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

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

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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  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?

      • Martyn says:

        Sorry for being such a luddite, I’ve been on pubmed, but am unable to find any details on the diet ie what I think you macros ! Can you please advise more or send a link for what you mean ?

    • Kris says:

      Christo. I have had MS for 30 yrs. ( RR now SP). Fasting is not a good thing. You will become fatigued, weak, have poor coordination and brain fog. ITS SUGAR AND GLUTEN THAT NEEDS TO BE COMPLETELY ELIMINATED!! You should be 5x/day to keep your energy up. 3:1 ration veg to protein. Organic and grass fed optimal. No processed foods Eating good Whole Foods you won’t overeat limiting your calories. Also water water water. Guarantee in a week you will feel terrific, no bloat and sleep well. It’s not a diet but a change in lifestyle. Good Luck!

        • Posie says:

          Eat only meat and vegetables ,(non starchy) and cook it yourself. Don’t eat fast food or restaurant food or processed food. Eat boring to heal yourself. There is no sugar in meats and very little in most veg.

      • I think you haven’t actually tried fasting but sugar and gluten should be eliminated. Additionally alkaline water will help with acidity during fasting. It’s clear you haven’t fasted to me because after the 3rd day you have boundless energy and after the 5th you experience anti-inflammatory properties that I can only equate to the 5000 mg of steroids they pumped into me without the ugly side effects.

        • dave says:

          you are very smart and I agree with your comment and totally disagree with the guy who said fasting is not good he’s totally wrong

      • Donna Murphy says:

        Do not agree…I feel so great after a 4 day water fast! Tons of energy..I can walk so much better and no pain! Sure u may feel fatigue the first day or two, but once fast is done u feel great!

  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!

      • Ronnie Peels says:

        So you say what they must know what they are talking about and in the same sentence state ‘ but i have tried it all and none of it works” are you mentally challenged? Severely?

    • Charlie says:

      It may not work for everyone that’s accurate. It worked for me though and many others. It’s weight a try for those willing to do it. The George Jelinek diet is tough to stick to but if you can you’ll feel amazing.

    • Posie says:

      This isn’t about fasting for months. Only a few hours or days. Mostly cutting daily calories 3 out of 5 days. Intermittent fasting is excellent. And wise.

  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?

      • Anne Hubbard says:

        I’m a walking miracle due to adhering to a diet of fresh, raw vegetables and fruit to reverse MS and Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis. For two years I could not walk, in severe pain with muscle spasms. It took two years of hard work. But I feel this is the only alternative for people suffering with autoimmune diseases.

        • N. Phillip says:

          Thank you!!!! So many are lost to this very key. Raw Fruits and Veggies will indeed reverse MS and autoimmune disease. I’ve done lots of research I too am eating RAW and see impressive results in my MS symptoms! Thank you for sharing I totally needed to hear this!!

        • Lisa says:

          Hi can you help me
          Just a few questions
          Did you elinate anything
          Dairy? Gluten ? Meat?
          So you’re saying only fruit and veg?

          • Shar says:

            Fish is allowed which is wonderful. No eggs, or dairy though. Go to for the dietary info no meat is allowed or pastries or anything with a high saturated fat content

  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.

      • Shar says:

        Yes it did totally. I also managed to stay in remission for 12 years and then only relapsed again after a family tragedy two years ago. Stress for me is a huge issue. The diet was difficult at first but then we did it for 3 years. I only came off it when I was pregnant as the cravings were crazy but I will get back onto it again soon. I’m just enjoying Jaffas for a little longer!

    • 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!!

      • Charlie says:

        This is the diet I followed and it was wonderful. The first few weeks are tough as you are desperate for he rubbish you put in your body previously but then you become a foodie who loves spices, fish, veg and anything that is low fat.

  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.

      • Theresa says:

        Geez, have you tried acupuncture to balance out? Fatigue, falling over or lost in the brain and vision. I do. I have had great results with acupuncture. I think your doctors are giving you grief. It’s never to late, keep pushing.

        Boy, wish we could exchange emails, I’d help you.

      • Toni says:

        Sweetheart, an infectious disease specialist is who you need to see… not a neurologist. According to Dr. David Wheldon, MS is caused by the Chlamydia Pneumoniae (Cpn) bacteria. Get PCR blood work done for this, not the antibody test. Dr. Wheldon discovered that MS patients have a chronic cpn bacterial infection in the brain and spinal cord. He treats by pulsating with 3 different types of antibiotics (18-36 mths).

      • Helene Leff says:

        You must look into the coimbra protocol and look up Michael Cawley at a doctor in Ireland who has MS. He has been getting amazing result for people who are in situations like you. High doses of vitamin D and coimbra protocol created by a neurologist in Brazil – over 5000 people have put MS into remission – and regained their life. You have nothing to lose.

    • 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.

      • Helene Leff says:

        Sir – I urge you to stop acting like you know everything about MS – neurologists in the USA are living in the middle ages with nothing to recommend but poisonous medicines. The idea that you put so much weight on your neurologist who hasn’t been trained in anything remotely 21 century is fine for you, but don’t dissuade people from seeking real beneficial help that is out there and changing lives. I know first hand, having begun the Coimbra protocol using high doses of vitamin D after being diagnosed. I know the difference between having energy and clarity and being a bedridden mass who can’t think or speak. Around the world, where pharmaceutical companies don’t have a monopoly on MS and doctors, whose populations can’t spend 75000 a year for medicine, they have found “miracles.” Terry Wahls is a US doctor with MS who was in a wheelchair and on every medicine, reversed her MS with diet and physical therapy … and love and an open mind. Functional medicine doesn’t look at MS as a “disease” it looks at root causes for individuals and is very effective with autoimmune diseases. I wish you well with your decisions and care, but you have no right or authority to tell anyone what will or will not work. I saw a neurologist at NYU Langone – top MS hospital. When he confirmed my diagnosis, he said that I had to start on these medicines immediately – medicines that are making people sick, and I said I’m not interested what else do you have to offer. He said nothing else – I asked diet, nope, exercise, nope – studies for non-pharmaceutical medicines, nope. I said thank you and never called him again. They know one thing – chemicals and at 750.00 an appointment, he has no interest in working to figure out anything new. He said go talk to the insurance department about how you will pay for it:-) What a racket.

    • Maria says:

      Once again, this info is in Dr Longo’s first published paper on the fasting mimicking diet. You don’t have to receive anything. Google it and read the study to find the macros.

  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!

  11. Laura says:

    I just discovered I have ms. I won’t know what kind till they do further testing. *Back tracking now… August 2016 I was given cipro for a bladder infection. I had a horrible reaction to it. It left me in chronic pain. When researching how to rid the pain I discovered the damage cipro does to your dna also known as oxidative stress. I found information on oxidative stress and vitamins that help repair damaged dna. When researching each individual vitamin I saw that the benefits are mental wellness, clear mind, energy and anti-anxiety all wrapped up in these antioxidant vitamins. I also needed an anti inflammatory diet. So I avoid all gluten, sugar, dairy, red meat, coffee and processed foods. I feel great. No more chronic pain. When I was experiencing the pain I was also seeing my family doctor who gave me a steroid shot (did nothing) and a muscle relaxer (didn’t help) so he scheduled my cervical mri. That showed plaque. In the mean time I started feeling grest but need a brain mri. That’s when they discovered ms. My doctor, however, said she was puzzled as to why I’m not showing any symptoms. I’m learning there are many forms of ms so I don’t want to miss lead anyone but it’s definitely worth a try. Also, I’m not on any medication so please check if it’s safe to incorporate vitamins with your medicine.

    Here’s a list of the vitamins I take:

    Morning – SAMe, CoQ10, Vitamin D, L-Lysine, Folic Acid, Magnesium

    Afternoon – NAC (my favorite!), Potassium, Zinc, Fish Oil

    Evening – I alternate my Probiotic with Alpha Lipoic Acid each day, Vitamin C, SeMSC Selenium and a cranberry for my bladder

    I had my chiropractor check over my list because I didn’t want to over do it. He couldn’t take anything off. He said it was a really great list of cell repairing vitamins.

    Hope this helps someone

    • Charlie says:

      I did exactly this when diagnosed 14 years ago. i followed the Swank diet and then thand even structer George Jelinek diet which allowed very low fats. Not only did I look amazing and svelte but I swear it put me into remission where I remain 14 years later. I stayed in the diet for 3 years and fell off the wagon when I fell pregnant. I eat anything now but I’m wary of heavy fats and will try and restrict calories when I can. Not looking as svelte anymore but it works- itvreally does

  12. Kris says:

    I follow the wahls diet to 90+ % no dairy, no gluten, very very small amount of refined sugar. I’ve added legumes and grains (lentils and quinoa) because it’s a diet change that makes me feel great. No relapses for 16 months. Try it!

  13. C. Thomas McClendon says:

    I am a 64 year old longtime juice faster who was diagnosed with MS in 2014.I have been fasting for 7-21 days annually since I was 20 years old. Fasting for me is a spiritual thing but the weight loss is always a great addition.
    I stopped fasting about 5 years ago. During this time I began MS symptoms and was diagnosed with MS.
    I am excited to hear about fasting for MS. I think I did not have symptoms until I stopped fasting. My Dr. stated the lesions seen on my first MRI did not look new.

    • Theresa says:

      Hey there, same comment from doctor I see, no difference in lesion. I only have it in C3-C4 (and the doctors at the time of the accident were wondering what this lesion was about 1998). I think eating right and just what you do with fasting is spiritual and weight loss is cool. I don’t fast … yet, I watch what I eat. I was diagnosed in 2016 with PPMS. Hmmm, keeping a happy heart is what it’s about. We all have something.

  14. Tracey Kilgour says:

    interesting comments. i have had ms for 30 yrs. i have been on disability for 10. was secondary progressive for 5 yrs. weaned out bread, pasta, rice, soda, fruit juice, alcohol, potatoes over the past 5 yrs. in september of last year i began a ketogenic diet. within 6 weeks my symptoms started going away and i have been working since may of this year. it is very high fat with plenty of coconut oil. coconut oil is an exogenous ketone. ketogenic is just under fasting and has been used for epilepsy. they may be on to something here.

  15. Annika says:

    Just one question, I read the study and in the supplement attachment it is written that “The daily calorie intake was predefined with 200 – 350 kcal (10-18% of normal caloric intake similar to mouse Day 2-3 FMD)”. In your article you wrote “…cutting normal calorie counts in half for three days in every seven days…” . The 3 days of half calories is what the mice in the study received. At least I understood it that way… . If it is possible to receive same results with just cutting the calories in half, it would be amazing. Could you please clearify, what the calory intake for humans should be? Maybe I am wrong, because English is not my native language, but that is a different kind of fasting, because it is the fasting program called “Buchinger Fasten”, named after Otto Buchinger who was German and lived 200 years ago and this is a common type of fasting in Germany.

  16. Theresa says:

    Well, when I was diagnosed in 2016 with PPMS, my doctor stated whatever I am doing keep doing it as the only complications I was experiencing was fatigued (Vit B 12 deficiency), drop foot (thought it was an accident, still do). I ate right, meaning healthy foods no artificial stuff. I exercised and walked alot and kept a happy spirit. I don’t know, maybe he’s right. I don’t fast at all. Who knows .. MS is a puzzle. The thing I KNOW IS THIS, DON’T EAT PORK! Because I remember at the age of 32 and being pregnant I had such a reaction to Pork, never known before. On my death bed and the doctors pumped me up with Benadryl. Hmm, so be careful to what you eat as I believe MS can come from bacteria.

  17. Maxine says:

    My daughter would love to try a fasting diet but cannot afford to,loose any weight. What could she do? At the moment she has cut out gluten and dairy but has fish, very little meat such as turkey and chicken. Plenty of veg and some fruit.
    She has also tried not eating anything between 6pm and 8 am. Has anyone got a suggestion?

  18. Michele Wallace says:

    I was diagnosed on December 12,2018 with RRMS. Anyone Dealing with Bladder issues. Will Not eating Gluten & Sugar get rid of any symptoms? How long does it usually take?

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