This amazing post was written by Dr. Terry Wahls, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa. She is the author of The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine and the cookbook The Wahls Protocol Cooking for Life: The Revolutionary Modern Paleo Plan to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions. You can learn more about her work from her website, www.terrywahls.com.
You have seen the television ads. People with a wide variety of autoimmune problems – psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, or inflammatory bowel disease — whose lives are restored, thanks to new drugs. They are smiling and beautiful. The name of the drug is flashed on screen again and again.
A voice tells you about the potential problems. But the actors on screen look so healthy and happy. You make a note to ask your doctor about the fancy new drug and whether it is right for you.
Autoimmune diseases are unpredictable, usually progressive, and often lead to an early exit from the workforce. Stopping disease progression makes sense to patients, their families, their physicians, and especially the drug companies. Treating autoimmune diagnoses has become very big business. Billions every year!
Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis
Because I have multiple sclerosis, I follow the development of drugs to treat MS very closely. For years there was no therapy or treatment, and patients diagnosed with MS faced profound disability. The first disease-modifying drugs prescribed to MS patients cost $8,000 to $10,000 per year. Then newer biologic drugs were developed, to the price of $ 60,000 annually or more.
The rapid escalation in costs of disease-modifying drugs exceed the rates of inflation by a factor of 7 or more. The annual cost for MS drugs tops $19 billion per year. Today’s top-selling drugs are very powerful and incredibly expensive, costing $65,000 to $100,000 or more each a year.
Drug benefits insulate individuals somewhat from the cost of prescription medication. Over the years both demands for medication and its accompanying cost have increased dramatically, and these two factors are in part accelerating the cost of healthcare insurance premiums for individuals and businesses as well as the cost of long-term medications for Medicaid and Medicare patients.
Whether the medication costs are borne by an individual, businesses, or the government, society ultimately will ultimately absorb these costs, leading to a severe economic drag on the system. Small businesses that provide health insurance benefits will struggle with higher costs for health care premiums.
Larger businesses will also have higher costs for health care premiums. Individuals and families will face higher out of pocket expenses for health care premiums, medication, and treatment.
These drugs are meant to be taken for life. They control symptoms fairly well, but only for a short time. In this paper that examined how long symptom reduction lasted using biologic autoimmune medications in rheumatoid arthritis, the remission was less than a year for over half of the patients. Only 14% had a remission lasting more than two years.
Patients may spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for drug therapy over their lifetime without curing the diseases they are supposedly treating. Think about that. The drugs may reduce symptoms for a time, but the disease processes continue to smolder in the background.
Why Autoimmune Disease Drugs Aren’t the Solution- And What Is
Autoimmunity is a condition where the body’s immune cells are confused and attack healthy and undamaged parts of the body, leading to problems like,
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Systemic lupus
- Multiple sclerosis, depending on which cells are confused.
Most specialists rely on immune suppression to stop these unnecessary attacks.
But drugs alone provide only a short-term treatment for this problem. The more effective route is to look at the root cause of why we develop autoimmunity and address that, instead of relying on expensive drugs that suppress our immune cells.
My Journey to Long-Term Solutions
I have an autoimmune condition — secondary progressive multiple sclerosis — that put me in a tilt-recline wheelchair within three years of diagnosis. I saw the best doctors at multiple MS centers around the country. I took the newest drugs, including Tysabri, but continued to decline for 7 years steadily.
As I was getting worse, I started studying the basic science research and began experimenting on myself. I discovered the research on epigenetics, how diet and lifestyle could switch genes on and off.
I learned more about meditation, exercise, electrical stimulation of muscles, and a lot more about nutrition and the microbiome. I discovered the Institute of Functional Medicine and began taking their courses on treating the cause of poor health.
In 2007 I was too weak to sit in a regular chair. I could walk 20 yards slowly with two walking sticks. I suffered from neuropathic pain, profound fatigue, and brain fog. That is when I created a diet and lifestyle program designed specifically for my brain. And then everything changed. My life was transformed.
Within 6 months my pain was gone, my brain fog was gone, and my energy restored. Within 12 months I was walking easily without a cane and got back on my bicycle (after being unable to bike for the prior six years). I even completed an 18-mile bike ride with my family.
My understanding of disease and health was transformed. I changed how I practiced medicine, focusing on using diet and lifestyle changes to treat autoimmune, neurologic, and psychiatric disorders with remarkable success.
How MS Patients Respond to the Treatment
I conduct clinical trials, testing my protocol in others with progressive MS, with remarkably positive results. The therapeutic lifestyle clinic treats people with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, asthma, fibromyalgia, neuropathies, diabetes, chronic pain, traumatic brain injury, mood disorder, fatigue, brain fog, and memory loss, and no matter the disease, most of our patients find relief with these interventions.
Energy improves, the pain lessens, mood stabilizers and the number of prescriptions needed steadily declines as people adopt and sustain the recommended dietary changes.
What your physicians are not telling you is that the symptom reduction from the potent biologic drugs is often temporary. They are also not telling you that diet and lifestyle changes are often much more powerful than drugs at stopping disease progression and can even lead to regression of symptoms.
Within weeks of making changes to their diet and lifestyle, our patients report less pain, better memory, and more energy. Are you willing to try these changes for a month to see what they can do for you?
Or do you want to stay with the drugs, which bring in billions of dollars each year to drug companies around the globe without long-term relief to the patients taking them?
Diet and lifestyle changes are under your control and cost far less than any medication. Many people are able to transform their lives using my books, The Wahls Protocol, and the companion cookbook, The Wahls Protocol Cooking for Life. You could too.
Use this link to pre-order my new book, The Wahls Protocol Cooking for Life, and then go here to receive some great free gifts to help you in your healing journey If you want to dive more deeply into my protocol, join me next summer at the annual Wahls Protocol Seminar.