NEW: Plant Yourself merch designed by my daughter, Yael Zivan.

Bob Cafaro on Beating MS: PYP 153

bob-cafaroBob Cafaro was enjoying a successful career as a professional cellist with the Philadelphia Orchestra when he was struck with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in December, 1998. After some serious denial and three increasingly nasty attacks, he was forced to confront the reality and severity of his diagnosis.

With Bob's eyesight worsening to the point of blindness and his hands unable to control the cello, it was only natural for his doctor to write him a note for permanent disability. And slip him a script for an antidepressant to help him cope with the loss of his profession, his livelihood, his passion, and his independent existence.

Bob pocketed but never filled the prescription for Prozac, and told the doctor to shove the disability letter up his – well, to use it as a suppository. And proclaimed that he'd be back in the orchestra in six weeks. And that he was going to beat MS.

Against all odds, Bob began a 24/7 (actually, he calls it a “25/8”) regimen to overcome the disease. In 2013, after being symptom free for a decade, he submitted to MRIs that confirmed that all 53 brain lesions and several spinal lesions were gone.

Completely. Fully. Entirely.

Bob was so free from MS, many started doubting the original diagnosis (which had been confirmed by five separate neurologists via symptoms and MRIs).

In 2015, Bob published his story in a book titled When the Music Stopped: My Battle and Victory Against MS. My friend Dominic Marro emailed me a review he had written about the book, and I contacted Bob and asked if he would share his story on the podcast.


He agreed, and we had a conversation that still has me vibrating with inspiration (and makes me wish I could play the cello ;).

In our Skype conversation, which we recorded in video as well as audio, we covered:

  • Bob's early symptoms of MS
  • his initial hopeful prognosis of “a very manageable disease”
  • researching MS treatments on a 21-inch monitor with enlarged font so he could read the words
  • discovering and implementing Dr. Batmanghelidj's Water Cure (and learning how to hold 64 ounces of water in his bladder during the first 75 minutes of orchestra practice
  • the impact of losing the use of his hands and eyes
  • how Bob started exercising relentlessly when advised against it, and why
  • lifestyle lessons from Japan and Okinawa, where MS rates are much lower than in the US
  • discovering the placebo effect (“why do 18% of men in the placebo group in the Rogaine trials start regrowing their hair?”) and using it to his advantage
  • lessons from yoga
  • Bob's panoply of inspirational examples, including some unlikely characters
  • growing stronger through adversity (beatings, asthma, tendonitis, and eventually MS)
  • using conventional drug treatments in addition to the “alternative” measures
  • “finding the 3am weakness” of MS, and other advice from the US Army Survival Manual
  • meeting the hero of Alive and inspiring him right back
  • his daily rituals these days (“I don't even know if my TV works”)
  • and much more…

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.

Links (for more from Bob and to get a signed copy of When the Music Stopped

When the Music Stopped digital download on

Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors, by Piers Paul Read

Water for Health, for Healing, for Life: You're Not Sick, You're Thirsty, by Dr F. Batmanghelidj

The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga, by Swami Vishnu-devananda

The Proteinaholic Debate:

Denise Minger's critique of Proteinaholic

Dr. Garth Davis's (and my) response

Support the Podcast

Like what you hear? You can contribute to the growth and improvement of the podcast by becoming a patron. Click the “Support on Patreon” or “Donate” buttons on the right to help out.


Thanks to the old guys who took it easy on me during tennis table in Saxapahaw last night, and to podcast patrons

  • Kim Harrison
  • Lynn McLellan
  • Anthony Dissen
  • Brittany Porter
  • Dominic Marro
  • Elizabeth Clifton
  • Barbara Whitney
  • Tammy Black
  • Amy Good
  • Amanda Hatherly
  • Mary Jane Wheeler
  • Ellen Kennelly
  • Melissa Cobb
  • Rachel Behrens

for your generous support of the podcast.


Check out my online TV show, Triangle Be Well. This week I talk with Silvana Rangel-Duque about her mission to get NC Triangle residents eating fresh, whole, unprocessed, and delicious meals.

I can help you navigate the medical system and adopt a healthy lifestyle

I'm available for one-on-one consulting and coaching to help you navigate the medical system, make informed decisions, take control of your health destiny, and achieve true wellness and not just medical management of disease.

Ask your questions or share your feedback

Comment on the show notes for this episode (below)
Call 919-794-3735 to leave a voicemail
Email **@pl***********.com

Connect with me

Visit Howard Jacobson's health consulting site,
Subscribe, rate, and review in iTunes
Join the Plant Yourself Facebook Page


The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website,


This post may contain amazon affiliate links. I may receive amazon gift certificates from your actions on such links. I may buy fascinating books with these gift certificates. I may get health gadgets, audio equipment, or  kitchen supplies. I may also blow the money on useless shit.

Looking for Transformational Change?

You know how when you discovered plant-based eating, you basically went, “Holy shit, how come the entire healthcare system isn't totally embracing this as one of the most powerful keys to disease prevention and reversal!”?

That's how I feel now about a psychological approach to transformational change called “Memory Reconsolidation.” Few psychologists have heard about it, and when they do hear the radical transformations it can bring about in a very short time, they're often skeptical to the point of disbelief.

But I've added Memory Reconsolidation work to my own coaching, and can attest to its amazing efficacy. So much so, that I'm devoting the next year to mastering it, studying with the best clinicians and teachers in the world, and then introducing it into health coaching through my trainings.

Right now, I want to triple my coaching practice to get more and more opportunities to do this work. And I'm lowering my fees – a lot – to make it easier for people to work with me.

If you're interested in working with me (and willing to commit to a minimum of 2 months), click the link below to open the form in a new browser tab and I'll get back to you within 3 business days.

Yes, I'm interested in Memory Reconsolidation Coaching.

You CAN Change Other People!

Well, that's what Peter Bregman and I claim in our provocative book of that title.

What we really mean is, you can help the people around you make behavioral changes in their own best interests. If you think you're powerless to help people change, it's because you've been going about it the wrong way.

Discover our straightforward, replicable process here: You Can Change Other People.

Audiobook: Use the Weight to Lose the Weight

Listen to Josh LaJaunie and me narrate our latest audiobook, about how to start moving when you're obese.

It's $10, and Josh and I split it evenly 🙂

Tip Jar

This podcast is not underwritten by advertising, so I can experience complete editorial autonomy without worrying about pissing off the person paying the bills. Instead, I pay the bills, with your help. It's free for those who can't afford to pay, and supported by those who can. You can contribute to the growth and improvement of the podcast by clicking the “Support on Patreon” or “Donate” buttons on the right to help out.


The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website,


Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Peter W Evans – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Marjorie Lewis – Tricia Adams – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – Erika Piedra – Danielle Roberts – Michael Leuchten – Sarah Johnson – Katharine Floyd – Meryl Fury – for your generous support of the podcast.


This post may contain amazon affiliate links. I may receive compensation from your actions on such links. It don't cost you a dime, tho.

14 comments on “Bob Cafaro on Beating MS: PYP 153

  1. Laura Stanasila says:

    I am more than half way through the book and frustrated he doesn’t explain more about his diet. The name of dr Swank is never cited, although his patients were practically cured of their MS (asymptomatic for 40 years) on an anti-inflammatory diet (exempt of saturated fat). Could it be that his diet change was enough to stop and even reverse the disease?

    1. Howard says:

      Chapter 30 includes Bob’s step-by-step regimen, including diet. I thought he had mentioned Roy Swank somewhere in there, but I could be mistaken. The thing about case studies and best practice surveys is that we can’t know the one thing or few things that were necessary and sufficient.

      One message I heard loud and clear is that Bob’s MS turned into an invitation for him to live a bigger, bolder life than he otherwise would have. So the exercising and mental training and inspirational reading may not have been necessary to defeat MS, but defeating MS wasn’t ultimately the point.

      Make sense?

      1. Patricia says:

        I beg to differ. As somebody who has MS, beating it IS the point. The add ons are great but without beating the MS they would not be there.


        1. Howard says:

          Sounds like you and Bob had different experiences.

  2. Thank You says:


    What a great story, love podcasts like these. Would just caution about drinking too much water, at on time or throughout the day. As this can be just as bad as not drinking enough water.

    Thank You for another informative podcast; keep them coming.

  3. Selma says:

    There is another book of someone who beat MS a long time ago-last I heard she was still alive and well in her 80’s . This is her son’s revised version. I like her original version better if you can find one used.

    1. Howard says:

      Thanks for the reference – I’ll check it out.

  4. Selma says:

    Great interivew. I’m wondering about Bob’s spiritual life? What role it played. How he grew. How he changed. I bought the book so maybe I’ll find out? Wondering about synchronicity /any amazing spiritual events/understanding?

    1. Howard says:

      Yes, his book covers a lot more than we discussed in a hour. Highly recommended!

  5. Selma says:

    Wondering if drinking loads of water would be hard on the kidneys? Have there been any studies? Or deplete minerals?

    1. Jacqueline Corbett says:

      No. It does just the opposite. To understand why, I recommend this 3 hour video by Dr. Batmanghelidj:

      In it Dr. B says that chronic unintentional dehydration is the ROOT CAUSE of ALL disease including cancer.

      After some personal experimentation with this protocol, I would have to agree. There’s a recent scientific agreement with this assertion in Dr. Zach Bush’s interview:

  6. Deborah Burghardt says:

    His story is thought-provoking and inspiring and you are one excellent interviewer. Thank you for facilitating his sharing of much this needed information in an hour. My mother died of MS complications at 47, my sister the same at 41 and now my daughter is fighting for her life against MS.

    1. Howard says:

      Deborah, my heart goes out to you and your family. If you’re looking for more resources, check out Dr Saray Stancic, a lifestyle medicine physician with MS who has been lesion- and disability-free since 2003:

  7. Katherine Bhana says:

    The doctors don’t have answers. I have relapse remitting MS- I don’t take any medications for MS because I found they made me worse. When on the drug I became blind and paralyzed every 4 months like clockwork … I’d get better after a month or two and the cycle continued for years until I stopped taking their medications. And started on herbal tincture from Health Herbs Clinic I have not been paralyzed or blind since. I am a “walking miracle” because I barely suffer symptoms anymore. Ayurvedic therapies from Natural Herbs Centre has helped me completely reverse my MS,  I live a more productive life. Thank you for giving those of us with Multiple sclerosis a new hope. Google natural herbs centre . co m

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *