Food and Behaviour Research

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Randomized control trial evaluation of a modified Paleolithic dietary intervention in the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: a pilot study

Irish AK, Erickson CM, Wahls TL, Snetselaar LG, Darling WG (2017) Degener Neurol Neuromuscul Dis.  2017 Jan;7: 1-18. doi: 10.2147/DNND.S116949. eCollection 2017. 

Web URL: Read this and related abstracts on PubMed here



A Paleolithic diet may improve fatigue and quality of life in progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, but past research has evaluated the effects of this dietary intervention in combination with other treatments such as exercise. Thus, the purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate a modified Paleolithic dietary intervention (MPDI) in the treatment of fatigue and other symptoms in relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS).


We measured the effects of a MPDI in 17 individuals with RRMS. Of 34 subjects randomly assigned to control (maintain usual diet) and intervention (MPDI) groups, nine subjects (one man) completed the control group and eight subjects (one man) completed the MPDI.


Significant improvements were seen in Fatigue Severity Scale score and also in Multiple Sclerosis Quality of Life-54 and time to complete (dominant hand) 9-Hole Peg Test from baseline in MPDI subjects compared to controls. Increased vitamin K serum levels were also observed in MPDI subjects postprotocol compared to controls.


A Paleolithic diet may be useful in the treatment and management of MS, by reducing perceived fatigue, increasing mental and physical quality of life, increasing exercise capacity, and improving hand and leg function. By increasing vitamin K serum levels, the MPDI may also reduce inflammation.


This pilot study found that a so-called 'Paleolithic' diet improved fatigue, and overall quality of life, in patients with Multiple Sclerosis.

While this study was only small, as a randomised controlled trial, it does provide useful evidence that these improvements were not purely  'placebo' effects.

This is always a key issue with case reports or uncontrolled studies, compelling as these may be - such as the remarkable story of a medical doctor-researcher who developed MS after 20 years as a vegetarian - but achieved remission following the adoption of a modfied 'Paleo-type' diet (like the one now tested here, which she helped design, as she is one of the authors):

Additional and better treatments for multiple sclerosis are very much needed - and while obviously preliminary, these new pilot trial findings provide a clear rationale for larger clinical trials of this kind of dietary treatment.

See also:

And for more information on this subject, see the following lists of articles, which are regularly updated: