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Do you know someone with an auto-immune disease? It can be life-threatening when someone has multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, or lupus. Other forms, like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, can be disabling. Medications help some, but these drugs can have serious side effects, including cancer. Sometimes, despite the most expensive and best drugs, the treatments don’t work.

The goal is to put an auto-immune disease into remission, and to keep it that way. For years I have used a combination of Functional Medicine, anti-inflammatory supplements, elimination diets, and even prayer to initiate a remission. Often, this approach has been very helpful. One of the best examples of a trigger that can cause an auto-immune disease is gluten intolerance—give up gluten totally, and some people no longer have an auto-immune disease.

A surprise to me at first was that people with auto-immune diseases often have much more arterial plaque than you would expect for their age, likely related to excessive inflammation. Putting their disease into remission, I have often seen that their arterial plaque can shrink by up to 5-10% in just one year.

A new and a major breakthrough is that my colleague and friend, Terry Wahls MD, has written a book discussing her recovery from multiple sclerosis. I met Terry a couple of years ago at a Functional Medicine conference. At the time she was in a wheelchair, and clearly her life force was dwindling. Despite the fact that she was a professor with a university in Iowa and had access to the best treatments available in the country, I was seeing her decline.

In January 2014, I saw her again while attending our group mastermind meeting she was not only walking but dancing—she looked great! I was awestruck and eager to hear her story. She had followed a functional medicine approach and tried a gluten and dairy free eating plan. She was taking a variety of critical nutrients in supplement form. The fact is that not only had she put her disease into remission, she had reversed the brain injury from the multiple sclerosis as well.

If you or a loved one have a serious auto-immune disease, I strongly urge you to buy her book, read her story, and try The Wahls Protocol.

I have to say that I don’t agree with some aspects of her approach to a Paleo, nutrient rich diet, as she eliminates foods that are ultra-healthy, like beans, and favors coconut oils over other nuts oils. Yet clearly if I had a family member with a serious auto-immune disease, I would want them to try her protocol, and I’d feel much better about trying her lifestyle plan than using many of the immune suppressing drugs commonly prescribed today for auto-immune diseases, as these drugs can cause cancer, serious infections, and many other problems.

More than anything, this is a story of hope and perseverance.

I wish you and your family the very best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS