Hello Reddit! My name is Terry Wahls, and I'm a professor of medicine at the University of Iowa and a practicing physician at the Iowa City Veteran's Affairs Hospital. In 2000, I was diagnosed with relapse remitting multiple sclerosis, and in 2003 I transitioned into progressive multiple sclerosis. I spent nearly four years in a wheelchair, getting worse and worse. In 2007, I crafted a series of dietary and lifestyle interventions based off my medical research and began a long, steady journey to recovery. Six months later, I was riding my bike for the first time in nearly a decade.

In 2010, I began a study at the University of Iowa testing my interventions in others with progressive MS. You can read about my research here. The results have been incredibly positive, but a lot more research is underway.

In 2011, I spoke at the TEDx conference in Iowa City, and a video of that talk received more than 1.5 million views (not quite as many as my son's speech to the Iowa legislature, but still impressive!) and ignited a conversation about the use of food as medicine.

Yesterday, a book documenting my recovery and the protocol I used to heal (but not cure) myself, was released. If you'd like, you can purchase a signed copy here: http://terrywahls.com/about-the-wahls-protocol/

It has been an incredible, beautiful journey and for me, it's only getting started. I'm looking forward to your questions!

Proof here: https://twitter.com/ZachWahls/status/444539017032245248

UPDATE: I had a great time answering your questions. I have to head at the moment, but thank you all so much, even those who had some pointed questions for me. I may be able to come back through and answer some more questions later. Thanks again.

Comments: 408 • Responses: 50  • Date: 

blarghusmaximus107 karma

Edit: Please stop downvoting Dr Wahls out of the discussion.

Your study is very broad - - you had participants change diets, change exercise, meditate, and undergo regular massages. You then used a self reporting survey to record results.

Is it correct to say that during the trial, subjects were also taking prescribed traditional medication from traditional doctors?

How do you know it wasnt the meditation instead of the diet? How do you know its not the exercise? Or the massage?

Or the traditional medicine?

And your study concluded with a total of six subjects... who self reported their results?

DrTerryWahls10 karma

Great questions!

The first study was a safety and feasibility study. We were trying to assess if other people could implement the diet and all the other lifestyle changes I implemented on myself. We also wanted to make sure it was safe. It seemed like it probably would be, but we needed to confirm. And we confirmed both of these things.

We are now taking this study apart and looking at the different variables. We have an exercise and e-stim-only study and a diet-only study.

How do you know it wasn't the meditation instead of the diet? How do you know its not the exercise? Or the massage? Or the traditional medicine?

Oh, we don't! And that's why we're doing more studies now and will be doing more studies in the future. But with such powerfully negative health consequences devastating people's lives, our thought is that we want to give people the best chance to heal themselves now that we know the interventions are all safe.

Many scientists want to say, "Study one molecule at a time," and there is definitely a place for that. However, it's my position that you have a better chance to make a bigger impact by correcting as many biochemical processes as you can, so long as they can be addressed safely and primarily through diet and lifestyle. As I've mentioned above, different pieces of this puzzle (diet/meditation/traditional medicine, etc.) have different effects on different people, but the vast majority of these biochemical processes are the same, and all will benefit from the base level of what these studies are looking at.

I'd also note that other scientists, like Dr. Dean Ornish, are also looking at diet and lifestyle to treat complex diseases like cancer and heart disease.

blarghusmaximus62 karma

In other words, your first study showed that people with ms are capable of changing their diets and exercise habits, and are able to meditate, and are able to receive massages...

And now youre looking into whether that actually does anything?

Why did you submit your paper to a journal whose purview is

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine coverage includes:

Botanical Medicine.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine
-Body Medicine
Nutrition and Dietary Supplements
Tai Chi
Qi Gung
Massage Therapy
Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine
Integrative Biophysics.

Are you a homeopathic doctor?

DrTerryWahls11 karma

In other words, your first study showed that people with ms are capable of changing their diets and exercise habits, and are able to meditate, and are able to receive massages... And now youre looking into whether that actually does anything?

Well, a few things. First off, we started with ten people and only finished with six. Although you blithely dismissed it as something obvious, not everyone is capable of changing their diets or adopting this specific form of physical therapy. It's not easy, especially when you are very, very sick. So, yes, we had to do a safety and feasibility study at the request of our institutional review board. That's always the first step for the study of a new intervention.

And though it seems you meant it as an insult, the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine is a reputable journal--not the New England Journal of Medicine, of course, but reputable. And further, we needed a journal that had expertise in all of these areas, so that it could be properly peer-reviewed. My hope is that at some point in the future, we'll see more journals develop lifestyle expertise and acknowledge that environmental factors play a large role in day-to-day health.

And no, I'm not a homeopathic doctor. I'm an internal medicine physician.

blarghusmaximus60 karma

Edit: First, I meant nothing as an insult, nor did I mean to remark blithely. I have serious concerns regarding your research.

we started with ten people and only finished with six.

Doesnt that seem like.. not enough people ?

not everyone is capable of changing their diets or adopting this specific form of physical therapy.

I certainly agree. Thats why you should not start such a study with ten people. Its not a representative sample. I imagine you had rather in-depth contact with these ten people during the study as well -- which creates bias. They wanted you to find the results you wanted to find. 40% of your subjects dropped out. Were they unable to give you the results you wanted?

And the remaining six reporting was a self-survey, literally the least reliable way of gathering data.

They gave you what you wanted. They trust you, you're their doctor.

the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine is a reputable journal--not the New England Journal of Medicine, of course, but reputable.

I cannot concede this point. It contains "research" regarding homeopathy, acpuncture, energy medicine, Tai Chi... There is nothing reputable in any of these topics. All of these areas have shown zero results.

Did you send your paper to the New England Journal of Medicine? Or the AMA? Was it rejected?

DrTerryWahls26 karma

Doesnt that seem like.. not enough people ?

It's a pilot study and you can only enroll what the institutional review board approves, which was ten people. It is not meant to be a representative sample. You start with small pilot studies and work your way up, which is exactly what we're doing. This is very, very normal.

And we absolutely had lots of in-depth contact with people during the study. But do you really think that people can just will themselves into better health because we were in contact with them? Their reporting was a self-survey but we also had biologic measurements (including MRIs) and outcome measurements like changes in gait, blood and bio markers, mood and quality of life that will be released in future papers.

The paper was not submitted to the New England Journal of Medicine and the AMA is not a body that approves papers--it's a political organization. There are plenty of subjects covered by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine that are non-traditional, but most journals don't have the proper expertise to review the paper we wrote. They did.

6ftTurkey42 karma

If you're conducting studies now, why are you selling products based upon your own personal experience?

Do you intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent MS? If not, why?

DrTerryWahls13 karma

I'm selling some products, but I've also been writing, speaking and lecturing (for free) about this issue for nearly six years. Part of the selling products is to sustain the education and outreach to the public and the other part is to fund the research that I'm doing. I'm sharing my personal experience because it was a positive one and it seems to have caused positive experiences in others as well.

People need to work with their personal physicians, just as I did. I think that the principles I discuss absolutely can play a role in those conversations and in peoples' recoveries. Primary care physicians--regardless of their thoughts on my story and research--will be thrilled that their patients want to eat more vegetables and less junk food, engage in more physical activity, reduce their stress levels and avoid exposure to toxins.

I absolutely hope to see increased prevention of Multiple Sclerosis, and I think that these principles can play a role in that. As far as I've read, MS cannot be cured. Better eating can help create health which reduces some symptoms, as it did for me and thousands of others--and there are thousands of studies that show intensive nutrition can have a positive impact on a person's health. These are the same time-tested and peer-reviewed principles being applied to different, specific disease states.

Dog-Plops39 karma

I've watched your Ted talk, and it was fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

However, I've looked at your website but there are red flags that stick out to me. It seems like you are very reliant on personal anecdotes and also cite Mercola articles.

I also found this on rationalwiki

"There is no cure for MS, treatment consisting mainly of dealing with symptoms as they arise. Because the symptoms and severity of attacks are so variable it can be difficult to show if a particular treatment is having the desired effect, or if the disease is simply in remission. This has led to a number of bogus treatments. Dietary supplements, vitamins, oxygen therapy, hyperbaric chambers have all been tried and found to have no demonsterable impact on the disease. Quackwatch website has a page HERE and the Multiple Sclerosis Society has a book available which shows the affect of various treatments on the disease.

Dr. Terry Wahls claims that MS can be controlled to some degree by diet[1]. Note that her website displays the Quack Miranda Warning. "

Do you not think this harms your credibility?

DrTerryWahls14 karma


I'm glad you found the TEDx talk fascinating. I enjoyed doing it quite a bit and was thankful for the opportunity.

To be clear, I've never claimed to "cure" MS. I am not cured. I still have lesions on my spinal cord, and they have not reduced in size or number. My function, however, is dramatically better. (From a wheelchair to riding my bike in less than six months.) And my other symptoms (including face pain, fatigue and brain fog) have abated as well. This is not a cure, but it is clear and real improvement. Further, there are literally thousands of studies that have documented improvements in diabetes, mental health problems, cancers, heart disease and more by using intensive nutrition. This is not so different from my own research, and I'm using those well-established and peer-reviewed principles of intensive nutrition on different disease states.

This is definitely an example, as rationalwiki would define it, of treatment dealing with symptoms as they arise. If my symptoms hadn't arisen, I wouldn't have had to deal with them. But they did, so I did. I addressed in another question why it seems my current state is not just a "remission." I had been in a progressive diagnosis for four years and a steady decline for six years and when I leave the diet or lifestyle changes, I experience a dramatic flair up of MS-related pain.

The "Quack Miradna Warning" is on the website because it's true. To get FDA approval for a disease state, you need two studies at two different sites showing benefit, each costing about $4M. Therefore, there are no FDA-approved diets that have achieved or met that high bar. I absolutely hope, however, that the NIH will fund studies like mine so that the FDA could evaluate if this is effective or not.

Gnarwal27 karma

I completely cut out all gluten and dairy from my diet a year ago and I have not been able to notice any difference in my symptoms. These days I will eat some cheese or a few slices of bread every once in a while and it doesn't seem to effect me negatively at all. I've also not seen any effect from being on copaxone or gilenya and i've given up on DMDs. Other than using marijuana 24/7 I've found nothing that seems to help. Why do you think MS reacts so wildly different to treatments from person to person?

DrTerryWahls9 karma

There is increased recognition that MS is a syndrome - that it is many different diseases that have similar symptoms that are all collectively diagnosed as MS. The underlying factors that contribute to the symptoms are a mix of infection exposures, toxins like mercury or other heavy metals, B12 deficiency and other vitamin deficiencies, gluten sensitivities - and the person's unique DNA (efficiency of your enzymes for metabolizing B vitamins for example). We all have a unique mix of our DNA and those environmental factors. Therefore how readily one improves depends on a mix of how many lifestyle interventions you adopt, how fully you adopt them, your DNA etc.

I'm not surprised to hear about your ability to process a little dairy or gluten now and again. The other factors may be much more important than gluten or dairy sensitivity for you. Have you been 100% meticulous about removing those things for about three months? I know it sounds like a lot, but even 95% removal may not be enough to tell a full difference.

Wishing you all the best, and I hope you find something that works.

blarghusmaximus25 karma

I will bitcointip $50 to seansoutpost (a homeless shelter), and of course provide proof of having done so, if you will answer my question regarding vaccinations and GMOs.

Do you believe GMOs (ie gmo corn/soy) are harmful to humans?

Do you believe vaccines may cause autism?

DrTerryWahls1 karma

Do you believe GMOs (ie gmo corn/soy) are harmful to humans?

When you use GMOs, it is typically to allow the application of specific pesticides or herbicides. The rate of RoundUp tonnage applied per acre has dramatically risen since GMOs were first introduced in the 1990s. So, setting aside whether or not there are issues with genetic modification itself, the RoundUp is now shown to interfere with detoxification enzymes, which shouldn't surprise anybody since it is a toxin. This makes it harder for the body to clear toxins. And in animal studies, it is associated with higher rates of hormone dependent cancers, liver failure and kidney failure. Higher body burdens of toxins are associated with damage to the brain and spinal cord. I don't think that any of that is controversial. Therefore, it's my strong recommendation that people with damage to their brain and spinal cord avoid or minimize foods with heavy pesticide application--which includes most GMOs and conventionally grown foods.

Do you believe vaccines may cause autism?

This is outside my area of expertise, but I think I understand the concern some have. Toxins in vaccines, the adjuvant, is typically a metal such as mercury or aluminum used to increase the immune reaction, so that humans will respond to the dead virus. The adjuvants are compounds that are toxic to brain cells. We don't understand yet what a "safe" dose of an adjuvant is. This is why some people are concerned with the practice of stacking so many vaccines together on the same day. More research definitely has to be done to answer this question one way or the other. We do not know the health consequence of not acquiring the infections that were are currently being immunized against long term, but I think people should get the appropriate vaccines.

I'll look for an image of your receipt in my inbox.

friendofelephants21 karma

Hi Dr. Wahls, thank you for doing this AMA. As someone recently diagnosed with MS, I have a few questions:

1) What do you think of following the Wahl's diet in combination with disease-modifying therapies for MS (like Copaxone or Avonex)?

2) What do you think of the China Study? My understanding is that it recommends avoiding all animal products, which obviously differs from your recommendation. Is there something in the study that they've gotten wrong, in your opinion?

3) I was curious to know how your own personal health is progressing. From your Ted talk, you gave us a glimpse into progression, and I recall reading an interview in which you said that you could walk well during the daytime but limped at night. Have you been steadily improving or have you had any setbacks? What symptoms of MS do you still currently have?

4) Lastly, what are your thoughts on soy/tofu?

Thank you!

DrTerryWahls30 karma

It's my pleasure!

1) Yes, absolutely. It is critical that you do not stop your drugs until you have dramatic improvement and with the approval of your physician(s).

2) I think the China Study is flawed. From my point of view, he appears to have been selective in the data he used and chose to ignore.

3) I continue to improve (despite my aging--coming up on 59 in November!) today. Just last week, I spent twenty minutes on the treadmill alternating between walking and jogging. The last time I actually ran was in 2000--in 2007, when I began the interventions, I could walk only short distances using two canes. I could not sit up in a regular chair for more than ten minutes. I'm feeling great. :-)

4) A lot of soy and tofu products contain estrogen and anti-nutrients. If they are a part of your diet, they should be organic and fermented, and hopefully in small amounts.

All the best!

blarghusmaximus17 karma

It is critical that you do not stop your drugs until you have dramatic improvement and with the approval of your physician(s).

Are any of your six research subjects off of their clinically prescribed medicine?

Are you?

DrTerryWahls5 karma

We ask people to stay on their medications and make no changes without consultation from their neurologist. In the paper, we reported that subjects were on fewer disease modifying drugs at the end of the twelve months. Some stopped their disease modifying drugs, with their physician's blessing, entirely. I already mentioned elsewhere that I've been able to go off my disease modifying drugs with the blessings of my own neurologist. I still use gabapentin to control pain from the MS, but at a small fraction of those I was on in 2007.

justperhaps10 karma

Your story is amazing. I heard you say (on Underground Radio) that if you have gluten or casein, you end up back in a wheelchair for several weeks. Can you speak to exactly what you think casein does to the brain that causes a problem? Thank you for your research and your experience - and for sharing it!

DrTerryWahls10 karma

The protein in dairy and protein is recognized as a 'foreign invader' and my immune cells rev up to attack it - that is more cytokines are generated, more cortisol elevation and activation of the glial cells in the brain in a harmful way. The result is dramatic inflammation in the brain, causing pain in my face and other neurological problems. High dose steroids are needed to stop it. I pay great attention to what I eat now as a result.

new_to_oakland6 karma


DrTerryWahls5 karma

Yogurt, unfortunately, falls into this category, too. I recommend eliminating all dairy products except clarified butter, which has casein physically removed during the production (clarification) process.

eugenia_loli10 karma

I understand that you have a severe allergic reaction to eggs (I read the new book). However, why try to push that same no-egg regiment to the rest of your readers? The vast majority of people (including sick people, that your book is targeting) don't react to eggs.

DrTerryWahls0 karma

Great question! In my experience, egg allergies are actually dramatically under-diagnosed, which is why I recommend removing them when starting the diet and testing later on, if desired, to see what effects are experienced if they are reintroduced. If you don't react negatively to them after at least one to three months of being egg-free, that's great, and you're totally fine. But I recommend, at least initially, removing them.

MuForceShoelace9 karma

So basically you have relapse/remitting MS, it remitted, exactly like the entire definition of that type of disease does then you became a scam doctor trying to sell snake oil to other people? Based on eating bread or something?

DrTerryWahls1 karma

Well, getting an MD is a very long process, and I've been practicing since 1982, so I'd been practicing for nearly two decades before I was diagnosed. In relapse remitting MS, your prognosis often improves from time to time. In progressive, you only decline. That was the case for me from 2003 to 2007. In both situations, my diagnosis was made by experts at the Cleveland Clinic, an internationally recognized MS center of the highest quality.

My dietary and lifestyle interventions saved my life and dramatically improved my quality of life. When I have strayed from them in the past, the consequences are immediate (within 48 hours) and severe--this is not at all the way relapse remitting MS works.

And I think, most importantly, I'm trying to give others the chance to see if this will work for them. It might, it might not. It has worked in my clinical practice across many disease states, and our tests in clinical trials are both ongoing and promising.

jv3336 karma

Hi ... are there any data that reflect similar positive results for others in a similar situation? In your Tedtalk, you mentioned reversal of eczema when diets were shifted to gluten free and increasing good fats. I am pursuing this based on your presentation and can tell you my eczema has improved in less than 2 weeks.

DrTerryWahls-2 karma

Yes, absolutely! Our first paper, which you can look at here:


Was only about MS. My current study is also only about MS at this point, but we hope to add new disease states in the near future. We have received a tremendous amount of anecdotal evidence from follower that eczema, psoriasis and other skin problems begin fading once the person has removed gluten, dairy and eggs from his or her diet.

vancejackson6 karma

Hey Doc, I've been diagnosed with MS for 6 yrs now. I'm a 29 yo male. I have remitting MS and haven't had an exacerbation in years thankfully. My biggest symptom is fatigue. It's just so hard to shake sometimes. I was on Modafanil and the t helped greatly. Any strides with fatigue using your method?

DrTerryWahls9 karma

According to our research, fatigue is actually the first symptom that improves: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24476345

The improvements can start within weeks. There is no other study that we've been able to find that has anywhere *near* the level of fatigue reduction that we were able to show and replicate. Please look into it!

loveulong6 karma

Did you use FES and NMES or primarily NMES? I can only visit a PT 20 times in a year on my insurance. Should I be lobbying for NMES from the start rather than FES?

You mentioned having a trained professional come over to help you use a personal NMES machine to exercise. Can you expand on that? Is that kind of person/equipment difficult to find? Do you still use NMES on your own to exercise, and how often do you use it?

DrTerryWahls8 karma

I did NMES daily for over four years, but I use it only rarely today. I had a physical therapist evaluate which muscles were weak, how my gait was abnormal and design a specific exercise program and NMES program to address the weakness. As I improved the exercises were advanced and the NMES was advanced. Look for a physical therapist who uses NMES in their practice. Expect to pay out of pocket, as insurance will not typically cover this. It can be difficult to find. I am one of the few researchers who is investigating this treatment--but I hope to soon be joined by many more!

maxm6 karma

I have a family member recently diagnosed with MS, and I have ordered the book. It is a great relief that there is something active to do.

It seems that MS is partly due to an internal condition. Like a previous infection having settled in your system, and "external" factors like diet. As far as I understand it is generally agreed that the internal condition is the main cause and the diet is an (important) stopgap solution.

I wonder if you have an idea of the prognosis for outright cures for the internal condition?

I know about the n=9 trial at Northwestern with white blood cells. And the “The Myelin Repair Foundations" work with "nanomolecules" to retrain the imune system.

And do you have any results from your own trails with diet that you are willing to share?

DrTerryWahls5 karma

You can read the first paper we've published on my research here:


In a nutshell, we found that the dietary interventions are safe, that they can be implemented by others, and that they have tremendous effects on reducing fatigue.

As far as outright cures go, I don't foresee a cure on the horizon if the fundamental environmental factors that led to the development of MS are not addressed--diet, toxins, exercise, stress, social relationships, infections are all a part of the puzzle and deserve attention. Each person has a unique mix of how important each of those factors are.

bawsackle5 karma

Will you be donating the profits from the book to an MS charity? I find it difficult to take you seriously otherwise. Also, why aren't you providing the book as a free PDF download? If you believe in your theory then you could save many lives this way.

DrTerryWahls3 karma

You can find a tremendous amount of free information online--Facebook, http://www.terrywahls.com/ and in the TEDx talk linked in the description. Proceeds from the book are funding further research into more biologic data into why we are seeing the results we are.

DestinedWalnut5 karma

Hi Dr. Wahls, I am a huge fan of your work. As an aspiring doctor and first year medical school student, you are an inspiration to the way I want to practice medicine.

That said, I was wondering if you could tell me how a future doctor can get involved in your work? I know you teach and was wondering if there is any way to learn from you?

Thank you for your time and your research into the extremely underemployed influence of food on our lives.

DrTerryWahls3 karma

Unless you're at the University of Iowa, we're unable to add you to our team. Unfortunate reality of the situation. I certainly hope you can find related research and that it becomes a part of your practice once you graduate!

CPIz5 karma

What are some of the most economical ways that a person can begin to follow the Wahls Protocol? My wife (who has MS) and I looked for clarified butter at the grocery store and all they had was organic for $10.99. Yikes!

DrTerryWahls4 karma

This is something I definitely go over in the book. There are lot of ways that you can make it more economical. As a society, we throw away about 30% of the food we buy, so make sure to eliminate waste. It sounds so simple, but it can make such a difference. If you can, consider growing more of your own food.

CPIz5 karma

My wife's nuerologist does not seem as interested in now-medicine treatments, dimissing them at first as "ancillary." When we pressed he gave some cursory attention to it. Would you recommend that MS patients see a neurologist AND someone who specilizes in function medicine? We visiting a nutritionist, but she just recommended a normal healthy diet.

DrTerryWahls4 karma

I would absolutely recommend a functional medicine evaluation. It can be very helpful, if you're not getting the results you'd like after adopting the Wahls Protocol. I view my plans as a baseline on which to be improved, not as the end all, be all.

Cadaverlanche4 karma

I suffer from pretty aggressive CIDP and have to get IVIG infusions every 3 weeks. My neurologist and most of my doctors keep telling me that M.S. treatments wont apply to my condition. Unfortunately, not much research is being done on CIDP compared to M.S. Have you seen any accounts of your diet helping CIDP patients.

DrTerryWahls2 karma

We haven't yet had anyone with CIDP reach out to us. That being said, I think diet and lifestyle modifications are certainly a safe thing to try.

elcorredor3 karma

I understand that healing a leaky gut is a important (critical?) part of addressing all autoimmune disease. Do you have any suggestions or resources that you would recommend to promote gut healing

loveulong1 karma

I'm interested in this, too as I have ulcerative colitis (another auto-immune disease) in addition to MS. I am looking to start taking a probiotic, but all seem to contain either sugar, potato starch, or something that isn't allowed. Is there a probiotic or other supplement you recommend?

DrTerryWahls-1 karma

In my clinical practice I have several people with inflammatory bowel disease who adopted the wahls diet plans (using cooked vegetables) and found that by removing the dairy, gluten, egg their symptoms markedly reduced. In fact they have all been able to be weaned off of the potent immune suppressant drugs.

DrTerryWahls1 karma

According to much of the latest research, a leaky gut is the first step in developing autoimmune problems. There's a great paper you can read about it on PubMed:


Reducing the carbs in the diet, improving stomach acid, removing potential food sensitivities like gluten, dairy, eggs, and GMOs are good first steps. Bone broth is very healing also.

EDIT: "carbs" not "cabs" Although I don't recommend eating taxis, either.

balsooma2 karma

Might someone without an autoimmune disease like MS benefit from such a diet?

DrTerryWahls2 karma

All disease begins with broken biochemistry. Most chronic diseases are associated with mitochondria that are not working well, deficiencies in vitamin, minerals and fats. Thousands of research studies have shown that eating more vegetables and berries and less sugar and white flour / high fructose corn syrup is associated with less heart disease, diabetes, obesity, mental health problems, and autoimmunity. On that basis we can confidently predict that the health status is likely to be improved by adopting the Wahls diet plans.

So even if you don't have an autoimmune disease, I think it may be wise to see healthy eating (and the diet) as one of the best "vaccines" you can use.

sollasollwmn2 karma

How much did you stress physical fitness in your household when your kids were growing up? Did Zach and Zebby study tae kwon do alongside you? Were there exercises you did as a family? Do you feel that coming from a background of peak fitness in any way influenced your ability to turn things around with careful nutrition?

DrTerryWahls4 karma

Zach and Zeb did a lot of skiing, biking, camping and hiking when they were younger. Unfortunately my diagnosis made all of that much, much more difficult. And not only was I unable to do much of that activity, but all my family members (Zach, Zebby and my wife Jackie) had to spend countless hours helping me with the moment-to-moment tasks of living. We did manage to go camping when I was in the wheelchair, but it was a markedly different experience.

I think that my fitness background was extremely helpful, specifically because of the discipline I learned. I kept doing workouts everyday at 5 a.m. even after I was diagnosed. Of course, then, my "workouts" largely consisted of light swimming and light weights (10lbs or less, and it deteriorated over time) and little more. But the discipline I learned was part of why I was able to make such radical changes to my diet and stick to them. And because I was once an athlete, I knew that exercising would keep me as mobile as possible as long as possible. I'm very thankful.

Peabody1432 karma

Figured it out! Read book#1. Feeling great but can you tell me about foot/leg neuropathy. Did you contend with this?

DrTerryWahls-1 karma

I have severe face pain as part of the MS. That has been markedly improved with the protocol. Many folks in our studies and in my clinical prctice are reporting benefits across many types of neuropathies. I have also heard lots of anecdotes reporting similar outcomes. If the protocols aren't enough, I'd recommend speaking with a functional physician near you: https://www.functionalmedicine.org/practitioner_search.aspx?id=117

Securus7772 karma

How quickly did you see a response in your MS after making these life changes?

DrTerryWahls-1 karma

I implemented the first wave of changes in December 2007. I felt an improvement in fatigue by the end of January 2008. That progress has continued sense.

keepfighting2 karma

My best friend was diagnosed with MS a little over a year ago and he is in his late twenties. He hasn't shown any symptoms except for vision problems in one eye. Could you share some advice as to what he can do to slow the progression since he is still in the early stages?

DrTerryWahls7 karma

Your friend has what's called relapse remitting MS or RRMS. The best thing he can do is begin the process of making lifestyle and dietary changes to support his health moving forward. The changes are not easy, and when the symptoms are mild, it can be easy to convince yourself that you don't need to do anything. But making the changes now can help prevent further deterioration. You can find a lot of the information on what those changes look like in the TEDx talk I gave. The link is in the description.

retractableclause1 karma

Have you kept an eye on the CCSVI world of research? Any opinions you'd like to share one way or the other on surgical treatment?

DrTerryWahls2 karma

I discuss this at length in the book. The causes for CCSVI are likely strongly associated with the diet, toxin, hormone, infection issues that contribute to MS or chronic fatigue. If the person takes the liberation (balloon procedures) to open the veins, the symptoms are often improved markedly. Sadly, the symptoms also often begin redeveloping again and multiple procedures are needed, sometimes within months. If you don't address the underlying issues (specifically by modifying diet and lifestyle) the symptoms often soon return.

DontForget2BeAwesome1 karma

I have RRMS and my biggest symptom is feet/calves spasms and twitching which come and go. I know that different symptoms respond quicker to the Wahl's protocol and I was wondering how long in Dr. Wahls experience do muscle spasticity symptoms take to respond to the Wahls paleo diet.

DrTerryWahls1 karma

Many of the diet's followers have reported reduced spasms. Movement disorders are often related to gluten sensitivity. In terms of how long the response will take, it's highly individual. I know that that's not an easy thing to hear, but like I said, a lot of people have reported reduced spasms.

CPIz1 karma

My wife's liver levels went up after a couple years on Copaxone. She went off the medicine and her levels returned to normal, but now she wants to stay away from Copaxone or any other meds. Obviously, I don't want to impede on her personal health decisions, but I am also worried about how lack of meds will impact her mobility, etc. in the future. As someone with MS and a doctor, do you have any advice?

DrTerryWahls3 karma

I can't diagnose or treat your wife--only her physician can do that. However, following a nutrition-dense diet can and likely will improve health markers. I'm not opposed to drugs on principle, and they can be very necessary in some situations. But not using diet and lifestyle when they're so immediately available and can have a dramatically large impact seems unfortunate.

Terminal-Psychosis1 karma

Thank you Dr. Wahls for all your work and inspiration. Your talk on TED got me looking in other directions than just the standard medications and I learned so much about nerve structure and health from Minding My Mitochondria.

Very much looking forward to reading your new book!!

Now a question:

I am very interested in the clinical studies you are involved with. So many of the neurologists I've talked to dismiss nutrition. Even laughing at it. :(

I'd love to show them studies with hard numbers. When and what can we look forward to?

DrTerryWahls4 karma

Believe me, I'm more than happy to do the work. I'm glad that you enjoyed the TED talk!

You can read about our first clinical study here:


Lots of numbers there you can use. The scientific method is painfully (and appropriately!) slow, and so is the publication process. We anticipate up to five more papers coming out of the study we are currently running at the University of Iowa. We are also in the process of writing a number of other grant proposals with expert researchers in other disease states (fibromyalgia, Parkinson's, and obesity) in hopes of launching more studies.

loveulong1 karma

Hello! Is any kind of bread available on the Wahl’s diet? Rice cakes don’t make for good sandwiches, and I love sandwiches. Is eating organic ham/turkey/roast beef acceptable? What can I eat them on?

DrTerryWahls4 karma

So think of the Wahls Diet like a ladder. At the entry level, on the first rung, it's okay to have a serving or two of gluten-free grain per day. The higher you get up the ladder, however, the grain is reduced and eventually eliminated.

I grew up in Iowa, so I love ham, turkey and roast beef. They're also quite delicious without bread!

sollasollwmn1 karma

Hi Dr. Wahls. I've followed your story and found it fascinating. Do you continue to see improvements in your symptoms or do you feel they've plateaued? Do you ever see yourself returning to something like tae kwon do in the future?

DrTerryWahls0 karma

From one of my responses further up:

I continue to improve (despite my aging--coming up on 59 in November!) today. Just last week, I spent twenty minutes on the treadmill alternating between walking and jogging. The last time I actually ran was in 2000--in 2007, when I began the interventions, I could walk only short distances using two canes. I could not sit up in a regular chair for more than ten minutes. I'm feeling great. :-)

As to tae kwon do, I would certainly love to. It seems possible, and even the possibility seemed well outside the realm of reality back in 2007.

new_to_oakland1 karma

What is your opinion on the removal of mercury fillings?

DrTerryWahls5 karma

Improperly done, the removal of mercury fillings releases a lot mercury into the body. You trade a low level release each day for a very large single release (which will be placed in your brain and fat). Obviously mercury is deeply problematic, and it's best to never get any in your system at all. But you have to be extraordinarily careful in dealing with it once it's there.

quinntastic1 karma

I just started your book and I'm curious to see if the diet changes do help ease my symptoms. I really do not want to have to start eating meat again as I'm a vegetarian. I hope you find some additional research available soon.

How has the reception from the MS community of doctors been?

DrTerryWahls1 karma

RE: your meat consumption, there is a plan in the Wahls Protocol book for vegetarians and even one for vegans. I explain how to reduce the anti-nutrients in grains and legumes and give some guidance to sort out if the vegetarian diet could be a part of why you're ill. It's been my experience that meat has a big role to play in healthy eating--not a moral judgment, just my observation.

The reaction from the community continues to improve. At first, I was met with a lot of skepticism. I would have been skeptical, too, if I hadn't experienced it firsthand--and that's why the research is so critically important. As we showcase the research around the University and country, the interest and enthusiasm grows. We hope to be adding new disease states to our work in the near future.

FordyceRedbugs0 karma

Is a 10W-40 Motor Oil Better for a High-Mileage Pickup? Or should I look into a synthetic oil?

DrTerryWahls2 karma

I'm a medical doctor, not a mechanic, so my opinion probably isn't too helpful here. I'm just going to go ahead and guess and say synthetic oil, though.

mepaleo0 karma

Hi Dr. Wahls - thank you so much for sharing your experience. I'm curious if you think that RRMS can be halted (i.e. not proceed to PPMS or SPMS) if one implements the Wahls Paleo diet while in the RRMS stage? I started your diet very soon after diagnosis (and feel great!) Lastly, what are your thoughts on caffeine - namely organic coffee. Thank you!!

DrTerryWahls-2 karma

It's my pleasure.

We hypothesize that RRMS patients will respond more quickly than the PPMS or SPMS folks. In my current study, we've seen preliminary improvement from people with PPMS and SPMS--people who, by definition of what their diagnosis means, are not supposed to improve. Even just holding them stable would be considered a huge success, but improvement is just not expected at all. So, if you're still in the RRMS phase, we think there's good reason to believe recovery would be even more rapid.

RE: caffeine, I think that two cups of organic coffee a day isn't an issue at all, so long as you are careful about what you put in it.

apw8680 karma

Just wanted to say, I think Dr. Wahls is awesome. I plan to try the protocol. And I would be happy if I have even half of the amazing results she had. Food as medicine..wasn't Hippocrates the first to say that?

DrTerryWahls1 karma

"Let food be thy medicine!" - Hippocrates, ~400 BC

loveulong0 karma

I try to eat organic foods, but cannot always find it. Is it okay to eat some fresh fruit or vegetables that aren't organic, or should I just double up on those that are?

DrTerryWahls2 karma

I advise people to eat and live as organically as their budget allows. Also to make dietary changes to improve the processing of toxins by the liver, kidney and sweat glands.

andrewnakas-1 karma

Hey Terry, I'm a big fan of your work and the rest of the paleo community. You have helped me look at food differently and focus on eating as clean as possible. I'm curious what your thoughts are of the recent studies being reported by the main stream media connecting high carb diets to longevity. Keep up the good work! http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303795904579431404244207682

DrTerryWahls4 karma

Thank you!

I'm actually currently working on an article about this study. The long version will be making the rounds before too long, so keep an eye out. The short version is that the media is likely overreaching in its interpretation of this data. They looked at a 24 hour recall to predict the food pattern, but no information about fruit or vegetable intake, exercise, stress reducing activities, toxin exposure and more--or even basic demographic data like socioeconomic status--that are all strongly associated with death, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc. I'm definitely open to hearing more about this, but I did not find this first study particularly convincing.

I should also be clear that I think it's important to eat more than just meat, which is my plans largely stress vegetables and fruit, in that order. Sadly, some paleo eaters eat meat and omit veggies and berries, without realizing that they are creating micronutrient deficiencies. I love bacon as much as the next gal, but it's not enough to sustain a person's health.

jv333-1 karma

This morning I read the New Yorker article featuring the first public comments of Peter Lanza about his son, Adam and the tragic shootings in Sandy Hook. (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2014/03/17/140317fa_fact_solomon?currentPage=all) Adam had many mental issues obviously. Is there any evidence that diet can improve the mental health re ADHD, depression, autism, Asperger's, schizophrenia, etc to some degree...especially among the young and adolescents, given that depression can hit some teens pretty hard?

DrTerryWahls3 karma

There are hundreds of studies about the effects of diet (Vitamin D, toxins, nutrition, etc.) on these very conditions. You can browse http://www.pubmed.gov to find plenty. Unfortunately, we don't hear physicians talk about these effects very often because so few physicians have much training in nutrition. We typically get less than 20 hours of nutrition education in our four years of medical school. And once they're out in the world, it's difficult for physicians to keep up with the latest research.

liatris-1 karma

What is your opinion about anti-nutrients like phytates, oxalates, and goitrogens found in spinach, kale, cabbage etc? Should people avoid eating these vegetables raw in order to avoid the anti-nutrients?

What is your opinion about fermented foods/probiotics as a way to compliment treatment of autoimmune diseases? Do you think fecal transplants will become more common for treating things like leaky gut and c-diff infections? What do you think about the research into intestinal bacteria enterotypes? Bacterial Ecosystems Divide People Into 3 Groups, Scientists Say

What is your opinion on chelated magnesium? I have always had a very over active startle response, various muscle twitches and cramps until I started taking 300-500 mg of chelated magnesium (magnesium citramate.) Dr. Carolyn Dean says that most Americans are deficient in this nutrient even though is is needed for over 350 different body processes. Do you subsidize your magnesium?

What is your opinion about women without a history of heart disease being put on statins?

For those who are unaware of Dr. Wahls here are some of her interviews/talks

Minding Your Mitochondria: Dr. Terry Wahls at TEDxIowaCity

AHS12 Terry Wahls, MD — Minding My Mitochondria

How to Reverse Multiple Sclerosis with Dr. Terry Wahls

The Dr. Terry Wahls Interview

Everything Will Be Alright - Episode 2: Dr. Terry Wahls

Update since being on the Dr. Terry Wahls' Diet.

DrTerryWahls-4 karma

Some people will definitely benefit from having all of their vegetables cooked. However, for several million years, our genus (homo) ate our food raw. ~500,000 years ago, homo sapiens emerged and we think about ~100,000 years ago, we began cooking our food. A mixture of cooked and raw foods is likely most beneficial.

RE: fermented foods, I think that probiotics have limited use if you don't change your diet at large. You have to reduce your sugar and starch content, too. Fermented foods are recommended. Fecal transplants are an interesting development. It looks to me like their use will probably increase over time.

RE: chelated magnesium, chronic stress elevation is associated with depleted magnesium. Eating more greens will help replace it. I don't specifically subsidize my magnesium, but I eat a whole heckuva lot of greens.

RE: statins, I think that there are lots of potentially negative consequences on the health of your mitochondria. It interferes with the electron transport chain (co-enzyme q).

cellengineer-2 karma


DrTerryWahls3 karma

Low dose naltrexone improves the natural killer cells - a kind of rebalancing of the immune cells. For some it is helpful. (not for me). We have hundreds that have reached out to tell us that they have been helped. You can see some of their stories here.

Likeironmike-2 karma

Hello Dr. Wahls, I have nothing to ask today, just a big thank you for the improvement you've made in my and Mrs Ironmike lives. We'll see you soon, I think, when we make the short drive from Marion. ps I'm still about 85 lbs down from the start of the journey.

DrTerryWahls-1 karma

Congratulations! I have an event at the Iowa City Public Library tomorrow at 2pm if you can make it.

AndreaRachelX-2 karma

I am a grad student at the U of I and I think your research is amazing! So great to see such amazing results and what looks to be a "cure". Thanks so much for the amazing contributions to medicine!

DrTerryWahls-1 karma

Thank you! I'm always a little hesitant about the "c-word" in this work, as I certainly haven't been cured. Dramatically reducing the symptoms, however, is something that I'm excited about, and I look forward to continuing to improve both my own symptoms and those of others!

issara_wk-3 karma

Hey Terry first of all, my lady is excited to receive her signed copy. She contributed to your study. I already bought my own 2 days ago (currently on Chapter 3) and I've got like 50% of it marked up and underlined. We've been waiting for this book every since you hinted at it. We bought MMM right after I found your TED talk after my lady was diagnosed with MS. You've really created something incredible. So thank you thank you. I don't have any questions, I just wanted to give you a big hug over Reddit. I don't have an autoimmune disease but clearly your protocol isn't about that, it's for anyone who owns a brain and wants to keep it healthy. You are a big hero in our home and we follow your protocol closely. Lots of love to you and your family. Actually, I do have a question. She invested in the same NMES machine you discuss in your book but we are unable to find anyone in the Seattle area to help us create a program for her. Do you have any advice for how to find such a physician?

DrTerryWahls-1 karma

Hug received! Please thank your lady for her contribution.

RE: the NMES machine, she needs a physical therapist. I'd recommend looking for one who treats athletes. Most NMES is actually done on athletes, so they're generally the ones with expertise.

DarthNaderBK-7 karma

So your son is going to save Boy Scouts from homophobic bullshit and you're helping people with MS. What's in the water at the Wahls' house?

edit: spelling

DrTerryWahls6 karma

Kale, mostly!