, enzymes and probiotics, as well as dietary changes, as these books explain. All of these books, along with Wahls book, are far more than just standard Paleo diet books.
Combining the excellent Wahls diet with the advice on detoxification by Dr Rogers (including the use of an FIR sauna and a daily detox cocktail and 'oil change' nutrients and digestive supports) has seen me finally start to slowly improve my health since 2009. I'm slowly improving month by month from a very severe neurological disease - thanks in part to the work of Nora Gedgaudas, Dr Wahls and Dr Rogers, and others like them - that has left me housebound and almost entirely bedbound for many years. I have been housebound and almost entirely bedbound (and far too ill to even use a wheelchair, or even the phone) for over 10 years and I got ill when I was just 19. Getting slowly worse and worse year after year was terrifying, especially when I was so ill and disabled already.
I wish so much I had had this information early on in my disease, rather than coming to it more than 10 years in. Healing is so much easier the earlier you start it.
I wont know how much of my damage is irreversible until I improve a lot more (a LOT more I hope!) and find out where I plateau. But for those that have been ill 'only' 5 or 7 years or less, or that are not severely ill, I do think these approaches could be curative or very close to it. At the very least they will undo as much damage as can be undone which is what this book very sensibly promises.
My big dream is to get to a 30% function level, where I can live independently.... I'm still so far away from that currently, but I am at least making slow but sure progress now! Being able to cook a little this last few years after 8 years or more not being able to even make myself a cup of tea has been just so wonderful. Cooking myself an egg is a joyful experience! It is so wonderful to now each month be getting small UNsymptoms and UNdisabilities!
I have learned so much about health that I would never have known if I had not become so ill and been forced to learn it!
The basic information in this book is wonderful, though I'm admittedly not a fan of high fibre supplement recommendations (as the GAPS diet book explains, many of us get far worse gut issues with extra fibre and can benefit a lot from lower fibre foods), outdated information about how raw vegetables are easier to digest than cooked ones and come with their own enzymes which do some of this digestion for you (actually cooked foods are *far* easier to digest than raw!), a fairly low salt diet and no guidelines on making sure to get a healthy minimum amount, or recommendations of iodised sea salt and not unrefined sea salt. Gut and sugar issues are barely mentioned and the supplements section is very minimal and basic while many alternative therapies such as Reiki and acupuncture are recommended.
A high dose calcium supplement is recommended despite most good nutritional experts saying calcium tablets are not needed almost ever and can be harmful. No warnings are given on supplements which can often be poorly tolerated and need to be started carefully at lower doses such as NAC and silymarin. No information is given on sulfur food sensitivities or the need many have to take supplemental HCl to digest protein. The book also doesn't specify to only buy B complex vitamins that don't contain synthetic folate or the inferior form of B12. Only the basic B12 test is recommended along with a small dosage of methyl B12 which is a strange omission considering how inaccurate the B12 test is known to be (you can test high and actually still have a serious B12 deficiency causing demyelination!) and how many people have B12 deficiency causing demyelination misdiagnosed as MS or at least coexisting with MS. Again, this is a diet book only primarily.
The Wahls diet is said to be useful for patients with diseases other than Multiple Sclerosis, and it certainly is. But this book contains a ton of information which is heavily based on the symptoms and other characteristics of the MS patient and may not fit those of us with other neurological or autoimmune etc. diseases quite so well. Symptom checklists were very MS-based and many symptoms and issues seen in non-MS diseases were not mentioned. A fairly high degree of functioning is also assumed throughout, as is illustrated in the extensive Wahls diary instructions and the information on demanding daily stretching, balance and cardiovascular exercises and advice to push yourself to do things and to keep working. Issues with an inability to stand long to prepare food (for example) and hypoglycemia are not really even discussed. The book aims to get through a lot of information in a short time and to be primarily about detailed dietary information and about MS so this is not even really a criticism, just an observation. It's totally fair enough it's an MS based book as the author has MS after all. For non-MSers you just need to skip certain sections and do some extra reading elsewhere on some issues is all.
I bought the hardcover edition as I read a review saying the Kindle version didn't display the tables at the end of the book well. It's a very well designed hardcover. The smaller size makes it easy to read and hold and the typography and book design is excellent inside as well. There is no small unreadable type or text too close to the spine of the book so you can't read it without cracking the books spine. The small case study or facts boxes scattered throughout the text are easily defined from the main text, not too long and although printed sometimes in (annoying to read) italics still quite easy to read. I can also loan this hardcover version out to friends, which is another huge reason it's better than a Kindle edition as well. (Kindle titles should be far more loanable!) Get this hardcover edition I say, it's better than the Kindle version and also the earlier paperback edition of the book that came out a few years ago too. Much more polished. I give it 4.5 stars.
The Wahls Foundation is a nonprofit organisation raising funds to do research on this diet. Buying this book helps fund their research. Reading more of her ideas online is so helpful. I'd highly recommend watching all her free videos online (watch out for the loud sound on some of them - ouch!), plus her Facebook page and blog and website. They are all so helpful.
Dr Wahls is the real deal and is clearly motivated by a genuine desire to help ill people improve their health. I wish her and her Foundation all the best and thank them for all their wonderful work. This is real cutting edge medicine.
Wahls explains it takes 1 year to replace all your skin cells, 1-3 years to replace the cells in the liver and kidneys, 15 years to replace heart muscle cells, and 7-10 years to replace myelin. No drug will ever be able to do this for you and only you can do it for yourself. So why not get started rebuilding yourself today!
Best wishes for future health to anyone nutrition-nerdy enough to read this far!
Jodi Bassett, The Hummingbirds' Foundation for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Health Healing & Hummingbirds
I was not sure if I should purchase DR Wahls new book because I was already doing her diet and it was working. I am so glad I did. There is so much more in this book than I knew. I have even more ideas for eating better, supplements and the science behind why it works.
Dr. Wahls is my Hero. Her story changed my life. I do not even have the words to describe my gratitude to her. I was never this happy before my diagnosis with MS 10 years ago and I lived with my MS with grace and a smile on my face. Attitude is everything right and I thought if I faked being happy I would be fine. No more faking happy here I now life the best life possible! I am a Wahls Warrior!!!
My New BLOG-
I got Lyme Disease 10 years ago in the Cascade Mountains at Cultus Lake. It got bad quick. I was Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 6 months later. The day before my Oldest Daughter turned 6. I will never forget that day 9 years ago. Having both Lyme and MS became very hard to treat. Doctors in Oregon would not treat the Lyme Disease and I had to travel out of State as far as Connecticut on a couple occasions. I had so many different specialists. We tried every antibiotic even a 100 days of IVs antibiotics delivered directly to my heart via a picc line. I did 2 different MS Injections one being a small dose of Chemo Therapy. One lovely side effect of that one is Suicidal Depression. I was lucky to have a great Nurse Practitioner watching me very closely. My symptoms were getting worse and I was so depressed and sick. I had to stop the Shots.
I lost eyesight in 1 eye over 8 times and had lesions on my eye nerves. A total of 17 lesions in my brain and spine on last count. And 13 previous ones that healed after IV Antibiotics. In total 40 lesions. I lost all feeling in my Legs and walked with a Cane for a year. I rarely ever wanted to get out of bed and enjoy life. I had given up.
The Doctors best advice was to learn to live with it happily! Life is all about attitude, right? NO! I wanted to feel good too. I was not me anymore I was a shell of a once happy person. I had heard Doctors say a healthy diet may help with quality of life. It seemed silly to me how could food do anything if there great drugs did nothing?
I loved my SAD Diet(Standard American Diet). I dipped everything in Ranch and washed it down with a Coke. I thought the joy my taste buds felt also made me feel good. Boy, was I wrong. That food had left me so inflamed.
I went and saw a very Alternative Practitioner who studies Iridology. She looked in my eyes and said this will be easy, you just need good Digestion and Detox. We will feed your body the most nutritious food, detox the toxins out and treat the Parasite's. You body will then start to heal and your immune system will start to work right. That was 2 years ago. I really did not believe her at the time!
I went Vegetarian in the beginning. We did a big 10 day cleanse and I started to feel normal again. There was a glimmer of hope. but something was still missing. We were always hungry. I randomly saw a video on facebook about a DR with MS. My Moms Friend had been diagnosed recently so we hit play and watched together. Please watch Dr. Wahls here.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLjgBLwH3Wc
The first thing to pop on the screen "recorded on 11/11/11." Me and my oldest Friend love 11 11 in all forms. It is our thing. I knew this video was going to be good. By the way our other new thing is Lyme Disease we both test CDC Positive. What is the likeliness of that? Especially in Oregon where they say we do not have Lyme Disease. That is a whole other story.
Dr Wahls has PPMS that is the bad MS, Primary Progressive. I have RRMS, Relapsing Remitting. Meaning it comes and goes you will have good months and bad months. Mine always seemed to be bad and worse. But with PPMS it is just downhill no recovery. There is no Treatment or Cure for PPMS.
In the video Dr. Wahls talks about taking all the best MS Drugs and having the Top MS Specialist. Yet she continued to get sicker. She then decided to research the Disease herself. She realized she needed to heal her Mitochondria. She found the Nutrients the Mitochondria needed to thrive and heal. She supplemented them with Vitamins and that did not work. She then decided to find them in her Food. She developed the Dr Wahls Paleo Diet and is no longer in a Wheelchair. She is biking 18 miles and just started jogging again this year, my Hero!!!
Right now she has Clinical Trials treating MS with a Paleo Diet. A Clinical Trial using REAL FOOD as medicine that is unheard of. And guess what first round was successful in treating Fatigue. A major problem for people with MS. She is going to Change the World with Real Food and I am going to help!!
Shopping a couple weeks later I saw a Paleo Bar at the store. Made by a Local Oregon Company, Paleo Eats. It was so good I said I can do this I am going Paleo! I asked the owner Debbie on Facebook what book I should buy, she suggested Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo BS,NC. I ordered it on Amazon. The book came as we were walking out the door to visit the In Laws in Texas. I threw it in my carry on and boarded the plane.
First words in book "Let food be thy medicine , and medicine be thy food."-Hippocrates.
We are not smarter than Nature.
We cannot make better food than nature.
We need to eat real, whole food-period."
I was in love. Diane's book spoke to me as she breaks down what the grains and the dairy were doing to my Auto Immune Disease. Something clicked for me and I jumped right in. I instantly gave up all Grains/Dairy/Legumes/Soy/Corn that day and added back in Organic Pastured Animal Products. It was very easy to find great grass fed beef in Texas!
That was August 2013, result I have been in remission from my MS and Lyme Disease since December 2013. It took less than 4 months of getting the Grains, Dairy and GMOs out of my diet for my Auto Immune Disease to shut off. And I lost 85 pounds! Just a huge bonus!
I am walking up hills again! Volunteering in our local food movement because I have the energy. I am a new happy healthier version of me. I love me again! You really learn to appreciate life when it is so close to gone.
A little on GMOs. It just so happens by following this Diet and only buying Organic and mostly Local ingredients we cut out all GMOS from our Diet. We do not even eat meat that eats GMO feed. The more I learn about Genetically Modified Food. The more it scares me. It is not natural and I believe the bodies immune system is freaking out because of it. I think this is one big reason we are having a surge of Auto Immune Disease in America.
“The Wahls Protocol” sustains MacDougall’s findings and after further research, Dr Wahls recommends quality, quantity, and nutritional information. The book contains some recipes. However, only members may access all the recipes on the Wahls website after paying up to 47 dollars every three months.
Patients with MS as with any incurable disease find it expensive enough as it is to live a better quality of life without having to pay more to access information that can be easily found on the Internet by simple research. On the Roger MacDougall’s site for instance there is a 65 PAGE RECIPE BOOKLET DOWNLOAD FREE OF CHARGE IN PDF FORMAT.
Dr Wahls is a practicing physician, public speaker, and offers seminars, each of these services has a price tag. I believe she could be more altruistic and conscientious, by providing free of charge articles, recipes, resources and updates. At least to the readers who have already contributed by purchasing her book.