5 Things This Doctor Wants You to Know about Parkinson’s Disease

By on January 20, 2020

We talked to expert Dr. Terry Wahls to find out more about this neurodegenerative disorder for Parkinson’s Awareness Month. At her worst, Barbara* suffered severe tremors, had difficulty walking, and had to close her photography business because she no longer had the ability to write. Her husband had to tie her shoes.

Then her primary care physician recommended the book The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles, written by Terry Wahls, MD, and clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa where she conducts clinical trials.

Within a month, Barbara’s tremors were reduced, she had an easier time walking, and daily tasks became easier. After 14 months of following The Wahls Protocol, Barbara’s neurologist reduced her medication by 50% and said she was the first Parkinson’s patient she’s ever had whose symptoms improved instead of worsened.


1. Parkinson’s disease is progressive in nature, similar to autoimmune conditions.

Dr. Wahls explains that neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s, and many many health issues share the common theme of oxidative stress. “This means that the mitochondria (the powerhouses of the cell that takes in nutrients and breaks them down) are not processing energy efficiently from the food you eat. When energy production falters and brain cells become strained, they do not function properly and begin to die early. Neurological symptoms result,” says Dr. Wahls.

2. Toxins in our environment play a role in Parkinson’s disease.

Pesticides, heavy metals like mercury, cadmium, and lead, and arsenic all poison the enzymes needed by the mitochondria to process energy efficiently. In fact, a study in Neurology shows that pesticide exposure increased the risk of developing Parkinson’s by as much as six times.

“Toxins in the food supply, personal care products, medications, vaccines, water, indoor environment, and electromagnetic radiation can all be risks,” says Dr. Wahls.

3. Diet and lifestyle are very powerful in reducing Parkison’s symptoms.

The Wahls Protocol stresses the importance of completely removing any inflammatory foods, including gluten and dairy, and focusing on organic vegetables and wild fish, grass-fed meats, fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, seaweed, organ meats, and nuts and seeds. Patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) following the protocol report less pain, improved mental clarity, better mood, better social interaction, and less need for medication.

“The goal of using lifestyle and diet is to optimize health,” says Dr. Wahls. “We have had many people recover remarkable levels of function using the protocol across many different disease states.”

4. Parkison’s disease is on the rise.

Mayo Clinic researchers reported a significant increase in the risk of Parkinson’s disease compared to 30 years ago. In a recent study, they showed that men of all ages had a 17% higher risk of developing PD and a 24% higher risk of developing PD for every 10 calendar years.

“Diet quality is down, physical activity is down, and toxin exposure is up,” says Dr. Wahls. “All of these factors contribute to increased mitochondrial strain, more inflammation, and a higher risk of neurodegeneration and autoimmune problems.”

5. Get your doctor on board to help implement the protocol.

The Wahls’ Protocol is much more than just a diet. Dr. Wahls also addresses stress reduction, hormone rebalancing, physical training, electrical stimulation of muscles, and reliance. Often, patients will need to work with their physicians to adjust medications when implementing the protocol, as the recommended foods can affect insulin and blood sugar levels, as well as the need for blood thinners. If your doctor is unfamiliar with the protocol or is skeptical that diet can play a role in managing PD, bring the book The Wahls Protocol to your next appointment.

“The sooner one adopts health-promoting diet and lifestyle changes, the sooner they begin to ‘you then’ and experience improvement,” says Dr. Wahls. “The later in the disease, the slower-and potentially the less complete- the recovery.”

By Vanessa Sheets

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5 Things This Doctor Wants You to Know about Parkinson’s Disease