The Swank Diet and Multiple Sclerosis

I’m a HUGE fan of Dr. Gregor’s work (  He’s a MD who specializes in Lifestyle Medicine – he treats patients primarily through nutrition and lifestyle modifications and uses pharmaceuticals very sparingly.  He’s also really entertaining.  Check him out on YouTube.

Anyways, I’ve decided (with his permission) to piggy-back off of his website and provide YOU with transcripts of some of the most important nutritional information “out there”.  Why?  It’s 1) brilliant, 2) simple, 3) effective, and 4) free.  What more can you ask for?



Multiple Sclerosis is an unpredictable and frightening degenerative autoimmune inflammatory disease of the central nervous system in which your body attacks your own nerves. It often strikes in the prime of life and can cause symptoms in the brain (cognitive impairment), in the eyes (painful loss of vision), tremor, weakness, loss of bladder control, pain, and fatigue.

The most frequently prescribed drug for Multiple Sclerosis is beta interferon, which can make you feel lousy and costs about $30’000 a year  [Tecfidera and Gilenya are now priced at a mere $62’000/year in the U.S.]  but hey – it might be worthwhile if… it actually worked. We learned last year [in a 2012 paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association] that it doesn’t seem to prevent or delay long-term disability.

That leaves chemo drugs like mitoxantrone that causes irreversible heart damage in 1 out of every 8 people who go on the drug and treatment-related acute leukaemia—it causes leukaemia in nearly 1% of people who take it. But hey, MS is no walk in the park. If only there was a cheap, simple, safe, side-effect free solution that also just so happened to be the most effective treatment for MS ever described.

Dr. Roy Swank, who we recently lost at age 99, was a distinguished neurologist whose research culminated in over 170 scientific papers. Let’s look at a few:

As far back as 1950, we knew there were areas in the world that had a lot of MS – North America, Europe.  And other places – Africa and Asia – that hardly had any. Now we have all these migration studies showing that if you move from a high risk area to a low risk area your risk drops, and vice versa. So it seemed less genetics, and more lifestyle.

Dr. Swank had an idea, as he recounts in an interview with Dr. John McDougall, at the ripe young age of 84: “it seems possible to me that this could be a matter of food, because the further north you go the less vegetarian a life is led and the more people are carnivores you might say, they spend a lot more time eating meat.”

After looking at [both] the Multiple Sclerosis data from World War II in occupied countries where meat and dairy were rationed and his famous study in 1952 finding the frequency of MS directly related to the amount of saturated animal fat consumed daily in different areas of Norway, he concluded it might be the animal fat, so he decided to put it to the test, by restricting people’s intake of saturated animal fat.

Here are his first 47 patients before cutting out about 90% of the saturated fat from their diet, and here’s after… showing a decrease in both the frequency and severity of MS attacks. Normally, you’re lucky if you can get people to stick to a diet for 6 months, and so that’s why most dietary trials last a year at the most. These are reporting results from the first 3 ½ years.

Then came the 5 ½ year follow-up—he adds about another 100 patients. Then the 7 year follow-up, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Then the 20 year follow-up, 34 year follow-up.

How did they do? If you can get to people early in their disease, when they’re only mildly disabled, and restrict their saturated fat intake, Dr. Swank showed he could stop their disease in 95% of cases – no further disability 34 years later. But if they started slacking on their diet, even years in, their disease could become reactivated. [That’s wherePure Homeopathy comes in. E.S.]  They felt so great they were like hey I can cheat a little bit: “I got this disease under control!”.   But eating just 8 grams of saturated fat [animal and dairy] more a day was accompanied by a striking increase in disability and a near tripling of the death rate.

How about a 50 year follow-up! They were able to track down 15 of the original patients that stuck to the diet, now in their 70s and 80s, with Multiple Sclerosis for over 50 years, and 13 out of 15 were walking around normal in all respects. They were active and, evidently, unusually youthful looking.

Conclusion: “This study indicated that, in all probability,  MS is caused largely by consumption of saturated animal fat”.

Dr. Swank thought it was the sludging of the blood caused by even a single meal of saturated fats that can clog tiny capillaries that feed our nervous system. Diets rich in saturated fat and cholesterol can thicken the blood and make our red cells sticky. A single meal of sausage and eggs can stick our blood cells together like rolls of quarters. And this kind of hyper-aggregation can lead to a reduction of blood flow and oxygenation of our tissues.

If you put someone’s blood through a machine that sucks out about 90% of the cholesterol in their blood, you can demonstrate an immediate improvement in microcirculation in the heart muscle, but what about the brain?

The eyes are the windows… to your brain. You can visualize — in real-time — changes in blood vessel function in the retina at the back of the eye, which gives you a sense of what’s happening further back in the brain. And if you lower the cholesterol level in the blood, you can immediately get a significant improvement in vasodilation, the little veins open wider and let the blood flow.

So yes, it could be the animal fat leading to clogging of our capillaries, but now we know animal fats can have all sorts of other deleterious effects such as inflammation, so who knows what the actual mechanism may be by which cutting animal fat can cut MS progression. Regardless, patients with MS that follow a diet with no more than 10 or 15 grams of saturated fat can expect to survive and thrive to a ripe old age. Of course cutting out saturated fat completely might be better, given that heart disease is our #1 killer.

The bottom line is that the results Dr. Swank published remain the most effective, treatment of Multiple Sclerosis ever reported in the peer-reviewed medical literature. In patients with early stage MS, 95% were without progression of their disease 34 years later after adopting his low saturated fat dietary program. Even patients with initially advanced disease showed significant benefit. To date, no medication or invasive procedure has ever even come close to demonstrating such success.

Doesn’t cost $30,000 [or $62’000 for that matter]; doesn’t give you leukaemia—and works better!

Of course this all begs one big obvious question: If Dr. Swank’s results are so stunningly impressive, why haven’t other physicians, neurologists, or centres adopted this method of treatment? Good question.


Here’s the link:



P. Riccio. The molecular basis of nutritional intervention in multiple sclerosis: A narrative review. Complement Ther Med 2011 19(4):228 – 237.

R. L. Swank, J. Goodwin. Review of MS patient survival on a Swank low saturated fat diet. Nutrition 2003 19(2):161 – 162.

U. N. Das. Is there a role for saturated and long-chain fatty acids in multiple sclerosis? Nutrition 2003 19(2):163 – 166.

M. A. Kadoch. Is the treatment of multiple sclerosis headed in the wrong direction? Can J Neurol Sci 2012 39(3):405.

A. Shirani, Y. Zhao, M. E. Karim, C. Evans, E. Kingwell, M. L. van der Kop, J. Oger, P. Gustafson, J. Petkau, H. Tremlett. Association between use of interferon beta and progression of disability in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. JAMA 2012 308(3):247 – 256.

J. J. Marriott, J. M. Miyasaki, G. Gronseth, P. W. O’Connor. Evidence Report: The efficacy and safety of mitoxantrone (Novantrone) in the treatment of multiple sclerosis: Report of the Therapeutics and Technology Assessment Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology 2010 74(18):1463 – 1470.

A. Compston, A. Coles. Multiple sclerosis. Lancet 2008 372(9648):150-2­17.

R. L. Swank, B. B. Dugan. Effect of low saturated fat diet in early and late cases of multiple sclerosis. Lancet 1990 336(8706):37 – 39.

Swank MS Foundation. 2009. Dr. Roy Laver Swank.

R. L. Swank. Multiple sclerosis: Twenty years on low fat diet. Arch. Neurol. 1970 23(5):460 – 474.

R. L. Swank. Treatment of multiple sclerosis with low-fat diet. AMA Arch Neurol Psychiatry. 1953 69(1):91-103.

R. L. Swank. Multiple sclerosis; a correlation of its incidence with dietary fat. Am J Med Sci. 1950 Oct 220(4):421-430.

Igarashi K, Tsuji M, Nishimura M, Horimoto M. Improvement of endothelium-dependent coronary vasodilation after a single LDL apheresis in patients with hypercholesterolemia. J Clin Apher. 2004;19(1):11-6.

SWANK RL, LERSTAD O, STRØM A, BACKER J. Multiple sclerosis in rural Norway its geographic and occupational incidence in relation to nutrition. N Engl J Med. 1952 May 8;246(19):722-8.

Kwa VI, van der Sande JJ, Stam J, Tijmes N, Vrooland JL; Amsterdam Vascular Medicine Group. Retinal arterial changes correlate with cerebral small-vessel disease. Neurology. 2002 Nov 26;59(10):1536-40.