MS Might Be Reversed by Strict Dieting, USC Study in Mice Reports

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diet and MS

How would you feel about following a calorie-restricted diet, if it might reverse the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and help repair the damage caused by the disease?

Scientists are so excited about the findings achieved so far that they are moving to large-scale human trials, and have already taken the unusual step of recommending it for very ill patients “who cannot wait” for the trials to be completed.

The treatment mimics the effects of fasting, and simply involves cutting normal calorie counts in half for three days in every seven. That’s it, no medications, no surgery — just a diet that does not involve special diet foods.

Is it too good to be true — could reversing the effects of multiple sclerosis be that easy? Only time will tell. I, for one, will wait for the outcome of the large-scale trials before discussing, with my doctor, the suitability of such a diet for me.

According to the study1, published in Cell Reports, scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) showed that, in mice, the Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD) significantly lowered the percentage of damaging immune cells and allowed the protective myelin coating to regrow.

The study also states that human MS patients were put on the diet to check that it was not harmful to their health. The scientists report that the participants enjoyed an improved quality of life and scored better on the Extended Disability Status Scale (EDSS). This measurement assesses various abilities, including mobility and balance, tremors, speech, and swallowing.

uscTry to reverse symptoms now

Professor Valter Longo, who directs the USC Longevity Institute, is one of the study’s lead authors. He said: “The effect on humans was improvements for both quality of life and EDSS. This is remarkable because we only did a single cycle of the FMD for humans and tested them three and six months after.

“Since the pilot human trial was small, now we are setting up a large multi-center clinical trial.  However, because we have already tested this and similar diets on hundreds of patients with various diseases, I believe this can be tried now by MS patients who cannot wait.”

These latest findings follow studies by the same USC lab, reporting that the diet can entirely reboot the immune system

“We started thinking: If it kills a lot of immune cells and turns on the stem cells, is it possible that maybe it will kill the bad ones and then generate new good ones?” Professor Longo said. “That’s why we started this study.

“During the fasting-mimicking diet, cortisone is produced and that initiates a killing of autoimmune cells. This process also leads to the production of new healthy cells.”

A note of caution was added by Nick Rijke, executive director of Policy and Research at the UK’s MS Society. He said: “Diet is an emerging area of MS research and one that we know many people with MS are interested in.”

However, he added,”[w]hile this study showed encouraging results on animal models, there was little investigation into the benefits for people with MS — which is why we’re funding research into this area.”

1 A Diet Mimicking Fasting Promotes Regeneration and Reduces Autoimmunity and Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms, Cell Reports, May 26, 2016.

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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Ian Franks is Managing Editor of the Columns division of BioNews Services. He has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media; during which he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. He was diagnosed with MS in 2002 but continued working until mobility problems forced him to retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain and uses his skills to write his own flourishing specialist MS, Health & Disability blog at Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective and is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.
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  1. Christo Terblanche says:

    Hi, this sounds unbelievable. I live in South Africa and was diagnosed in 2014 with RRMS, would it be possible to obtain this diet or participate in the trials?

  2. I tell you it’s not true. From PERSONAL tries. After tries of 8 months, was ok in first 2 months, until my reserves vanished…
    There’s a saying, ”believe only half of the thoughts you see/hear. If you know which half, you are WISE”

    • Rhonda says:

      I am sorry it did not work for you. But, these are scientists doing studies and they have had some success with the diet and are planning trials. So they must have had enough successes to plan a trial and release preliminary information.
      It will be very interesting to see the results of their clinical trials.
      Not all therapies will work for everyone. I have tried everything they offer for fatigue and cog fog. Nothing works or has been tolerated by my body.
      MS Stinks!

  3. monica says:

    Its always been proven that a healthy diet keeps ms at bay? Look at the swank diet he tried telling ppl about it no won would listen to him.

  4. Shaf Choudhury says:

    Hmmm… this is interesting. Ramadan (I.e. no food or water during sunlight hours for a month) starts in 5 days. And as a Muslim, I intend to do this. And I hope that as one who has MS, results are good for this evil disease that I got!

    • Houda says:

      Can you fast ramadan with MS? I tried fasting the first two days, but on the third my parents suggested breaking it as I couldn’t move due to how fatigued I was, what is your experience with it?

  5. Shar says:

    I was diagnosed 13 years ago and had a high lesion load. Numb from the waist down, L’hermittes and Uthoffs to boot so I immediately went on the strict Swank/Jelinek diet and swore it put me into remission where I’ve been for 12.5 years. I do take copaxone a few times a week and some vitamin D. I did it for three years then fell pregnant and haven’t been on it since, but would like to do it again simply for the fact that my skin shone with health and I was so healthy! If it works, it works but there’s nothing to lose except a lot of weight.

    • Ian Franks says:

      I am going to wait for the outcome of the large scale human trial to be sure the results so far can be repeated. Also, I do not know if my doctor would approve the diet for me. No-one should start any new diet without taking medical advice. What is right for one might not be good for another. Ultimately, though, it is a personal decision whether you wish to try the diet or not.

  6. carly says:

    There are sooooooooomany people with MS and other auto ammune diseases that are showing huge success in treating and reversing the disease with dietary changes. It hurts to see other people unaware of this especially when it can be so life changing. Don’t wait for the clinical trials or for the new med that offers a cure. It is not coming
    Check out terry whals and her following of whals warriors and see all those that have been helped

  7. Karen Kristensen says:

    It works for me. I control relapses by fasting and generally maintain an acceptable level of mobility. It is difficult to keep up. Worth it though.

    • Ree* says:

      Go to for her story & her books. This has worked for me, I have MS for 27 yrs & have been going downhill for many years. I even had a BMT to reduce the progressing part. But this diet is amazing & really works. My EDSS score is better too.
      My neurologist is in awe, as I also had 2 strokes & he is amazed how fast I came out of them. These foods all cause inflammation….gluten…flour….pasta…dairy… & pretty much anything “white.” Especially all kinds of bread. Hidden carbs all turn to sugar, which in turn, turn to fat……So go ahead & try this diet, it really works. Plus it is a great weight loss diet. I lost 134 lbs, yes 134…………Good luck!!

  8. Colleen Paulson says:

    Please..I want to try the diet. I’ve had progressive ms since the late 90’s which there is no medication for,therefore, I have been lost at sea at the mercy of the currents. My yearly check ups are but a waste of time, which is a 200 mile round trip. For about the last 5 yrs I have been wheelchair bound. If not for my husband I would be in a nursing home. I would have nothing to lose and maybe my life to gain.

    • Sue says:

      I just bought this book. I have had MS for 40 yrs with no treatment. I would have something strange going on for a few days or a a few weeks and then go away. Never in all of that time did even one dr say ” Let’s run some tests and see what is going on”. About 5 yrs ago (I am now 61,)I started to figure it out. I made a big chart of all of the diseases I have been misdiagnosised with so many times. Everywhere I was sent, they wanted me to take a new prescription. I told my PCP I needed him to set me up for an MRI of the brain. He laughed and I let it go. This man has sent me to 36 different specialists just in the last 10 years. I am on my 6th neurologist. I had to learn not to let them know I thought it was MS. No one would even test me. I was told over and over that I needed a psychiatrist. My nightmare became my life in Oct of 2013. That is when the MS went into secondary progressive. I have boxes of studies, papers, clinical trials and symptoms that MS has that the other autoimmune diseases do not. But not one would let me even tell them my symptoms.I do not know how I kept going.By the grace of God I kept trying to find anyone who would run the nerve tests. My symptoms worsen every day. This last neurologist listened to everything I said on the first visit. For 4 mths, I underwent every nerve test known to man. Plus an MRI of the brain that we compared with a much older one, MRI of the lumbar, and a lumbar puncture. The day he gave me my diagnoses,He said every test was abnormal. He said once it gets to this stage, there is nothing anyone can do.I had been trying to get help before it turned into a death sentence. I will never know if I could have started a treatment 5 yrs ago if it would have still gone into secondary progressive. I was never given that option. I am now living with autonomic MS. It is so bad that when I stand, I start passing out. My vision is going fast. I can’t drive because when a car is beside me, my brain tells me they are coming over on me. I have spent 5 years researching MS and then to be told it is too late almost broke me. So if you know someone who thinks they have MS, please do not ever let anyone go through what I am going through. I just received the book a couple of days ago. I will pray that it helps.

      • Shar says:

        Try the book Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis by Professor George Jelinek. He’s an MS’er but still extremely healthy after following the Swank diet. It works. You’ll lose tons of weight but the changes are at a cellular level whereupon they become more flexible and less able to be eaten away by a rogue immune system (a very amateur way to describe the process I know). I swear it put me into remission and as a result I’m still there going onto 13 years.

        • Lynda Viet says:

          Dear Shar,
          Thank you for your comments. I am encouraged to do the same, because it seems better to me to have a balance diet then having to do injections instead.

    • Alison Walsh says:

      There are now 2 meds out there for primary progressive MS: Lemtrada; given intravenously once every 6 mos. & Octalozade. I just heard about these last night @ a semi nar by MSCureFund who had neurologist Dr Mary Bailey out of Hartford, Ct. I tried the Paleo diet for 1 month & was able to run FULL out (50ft) for the 1st time in two decades!! I have had RRMS for 24 years and have treated it VERY aggressively, including some clinical trials, in fact was a Guinea pig for Gilenya and am still on it. Clearly, We R WHAT WE EAT & unfortunately the food industry DOES’T care about our health. Dr Terry Wahl’s book was what motivated me! God Bless & Don’t give up; it’s definitely worth trying – U have nothing 2 lose!!

      • Jp Dhanoa says:

        I totally agree… Diet is everything..

        living clean, fresh home made paleo diet. My god, what a difference!

    • Maria says:

      Look up the fasting mimicking diet. Easy to do with an app and grocery store food. Once a month for 5 days is the most rigorous version.

  9. Jp Dhanoa says:

    cut out processed food.. you’ll notice a big difference in energy level and fatigue… gives the body a chance to heal..

    processed foods only leak into the body.. aggravating the immune system.. give it a few months.. its truly unreal how great you’ll feel.

  10. Mona S. says:

    The book The Wahl’s Protocol is amazing! And it works! I do this intermittent fasting and that works too. Understanding the science behind what is happening is what makes sense and I am researcher that has been in limbo with symptoms and inconclusive for the diagnosis. Everything seems to be working for me and healing even the lesions on MRI. Sometimes attitude helps and being positive. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain! Here’s to years to your health!

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