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Fighting Disease with Diet

Zivia Reischer

Dr. Terry Wahls, diagnosed with MS, created a special diet that got her walking again. How the Wahls Protocol works, why it does, and who it can help

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

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“I looked at my family, looked at my career, looked at my whole future, and all I could think was, in one month, I’m going to be a lady in a wheelchair”

When Sylvie Green* was pregnant with her fourth child, she started experiencing a weird tingling in her hands and feet. They also felt numb, on and off. The doctor dismissed the pain as carpal tunnel syndrome and blamed the pregnancy for the numbness. But after she gave birth, Sylvie suffered a strange, burning pain in her lower back. This time, the doctor said it was shingles.

Sylvie believed him, until the day she woke up and couldn’t walk. “I swung my legs over the side of the bed, but there was this burning pins-and-needles feeling that I just couldn’t shake. As I dragged my feet across the floor, I felt like I was staggering through knee-high, burning sand. A few days later, the entire left side of my body was numb. This was not carpal tunnel, shingles, or pregnancy-related.” Sylvie went for an MRI.

The scan showed multiple lesions on her brain and spinal cord. At 28 years old, with four little kids at home, Sylvie was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).

The neurologist said her life expectancy was normal, but she’d become severely disabled. Sylvie went to a second neurologist, who told her she’d be in a wheelchair in 30 days. She went to a third neurologist, who shrugged and said, “You’re religious. You should pray.”

“I went home,” Sylvie recalls. “I looked at my family, looked at my career, looked at my whole future, and all I could think was, in one month, I’m going to be a lady in a wheelchair.”

The neurologists all offered her medications. There were a few to choose from, each with its own long list of possible side effects and risks. “Listen, it’s not a perfect system,” one neurologist told Sylvie. “Look at it like a toolbox. If this drug doesn’t work, we can always try another one.” None of the doctors could promise the meds would work; they gave them about a 40 percent chance of halting the progression. They all said there was no chance of regaining the abilities she had lost.

There are two elements to the Wahls Protocol: giving your body what it needs to heal, and avoiding the things that make it sick

It was Sylvie’s husband who introduced her to research by Dr. Terry Wahls, showing how dietary and lifestyle changes can result in dramatic improvements in MS symptoms. “When he showed me the information, I laughed cynically,” Sylvie remembers. “But he begged me to try it, just for a few weeks, to see if it made any difference. I was facing a lifetime as a disabled adult — what did I have to lose?”

The Wahls Protocol

Dr. Terry Wahls had been practicing medicine for over 20 years when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2000. “I used to run marathons, and climb mountains,” she writes in her book, The Wahls Protocol (Avery, 2014). “I used to feel invincible.”

She held the position of assistant professor at the University of Iowa and chief of primary care at the VA hospital, but this was an entirely new view of illness. Now, she was fighting for her life.

Her decline was swift: Within three years she had progressed from relapsing-remitting MS to secondary-progressive MS. By 2004, she was in a tilt-recline wheelchair. By 2007, although she managed to keep working, she spent most of her days lying down in a zero-gravity chair.

Conventional medicine was failing her. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 591)

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