Health Babes Podcast #003: Managing Autoimmune Disease with Dr. Terry Wahls

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Intro  0:03

Welcome to the Health Babes Podcast with Drs. Becky Campbell and Krystal Hohn, where we talk everything health.

Dr. Krystal Hohn  0:13

Well, Dr. Terry, welcome to the Health Babes Podcast. Thank you for joining us.

Dr. Terry Wahls  0:18

Thank you for having me.

Dr. Krystal Hohn  0:20

Yes! So a little bit about Dr. Terry: Dr. Terry Wahls is an Institute for Functional Medicine certified practitioner and a Clinical Professor of medicine at the University of Iowa, where she conducts clinical trials. In 2018, she was awarded the Institute for Functional Medicine’s Linus Pauling Award for her contributions and research, clinical care, and patient advocacy. 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 she now pedals her bike to work each day. She is the author of The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles. She also has The Wahls Protocol Cooking for Life: The Revolutionary Modern Paleo Plan to Treat All Chronic Immune Conditions. So welcome!

Dr. Terry Wahls  1:15

Thank you for having me!

Dr. Krystal Hohn  1:16

Yes!

Dr. Becky Campbell  1:17

All right, Terry, we like to start out every podcast, especially with you, because this is what I see you posting mostly on Instagram… I want to know: What did you have for breakfast?

Dr. Terry Wahls  1:28

Tea.

Dr. Becky Campbell  1:28

Or did you have breakfast?

Dr. Krystal Hohn  1:29

Oh, yes.

Dr. Terry Wahls  1:31

No, I haven’t eaten in 36 hours.

Dr. Krystal Hohn  1:33

Wow!

Dr. Becky Campbell  1:34

Terry does a lot of fasting. Okay, well, if you were to eat breakfast today, what do you think it would be?

Dr. Terry Wahls  1:41

Tea. I haven’t had breakfast. I will generally have one meal a day. So when I do get around to eating, I will have a bunch of greens, typically a big salad, occasionally cooked greens, and a source of meat. Today, we’re going to be having grilled chicken from primal birds, so I’m actually quite excited about that. We’ll have grilled garlic. I’ll have a bunch of raw peppers, daikon radish, and probably some raw cauliflower. I’ll have my tea, of course. And I will have a smoothie, probably with some matcha green tea in it as well.

Dr. Krystal Hohn  2:20

Matcha.

Dr. Becky Campbell  2:22

What’s in your tea that you had this morning?

Dr. Terry Wahls  2:24

Green tea and calendula leaves.

Dr. Becky Campbell  2:26

All right. Well, that’s good to know. What did you have, Krystal?

Dr. Krystal Hohn  2:30

I had a big veggie stir fry with really good sausage—good quality meat—with kale, sweet potatoes. You know, all the veggies—carrots.

Dr. Becky Campbell  2:40

I had broccoli, cabbage—like a cabbage blend—sauteed it, and then some chicken patties.

Dr. Terry Wahls  2:40

You know, what is interesting and all that, Becky, of course, is that we’re eating normal great food, vegetables, and protein for our meals. There’s been such an effective marketing campaign by Kellogg and all his compatriots that convinced us we needed to have carbohydrates for breakfast. And for thousands of years, humans had vegetables and protein for breakfast. We didn’t have any of this carbohydrate and cereal stuff.

Dr. Krystal Hohn  3:16

Right.

Dr. Becky Campbell  3:17

I don’t do well on high carbohydrates, personally, and I know that everyone is different. And I don’t really label my diet. I guess it’s definitely paleo, but then there’s the low histamine aspect. But I am much better on meat, fat, and veggies with very low starch and no processed food. I can’t tolerate it at all.

Dr. Terry Wahls  3:40

That’s the way our species evolved. We had plant material that was high in fiber, very low in carbohydrates—certainly nothing easily digested with a glucose spike—and we had protein. We may or may not have had a lot of fat. Depending on the season, we probably would have had a lot of fat. But we were often in ketosis because we had to work so hard for our food.

Dr. Becky Campbell  4:04

Yes. And I just finished Dr. Terry’s practitioner certification.

Dr. Terry Wahls  4:10

Yes!

Dr. Becky Campbell  4:11

Yes. It is such a great course. For any practitioners listening, you have got to take this course. It’s amazing. I know a lot, but I am always wanting to learn, and I learned a lot from this.

Dr. Krystal Hohn  4:15

Right! It’s never-ending—learning—isn’t it? It’s always expanding.

Dr. Terry Wahls  4:30

Part of what I love about my course is that I really help people understand that people change because they want to change. It’s never enough to just give them information. So we really dive deep into how the process of change happens and how ancestral medicine, evolutionary biology, is at the core of creating health.

Dr. Becky Campbell  4:59

Yes. It’s so true. And I love how into the nutrients you’ve gotten and the explanation of why we need what we need. There are different phases to Dr. Wahl’s protocol, which is great because not everybody is right for each phase. That’s what’s so great about this. And I always talk about how there’s no one set diet for every single person, so this is one of the many reasons I love that program. So I’m really excited about [inaudible].

Dr. Terry Wahls  5:27

Oh, thank you!

Dr. Krystal Hohn  5:30

I’m excited to learn more.

Dr. Becky Campbell  5:33

Krystal is going to take it too.

Dr. Krystal Hohn  5:35

Yes.

Dr. Terry Wahls  5:35

Oh, great, Krystal. Glad to hear that.

Dr. Krystal Hohn  5:37

Absolutely.

Dr. Becky Campbell  5:38

All right. Well, let’s get going on talking about some of the stuff that we wanted to hit home with today with some people who may be suffering from multiple sclerosis or an autoimmune disease or [who] even have loved ones who have this going on and they want to know how they support them. You suffered from MS and trigeminal neuralgia, which is an awful, awful, awful thing. From what I’ve read, there’s a very high suicide rate with trigeminal neuralgia because of the pain level.

Dr. Terry Wahls  6:10

Absolutely. I completely understand that. Imagine what happens when light, sound, breeze, talking, or speaking triggers electrical pain from your temple down across your face. When it would turn on, my pain would be so severe that my knees would buckle. I couldn’t maintain [myself] standing. It could be so severe that all of my sensory input is obliterated. Vision is replaced by white. I can’t hear. It lasts just for an instant; occasionally, it would last for up to a minute. And then I’m not breathing, I’m not talking, and I’m freaking out my family because you just cannot function until the pain stops. If that becomes permanently on, you cannot function. So I certainly understand that before we had treatment modalities, that was the solution that people would often turn to because of just how intense that pain is.

Dr. Becky Campbell  7:17

Yes. I can’t even imagine that. I mean, I have suffered from migraines just from having neck issues and from having histamine intolerance, and that has been bad enough. I don’t have trigeminal neuralgia, and I cannot even imagine what that was like for you.

Dr. Terry Wahls  7:35

On the other hand, I also see it as a tremendous gift now. Because I have trigeminal neuralgia, I have the exquisite biosensor of: Is my brain inflamed? Is my spinal cord inflamed? If it’s inflamed, the sensation in my face is abnormal, and the trigeminal neuralgia turns on.

Dr. Terry Wahls  8:01

I periodically go in and get my MRIs updated. I just got my update with my neurologist calling me and saying: “Oh my God, it’s great! I can’t wait to bring you in because, finally, it looks like those lesions in your cervical spine are gone.” I can’t wait to see that. We had assumed that those were going to be permanently on because, when I recovered, we updated my MRI, and they were still there. My neurologist was disappointed. He goes: “Oh, but, Terry, you’ve had them for 20 years, so of course they’re going to stay. But we’ll see.” Now, I can’t wait to go back and see my neurologist. That’ll be in July. He offered to let me come in right away. I was like, “No, no, I’ll wait till July.” But I’m looking forward to it.

Dr. Becky Campbell  8:48

Well, you’ll have to let me know, because I’m very curious. And you know that someone that I love very close to me has MS, so we’re in the beginning stages of all this.

Dr. Krystal Hohn  8:59

What a blessing to know Terry and to learn from her too, with having loved ones.

Dr. Becky Campbell  9:04

It’s amazing. Yes. Terry has been so helpful for us, so we thank you for that.

Dr. Krystal Hohn  9:11

Terry, tell us a little bit more about the therapeutic lifestyle clinic you created at the VA.

Dr. Terry Wahls  9:16

Well, when I had my recovery, it changed how I am treating patients in my primary care clinic and in the traumatic brain injury clinic. So I’m talking more and more about diet and lifestyle and less and less about drugs, and it drives my partners crazy. They complained to the chief of staff, [who] called me to say: “Terry, what the hell’s going on? People are really upset with you.” Fortunately, I’d been quite prepared. I brought with me an armful of my scientific papers, and I went through them, explaining what I was doing and why. And I won my chief of staff over, and I was able to continue using more and more diet and lifestyle in primary care and the traumatic brain injury clinic with very impressive results.

Dr. Terry Wahls  10:04

Then my chief of medicine called me in to say: “Terry, we’re pulling you out of the resident clinic because I want you to start your own clinic.” It took us a while to get all of that in place. I also ended up leaving the traumatic brain injury clinic. As we created this new clinic, I negotiated that I could have a registered dietitian work with me. And I went to the chief of medicine, especially the medicine clinics, and I said: “We’re creating this clinic. We’re going to use diet and lifestyle. We’re not using drugs. We’ll have just some very basic primary care types of labs. And we want to take your most difficult cases. People, you can’t help. They need to know I’m not giving [them] drugs. It’s just going to be diet and lifestyle.” I also went to the pain clinic. We had just a handful of people come. We had remarkable success with these folks. Then we got more and more and more, and then we started getting an avalanche of people coming in.

Dr. Krystal Hohn  11:04

That’s how it works, right?

Dr. Terry Wahls  11:06

Correct. You have to have success. If you show you have success, word of mouth… Another thing that I did was invite primary care, especially medicine, physicians and their staff to come sit in our clinic and go through the clinic to see what we did. Just a few came. They were impressed. Then a few more came, and a few more came. So within three years, we kept having to redesign our clinic to accommodate the demand because I didn’t want to make people wait. So we went from one-on-one appointments to group appointments. As I got more skilled at this, I could do larger and larger groups.

Dr. Terry Wahls  11:49

The other thing that I learned was that we would let them bring a family member to the clinic because I realized this is a family intervention, not an individual intervention. It’s a family intervention. We’re teaching the family the root cause of illness. We’re teaching the family ancestral health, evolutionary biology. We’re teaching the family how to meal plan, create a shopping list, cook, meditate, and move. And because we’re in the VA, the VA has electronic medical records, so they could track the people that I saw. We could track their blood pressure, blood sugar, labs, lipid values, glucose, A1C, vitamin D levels, homocysteine,C-reactive proteins, insulin levels, and medication use.

Dr. Terry Wahls  12:44

And I’m giving reports back, originally just to the chief of medicine, [on] what our success rate was. Then I’m giving my reports back to the chief of staff and the executive committee of the hospital. Again, we’re showing that weight is going down, blood pressure is improving, blood sugars are improving, A1C is improving, medication lists are simplied, and pain medications are going down. Then the VA central office in DC hears about what I’m doing, and they come out to see me. And I’m like: “Okay. How is this going to go?” But they were very impressed with what we were doing.

Dr. Terry Wahls  13:26

So then I write a grant; we can add more staff. By then, I’d been doing this for three years with my research program growing, and now I’m having to make a big decision: Do I grow what I’m doing outside the VA? Do I make this bigger still? And that’s why I decided to retire from the VA, launch our certification program online, and have a bigger commitment to educating the public and clinicians as well. I did not want to stop my research at the university because if I’m going to change the standard of care, I have to do the research, and I did want to change the standard of care.

Dr. Terry Wahls  14:11

It was a big decision because I really love the VA. I love my vets. They’ve taught me a lot. But I hired the staff. I retired from the VA, hired the staff, continued the university, and then expanded my work to the public and to the practitioner program. That’s gone very well, and then, of course, this year happened. And of course, we all had to figure out what to do in this new environment.

Dr. Becky Campbell  14:37

It’s so true. I was so grateful to already be virtual at that point because a lot of people had to make a switch, and it was very hard.

Dr. Terry Wahls  14:50

Yes. You know, life happens, and you have to figure out: Where’s the gift in that difficult circumstance?

Dr. Krystal Hohn  14:56

Exactly. The ebbs and flows.

Dr. Becky Campbell  14:59

That’s so true. Well, why don’t you tell us more detail about the clinical research that you’re doing?

Dr. Terry Wahls  15:04

Sure. We’ve done multiple trials. There was the first trial. It was a single arm in progressive MS, and the big question was: Could people do the complicated program that I did? And if they did, did we hurt anyone? And then, was the trend in the right direction? Because when you do a small safety and feasibility trial, you don’t expect to show positive results. You have to show you don’t hurt anyone, that they can do it, and that the trends are [going] in the right direction.

Dr. Terry Wahls  15:31

People lost weight without being hungry. That was our big side effect, so that was okay. People could actually implement the diet very consistently. They could meditate. They could exercise. They could do the E Stim. They could do everything that I did, so that was exciting. Then, to our amazement, the fatigue went down quite remarkably—2.38 as a group. That is huge; 0.45 is clinically meaningful. So [there was] a huge, huge reduction in fatigue. The p-value is 0.0005, so that’s pretty big. I think the quality of life improvement was 16, and a quality of life improvement of 5 is clinically meaningful. So [there were] very exciting results there.

Dr. Terry Wahls  16:19

Then we do a weight list, randomized and controlled, just on the diet. Now we’re studying relapsing and remitting MS early in the disease process. We used just 12 weeks. We see them do their assessments and randomize them to either get the diet or have to wait 12 weeks to get the diet. Again, we show that fatigue goes down, quality of life goes up, and mental health improves. And by the way, motor function improved in the intervention group compared to the control group.

Dr. Terry Wahls  16:52

Then the next study we do is the Wahls diet versus the ketogenic version of the Wahls diet versus weight loss control. And again, fatigue goes down, quality of life improves, and mental health improves. I was a little bit surprised: The Wahls diet was better than the ketogenic version of the Wahls diet. I thought the ketogenic version might be better, but the Wahls diet was better. Then the next study compares a low-fat diet to the Wahls elimination diet, so this is the Swank diet versus the Wahls elimination diet. A much larger study. It has a 12-week observation period, a 12-week intervention period with support, and a 12-week follow-up without support. Very exciting. We’ve analyzed that data. We’re very excited about that data. We’ve written it up. We will be submitting it for publication. I don’t get to tell you more until it’s been published.

Dr. Terry Wahls  17:50

I’ll also tell you that because we care so much about diet, we analyzed what people were eating at baseline with weighed food records after the end of the observation period, at the end of the intervention, and at the end of the follow-up period. So we know what people ate. And the big question, are we creating nutritional deficiencies with the restrictive diet, either the swank diet or the Wahls diet?—I know that answer. But again, I don’t get to tell you that until we write it up.

Dr. Terry Wahls  18:24

We also did a very detailed vision assessment with ocular coherence tomography on a smaller subset of folks. We are analyzing that data. As a matter of fact, in a couple of weeks, I’m meeting with the ophthalmologist who’s looking at that data. So even I don’t know the answer to that question. And then the other set of data that we have that I’m very, very excited [about] is that we collected poop at all four points as well. So I’m having conversations with my immunology, microbiology guy. And we’re going to be analyzing the microbiome and looking cross-sectionally [to see] what kind of relationship that has with various quality of life and fatigue measures. So that’s paper number one. Then paper number two is: How does that change based on the assigned study diet? We’ll be able to begin to look at: What are the mechanisms by which food impacts the microbiome and impacts those clinical outcomes?

Dr. Terry Wahls  19:30

So we have lots of incredibly exciting papers ahead of us. And this is the stuff I love to do because when we understand the mechanisms of why food is so powerful, it will be easier for my neurology colleagues and myself, especially colleagues, to say: “You know what? We’ve all got to be talking about food because that gets at the basic science of why people are ill and why they begin to recover.”

Dr. Becky Campbell  19:58

I have a question that’s just something that I’m wondering if you see. If someone’s following the Wahls protocol tothe T as far as the diet goes… They’re doing the Wahls Paleo diet, basically. They’re supporting their mitochondria. They’ve already supported the microbiome, and they’re meditating. They’re doing basically all the things that we know can really help keep them as healthy as possible and as symptom-free as possible. Do you think it’s normal for someone with MS to still occasionally get a symptom that comes, lasts a little while, and then goes?

Dr. Terry Wahls  20:44

Sure. So we’ll take me. Clearly, I’m doing a great job with my self-care routine, and I keep refining and improving it. My trigeminal neuralgia will still turn on. What causes it to turn on? Viruses. If I get a viral infection, my face pain will turn on, particularly if I have a fever. Fever will trigger facial pain. When I was traveling the world, speaking at all these conferences—

Dr. Becky Campbell  21:15

[inaudible]

Dr. Terry Wahls  21:19

We used to do that. I get invitations all the time. I discovered that if I flew more than six hours of airtime in a month, my face pain would likely turn up. I had to keep track of how much air travel I was doing in order to not get triggered. If my sleep is disrupted [for] one night, I’m okay; [after] two nights of sleep disruption, my sensation is likely going to turn back on. Another thing that will happen is that as we age, perhaps we [will] have more vulnerability. My immune responses supposedly have immunosinicence, so immune aging. Maybe this will become less of a problem now that I’m 66. But my mitochondria and other foibles will happen due to aging.

Dr. Terry Wahls  22:22

My guess is that I may still have vulnerabilities that I have to pay attention to, [like] stress, toxins, and infections. And if I come to Becky’s house and she makes me food—I’m sure she’ll make delicious food—and she goes to buy some gluten-free processed food that she thinks is going to be a fun treat, she may not be aware that 20% of gluten-free-labeled food has gluten in it.

Dr. Becky Campbell  22:56

Oh, yes. Or cross reactive foods, right? They have an effect on the body.

Dr. Terry Wahls  23:01

Correct. Correct. So, this has been a way easier year for me because I don’t have to eat anyone else’s food; I’m just eating my food, so I could be completely comfortable. When I would travel, I got to the point where I’m good [with] having a periodic fast. I had to help them feel okay about the fact that I’m traveling and doing a periodic fast. I’m used to this. This is comfortable; this is fine. Not eating and just having green tea while you’re having your meal is not uncomfortable at all to me. It is way more comfortable than having my face pain turn on in a new city. I do not want my face pain to turn on away from home.

Dr. Becky Campbell  23:54

No, that’s true. And the reason I ask that is because I want people who are newer to this to understand. I think it’s easy to get discouraged if you feel a symptom coming on and you’re doing everything right. But I think with something like MS—and that’s why it’s called relapsing and remitting—especially early on, you’re going to have these moments, and it’s okay. Sometimes you may have tingling in your fingers, tingling in your feet—or whatever your symptom is—even if you’re doing everything right. It’s most likely going to go away. It’s being brought on by something, and it’s just the way that it runs its course, right?

Dr. Terry Wahls  24:45

In my classes and my programs, we teach people two steps. The first step is to look back: What were the potential triggers in the previous 24 to 48 hours? So I just listed for everyone the triggers that I have identified. Okay, is there a trigger I can identify? Then I ask my wife or my kids, because they’ll think of things that I might have overlooked. So you identify the triggers. Then the next thing I want people to do is evaluate their self-care routine. Did you slack off? Is there something you could improve? So over time, I have been able to continually refine my self-care routine.

Dr. Terry Wahls  25:36

Another one of the benefits of having retired from the VA is that I can have a more leisurely morning. When I—I rarely do—have to set an alarm, I wake up, meditate, and do my workout. I rotate between strength training, stretching, and swimming. I do my sauna with SaunaSpace, which I really like. I come back out, I do another short meditation, and then I take my cold shower.

Dr. Becky Campbell  26:09

That vegas nerve, right?

Dr. Terry Wahls  26:11

Yes. [I take] that cold shower for five and a half minutes, then I do some more yoga in my bathroom, then I do another meditation, and then I start my day. So that’s several hours. And if I can, I try to fit in and walk around the block outside as well. Some days I can’t fit that in. Some days I can’t fit in my sauna. So I have to have some flexibility based on how late I managed to sleep that day. When I was working at the VA and at the U, that would take up too much time. I couldn’t indulge in all that.

Dr. Krystal Hohn  26:49

Right. Right. So you changed some things around, and now you can, right?

Dr. Terry Wahls  26:53

And now I can.

Dr. Krystal Hohn  26:54

Yes. Tell us a little bit: What are some of the common root causes of your patient’s health problems?

Dr. Terry Wahls  27:01

At the very, very root cause, we’re going to have genetic vulnerability. And then think about the birth environment: C-section, early antibiotics, breast milk or formula, and a high-starch diet. Those are common factors. The next early, common factor is serious adverse childhood events, and the microbiome alteration increases the probability of leaky gut, which is the early development of food sensitivities. Prematurity and adverse childhood experiences increase the cortisol response to stress, which increases inflammation and insulin resistance. Those are the big root causes.

Dr. Terry Wahls  27:54

The trigger that leads to the overt diagnosis of MS or an autoimmune process is typically stress. Typically, that autoimmune process has been smoldering along for years or decades, slowly building, but what finally caused it to bloom is typically severe stress. It might be emotional stress. It might be physical stress. It might be financial stress. That is the most common. Occasionally, it’s an infection. Occasionally, it’s toxins. But I would say 80% to 90% is stress.

Dr. Becky Campbell  28:35

Yes. I see that with a lot of things. [Concerning] the person who is close to me in my life and has recently been diagnosed, who knows how long the lesions were there? But I know that the first symptom came after a very stressful year. There was a severe amount of trauma in one year that this person had, and then the first symptom came on, and they went on from there. We see this with everything. We see this with everything we talk about in functional medicine.

Dr. Terry Wahls  29:09

Yes. And think about the pandemic. We’ve all had this enormous year of severe financial stress, severe stress over the political turmoil, severe stress over the difficulty [that] we all have, including me, [of] predicting the future right now, and the amount of stress we had to experience while we had to figure out how to adapt—school, work, everything. So we can predict that there will be severe health challenges that our patients will experience in 2022 as a result of the diseases that rushed along because of this year of stress.

Dr. Becky Campbell  29:53

Turning those genes on or whatever, activating the response to what’s been going on that they didn’t even realize. That’s so true. I think Krystal was going to ask, but I’ll just ask you: What are the three things that people could be doing right now?—if you were to name three things.

Dr. Terry Wahls  30:12

Well, I think step number one is [to] think deeply about what you want your health for. That will help you find the inner strength to begin working on acquiring these new skills in the area that you want to focus [on] because creating new habits and new routines takes some work. It won’t happen spontaneously. So understanding what you want your health for will increase your desire to do that work. Then step number two, eat more vegetables. I think that would be really, really good. Eat more vegetables. And step number three, I’d encourage you to find a recipe that you really enjoy and cook with your family that recipe so you can have pleasure in making food together as a family because, as we work to improve our dietary routines, you want your family to be on this journey with you.

Dr. Terry Wahls  31:20

For most of us—not everyone, but for most of us—cooking together is a pleasurable and fun thing to do. You know, chopping up the vegetables, frying up the bacon or sausage, or grilling the chicken together is a fun thing. So if you can have fun with your meal, have more vegetables, and think deeply about what you want your health for, those are three steps that most people will enjoy. And it’s easier to have change that is pleasurable.

Dr. Becky Campbell  31:50

Don’t you think, too, that explaining to your family why you’re making these changes… You know, I’ve talked to my kids. I have three little boys, and I’ve explained to them what life looks like in the future with and without eating healthy. Or, let’s say, your grown-up kids; let’s just say your spouse. And the thing that people don’t understand is that once you start eating this way, other foods taste weird. Chemically processed food doesn’t taste good anymore.

Dr. Terry Wahls  32:33

With my vets… My vets—we’re so much fun. I learned to talk to my vets like: “Okay, you guys, you want to be having great sex when you’re 30, when you’re 40, when you’re 50, and when you’re 70, right?” Well, yes, yes, they want to have that. “Okay, so the best thing for having great sex is good blood flow, which means more vegetables.”

Dr. Krystal Hohn  32:54

I love it.

Dr. Terry Wahls  32:54

“Really?”

Dr. Becky Campbell  32:55

Terry, that’s genius!

Dr. Krystal Hohn  32:57

That is so good! 

Dr. Terry Wahls  33:02

In the other conversations in my follow-up classes, we’d have newbies and old timers. This was so common. As people are coming back for their follow-up, the ladies are so excited because the weight is melting away. Without being hungry, weight is melting away. They’re really excited about that. And they might be excited that their blood sugar is a little better.

Dr. Becky Campbell  33:28

The mood is better when their blood sugar is better, right?

Dr. Terry Wahls  33:32

Their mood is better. Now the gentlemen—they’re excited because everything’s going down, except there’s something that’s going up.

Dr. Krystal Hohn  33:40

Yep!

Dr. Becky Campbell  33:41

They’re going from 6 to 12 o’clock, if you know what I mean.

Dr. Krystal Hohn  33:44

That’s right!

Dr. Becky Campbell  33:46

They are so excited, like: “Oh my God, Doc! You didn’t tell me that my love life would be better. I’m waking up with a pisser hard-on.”

Dr. Krystal Hohn  33:54

Yes! That’s life changing for people.

Dr. Terry Wahls  33:57

And they are so excited. Now, that usually doesn’t happen at six weeks. That takes a few more months. So that’s the beauty of having a group that has old timers and newbies in because the folks who’ve been in the class for several months are coming back saying: “Oh my God, it is happening, Doc.” And the new guys are like, “What’s happened?” So [there’s] that cross-talk between men who are excited by the fact their love lives are coming back, and [they’re] talking to the newbies. And these are young men in their 20s and 30s who lost the ability to have erections, probably due to the toxins in the water and the inflammation. And they’re not going to admit that they’re not having sex or having erections until they hear from another young man who got it back.

Dr. Krystal Hohn  34:53

Exactly.

Dr. Becky Campbell  34:54

And I think for men, that’s like… If men were to make a vision board, I think that would be their number one magazine cut-out.

Dr. Terry Wahls  35:06

And it’s final for them. They need to have their testosterone working well, or their brains will deteriorate rapidly. The other thing that was really interesting in all of this was that the women, too, were having big changes in libido, desire, and interest in sex. This is an overgeneralization, of course: For women, our priorities may be appearance, which just makes sense. We had to be attractive to get a mate, so appearance matters very much to our reproductive success and our ability to pass on our genes. For men to get a mate, they had to perform, so performance really mattered so [that] they would have reproductive success. So for men, biologically, it makes sense to me that they carry a lot of need to have high performance. Women carry a lot of need to have a great appearance. In my classes, women are so fired up about appearance, and men are so fired up about performance.

Dr. Terry Wahls  36:20

And then later, as things evolve, men admit, “Well, yes,” they’re losing weight, too, and “it does feel pretty good.” And women will later admit: “Well, yes, you know, it does feel pretty good. I am more interested in intimacy with my partner, and that does feel good. It’s good for the relationship, and it’s good for me.”

Dr. Becky Campbell  36:41

It’s imperative for the relationship—if you ask me—if that’s an issue. And we work with a lot of people with libido issues. We actually just did an episode on libido because it’s such a big request. Women want to have a libido; they don’t understand why they don’t. And men definitely. For the men that we’ve worked with who are not able to function the way that they once could, it’s very disheartening for them. They take a gigantic emotional hit to their ego when they can’t, and it’s hard. It’s hard to hear. But it’s amazing when that changes because everybody’s happy.

Dr. Terry Wahls  37:27

It’s very important. Actually, I’m very excited. In our seminar, we’re going to be talking more about sex—libido. We talked a bit about it last year, and we’re talking more about it this year. I think it’s important for women and for men to address that, acknowledge it, and let them know that yes, there are things that we can do that have a huge impact on making those problems worse or better, depending on what we’re doing every day.

Dr. Becky Campbell  37:56

Why don’t you tell us what’s going on? What do you have coming up? Tell us about the seminar.

Dr. Terry Wahls  38:02

Okay. We used to have the seminar in person. Of course, this year and last year, we [had and will] have it virtually. What I discovered is that by having it virtually, in many ways, it is even more engaging and much more intimate and personal. We have a series of bonus calls with some brilliant speakers. We have a presentation, then a Q&A that I moderate. Then we have a breakout in smaller rooms so people can talk about what they’ve learned, and you get a chance to meet people from all over the globe.

Dr. Terry Wahls  38:37

Then in May, we have two and a half days where we have the sessions virtually again [with a] speaker. I moderate the questions, and we have practice sessions. We do dancing, we do Tai Chi, we do yoga, and we do belly dancing. So it’s not just sitting the whole time. We actually practice these stress-reducing techniques, we practice the movement techniques, and we have breakout sessions.

Dr. Terry Wahls  39:11

When I do my sessions, I do something that, I think, is so much fun. I do the PowerPoint for a few slides, then I stop, I come back out of the PowerPoint mode, we talk, and I call on people to discuss the concept that I was reviewing in their life and their experience. That is much more engaging and responsive to my audience. Then I go back to my PowerPoint. For my portion of the seminar, it’s much more interactive—actually, for me, way more fun—because when I’m doing it in person, I can’t have that same kind of intimate conversation.

Dr. Terry Wahls  39:55

Then, after the essentials track, we have six weeks, again, where I have a speaker, I moderate questions, and then we have a breakout for people to meet people from all over the globe and talk about their ‘Aha!’ moments. And during the breakout sessions, I crash the parties, so I go from room to room and say hi to folks and answer a few questions.

Dr. Terry Wahls  40:20

In July, we will have the advanced track, where we [will] have a deeper dive into various topics. And I have to admit, I can’t remember in which portion the sex/libido is. So you’ll have to look at the schedule to see which one that’s in so that you sign up for the right one. Again, after that six weeks of follow-up with a guest speaker, I moderate the questions, and I will have a breakout session. I modeled this after the way I taught these concepts in the lifestyle clinic at the VA, so we do a timeline review. I help people understand their triggers and what their most useful domains to address might be. We’re going to have a chef talk with us about cooking strategies and meal planning strategies.

Dr. Becky Campbell  41:19

That’s so important. That’s so great, Terry. People need that.

Dr. Terry Wahls  41:24

People don’t know how to cook anymore. We don’t have those skills. We had a chef last year—she was so good—and she agreed to come back. So she’ll be there for the essentials track and the advanced track. And, again, we’ll be practicing our stress-reducing [techniques]. We’ll be practicing lots of ways of moving that are so fun.

Dr. Becky Campbell  41:46

We will link all this in the show notes so everybody can get signed up. And I’m speaking on April 6th with Dr. Wahls on histamine intolerance and its relationship to autoimmune disease too. And now I’m wanting to stop and do [something] like a dance party in the middle of my slides because you’ve just inspired me.

Dr. Becky Campbell  42:05

I have to tell a funny story. This is how I met Dr. Wahls. I met Dr. Wahls a couple of years ago at a conference, and when I first saw her, I was like: “Oh my gosh! Terry Wahls!” I didn’t feel that I could approach her at that time, so I didn’t. So then the next year, I saw her, but we were in a much smaller, more intimate group. We were sitting at the same table, and it was her and one of her assistants, who I’m actually really good friends with. We just clicked and were talking, and she was so great to me. She offered to help me in any way she could.

Dr. Becky Campbell  42:49

But the thing that I remember the most and the thing that made me just fall so in love with you, Terry… Every once in a while during this seminar, the music comes on, [and] there is a DJ at this seminar, and she gets up with zero shame. And I’m not a shy person, but I’m sitting in my seat. She gets up and just dances every single time. I love that about you. It probably has something to do with the fact that you were stuck in a wheelchair for several years. But I just think it’s so amazing. I’ll never forget that. Ever since I saw that, I was like, “This woman is amazing!” And I was like: “I don’t care if she wants to be friends with me; I’m going to be friends with her whether she likes it or not.”

Dr. Terry Wahls  43:44

If I remember correctly, I think I also stood up on the chair and started dancing as well.

Dr. Becky Campbell  43:48

You did. Oh, yes, you did. In front of a room full of hundreds of people, she did not care. And she could dance. I was like, ‘What?!’ It was great. It was great.

Dr. Terry Wahls  44:02

Becky, before I went to medical school, I did taekwondo. I competed nationally.

Dr. Krystal Hohn  44:07

Oh my gosh!

Dr. Becky Campbell  44:09

You ran marathons too, right?

Dr. Terry Wahls  44:11

I was a bronze medalist, so it was a very big deal. Then I entered medical school, and I learned that maybe I should not be letting people punch me and kick me in the head anymore, so I didn’t do those competitions anymore.

Dr. Becky Campbell  44:28

No, but reading your story, [I see that] Terry has been very active her whole life. And this is the thing with the person in my life: He is the most active person that I’ve ever met. And it’s very hard to, I think, accept that. If you are a very active person, the first thing you would think is: “Why is this happening to me? I’m so motivated. I move so much.” And I love that part of your program is keeping people moving, because that is so important. No matter what that looks like for you, ‘keep on moving’ is an extremely important thing with every single issue you could possibly have going on, especially with multiple sclerosis, for sure.

Dr. Terry Wahls  45:17

It will be huge. It makes all the difference in whether or not you will be able to maintain independence throughout your life.

Dr. Krystal Hohn  45:23

So, Terry, as we wrap this up, where can people learn more about your research and work?

Dr. Terry Wahls  45:28

Come to terrywahls.com. If you add ‘/diets’, you get a one-page summary of our diet program. If you add ‘/researchpapers’, then you can get access to our various research papers.

Dr. Krystal Hohn  45:44

Yes, awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming on here. It was such a pleasure meeting you. You’re amazing!

Dr. Becky Campbell  45:52

And you guys can find her books too, everywhere, right?—Amazon. She’s written an amazing book that just had an update. This is the update. This book is amazing. It’s amazing. It’s a very easy read. It’s laid out very well. And I recommend that if you have any issues with this, or if you know anyone who has issues with this, you pick up that book. That would be a very good starting point because it really lays it out for you and teaches you what to do. It really does make all the difference, so we love that book. That was the first thing I did when I found out that this person had MS: I sent them your book.

Dr. Terry Wahls  46:34

Oh, perfect.

Dr. Becky Campbell  46:36

I have my MS awareness bracelet on today.

Dr. Terry Wahls  46:39

Yes, yes. And it is so gratifying. Ten years ago, I was really condemned by so many neurologists for my message. But now, ten years into the future, many more neurologists are saying… You know, they still want them to take disease-modifying drugs, and depending on those circumstances, that may be appropriate. But now the message is also: Drugs are not enough. You have to address diet. You have to stop smoking. We need to have you address stress. We need you to move. So it’s like they finally read my book [and realized] that I’m not anti-drug. I am pro vegetables. I am pro stress reduction. I am pro movement and pro getting you to the simplest, least toxic drug regimen that is possible and, when appropriate, off drugs.

Dr. Krystal Hohn  47:35

Yes.

Dr. Becky Campbell  47:36

Because if you don’t do it that way and you just go on the medication and you don’t follow the diet and the stress reduction treatment—

Dr. Terry Wahls  47:44

The disease progresses.

Dr. Becky Campbell  47:46

The disease progresses big time and quickly, and you have side effects and all that, even from the drugs.

Dr. Terry Wahls  47:53

And you will get other autoimmune diseases. You’ll get a new autoimmune disease every five to ten years.

Dr. Becky Campbell  48:00

You’re three times more likely, right?

Dr. Terry Wahls  48:03

Yes. So you want to get to the root cause, and you want to address all the comorbid problems that will develop: Obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and heart disease. And now they’re beginning to talk about that. Many more neurologists, in fact, are telling their patients: “Do the Mediterranean diet, do the swank diet, do the Wahls diet, but do some diet.”

Dr. Krystal Hohn  48:32

Right, exactly. Yes.

Dr. Terry Wahls  48:37

And actually, what is really most interesting [is that] the nurses in the infusion centers are giving patients the book, or my name, saying: “You also need to pick up Wahls’ book.” And nurses in the doctor’s office are also saying: “You need to pick up Wahls’ books.” And more neurologists are also saying: “You know, you really ought to read what Wahls has to say.”

Dr. Becky Campbell  49:01

That’s amazing, Terry! That is huge!

Dr. Krystal Hohn  49:04

Big changes. That’s where you see big changes.

Dr. Terry Wahls  49:08

And when our papers come out, even more will say that.

Dr. Krystal Hohn  49:11

Right. The more research. Exactly.

Dr. Terry Wahls  49:13

We have to have more research. It’ll be exciting. It will be exciting.

Dr. Krystal Hohn  49:15

You do.

Dr. Terry Wahls  49:16

It’ll be exciting. It’ll be exciting.

Dr. Krystal Hohn  49:18

Doing what you’re doing, girl!

Dr. Terry Wahls  49:20

We presented our work at ACTRIMS last fall. We will be presenting it again. We have more studies coming out at ACTRIMS, which is the big MS research and treatment meeting that happens in September this year—oh, actually, that just happened in February. Then we’ll be presented at the Consortium MS Centers again this fall, and we’ll have more at the ACTRIMS meeting. What I see happening now [and] forever is that because we have so much data in our lab, we’ll keep having research that will get presented at these big scientific meetings every year.

Dr. Terry Wahls  50:06

So they ignored me for a while; they’re ignoring me less. People are agreeing with my message. The standard of care is shifting. It used to be drugs; nobody talked about diet and lifestyle. Now it’s drugs, and more people are talking about: “You’ve got to stop smoking. Diet matters. Lifestyle matters.” And that will become the standard of care that we expect [and for] diet and lifestyle to be talked about. They don’t know who to refer these people to because there’s not an approved diet for MS yet. But we’ll be changing that soon.

Dr. Becky Campbell  50:45

It is changing over time. It still amazes me sometimes when we see patients who say: “My doctor told me diet has nothing to do with my condition.” And I’m like: “It has everything to do with it—everything!”

Dr. Terry Wahls  51:01

It has everything to do with it.

Dr. Becky Campbell  51:02

This is why I’m so grateful for your practitioner program: People need to learn. You know, they need to learn what to do.

Dr. Terry Wahls  51:12

Part of the message I have in my book and for the public when I’m talking about this is: It’s fine that your specialist doesn’t know about that. That’s okay. They have a lot to learn to manage all those drugs. But your primary care medical team should feel very comfortable supporting you in eating more vegetables. They should feel very comfortable supporting you in learning how to meditate. They should feel very comfortable supporting you in learning how to move more. So deal with your subspecialists in terms of the drug question: Do you need drugs or not? Deal with your primary care team with the desire to have support on how you can improve diet quality, stress reduction, and movement.

Dr. Becky Campbell  51:51

There are so many wonderful modalities out there now too, like E Stim and all that. But there are so many great things that I’ve learned. My boyfriend is an athletic trainer, and he knows all of these amazing techniques that I didn’t even know when I was doing chiropractic.

Dr. Terry Wahls  52:11

Does he do blood flow restriction band therapy?

Dr. Becky Campbell  52:14

He has the… Ugh, I can’t remember. He puts the boots on, and they tighten and swivel.

Dr. Terry Wahls  52:22

Oh, yes, yes. I know about that.

Dr. Becky Campbell  52:24

He has that. He does the balls like to strengthen and all that. E Stim.

Dr. Terry Wahls  52:31

So let me pitch an idea to him because we’ll be looking for people to speak next year. This might be a very nice topic for us to cover: What are the additional modalities that we could access through an athletic trainer? Tell him that I’m looking for someone who will also talk to us about blood flow restriction therapy. So be sure that he includes that in the therapies. People have difficulty figuring out how to access E Stim. Athletic trainers have expertise in supporting people with E Stim, so I can see that this would be a very valuable talk for our 2022…

Dr. Becky Campbell  53:18

Yes. He’s doing that, and he’s also now certified in functional medicine, so he’s putting it all together. I am so excited for him because he’s learned so much from you. And he’s learned with my practice with functional medicine. And he went through the course, and he’s got his Wahls certification plus everything he knows from athletic training. So he’s pumped. He’s ready to help [inaudible].

Dr. Terry Wahls  53:33

Yes. There’s certainly a nice opportunity for neurofitness with an athletic trainer who has a functional medicine perspective on helping us integrate with our recovery. So yes, I’m thinking that would be a great addition to 2022.

Dr. Becky Campbell  54:02

I think so too.

Dr. Terry Wahls  54:03

Dr. Campbell, can you help facilitate that?

Dr. Becky Campbell  54:05

I’ll make sure that happens!—you know that. Well, Terry, it’s been so amazing having you. You know I adore you in 100 different ways. We are so grateful that you came on and talked with everyone. We love how real you are—you’ve lived this, and you are such a good source of information—and how much effort you have put into researching what the right thing is to [do to] help people who are struggling. So we thank you so much for all your work and for coming on and talking with us. We’re so excited that you’ve been here today with us, and this is going to be such a great episode!

Dr. Krystal Hohn  54:45

It is. I’m pumped!

Dr. Terry Wahls  54:47

Thank you so much!

Dr. Krystal Hohn  54:48

Yes, it was nice meeting you.

Dr. Terry Wahls  54:49

Thank you.