Treating Multiple Sclerosis with Diet

Image Credit: Theen Moy / Flickr. This image has been modified.

How to Treat Multiple Sclerosis with Diet

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable and frightening degenerative autoimmune inflammatory disease of the central nervous system in which our body attacks our own nerves. It often strikes in the prime of life and can cause symptoms in the brain, such as cognitive impairment; in the eye, such as painful loss of vision; as well as tremors, weakness, loss of bladder control, pain, and fatigue.

The most frequently prescribed drug for multiple sclerosis is interferon beta, which can make one feel lousy and cost $30,000 a year. But hey, it might be worthwhile—if it actually worked. We learned recently that it doesn’t seem to prevent or delay long-term disability. That leaves chemo drugs like mitoxantrone that causes irreversible heart damage in one out of every eight people who go on the drug and causes cancer (leukemia) in nearly 1% of people who take it. But MS is no walk in the park either.

If only there was a cheap, simple, safe, side-effect free solution that also just so happened to be the most effective treatment for MS ever prescribed…

Dr. Roy Swank, who we lost recently at age 99, was a distinguished neurologist whose research culminated in over 170 scientific papers. In the video, Treating Multiple Sclerosis with the Swank MS Diet, I highlight a few.

As far back as 1950, we knew there were areas in the world that had a lot of MS—North America, Europe—and other places—Africa and Asia—that hardly had any. And migration studies show that those who move from a high risk area to a low risk area significantly drop their risk, and vice versa. So it seems less genetic and more lifestyle.

Dr. Swank had an idea. As he recounts in an interview with Dr. John McDougall at the ripe young age of 84, “it seemed possible to me that this could be a matter of food, because the further north you go the less vegetarian a life is led and the more people are carnivores, you might say—they spend a lot more time eating meat.”

After looking at the multiple sclerosis data from World War II in occupied countries where meat and dairy were rationed, along with his famous study in ’52 that found that the frequency of MS related directly to the amount of saturated animal fat consumed daily in different areas of Norway, he concluded that it might be the animal fat that was causing the increased risk. He decided to put it to the test by restricting people’s intake of saturated animal fat, most commonly coming from dairy and chicken in the U.S. (See Trans Fat, Saturated Fat, and Cholesterol: Tolerable Upper Intake of Zero).

In Treating Multiple Sclerosis with the Swank MS Diet, you can see data on his first 47 patients before cutting out about 90% of the saturated fat from their diet and after, showing a decrease in both the frequency and severity of MS attacks. Normally, we’re lucky if we can get people to stick to a diet for six months, and so that’s why most dietary trials last a year at the most. The first study he published reported results from the first three and a half years.

Then came the five and a half year follow-up in which he added about another 100 patients. Then the seven year follow-up, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Then the 20 year follow-up, and then the 34 year follow-up.

How did his patients do? If we can get to people early in their disease, when they’re only mildly disabled, and restrict their saturated fat intake, Dr. Swank showed he could stop their disease in 95% of cases—no further disability 34 years later. But if they started slacking on their diet—even years in, their disease could become reactivated. They felt so great that some felt that they could cheat a little bit, since they had their disease so well under control. But eating just eight grams of saturated fat more a day was accompanied by a striking increase in disability and a near tripling of their death rate.

How about a 50 year follow-up! They were able to track down 15 of the original patients that stuck to the diet, now in their 70s and 80s, with multiple sclerosis for over 50 years, and 13 out of 15 were walking around normal in all respects. Conclusion: “This study indicated that, in all probability, MS is caused largely by consumption of saturated animal fat.”

Dr. Swank thought it was the sludging of the blood caused by even a single meal of saturated fats that can clog tiny capillaries that feed our nervous system. Diets rich in saturated fat and cholesterol can thicken the blood and make our red cells sticky. A single meal of sausage and eggs can stick our blood cells together like rolls of quarters. And that kind of hyperaggregation can lead to a reduction of blood flow and oxygenation of our tissues. What’s in sausage and eggs that may cause so much inflammation? See my video series on endotoxins described in my blog How Does Meat Cause Inflammation?

If we put someone’s blood through a machine that sucks out about 90% of the cholesterol in their blood, we can demonstrate an immediate improvement in microcirculation in the heart muscle. But what about the brain?

The eyes are the windows… to our brain. We can visualize—in real-time—changes in blood vessel function in the retina at the back of the eye, which gives us a sense of what’s happening further back in the brain. And if we lower the cholesterol level in the blood, we can immediately get a significant improvement in vasodilation—the little veins open wider and let the blood flow.

So yes, it could be the animal fat leading to clogging of our capillaries, but now we know animal fats can have all sorts of other deleterious effects such as inflammation, so who knows what the actual mechanism may be by which cutting animal fat can cut MS progression. Regardless, patients with MS that follow a diet with no more than 10 or 15 grams of saturated fat can expect to survive and thrive to a ripe old age. Of course, cutting out saturated fat completely might be better, given that heart disease is our number one killer.

The bottom line is that the results Dr. Swank published remain “the most effective treatment of multiple sclerosis ever reported in the peer reviewed medical literature.” In patients with early stage MS, 95% were without progression of their disease 34 years later after adopting his low saturated fat dietary program. Even patients with initially advanced disease showed significant benefit. To date, no medication or invasive procedure has ever even come close, to demonstrating such success.

Doesn’t cost $30,000 dollars; doesn’t give you leukemia—and works. Better!

This all begs one big obvious question: If Dr. Swanks results are “so stunningly impressive, why haven’t other physicians, neurologists, and centers adopted this method of treatment?” One reason may be that MRI machines weren’t invented until the 1970s, decades after Dr. Swank’s study began. MRIs are how we track the progress of MS today. We don’t have to rely on patients’ subjective reports or doctor’s clinical judgments, we can see the disease get better or worse right there in black and white.

It’s like in the 1970s when Nathan Pritikin appeared to reverse heart disease by the thousands but no one took him seriously until angiography was invented and the likes of Ornish and Esselstyn (see Our Number One Killer Can Be Stopped) could hold up angiographic images, proving conclusively that a plant-based diet could help literally open up arteries.

So what we need is someone to repeat Swank’s experiment today with MRI scans every step of the way. And I’m happy to report that exact experiment was just completed by Dr. John McDougall. Dr. Swank was one of Dr. McDougall’s heroes, and Dr. McDougall is one of mine. Study enrollment was completed last year and we should have the full results soon.

I touched on this in my live 2013 year-in-review lecture More Than an Apple a Day, but I’m excited to be able to take a deeper dive into this extraordinary story.

Those interested in supporting Dr. McDougall’s landmark study (headed by Dr. Dennis Bourdette, M.D. and under the supervision of Dr. Vijayshree Yadav) can donate to his nonprofit McDougall Research & Education Foundation (you can also donate to to help keep us bringing you similarly underreported yet life-saving science).

-Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here and watch my full 2012 – 2015 presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, More than an Apple a Day, From Table to Able, and Food as Medicine.


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

84 responses to “How to Treat Multiple Sclerosis with Diet

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  1. This is exciting information for those with MS. I am wondering, however, if there is any recent information that would help those with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. I understand there is currently a study program in place testing a product called Pirfinidone. If you have any information on this or any other study, including, of course, diet, that would benefit those with IPF, it would be greatly appreciated since few people with IPF survive longer than eight years, and someone very near and dear to me is struggling with this condition.

  2. The reason for the lack of interest by both the public and medical profession could be that diet is not considered relevant to MS. Outside heartburn and allergies, diet is still a fringe treatment to most medical professionals, who use sound bytes rather than research to determine what to prescribe. The research here is clear and the sound bytes override it, to the detriment of all but the most intelligent public who read

  3. Someone needs to do a study on Essential Tremor like these MS studies. I’ve been using a whole-food,plant-based diet for years to manage ET and believe it is not progressing. If we can stop the progression of ET with diet, it would help tens of millions of people. Please, some of you clinical nutritionists, put some of your ET patients on a plant-based diet and lets find out if it stops the progression. The typical ET patient gets 10% worse tremor symptoms each year. It should be easy after a few years to tell if the diet is effective.

  4. Dr. Terry Wahls cured her severe MS with a Paleo diet. Nine cups of fruits and vegetables per day, no dairy, no gluten and clean living.

  5. I was granted my Medical doctorate with honor with the work I did on MS. 1/ the target is oligodendrocyte , the cell producing myeline, and wrapping more than 1 axon, protecting the neuron and the neuro-transmission. It is a disease reversible starting in blood, entering the Blood Brain Barrier through an inflammatory reaction from may different origins , 2/ creating an inflammatory reaction before destroying an oligodendrocyte which is the key point of reversibility . When you understand this first step, you start to eat organic, to have 60 % or more in vegetables to get enough antioxydant, to have good fat as avocados to be sure to maintain a balance without reaction. The Japanese people living japanese style have no MS, it is not genetic, they have MS when in Europe or the US , nutrition looks as the key. The work I did between 1974 to 1985 has inspired more work, all scientific data and lifestyle changes are consistent with a response by the brain cells to an agent brought from the blood from nutriments.

    1. Great work, thanks. Is there also a link between diet and motor neuron disease? I’ve read something about a role for the myelin sheath in that disease too.

      1. Yes, I did a very extensive work on Japanese diet and neurology. All concerning the myelin look better when having a rich anti oxidant food , virgin cold pressed fat oil, no addition of sugar and twice or more portion of fish a week. to say it in simple word, neuro transmission , moto neurons included needs to have active signal , nothing must interfere, simple and rich food as japanese, or real mediterranean are protecting the neuro transmission bringing the elements needed without shutting down the signals, we need phospholipids , clean ones

      2. Just I did not answer your question , excuse me, I was with the nutrition. Oligodendrocytes are the cells making the myelin sheath in a sort of knitting/woven work. I worked on the interaction of the cells to build this sheath around the axon and protect the conduction and the neurotransmission. Each part of axon is wrapped by different pieces coming from different cells as if one is damaged the portion of neuron is protected by an other one coming from another cell, security is in place. The MS is the destruction of this myelin sheath, there are phase of inflammation, that makes neuro signs reversible and phase of destruction and then it is scares, we have less chance to reverse, whatever the plasticity of the brain cells, oligodendrocytes included can do migration to repair the damaged portion

    2. I had carbon monoxide poisoning at 1 1/2 years of age which led me with lesions in my brain…at age 69 I have symptoms of MS and veggies and eating well really helps, I had symptoms all along, tiredness, tingling, numbness, incontinence, etc and never made the connection to CO2 poisoning…even though I have these problems I am relieved to know it was probably caused by an accident at an early age…I deal better this way..before it was just fear if unknown.

      1. An accident as you had may be responsible of the signs you describe. I was ordering water gym , to my patients having an acute accident to avoid progressive worsening due to pain when moving. at 69 you know how to deal with it and limit the discomfort.

    3. So I’ve read a small amount is needed by m.s.paients. Can it be plant based fat/cholesterol rather than animal based? My chiro says the brain needs cholesterol which only comes from animal sources. Do you have a website or book with your studies?

      1. All available evidence points the fact that humans make all the cholesterol needed for health, and that any additional from diet increases the risk of disease. There is no evidence whatsoever that dietary cholesterol provides any health benefits. There many people that have not reviewed the evidence and make up their own assertions that assume the opposite. If you’d like to determine the truthfulness of these alternate assertions, simply ask the person for a peer-reviewed published study to support their assertion and then go read the study yourself to see what it really shows. That’s what Dr. G does and why he posts his references here.

        Dr. Ben

  6. And what about Dr. Terry Wahls, who reversed her secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis with a micronutrient-dense diet and Paleo principles? According to her, some meat, some animal saturated fats, eggs are essential for treating MS with diet:

    (Dr. Terry Wahls’ Protocol That Reversed Multiple Sclerosis)

    1. I was wondering the same thing… I’m reading Dr Wahls book now and she emphasises the importance of incorporating grass fed meat and wild fish etc in one’s daily diet… so which is best follow? Meat or no meat?

      1. Dr. Wahl’s diet as listed below, is incredibly nutrient dense *despite* the inclusion of animal foods.

        From my limited reading (I have not read her book), she seems to emphasize omega-3s, which is perhaps why she is endorsing “grass-fed” meat or certain fish. Why she doesn’t use plant-based sources for omega-3s is unclear. Perhaps because she was already inclined towards eating a paleo diet (during which she continued to decline) before starting the vegetable-heavy nutrient dense regime described below (as a result of which she improved). Perhaps this paleo inclination has resulted in an aversion to flax or chia seeds, or perhaps she feels she requires long chain omega-3s, though she could of course consume this in the form of algae.

        I suspect that being off all grains and potatoes, she requires something calorically dense to simply survive and function, and has found that in low micronutrient but high calorie animal foods.

        In any case, with all of the veggies she eats per day, the room left for animal foods is scant. I can’t imagine her eating a large amount of animal foods on top of all of those veggies.

        So on one hand, we have multiple, highly reproducible studies showing a high plant food low saturated fat diet works for MS. On the other hand, we have an n=1 anecdotal tale about someone who eats an obviously high plant food diet and has also corrected her MS. Depending on the amount of animal foods she consumes, there may or may not be very much significant disagreement here. It would be interesting to know her saturated fat intake. Perhaps it is lower than people are inferring from her dietary description, or perhaps it is higher than those on the Swank diet, but her 9 cups of veggies per day are also higher than those on the Swank diet, and are providing a therapeutic effect to mitigate the effect of the fats.


        Dr. Wahl’s diet:

        3 cups of cruciferous and dark greens

        3 cups intensely coloured: 1 cup red vegetables / fruit, 1 cup blue black vegetables / fruits, 1 cup yellow/orange vegetable / fruits

        3 cups others including: 1 cup mushrooms / onion family (for organic sulphur), and seaweed for iodine and trace minerals.

        Include spices and herbs.

        Omega 3 rich foods, green leaves and animals fed green leaves, wild fish and seafood. And you could add fish oil.

        Eat organ meats once per week

        Regular bone broth

        Fermented foods or a probiotic

        1. b00mer: You hit the points I wanted to make, but you did so a lot more robustly and elegantly than I would have. I was going to compare to the “Mediterranean diet” and quote (to the best of my memory) Jeff Novick: “Were they healthy *because* of the olive oil or *inspite* of it?”

          Without clinical trials on Dr. Wahl’s diet, we have to use common sense to determine which parts (or all) of her diet were likely the cause of her personal, anecdotal success.

          Thanks for your post.

          1. Thanks Thea. I had Jeff Novick’s quotation in my mind as well. Funny how people love to pick out the single least significant and least healthful food out of an overall healthy diet to glorify e.g. olive oil or goat cheese with the mediterraneans, fish with the Japanese, etc.

            I could only stand to watch about half of the video as it was achingly unscientific, but the word I heard a million times was micronutrients micronutrients micronutrients. What exactly does micronutrient intake have to do with eating meat? Nothing, unless you’re trying to minimize it.

            She also flippantly mentions “the essential fats are important too”, specifically mentioning saturated fat, which of course is nonessential. And in the same breath attempts to relate it to plasma membrane fluidity, which is inversely related to saturated fat composition.

            It is astounding that someone that displays ignorance about such extremely basic biochem and nutrition principles is given a platform to speak about diet and health. Of course, if her message of micronutrients and essential FAs is getting cleverly construed to => eat meat and saturated fat and be healthy, well, I’m sure she’ll sell a lot of books.

            1. b00mer: You gave me my laugh for the day. :-)

              Thanks for that additional analysis/info. Wow. Wow. Wow. Reminds me of Jon Stewart’s responses to certain politicians and our media. Painful, but it’s better to laugh than cry.

        2. Dr. Wahls’ experience is not anecdotal or based on one person. She has been doing clinical trials on patients with her diet for the last year. And thousands of people are using her diet plan with amazing success. Just visit her Facebook page. The brain uses fat for fuel, not glucose. I like everything about this site except its obvious vegan fanaticism.

          1. ehm… the first fuel for brain is glucose, and if there are problems with glucose supply then body starts to use ketones body from fat catabolism…


            If fat are really primary sources for the brain why does gluconeogenesis exists ?

            I found a review that could answer some question about the brain preference for glucose instead of atty acids:


            In another review the authors talk about the brain areas that regulate glucose homeostasis:


            Or this text:


            Or another:


            I think it covers pretty much every brain metabolism…

            Of course it could be more difficult than that:


            To me, glucose is of primary importance, then cames the other substrates…

            1. HTTPS:/
              Cholesterol metabolism in the brain is independent from that in peripheral tissues due to the blood brain barrier.

          2. There are no articles linked to on her facebook page.

            On her personal website, she lists only three articles, *none* of which examine the role of fat in treatment of MS:

            – One article has no dietary intervention component whatsoever.

            – The other two articles examine up to five other physical, exercise, and lifestyle related interventions in conjuction with dietary interventions including up to 17 supplements and huge amounts of nutrient dense green and sulfur containing vegetables. Again, there is no evidence presented to suggest that her patients are in fact consuming large amounts of saturated fat.

            Compare these *two* multifactoral, small (literally one was n=1), uncontrolled, short-term studies with the longest running, most successful study on MS in the history of medical literature, which *specifically studies* dietary saturated fat and its effect on MS.

            There is no comparison between the work of Swank and Wahls.

            If you or others purchase her books and see personal progress, that is interesting, but anecdotal.

            If she’s got a study in the works that she can 1) actually get published, that would 2) actually validate what she says about fat, then I’ll be interested to read it.

            But this website is based on modern science and what that means is peer reviewed literature, not anecdotes and hearsay. You could even say we’re fanatical about that. Until Dr. Wahls actually publishes *any* literature showing that fat is beneficial for MS patients, there really isn’t any valid scientific conversation to be had about it.

            The articles she lists on her website study the following:

            1. neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) and physical therapy improves gait

            2. a case study of one woman using physical therapy, home exercise and stretching, NMES, and a diet of 600 grams of cruciferous vegetables,
            300 grams of brightly colored fruits or vegetables, 60 to 100 grams of meat, poultry or fish, 4 supplements, and no milk, eggs, or gluten. The patient specifically mentions in her own words that it is when she fails to consume the cruciferous vegetables, she experiences a decline in energy and mental focus.

            3. the effect of stretching, strength exercise, meditation, massage, electrical stimulation, and a “modified paleolithic” diet (specifically encouraging green and sulfur containing vegetables as well as 17 supplements) on fatigue – in the author’s own words, it was a small, uncontrolled pilot study, and their only conclusions were that it improved fatigue and that people followed the plan relatively well.

          3. The brain needs cholesterol, not glucose. However itmakes its own. And recycles it. The cholesterol we eat or produce in our liver -only a tiny anoint gets thru he blood brain barrier. I’ll stick with my whole food plant based diet. Unlike animal products, it has improved my health greatly.

      2. No meat…no meat….none…nada…nothing from animals. The article is clear and the research has all been done for you. Just follow on.

    2. One person feeling better is not evidence I’m sorry to say. MS is a terrible disease and we all have hope that progress can be made in this area, but we need to stay objective so that our patients don’t waste their time on treatments that don’t have any benefit, or make the patient worse.

      If Dr. Wahl publishes a well founded research study with an adequate number of subjects, we’ll all pay very close attention.

      Dr. Ben

        1. I’m happy to read any peer-reviewed study published in a major scientific journal. Feel free to post a link in a post addressed to me and I’ll be happy to review it and provide my take on it.

          1. Hi Ben, I suspect this will be old news, but here is a link to a study available on Pubmed about the Wahls diet. I would be interested in your analysis. It does occur to me that we are all different and that some of us might need a little meat (or milk, or fish, or extra vegetables, or extra fibre) as a natural source of some nutrients for which we have an individual need. If Nutrition Facts has already discussed the article, could you please direct me to the discussion? T

            Review of Two Popular Eating Plans within the Multiple Sclerosis Community: Low Saturated Fat and Modified Paleolithic


            1. The authors spend a significant amount of time pointing out the shortcomings of the available studies which highlights that there is minimal to no evidence in support of their desired outcomes. I don’t think there is a scientist alive that would disagree with the notion that anyone that names and trademarks a diet in their own name, and then authors a paper on it, is going to be biased. Even with this bias, they didn’t come up with any real high quality evidence. So is there a possibility that individual variation introduces the need for animal products in some people? There is no evidence of this, but there is overwhelming evidence that consuming animal products puts 30-60% of the population at high risk for premature death.

  7. As far back as the 1980s when I was a practicing natural nutritionist, MDs would recommend their patients see me for nutrition counseling, since dietitians were still interested in processed, packaged, ‘industrial strength’ edibles. Long story short: Numerous MS patients regained health even to the point of getting off disability and going back to work. Diet IS the KEY biochemical factor in health and wellness, which allopathic medicine still cannot seem to accept since it is steeped in chemical medicine, i.e., toxic pharmaceuticals, which, in many diseases, only exacerbates the problem. The human organism was designed to function with high quality nutrients found in plant-based and some animal foods, as humans have ingested since time immemorial. Only within the last century have laboratory-made–mostly petrochemical-based–pharmaceuticals displaced healing foods and modalities.
    Nutrition was called quackery in the 1980s by those in the medical profession who thought they knew it all. I can remember an MD, who was head of a hospital, asking me, “Don’t you think if there was something to nutrition, we’d know about it?”
    Dr. Greger’s work is a breath of fresh air and I compliment him and his team to the highest. My only hope is that the medical profession in its entirety expand their collective consciousness so as to include natural nutrition–not food processing industry nutrition–in med schools and throughout ancillary medical professions.

    1. You are right, when I reversed MS by diet on few hundreds patients, I heard all stupid arguments from my colleagues, being the only MD in a department of neurology who was not prescribing sleeping pills and having my patients sleeping well. When the tension was too intense I changed my clinical research subject from MS to vascular to explore the BBB and then I was granted American patent for a rescue blood pump I am launching now. I want to be back to nutrition and Neurodegenerative disease because I have enough data to know that something is possible to be done with the younger generation. Eating is the fuel of life, I do not get why so may people are blind about that.

      1. Doctors believe that I have 2nd progressive MS. I have been eating as vegan for 6 months. Are you saying that I should eat salmon twice a week?

        1. The diet as preventive medicine is a life long diet. Twice wild fish a week as cold water Cod, herring, Salmon, Salmon roe once a week these with a organic vegetarian diet may help you to prevent MS to worsen, I described signs of lymphocytes 1 week before relapse, then the 2nd step was to give antioxydants when these signs started for 3 weeks , I observed relapses 2 weeks after the ending the antioxydant treatment. In progressive MS, it is a mixture of chronic inflammatory response , worsening of scares and reactivation of old lesion. I like turmeric and ginger as anti-inflammatory nutriments, most of my patients with progressive MS felt improved adding that to their diet, Salmon with ginger green tea rice which is a simple recipe, very Japanese looks helping. Gaba rice of course.

            1. I like hemp seed but I have no scientific evaluation. I just use it for me when I am very busy , I had a serious chronic disease, my diet works better than prescription.

          1. I have taken your advice regarding turmeric, ginger, and last night I made the ginger green tea Gaba rice with a small piece of wild Alaskan salmon with the skin on. I have to admit; I am already walking better, and will continue to have the salmon twice a week for a few months, and see how I do. I am a little concerned about PCB’s though. Thank You!

            1. There is nothing special in salmon and other fish that isn’t found in in a better form in plant foods. However, seafood contains iodine, which is deficient in land based foods due to modern intensive farming practices stripping the soil. The abundance of flourine and chlorine in the modern world also displaces iodine from the body, so we need much more of it today. Iodine is essential for the production of a thyroid hormone that is involved in the methylation process, which in in turn creates the methylcobalamin needed to build the myelin sheaths, the fatty protective layer around nerves which break down in people with MS.

              You would have had better results from consuming kombu/kelp, and would have avoided the cholesterol and saturated fats in the fish. You would have even better results adding drops of Lugol’s iodine into a smoothie while taking a methylselenocysteine supplement (selenium is essential for displacing halogens bound into iodine receptors. Also if you take iodine while selenium deficient it will exacerbate that deficiency and affect your thyroid).

              Take an algal supplement for omega 3s (which are superior to fish supplements) and/or consume 7g of flax, 20g of hemp or 4 walnuts. Also eat plenty of berries and leafy greens which are high in omega 3s while being low in all other fats.

              1. Thanks fruitbat; I am not especially thrilled about eating meat again. It’s just that I have been a strict vegan for the last six months, and have greatly enjoyed eating whole food, but I have continued to loose my ability to walk. Thanks for your suggestions; I have been doing most of them including taking selenium (plus eating beans twice a week), except for the kelp, and iodine. I will try this and see if it makes a difference in my abilities. I have been eating ground flax seeds, walnuts and flax oil for the omega 3’s, but was thinking that there might be something to eating the omega 3’s from a real fatty fish whole food source. I do want to continue to walk.

                1. I am so happy to help and hope it works out for you!

                  The Lugol’s comes in different strengths (from 2-15%) and qualities, some contain sodium iodide instead of the superior potassium iodide for example. Don’t be afraid of consuming too much – in Japan the average iodine intake from sea vegetable consumption is 13 milligrams a day, over 86 times higher than the RDA of 150 micrograms recommended in the western world. One twelfth of a teaspoon of 7% Lugol’s contains 12.5 milligrams of iodine. 12.5 to 50 milligrams is considered by doctors who have studied iodine therapy to be a useful dose. It is best to start at the lower level, and consume it in a fruit smoothie as it disguises the taste while providing magnesium, which works with iodine in the body.

                  It is important that the form of selenium is usable – the inorganic form such as selenite can be toxic if too much is consumed, and are difficult for the body to utilise. A good supplement is Life Extension Se-methyl L selenocysteine.

                  Regarding omega 3 fats in fish, you’d have to consume 215g or nearly a whole fillet of salmon every day to provide enough, which would also give you 118 mg of cholesterol. Additionally, it would give you 1.5g of methionine – more than you need in a day in a single piece of food – Dr Greger has a video about excessive methionine feeding cancer cells.

                  Algal supplements naturally contain DHA and EPA in a good 2:1 ratio, are free of mercury, and have not been chemically deodorized to disguise the smell of rotting fish. If your fat intake is low enough, the body can produce EPA and DHA from omega 3’s found in plant foods, but a supplement can’t hurt if you feel you need one.

                  On a personal note, I started the 80/10/10 high calorie raw fruit and leaf based diet several months ago, and while there were some general improvements in my health and appearance, I was disappointed that I didn’t get the incredible benefits claimed by other people, particularly in regard to my ADHD. It is so disheartening and frustrating to be making the effort to do everything right and not see results. Iodine was the missing link for me – sea vegetables are ignored (though not prohibited) on the 80/10/10 so if a person is already iodine deficient (which is common, especially in sufferers of ADHD) this diet will not help to rectify the problem and may even make it worse. The same is true of a general plant based diet, since livestock fodder is fortified with iodine so that animal products provide small amounts, and people on plants based diets generally do not consume sea vegetables to make up for and better it.

                  Good luck to you, hopefully this extra information was helpful, and I really hope that supplementing with iodine will prove beneficial in reversing your MS

    2. I’d just like to point out that vegans have always existed. Meat eaters are overly fond of saying that humans have always eaten meat. No other primate habitually eats flesh, the only animal products other primates eat are insects.

  8. As someone who has lived with relapsing/remitting MS for about 27 years, this kind of upcoming report is very exciting to me. I own Dr. Swank’s book and have tried to model my diet on his, although I’ve never been 100% faithful to the diet. I did want to correct an impression you gave in the article that interferon beta and chemo drugs are the only treatment options for MS. I’ve been on Copaxone since 2000 and have had only one relapse during that time.

    1. I think at this point the best science supports Dr. Swank’s approach. You can read more about this issue on John McDougall’s website which includes an interview with Dr. Swank. Given the nature of the disease it is difficult and expensive to do good studies due to the time frames needed. I would not recommend meats or saturated fats at this time. Hopefully the study that was funded by Dr. McDougall’s foundation will lead to a larger longer study. I can’t think of any downsides to his approach. I do know that if you have one chronic disease you don’t want another such as arterial disease or diabetes or cancer. Good luck.

        1. The study was not expected to show efficacy given the small numbers of participants (30) and limited time frame (1 year) when considered relative to the natural time frame of MS (years). Dr. Bourdette is hoping that this study will open the door to a much larger and longer term study which would be needed to actually show efficacy. So the best science is yet to come. It will most likely be done in Europe as most studies in this country are done to test the use of drugs or procedures. I heard Dr. Bourdette speak at the McDougall Advanced Study Weekend at the time the study was funded. The interesting side note is it took the Ethics Committee at Oregon Health and Science Center a while to decide that a study which put participants on the intervention diet was safe! So for now as I mentioned in my previous post I would recommend this approach to anyone who might have or does have MS. I have one patient who was wheel chair bound who benefited with better control of his type 1 diabetes and his wife says his stool problems have greatly improved. Thanks for taking the time to comment and post the article… Keep tuned to as the science keeps coming.

  9. The Swank Diet appears to include meat, eggs and dairy. It is not a vegan diet. To really benefit one needs to go Vegan Plus and eat a diet of whole organic plants while avoiding salt, sugar and refined carbohydrates. xyz

  10. My sister has had MS for over 35 years. Unfortunately, I do not think anybody shared the info generated by Dr. Swank’s research with her. We did not know it to share with her until the very recent years. She has been in a nursing home for about 13.5 years, unable to roll over in bed, or to move arms and legs. She is barely able to speak at this point, and has had stomach tube for liquid diet for years. She has been in hospice care for over a year. She is 63 years old. The disease has devastated her life.


    1. Poppyseed: re: ” Unfortunately, I do not think anybody shared the info generated by Dr. Swank’s research with her.” That’s just so criminal.

      This type of thing drives me *nuts.* Dr. Greger addresses this point yet again in his latest summary talk (from Table to Able). Our doctors and experts should be telling us what the science says. Let us decide how we want to use that information. But they have no business patronizing us and hiding the information.

      MS is such a terrible disease, which your sister and you have first hand experience with. I’m sorry to hear about your situation.

  11. I switched over to a vegan diet recently and noticed an immediate improvement in terms of more energy and fat loss. I’m in medical school now and I believe that we will find out with more research that autoimmunity is the root cause of many seemingly unrelated diseases. My own theory is that the body gets confused by foreign animal proteins and mounts an autoimmune attack, and that the deleterious effects are only felt eventually over time. Dr. Greger has shown us countless studies on the benefits of a vegan diet. It really is a no-brainer at this point.

    1. kags: I am not a doctor or expert and I do not know your situation. I can not make recommendations from either of those perspectives. However, I have purchased quite a few whole plant food based cookbooks over the last few years. I can recommend some books that based on my limited understanding would meet the needs of someone who is posting on this page.

      First, you might consider checking out Dr. McDougall’s book, The Starch Solution. The front part of the book contains some great info. And the back part contains some great recipes.

      While I just got, Happy Herbivore Light and Lean, I think it is going to be one of my favorite books. Check it out!

      If cost is an issue for you, check out Vegan On The Cheap (and just don’t use oil for those recipes that call for it). For really simple recipes, check out Vegan On $4 A Day.

      If you have kids, check out Let Them Eat Vegan. (Or even if you don’t have kids, check it out.)

      You might also want to check out some on-line resources, including PCRM’s site and the free 21 Day Kickstart program. They have a ton of free recipes that are healthy, tasty and easy to make.

      Hope that helps.

  12. I feel like you are overpromising, Dr. Greger. My vegan friend with MS was vegan before her diagnosis ten years ago and has been vegan continuously for at least 3 decades. She is still crippled by her horrible MS symptoms.

    1. MS is as variable as humans are, to the extent that I call it “the charlatan’s wet dream”. Whatever you pick, including nothing (exercise, meditation, acupuncture, prayer, etc.), someone can point to it and say “This worked for me!”. Add biochemical individuality to spontaneous remission, the placebo effect, and confirmation bias, and stir in some charisma and scientific jargon, and you have a recipe for malady-based riches.

  13. Read Professor George Jelinek’s book “Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis”. He was diagnosed with MS in 1999 and due to his work as a professor of medicine, was in a position to access all the latest research about MS. His protocol is based on Dr Swank’s diet, Vitamin D3 supplementation (5000iu daily), Omega 3 as fish or flax oil daily, execise and meditation (to alleviate stress). He has not had a relapse for about fourteen years. “Recovering from MS”, also by Jelinek, and Law, is the stories of some of the people with MS who have used his protocol very successfully. He also has interviews on you tube.

  14. Dr. Greger, I’ll bring to your attention that McDougall and Yadav’s 1 year results have already been presented and published at 2014 American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting. The results show no difference in presence of lesions, from MRI scans.
    I refer you to:

    I do wish you would be equally vocal about studies that show no effect, at least as a reference to those who come to this page with high hopes.

  15. Also Bison is your alternative to beef. Fish is also good for you. No beef, sugar or coffee. We are still working on the last 2 with my wife

  16. it seems to me that there are two threads in this conversation, neither of which are recognizing the other. That can change, the recognition part, the conclusions do not need to change, necessarily.
    Ok, on the one thread we have a description of Doctor Swank’s wor, which spans decades and has follow up results of both long and sort term duration. This thread also brings to the readers a recent controlled study initiated by Dr. John McDougall.
    the second thread is about the Paleo diet and the results a physician got with that diet on her own case do multiple sclerosis. Also sited is the commonality of large proportions of foods containing antioxidants. The book that woman wrote has been read by the participants in that thread.
    I have a sister who has had MS for 36 years. The last 13.5 years have been spent in a nursing home. The whole time she has been paralyzed, unable to move her arms or legs, unable to roll over,in bed without assistance. The last 5-7 years she has had a tube for feeding directly into her stomach,because she cannot swallow effectively. I could go on and on. She has been fed some variety of Ensure, a liquid, which has kept her alive. She can also have snacks,of junk food,if someone feeds them to her, like

  17. Guess my reply was too long. I just want to concluded that I. Do not think that my sister ever was told about Dr. Swank’s work. It is way too late for her now, but diet should be an integral,part of health care practices. MS is just one example of where that is so important. So people who understand that diet is so important ought to be getting on the same side in an effort to change established medical practices and establish food cultures.
    Thanks, I have made my point

    1. Someone pointed out to me years ago that diet is the problem because in a lot of countries MS just don’t exist. I was very thankful for that info

  18. A preliminary, not yet peer reviewed study released today reports no association between diet and MS. Here is a link to a summary.

    I find myself at a loss for what to believe. I suspect the study referenced above simply does not have enough participants following the actually food plan required to achieve the results we’d like to associate with a healthy vegan diet. Anyone else feel like screaming? Oh, and note that in the study cited above, the only statistical correlation to reduced incidence of MS was high adherence to a western diet.

    Yes, the authors have relationships with companies making MS products.

  19. I have 2 friends who have great results with their MS when they started taking Juice Plus+, and my own family has had amazing results as well!

    Can Juice Plus+ help with multiple sclerosis?

    Though we cannot promise that JuicePlus+ will cure any illness or health condition, this is what I can say: MS is an autoimmune challenge that Juice Plus+ can make a difference with, in time. It may take double the dosage, however, if the MS is severe.

    The immune study shows that B-cells become less hyperactive with Juice Plus+, i.e. make fewer antibodies against the body itself, which is the problem with all autoimmune disorders. Autoimmune disorders show up in different ways in different people, manifesting symptoms based on our own unique genetic weaknesses.

    Instead of focusing on the name of the disease, if we can go back to the cause of all autoimmune diseases – a trigger-happy immune system – then we do better. Juice Plus+ makes the immune system less trigger-happy.

    “Clean Eating Fitness Junkie”

    I invite you…

    To watch this video that could change your health & the health of your family in numerous ways!

    We have been taking Juice Plus+ capsules and drinking the Complete Shakes for a couple of years now. We’ve all experienced better sleep, healthier hair, nails, skin, teeth & gums, and a HUGE boost in our immune systems, which means we have more energy! NO FLU (and NO, we do not get the flu shot)!! I haven’t even had a cold (knock on wood)! My Husband & Kids have had only 1 cold! My Husband & I compared our yearly physical blood work results from before & after starting Juice Plus+ and ALL of our numbers improved! Our pediatrician was wondering where we’ve been, because the kids haven’t had a single “sick visit” in over 2 years! We show up one a year for “well child” check-ups and that’s it! My son used to catch strep-throat MULTIPLE times a year :(!

    The most amazing thing of all, and one of the reason I decided to promote this amazing whole food nutrition is my Husband’s miraculous results while taking a double dose of Juice Plus+ before & after his tonsillectomy, and all during & after his 6 weeks of daily radiation therapy. All 4 of his Dr.’s kept asking “How were you able to work so long while going through radiation?” and “What ever you’re doing, keep it up!” “I’ve NEVER seen someone recover so quickly!” “Your health is incredible!” “You are cured!”….on and on and on.

    Anyway, I just feel really passionate about this product and decided to promote it, in hopes that others can experience the vast improvements in health like we have. It’s also great for those with DIABETES, because you can get all of your fruits & vegetables withOUT any of the sugar! I love that Juice Plus+ is not a supplement….it’s actual REAL FOOD NUTRITION! Please let me know if you have any questions, or want more information. I would love to hear from you! If you’d like to give Juice Plus+ a try, please contact me or you can even go directly to my website and order from there.

    One of the most compelling things about Juice Plus+ is the fact that there have been over 30 research studies conducted in leading hospitals & universities around the world. The studies and results are available on my website:



  20. i have MS since 2007. My lifestyle and my nutrition were so bad but i had just one redicive i all my life, at the moment. When I ask the people who have MS as well, the people tell me almost the same, their lifestyle and nutrion are so f… bad. I don´t know if the vegetarian people have better life than people who eat meat but I think that we need some nutrients as Vitamin B and we can´t find in veggies…we need Vitamin D, we need Omega 3…
    and normally the people who eat the meat don´t have a good lifestyle (because they meet trans-fat, drink sugar ¨liquid” as Coca-Cola, Mcdonalds….) and the vegetarian people are interesting more in their nutrition…but I am totally sure…we need a GOD meat!

  21. Dear Dr. Greger, Thank you for this article.
    The McDougall’s Study on Multiple Sclerosis and Diet has been published and no real difference was seen between the “Diet” and “Control” groups in MRI images; nor was a difference in disability or relapses seen between the diet intervention and control groups.
    What is your opinion?
    Thank you.

    1. It might. Deli meat still has loads of saturated fat so if high animal fat is one of the culprits then limiting or avoiding meat (deli meat) may be considered.

  22. What about – as in the book The China Study- the correlation between distance from the equator and incidence of MS as related to Vitamin D deficiency as Vitamin D3 is manufactured by our skin in direct sunlight.

  23. The quotation below is from a transcript posted on Dr. McDougall’s site of an interview of Dr. Swank.

    “When we compared our patients, after 35 years; the group who strictly
    followed a low-fat diet had a death rate of 31%. They not only avoided
    death from MS, but also death from heart and other diseases. Those who
    followed a high-fat diet had a death rate of about 80%.

    Does anyone know of a paper he authored that also provides this information?

  24. Join me celebrate for these great and perfect day which my lord god has done for using these great and powerful healing doctor called prophet hazzan to heal my sickness MND which has been chocking me up for over 6years now without solutions, i have seek for solutions online, and through hospital, they keep on giving me orientations about drugs that can exand my since prophet akpe has helped me to erased my disease out of my life, i we owe you greatly for healing me truly and to again, contact prophet dr hazzan for MND cure today HIM

    1. I have MS and a plant based diet stopped my disease in its tracks after 10 years of steady progression, even healing lesions. I have been plant based for more than 10 years and have never had another relapse. All this happened for me based on a work bet around forks over knives. Watch the movie, try it out for yourself. You just might end up with a miracle!

  25. It’s 2019, August 1st. Anyone still contributing here?
    Pam Bartha’s work in 10 countries, over 600 people. MS and other inflammatory disease caused by parasites, fungi, Candida, bacteria eg Lyme etc. Low carbohydrate, grass fed organic meat. Successful largely. Working with recognised consultants eg Dr A McDonald. Paper written 30yrs ago on animals having MS systems just pulled out at last! Really hopeful for us with MS at last. Treating the cause not just the awful symptoms!

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