Sometimes it takes a personal struggle and a hero emerging from it, to teach the rest of us (doctors included) that we can and should do better when it comes to our health.
Terry Wahls, MD, founder of the Wahls Protocol, did not seek to practice medicine in a way other than how she was trained. In fact, she was already a superstar – competitive athlete, successful physician, mother of two…why rock the boat? Come to find out, sometimes the boat rocks us, and then it’s sink or swim. Dr. Wahls chose to swim and, thankfully, has gone on to teach thousands of others to do the same. When hope seemed impossible, this hero found a way.
Twenty years ago, Dr. Wahls was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. A difficult diagnosis, even for a physician with the world’s greatest care at her disposal. Despite her knowledge and resources, her deterioration threatened to take her career and life. After many setbacks and hours of research, Dr. Wahls finally realized her body needed an intense number of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that she wasn’t getting from her diet. She also needed specific detoxification processes to rid her body of toxins that her particular genetic make-up wasn’t allowing her to eliminate. She started strengthening her body in effective ways such as electrical stimulation (e-stim). Lastly, she learned how to manage her stress and create emotional resilience. Dr. Wahls eventually went from wheelchair-bound to riding a bike.
While the protocol takes effort, the message is simple: take away what’s bad and replace it with what your body needs. Your cells control the chemistry of your life, and the better we fuel those cells with nutrient dense foods, the greater health we experience. Put very simply in her book: “It all comes down to the cell, because when cells malfunction, eventually organs malfunction. When organs malfunction, eventually you malfunction.”
Our cells contain the powerhouse of the body, mitochondria. Mitochondria is not a common household term, but it should be, because they provide the energy needed for your entire body to function properly. When mitochondria are fed ‘junk food,’ they perform like junk. When they receive nutrient rich foods, they are at your beck and call.
As a physician, I never learned anything in all of my years of training that was so common sense. While originally developed for MS patients, Wahls’s principles can be applied to all types of autoimmune diseases.
We can all benefit from learning about the hero’s journey of Dr. Wahls. If you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, or simply want to bring your body to optimal health, following the Wahls Protocol is a great start. A functional medicine physician certified as a Wahls Protocol practitioner can help you work through the barriers to lifestyle changes and perform functional medicine labs that will give insight into your hormonal, nutritional and detoxification needs.
As Dr. Wahls states in her book, “It’s never too late to turn your cellular dysfunction around.”
Dr. Stone is a family and functional medicine physician and founder of Stone Functional Medicine in Palm Desert. She is a Wahls Protocol Certified Practitioner and can be reached at (760) 350.6988 or www.stonefuncmed.com.