The true power of good nutrition – case study May 2007

True powe of good nutritionThis month’s case study is ‘Karen’ – who came to the Clinic because of fibroids and heavy bleeding

Karen’s Story:

I had been diagnosed with fibroids about 10 years ago which actually didn’t cause too many problems for me. However, about a year ago I started to experience extremely heavy periods which would last for 2 weeks.

For the first 2 days I was pretty much confined to the house because of such heavy blood loss. I had to change my sanitary towels every half an hour to cope with the bleeding. I also had to have two blood transfusions during this time. More recently I was bleeding continuously in between my periods which were very draining physically and emotionally. I was experiencing some pelvic cramps and a general ‘heavy’ feeling in my womb.

My gynaecologist just said that it was due to the fibroids and it would be easier to have a hysterectomy. However, at the age of 42 I knew that I really didn’t want to go down this route – not yet anyway until I had explored all other avenues.

I was given ‘The Nutritional Health Handbook’ by Dr Marilyn Glenville, by a friend, which gave me hope that there was help for my condition. The great thing about this book is how it explains all the different treatments available, e.g. medical protocols and the natural treatment. The case studies in the book were particularly inspiring which encouraged me to call the clinic and make an appointment.

I phoned the Dr Marilyn Glenville Clinic and booked my first appointment which was so motivating as I had finally made one step in the right direction in helping myself to better health. The receptionist explained that I would have to complete a comprehensive Nutrition Questionnaire prior to coming for my first consultation. This was really helpful as it made me think about my health and how I was feeling and also what I was eating.

I sent this back in so the practitioner had time to look through it before I came in. I also decided to perform a Mineral Deficiency Test to check my levels of essential minerals. This was a very simple, non invasive test which involved me taking a sample of my hair which was then sent to a laboratory for analysis. The results were back in time for my first appointment.

Dr Glenville’s practitioner took a very comprehensive medical history and explained to me all about fibroids and heavy bleeding and the links with female hormone imbalance and nutrient deficiencies. She told me that fibroids are stimulated by excess oestrogen, so my diet would be focusing on clearing oestrogen efficiently from my body and following a ‘hormone friendly’ diet. This involved avoiding meat because of the saturated fats that can cause inflammation and add to my heavy periods and ‘clots’.

Caffeine had to come out also which surprised me, but the practitioner explained that it increases blood flow so not great for my heavy bleeding. It was also recommended that I only drink bottled water because the oestrogens within the water supply could create more imbalance. I was shocked to learn just how exposed we are to these hormones and toxins through our diet and environment without really knowing.

The practitioner explained the importance of having a healthy liver and bowel when there is hormone dominance in the body because if they are sluggish due to too much caffeine, environmental toxins and poor diet, oestrogen may not be cleared from the body adequately. Good liver and bowel function is dependant on plenty of fibre (oats, flaxseeds, fresh fruit and vegetables) which I must admit my diet was lacking in. The herb Milk Thistle was also used for a short term liver support due to its ability to help with liver detoxification.

Because of my heavy bleeding, I was low in the mineral iron. Iron deficiency is a bit of a double-edged sword I learned because if you bleed heavily throughout your periods you are more likely to be iron deficient. However one of the symptoms of iron deficiency is also heavy periods. I was taking iron ferrous sulphate which the practitioner explained was a poorly absorbed form of iron and recommended an alternative to consider. Apart from the iron ferrous sulphate not being particularly well absorbed, it was also giving me black stools and was adding to my sluggish bowel. I also had to eat more iron-rich foods as it’s important not to rely on a supplement.

It was recommended that I eat more dark green leafy vegetables like watercress, tofu, dried apricots, millet, parsley and beans and pulses. Nettle tea was also recommended for its natural ability to absorb iron and other essential minerals.

Alongside the iron, I was prescribed a good quality multi vitamin and mineral to give me a good base every day, together with essential fatty acids to promote hormone balance and vitamin C which helps iron absorption. Because I was low in magnesium which was picked up from the Mineral Analysis, I was prescribed additional magnesium for 12 weeks until I repeated the test. This extra magnesium really helped with the pelvic cramps I was experiencing because magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant. For more specific hormone balance, I was prescribed several herbs, including agnus castus and black cohosh which were working on regulating my cycle and helping to reduce the blood flow.

The practitioner gave me a really helpful menu planner to give me some more ideas and asked me to complete a diet and symptom diary until my next appointment in 6 weeks. Keeping such a detailed diary was really inspiring for me and made me focus on what I was putting into my body and how it was affecting my periods.

Within a month of following the recommendations my periods were considerably lighter, lasting only 9 days instead of 12 and the blood was flowing better without the clots I had been experiencing. The herbs had made an immediate difference to the amount of blood I was losing which was astounding. As a result of this, I also had more energy and less bloating and ‘pelvic congestion’ (heavy/bulky feeling in my womb which I had always experienced). For the first time in I don’t know how long, I could plan social events without having to worry about when my period was due!

Because I had been prescribed herbs, the practitioner recommended another consultation 6 weeks on to keep me monitored and then make changes to my programme as necessary. It was a nice feeling to think that I was being supported and observed rather than just being sent away feeling left alone to ‘get on with it’.

My Comments:

Karen’s story is a real inspiration for those who want to take control of their health and look at all the options available. Not only have her periods regulated and become lighter – she has got her life back and now doesn’t have to plan her life around her periods.

We have just seen how effective good nutrition can be in treating hormone imbalance, but it is best done under supervision from a qualified nutritionist, particularly when using supplements. For people who are combining the medical approach with complementary it is even more important to seek help because of possible drug – nutrient interactions.

Of course there are times when the medical approach is the only way, but the more you can do to support your body naturally the better. This is highlighted in my book ‘The Nutritional Health Handbook’ where it does go through the medical approach and complementary approach, giving you the choice and to ultimately be empowered to form your own opinion and take control.

If you are interested in having the Mineral Analysis test done please click here.

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