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How to Stop the Progression of Multiple Sclerosis

Updated on May 21, 2015
Prevention of MS disability treatment includes a dedicated commitment to a low fat vegan diet as prescribed by Dr. McDougall, building on the work of the late Dr. Swank.
Prevention of MS disability treatment includes a dedicated commitment to a low fat vegan diet as prescribed by Dr. McDougall, building on the work of the late Dr. Swank. | Source

An Unknown Solution

Multiple Sclerosis is an incredibly sad disease. According to Dr. John McDougall, a board-certified physician and nutrition expert, even with the best treatment (of standard, Western medicine) half of people with MS can be expected to lose their ability to walk within 10 short years after diagnosis.1

I am not a doctor, just an average person with a strong interest in nutrition, particularly vegan nutrition. In my reading I've come across valuable information regarding a starch-centered low fat vegan diet and multiple sclerosis.

The treatment for MS patients I've come across is this prescription: a low-fat whole foods vegan (plant-based and no animal products) diet, with an emphasis on starches as the main source of calories. Daily rest breaks may also be beneficial.

This simple prescription does not include the addition of any kind of drug with alarming side effects. It is a healthy diet that has already been proven to reverse and prevent heart disease.

What Does "Vegan" Have to Do with MS?

Because of my strong interest in learning about vegan nutrition and reading books and websites about a healthy vegan diet, I learned that a low fat vegan diet greatly slows the progression of MS, especially when this lifestyle/diet treatment is started early on in the diagnosis and when it is adhered to strictly. I learned this mostly at this section of Dr. McDougall's website,

Dr. McDougall gives this information away for free. There are articles, interviews, testimonies, and a video you can watch at that link to learn more.

Dr. McDougall is carrying on the work started by Dr. Swank ~ successful, cheap treatment of MS without the dangerous side-effects of the drugs that are usually prescribed for MS patients.

I also came across a vegan diet for treatment of MS in Ruth Heidrich's book, Senior Fitness, which deals with a lot of other diseases that afflict the older population and explains how proper, healthy nutrition with a vegan diet helps solve many of these problems. I have included a link to the Amazon listing of that book so you can look into it further if you wish.

Dr. Roy Swank's History

In July 1948, Dr. Swank was given 5 years and offered funding to research Multiple Sclerosis. He researched intensely for 4 months which resulted in the lead that MS attacks seemed to have a vascular origin. He then went to Western Europe as World War II had changed the diets of countries there to a much more low-fat one, as animal products were scarce (having been shipped to Germany in the war.) He wanted to see if the low-fat diet had led to decreased incidences of MS. His research and observation of a low saturated fat, more plant based diet led him to prescribe such a diet to MS patients with remarkable results. The more his patients adhered to his strict requirements, the better and longer improvements they saw in slowing the progression of their disease.2

Dr. McDougall's History

Dr. McDougall began his practice as a board-certified internist and general practitioner on the big island of Hawaii, where he treated a population of mostly Asian (Japanese, Hawaiin, Phillipino) descent. What he discovered was that his older patients, who followed the more traditional vegetarian diets of their homelands had better health and vitality then their younger descendants, who had adopted the richer, meat-filled Western diet. He researched further and found that decades of scientific studies in the best medical journals supported his findings in real life. He then began treating patients his lifestyle medicine ~ a return to the more traditional starch-based diets, rather than meat/animal based ~ to great success, and to this day continues to educate through books, live-in programs, and his website.

It was in his research that he came across the work of Dr. Swank, and his career has enabled him to carry on that work.3

Whole plant foods are healthy and safe for MS patients.
Whole plant foods are healthy and safe for MS patients. | Source

What Does Vegan Entail?

A vegan diet entails eating plant-based foods and not eating animal-based foods at all.

Dr. McDougall wants you to focus on eating a starch-based diet, so you'll be eating to satiety, getting enough clean-burning calories, and eat mostly whole foods. In addition to staches, you'll add veggies and fruits and also enjoy protein from plant sources like legumes.

Starches are particularly important for MS patients because the brain runs on glucose -- which is found in carbohydrates. MS patients need the starches in carbohydrates to help heal their brain, and they need to take out the fat in their diet to stop damaging their brain and nervous system. (Please see the References and More Information section to view video testimonials of MS patients who have successful reversed their disease with a starchy vegan diet. The importance of eating starches is especially apparent in Rebecca Lewis' testimonial -- #6 in that section.)

Who eats a starch-based diet? It may surprise you to learn that the majority of Earth's inhabitants already are starch-based eating cultures. It is only in Western culture that eating rich, animal-based diets has become the norm. I'm sure you're aware of the importance of rice in the traditional Asian (particularly Chinese) diet. That's an example of a starch-based culture.

Through his interest in nutrition and health, Dr. McDougall found that there's already plenty of science and medical evidence that shows eating a starch-based diet and cutting out the animal products leads to vibrant health and not only reverses a lot of Western diseases (chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and more) but also works well to prevent diseases. His always cites medical studies in his articles and newsletters, not to mention at the end of his books.

Dr. McDougall's program has safely and effectively helped people not only lose weight but improve their heart health, often without the need of medication.

Dr. McDougall's program works to improve health so drastically because it is the diet that is healthiest for humans to eat; it is the diet that has supported large successful populations throughout history. Containing no cholesterol and keeping fats to a minimum (and then only fats found in whole plant foods), Dr. McDougall's MS patients live long, disability-free lives. Additionally, Dr. McDougall's program is virtually the same as that of Dr. Esselstyn, who used a low fat vegan diet to prove that heart disease can be reversed, even in high risk patients.4

If there is any credence to the theory that MS has a vascular cause, then changing to a diet that improves your vascular health seems that it would also improve MS symptoms. Dr. Swank's many patients and Dr. McDougall's current MS patients can attest to improved health with MS in their medical test reports.5

The Information is Out There, But Quietly

The majority of MS patients are not told about this treatment for their condition because no large study (as of this writing) has yet to be published on it. However, just the fact that so many patients show remarkable success should encourage you, if you have MS, to look further into this diet program as a viable option.

It may surprise you to know that most doctors get very little nutrition training in medical school, and very little training in healing the body using nutrition methods. Doctors are taught "pills and surgery" which works well for many things, but not particularly well for lifestyle-related diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity (to name a few).

MS sufferers are told that there is no cure and are put on expensive and dangerous medications. Therefore many MS sufferers believe they cannot be helped by looking further into lifestyle changes and many, sadly, do not do so.

While a change in diet is especially helpful for those who are in the earlier stages of MS, that does not mean that those in the later stages of MS would not also benefit greatly by changing their diet.

If you have MS or know someone who does, I strongly encourage you to look further into the work of Dr. McDougall at the link I provided. As the majority of the world population already eats and enjoys the low-cost, danger-free starch-based vegetarian diet, I am sure with more research on your part, you can do it to, and the benefits are truly worthwhile. The consequences of ignoring this information for MS patients may be not only disabling, but deadly.

References and More Information

1. Information can be found at the link provided in the section entitled So What Does "Vegan" Have to Do with MS.

2. This information is summarized from the Swank MS Foundation's website,

3. This information can be found for free at Dr. McDougall's website,, and is also found in many of his books (available through his website, on Amazon, and also many notable bookstores.)

4. Please see the book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell Esselstyn, which is about the low-fat vegan diet he prescribed to completely reverse heart disease in the patients in his study. Dr. Ornish has also found success by changing the diet of his patients and those in his study to one that is more vegetarian and plant-based.

5. Deb Tasic provides her MS medical test results in her "Star McDougaller" testimonial story on Dr. McDougall's website here:

6. "Star McDougaller" Rebecca Lewis shares her video testimonial about her MS recovery through following a starchy vegan diet at this link:

7. "Star McDougaller" Kim Hoffman, Beating MS article. Kim Hoffman thanks Dr. McDougaller for giving her back her life after being diagnosed with MS:

Comments on How to Stop the Progression of MS

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    • carozy profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from San Francisco

      Here is another article about a man who is having success following a near-vegan diet which reduces his saturated fat intake (his program allows fish):

    • carozy profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks Graham. I hope this information does help others because it is not what most doctors will tell MS patients and they deserve to know there is this other, safer, and very promising option.

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 

      4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi carozy. An excellent hub. It is so nice to find a hubber who is happy to help others with such helpful information so freely given.


    • carozy profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you. I remember being amazed when I found out there was a really good choice for people with MS.

    • Lyn.Stewart profile image


      6 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

      Very interesting hub. voted up and int. Glad that you have written this to help people who suffer from MS.


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