U-I Doctor Uses Food, Exercise to Treat Multiple Sclerosis

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IOWA CITY – Ten years ago, doctors diagnosed Dr. Terry Wahls with a progressive form of multiple sclerosis.

Traditional treatments didn't slow her decline. Then, back fatigue forced her to use a wheelchair.

"I was very depressed," Wahls said. "It was clear that I was getting progressively weaker, I ultimately would've been bed-ridden."

Dr. Wahls started researching nutrients important for brain health and changed her diet accordingly.

"I have lots of greens," Wahls said. "Probably six cups of kale salad, romaine salad, and spinach salad every day with lots of garlic, onions, other sulfur containing vegetables. I also make sure I have three cups of brightly colored fruits and vegetables like beets, red cabbage, carrots and berries.

She also eats protein, too, but stays away from sweets.

"When I first started getting better I thought, oh I'm better now, I can indulge," Wahls said. "So, I did that and felt miserable for three weeks."

Dr. Wahls also started neuro-muscular electrical stimulation – the first multiple sclerosis patient in the United States to use it as treatment.

"Three months later, I was able to walk between exam rooms," Wahls explained. (It was the) first time in years."

Now, Dr. Wahls walks where she needs to and bikes thirty minutes to and from work. She also educates others on the health benefits of eating right and exercising.

"If we fix what we eat, our toxic exposures and our exercise you'll reduce your risk for disease 70-90 percent," she said. "That's much better than I can do with prescription medication."

In two weeks, Dr. Wahls starts a clinical trial to see if other multiple sclerosis patients would benefit from her routine. If she can prove that they significantly benefit from this alternative treatment, she will seek additional funding from the National Institutes of Health to conduct more research.
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