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Before Starting a Drug, Ask Your Doctor What’s It’s Really Treating – Here’s Why

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Most neurologists and rheumatologists will try very hard to convince you to take a disease-modifying drug to control your symptoms. They want to stop the progression of the disease and reduce your symptoms. These drugs treat the autoimmune disease by suppressing the immune system so that your disease is less active. But since your immune system is a vital part of regulating your body, your overall health declines and the risk of infection increases. 

Instead of addressing the underlying environmental factors that contribute to disease severity, most physicians focus on pushing their patients to take very potent disease-modifying drugs.  They don’t explore these environmental factors that we know contribute to either greater health or greater disease. Some Western medicine physicians even tell their patients that diet has nothing to do with disease activity!

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Unfortunately, these drugs are part of a multi-billion dollar industry. Billions are spent in research labs to create these magic drugs, allowing people to continue diet and lifestyle habits that are disease promoting. The cost is not cheap. Multiple sclerosis disease-modifying drugs range from $32,000 to $45,000 per year for older drugs like Avonex, Betaseron, Copaxone, and Rebif, and the newer, more potent drugs are even more expensive: Tysabri costs $42,000 per year and Gilenya will cost approximately $51,000. 

The disease-modifying drugs prescribed for autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, and other diseases are similarly expensive. The cost keeps climbing each year, as do the number of people diagnosed with autoimmune conditions. We can’t afford these drugs individually. Furthermore, the steady increases in healthcare costs are a drag on our economy. There is another option that is largely overlooked: teaching people how to create more health and vitality in their lives by addressing the environmental factors that contribute to health and disease.

Holistic Approaches to Disease

What doctors don’t tell their patients is that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of studies have shown that all autoimmune conditions are a complex interaction of a person’s genes–that is, their DNA–and the environment, which means diet and lifestyle. Each individual gene known to increase the risk of an autoimmune condition increases that risk by only 1 to 2%. The rest of the risk comes from the interaction between those the genes and the environment.

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Environmental factors that relate to increased risk include:

  1. Diet, including deficiencies in vitamins, minerals, or essential fats
  2. Food sensitivities, often an unrecognized gluten and dairy sensitivity
  3. Toxins stored in the fat, such as heavy metals like mercury and lead or other toxins from plastics and solvents
  4. Chronic elevation of stress hormones
  5. Weak social networks and lack of meaningful relationships that make us happy and healthy
  6. Unrecognized chronic infections, such as Lyme disease
  7. Unrecognized fungal problems, such as a Candida overgrowth

All these factors can prevent your cells from working optimally, increase inflammation, and worsen disease symptoms. Being evaluated for these possibilities and addressing any problem areas will likely lead to reduced symptoms, increased energy, improved mental clarity, and decreased need for medication. I have seen it time and time again. Addressing all the environmental factors that I listed above is the most potent intervention available for reducing symptoms and improving health over the long term.

Disease-modifying medicines will not fix the environmental problems that cause a great deal of confused biochemistry in your cells and the ill health so many Americans suffer from. Full health and vitality requires creating an optimal environment for your cells, which means consuming a maximally nutrient-dense diet that avoids foods one is sensitive to, reducing toxin exposure, controlling stress hormones, and nurturing a rich social life.

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I have found that taking these inexpensive and comparatively small steps are the most effective way to reduce symptoms of nearly every chronic disease that afflicts modern society. I have seen many people turn their lives around, need far fewer medications, and have far more energy and vitality after we have taught them the Wahls Protocol™ way of life.

To learn more about me and my approach to health, visit www.terrywahls.com and www.wahlsprotocol.com. Pre-order my new book, THE WAHLS PROTOCOL, from Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

Terry Wahls
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Terry Wahls

Dr. Terry Wahls is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa. She is also a patient with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, which confined her to a tilt-recline wheelchair for four years.Dr. Wahls restored her health using a diet and lifestyle program she designed specifically for her brain and now pedals her bike to work each day. She is the author of The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine and the paperback, The Wahls Protocol A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles.

You can learn more about her work from her website, www.terrywahls.com, on Facebook (Terry Wahls MD), and Twitter at @TerryWahls. Dr. Wahls teaches the public and medical community about the Protocol and the latest from her research lab in a three day seminar every August. She is currently recruiting for patients in a new clinical trial, Dietary Approaches to Treating MS Related Fatigue. To learn more about this opportunity email the clinical coordinator, Cathy Chenard. She can be reached at catherine-chenard@uiowa.edu.
Terry Wahls
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