Eleven Reasons THAT Won’t Work For You

Xiao_er_lun_-_Confucius_and_childrenIt’s so easy to let jealousy torment you when your husband loses 30 pounds eating very low carb (while sneaking in Snicker bars)–and you only lose 5 and swear it makes you manic. Why does it work this way?

It’s so easy to cry and wallow in yourself when you try everything for your multiple sclerosis (MS) and nothing seems to make it budge–well, not like it did for Terry Wahls, who changed her diet and lifestyle and went from a zero-gravity recline wheelchair to riding a bike. What does she have that you don’t?

And how about these people with cancer? The people who go to Mexico and get coffee enemas? Why does one come back glowing and cured and the other one we remember with love and frustration, saying, “Tsk, tsk. She wouldn’t take chemotherapy and look what happened to her. Goes to show. . . ”

I could go on and on. He dropped gluten and his arthritis went away. She started coconut oil and frankincense for her dementia and now she recognizes her family again. He gave up dairy, started some aloe, and his constipation is gone for good. Going raw, vegan cured her chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. Dropping all grains and all dairy and all sugar and starting physiologic folate helped his autism. Fish oil cured her depression.

Can I stop? Do you get the idea? Is this you?

Shocker. Spoil alert.

Stop reading if you’re completely sold on a new diet or have just spent big money on a new supplement because I have some bad news.

It may not work for you. (Gasp. Shocker.)

But I have some good news too! It MAY work!

Today I want to help you understand maybe why you’re not getting better doing the good things you’re doing. Why each person’s health plan (diet, supplement, exercise, sleep, etc.) must be tailored individually. It sounds overwhelming to think you actually have to formulate your own health plan, that it’s not written out there for you in some book, but isn’t that really the journey of our whole life? Finding out what makes us tick? What brings us peace? Coming to terms with our limitations and expanding our strengths?

“I Don’t Have MS, Terri.”

Medical doctors group symptoms and tests together to arrive at a diagnosis. A label. A name. The name helps us to know what to expect for a patient’s outcome. What we’ve tried before that has helped or not helped.

Dementia. Psoriasis. Ulcerative colitis. Multiple sclerosis. Migraines. Crohn’s Disease. These are labels. They are necessary labels! For example, we know that the group of people who have ulcerative colitis symptoms and tests will need monitored for colon cancer, and that many celiac patients can be symptom-free following gluten-free diets. Having a label helps!

But there are tough cases. Cases which don’t fit, and sadly, they’re more common than medical doctors want to admit or even know about. These patients doctor shop, so often a doctor isn’t given the chance to even know that refractory cases are as rampant as they are. There are diagnoses that don’t have good treatments, like irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia.

These patients, these refractory cases, are like a nebulous cloud which floats around looking for answers. Why can’t they get their answers?

I have a friend (actually I have many friends with MS, sad to say) with classic multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms and diagnostic tests. She repeatedly tells me, “Terri, I don’t have MS. I’ve never believed I have MS.”

You’d think as a medical doctor, I’d laugh my head off silly.

Maybe you, as a vociferous alternative health proponent are thinking, “She must not be doing it right. She needs to do this [insert your desired diet or supplement]. She needs to try harder. She needs to try longer. . .”

Now, my friend is a little frustrated. She has had MS for years, and sometimes it’s better. Sometimes it’s worse. She has tried nearly everything.

What I want you to think about for people–is the possibility that our labels group similar health cases together which may stem from different causes. And when that is the case, when the underlying cause of presentations which LOOK the same is NOT the same, a person can bang her head into a wall (this is one of my favorite images because I’m so prone to doing this if I’m not careful) wondering, “Why not me? Why can’t I? Why did it work for her?” Except in a highly motivated individual who says, “I’m moving on. I can do this. That failure taught me something,” this can be counterproductive and harmful.

One Leukemia: 11 Diseases

And now I get to the crux of my post. When I was in medical school, I learned about acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). I learned it as ONE disease entity. ONE (a bad disease entity at that). New research shows that this AML that I learned about as one disease, is actually 11 diseases, with 11 different causes–which show up looking the same! This helped explain why some people responded so well to treatment and some people tragically did not. We weren’t treating ONE disease, we were treating ELEVEN!

See: Genomic Classification and Prognosis in Acute Myeloid Leukemia

I think that most of our clinically diagnosed diseases will ultimately be found to be caused and/or impacted in different ways. Until that day that you know exactly what the cause of your illness is–your obesity, your thyroid problem, your irritable bowel, your IBD, your arthritis, your insomnia, your depression, your constipation, your MS, and so on–until that day, you’re just going to have to take a flat-out comprehensive approach to have the best outcome.


  • Should you eat low carb?
  • Should you eat high fat?
  • Should you eat dairy?
  • Should you eat meat?
  • Should you eat grains?
  • Should you take calcium?
  • Should you supplement with CoQ?
  • Should you take iodine?

And so on and so forth. Whether you should or shouldn’t may depend on your genes, how they are expressed, your gut microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, viruses), and how your environment (sun, exercise, sleep, diet, daily doses of inadvertent toxins) interacts with those.

There is no ONE diet. There is no ONE lifestyle. In fact, there’s probably no one dementia. No one MS. No one IBS. There may be 11.  So find a platform which resonates with you. Try it. Be willing to modify it. Don’t abandon what works. Keep what works and build your plan. Don’t despair. Don’t give up. Start with absolutely real food if you have a problem you really need to tackle. And move forward, tweaking as your body tells you.

(And, of course, seek medical advice and always be safe.)


Photo credit: By An unknown Chinese artist [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

16 thoughts on “Eleven Reasons THAT Won’t Work For You

  1. Lesq

    One of the most awesome posts I ever read some the truest. We think so much alike it’s crazy. You cut through the garbage and tell it like it is. You rock!!!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Thanks, Ms. Emily. Good to get the men involved. 😉 (Since, actually, my husband sent me the AML link to read which prompted this post, after we’ve had many conversations about this issue, how diseases probably aren’t so homogeneous.) You should be sleeping. 😉

      1. EmilyMaine

        I was typing a quick response yesterday. But the reason I am sharing with Eric is that he bangs on about things like if it works for him it is the solution for everyone and I think understanding that different things work for different folks would be helpful to him.

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Ah, I see. I get that, though. When I changed the way I ate so dramatically four years ago, my day-to-day health improved so much, that it overwhelmed me (in a good way) and I wanted to know THE RIGHT way. (I have to watch myself that way.) But as I read extensively, both science-based stuff and anecdotal stuff, I saw so many people saying, “go low carb,” “add back in carbs,” “don’t eat grains,” “take this probiotic,” “use this supplement,” and “don’t drink water [OKAY–JOKING ON THAT ONE],” that I knew there was no way they could all be wrong–nor did I think they were totally making things up in their heads (We ALL make up SOME things in our heads…) By really studying the microbiome, genetics, epigenetics (how a person can have the gene for something, but it isn’t “read” by the body so doesn’t cause any problems and then later, bam, it starts getting read and causes problems…that needs to be a post, I think…anyhow), etc, I see now why it has to be individually tailored. Even for kids. I guess I just knew I couldn’t sort out which diet was best, but I am pretty assured, REAL FOOD is where it’s at. (And most people have a little wiggle room for this or that.) But this processed stuff is harming us badly.

        Whew! Sorry! Rant over. With greatest regards—Terri

  2. Ozquoll

    Autism is a good example – there are roughly eight HUNDRED genes that can cause autism, yet we group the resultant dysfunctions together under just that one word. No wonder that treating, let alone curing autism is seen as such a difficult thing.

  3. Simple Days Making for Exciting Adventures

    So, so true!! I have experienced this as I think you know. We were thinking that I had MS for years-to later find out that I had zero ferritin stores. Now when my ferritin level goes down-guess what comes back? Yep, MS type symptoms. We all want the pill or the quick fix for a diagnosis, but we are all individuals who require an individual treatment. (Did that make sense?)
    And why do we need to cure everything? I think many diagnoses are very socially instituted. People with ADHD probably made some of the best hunters and protectors back in the day. People with Alzheimer’s may have been some of the best story tellers initially because they can recall the past well. (I may be reaching there, but it is to make a point). I am reading the book Sapiens and it has got me questioning many things that we do today in the medical/psychological fields and like you, I work in the medical field.
    Terrific post. I hope your week is going well.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Yes! You mentioned that low ferritin—but I didn’t realize that it gave what appeared to be MS symptoms (to a therapist who would know MS symptoms when she saw them!). How confounding!

      And yes, “. . .we are all individuals who require an individual treatment.” That made sense! That’s what I’m saying!

      I see your point on trying to label and fix everything. That was kind of a new idea for me which The Loving Diet addressed in the first part of the book; accepting the now completely and trusting it. (Anyone’s touchy-feely radar going off? LOL!) Not that a person stops doing the good things, looking for appropriate things to do and try, but that one finds the gold in the illness as it is. Only then can one really more forward.

      We are having a good, interesting week. My oldest is at camp for the first time, six hours away. I know that’s nothing for some—but it is new and strange for us! She’s our talkative one who always wants to do something, so our dynamics are totally changed!

      Hugs, Terri

  4. Christine

    Simple Days – interesting thoughts! Reminds me of that saying “there is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands”. For all society’s talk about “differently-abled” rather than disabled people, I don’t think we go far enough there just yet.

    Low ferritin manifesting as MS? Holy moly. Did you figure that out on your own? That’s just stunning! I’m reminded of the story in the news recently about Kris Kristofferson who had been diagnosed with Alzheimers and treated accordingly – for years – with no success. One of his MD’s finally decided to test him for Lyme, sure enough, positive. They took him off the Alzheimer’s meds, got him onto the Lyme protocol and he immediately improved.

    So Terri, bringing this back to the point of your post, it begs the question – how many people are affected by medications to the point that it is impossible for *any* diet or lifestyle adjustment to help? How many have the courage, (or the type of relationship with their MD) that they can try a meds holiday and start from scratch? And even then, how long does it take for the effects of the meds to wear off, if they ever do?

    You’re all pretty young here, but I’m in mid-life. (Okay, maybe a little beyond lol). My husband and I are meds-free, but some of the people around me take so many pills they rattle, and many of those are prescribed “just in case because you’re over 50”. When they come to *me* asking for diet and herbal advice things get a little complicated.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      There IS no problem or person you pass without a gift in their hands! I believe it!

      “How many people are affected by medications to the point that it is impossible for any diet or lifestyle adjustment to help?”

      I think that most people on that many medicines will usually feel help with significant and real lifestyle change. (Real, real food. Gentle exercise. Outside. Good sleep. A real change in mental heart.) However, they may not be able to progress past a point until they stop certain medicines, of course, they must be safe to stop. For example, I’m not a big fan of statins anymore. There are cases I believe they are needed and indicated. But my father-in-law had made big changes as I suggested. He was feeling real well. After really examining and thinking about his case, I asked him to come off of statins. One doctor had suggested the same to him, although another had recommended against it. He chose to come off. His legs felt amazingly better and he had much more energy. So once was well enough to move past needed medicines, he was well enough to trial off (and stay off his medicines).

      Once, my husband had a really sick patient in the hospital on over 15-20 meds. He asked the family if he could just stop nearly (if not all) of them. They were very, very frightened. But they agreeed. She dramatically improved. So, absolutely, we are over medicating.

      I think a good thing would be a medical consultant who can totally be more involved with a patient (I don’t know if this exists…) I’ve helped family and friends, and when I’m asking them to wean off of things, I check in VERY frequently. Because I need to know what they’re feeling or seeing with their blood pressures or blood sugars. If I don’t know, we can end up in trouble! Yes, I know people stop cold turkey, but you know as an MD that would have to make me nervous.

      On giving all these meds, it’s the “ABCs” of medicine! I’m not kidding! Medical articles breakdown the needed meds for diabetes/heart disease this way for us doctors to remember: A for ACE inhibitor, B for beta blocker, C for cholesterol medicine (statin).

      I think the med effects can wear off some very quickly. Some will linger and may need some extra supplementation to completely overcome. Like statins and CoQ.

      Well, my baby is just waking up and screaming. I hope I hit most points. Simple Days is a great woman; she shared her story a couple posts back. I’ll get the details wrong if I try to type with the baby screaming. I’ll try to find it and share it with you.

      Hope this is coherent!



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