The Wahls Protocol
by Terry Wahls, MD,
Dr. Terry Wahls used to run marathons and climb mountains in Nepal. She competed multiple times in 54-kilometer cross-country ski marathons; but then she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2000 and by 2007 she spent most of her time lying in a zero-gravity chair when she was 52 years old. Over the years she “realized that conventional medicine was not likely to stop what was happening to me”. So, she started to research on her own new ways to treat her disease. “I researched Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s dementia, Lou Gehrig’s disease 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”.
During her research she also found the Institute for Functional Medicine, which has the goal to provide clinicians with a better way to care for people with chronic disease by looking at how the interaction between genetics, diet, hormone balance, toxin exposure, infections, and psychological factors contribute to the development of disease or the improvement of one’s health and vitality. Through her own research and the help of Functional Medicine concepts Dr. Wahls completely changed her life and diet and now she is out of a wheel chair and walks, rides her bicycle and swims. She explains: “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 and it worked.”
So, Dr. Terry Wahls is living proof that a devastating autoimmune disease like multiple sclerosis can be reversed. She also states in the introduction of her book, The Wahls Protocol, “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.”
At my clinic, T. Murray Wellness Center, Inc., I am about to start a four month group case study utilizing the Wahls Protocol as our text for patients with conditions such as multiple sclerosis, parkison’s disease, hypothyroidism, type 2 diabetes, and other autoimmune diseases. In preparation and review I am going to spend the next number of blogs outlining Dr. Wahl’s work which emphasizes that “diet is where it all begins. It is the most influential element about your environment that you can control, and it is therefore your most powerful tool in healing your MS or other autoimmune or chronic disease.” Dr. Wahls presents 3 levels or stages of diet which each patient can decide they will start with:
- Wahls Diet= Basic level, kick starts intense nutrition, removes foods adding to your illness.
- Wahls Paleo= more structure and further elimination.
- Wahls Paleo Plus= most challenging level and most therapeutic for autoimmune, neurological, or psychological conditions.
Next week I will present stage or level 1. The Wahls Diet.