Terry Wahls

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Terry Lynn Wahls (born November 9, 1955) is a physician who is an assistant chief of staff at Iowa City Veterans Administration Health Care and clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa. She teaches internal medicine residents, sees patients in a traumatic brain injury clinic, and conducts clinical trials. She was diagnosed with a chronic progressive neurological disorder and secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.[1][2] She now publicises and practices the application of strategies she believes helped her achieve a dramatic reversal of her symptoms, mostly based upon diet and lifestyle changes.[3]

Early life[edit]

Wahls was born in McGregor, Iowa to Lois Koopman and John Charles Wahls. She was raised on a small family farm in northeastern Iowa near Elkader.[citation needed]

Following graduation from Central Community High School in 1972, Wahls attended Drake University. After receiving a bachelor's degree of fine arts in studio art in 1976, Wahls was accepted into the pre-med program at Iowa State University. After completion of her science studies there, Wahls was accepted into medical school at the University of Iowa in 1978.

Wahls received her M.D. degree from the University of Iowa in 1982 and accepted a residency in obstetrics and gynecology from Barnes Hospital, Washington University in St. Louis. After a year of residency there, Wahls transferred to internal medicine at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in 1983. Wahls became certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in 1986. In 1987 she moved to Marshfield, Wisconsin and became a physician member at Marshfield Clinic. In addition, Wahls was an adjunct clinical assistant professor with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine.

In 2000 Wahls moved to Iowa City, Iowa to become the associate chief of staff for ambulatory care at the Veterans Administration (VA) Iowa City Medical Center and associate professor of medicine in the college of medicine at the University of Iowa. In that same year, Wahls was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis.[4] that progressed to a stage where she was confined to a wheelchair and on the verge of being unable to continue practicing medicine. She adopted a functional medicine approach and developed a diet which she believes contributed to a reversal of symptoms. She now is concentrating her practice on that approach.[5]

The Wahls Protocol Diet[edit]

The curative diet promoted by Wahls to treat MS is a modified paleo diet, relying primarily on grass-fed meat, fish, leafy vegetables, roots, nuts, and fruit and restricting dairy products, eggs, grains, legumes, nightshade (solanaceous) vegetables, starches and sugar.[6]

Wahls and colleagues have completed the first clinical trial of a modified paleo diet for treatment of MS[7] The study, based on 19 of 81 enrolled participants who completed the study procedures has been published to date only as a clinical trial report in an open access journal.[8]The study results suggest a modified paleo diet intervention was associated with reduction in perceived fatigue, increased mental and physical quality of life, increased exercise capacity, and improved hand and leg function.

Wahls' promotion of her diet and lifestyle regimen as a cure for MS as well as other disorders has been criticized for relying too much on anecdotal evidence, for failing to initiate adequate research to verify the claims, and for Wahls' perceived conflicts of interest (selling numerous products and educational materials related to her protocol).[9] Few studies have evaluated the role of diet as a risk factor or a treatment for MS.[10] A 2012 Cochrane review found no research supporting efficacy or effectiveness of diet or vitamin supplementation for treatment of MS and noted that more research would be required to determine if either intervention might be effective in the management or treatment of MS.[11]


  1. ^ Landau, Meryl Davids (19 December 2012). "An MS-Stricken Doctor Changes Her Diet ... and Reverses Her 'Irreversible' Decline". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  2. ^ Rogers, Adrian (March 12, 2013). "Speaking of MS". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  3. ^ Hyman, Mark, Reversing Multiple Sclerosis Using Functional Medicine, The Doctor's Pharmacy, August 15, 2018 episode]
  4. ^ "UI Researchers Develop Innovative Protocol of Treatment for MS Patients". N.p., 14 Nov. 2011. Web. 25 Mar. 2013.
  5. ^ Hyman, Mark, Reversing Multiple Sclerosis Using Functional Medicine, The Doctor's Pharmacy, August 15, 2018 episode]
  6. ^ "What Is the Wahls Protocol Diet and Does It Work for MS?". WebMD. WebMD, LLC. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  7. ^ "Wahls Paleo Diet and Progressive Multiple Sclerosis". Clinicaltrials.gov. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  8. ^ Irish, AK; Erickson, CM; Wahls, TL; Snetselaar, LG; Darling, WG. "Randomized control trial evaluation of a modified Paleolithic dietary intervention in the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: a pilot study". DovePress. DovePress. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  9. ^ Howard, Jonathan (2019). Cognitive Errors and Diagnostic Mistakes: Case-Based Guide to Critical Thinking in Medicine. Springer International Publishing. ISBN 978-3-319-93223-1. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  10. ^ "Wellness for People with MS: What do we know about Diet, Exercise and Mood And what do we still need to learn?" (PDF). National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  11. ^ Farinotti, M; Vacchi, L; Simi, S; Di Pietrantonj, C; Brait, L; Filippini, G (2012). "Farinotti, M., Vacchi, L., Simi, S., Di Pietrantonj, C., Brait, L., & Filippini, G. (2012). Dietary interventions for multiple sclerosis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd004192.pub3". The Cochrane Library (12). doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004192.pub3.