Archive for the ‘Case Studies (The True Power of Good Nutrition)’ Category

Case Study: Psoriasis

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

This month’s case study is 40 year old Stephanie who came to the Clinic with Psoriasis


I had suddenly started developing red scaly patches over my elbows, trunk and scalp. It looked unsightly and I found it embarrassing wearing anything that exposed the affected areas. I went to my GP who diagnosed psoriasis. I actually thought it was eczema so was surprised when my GP said it was psoriasis, which I didn’t know much about. He explained that it was a non-contagious auto-immune condition, which meant my immune system was ‘attacking’ my skin cells causing the rate of cell renewal to speed up. So it manifests as a hard scaly condition where the cells are ‘stacked’ up on one another. He said it can sometimes even develop in the joints causing inflammation and pain. He prescribed me some topical creams and also an anti-inflammatory drug (called Methotrexate) to suppress my immune system and control the symptoms. I was someone who never took a painkiller for a headache, so this was quite a shock for me and I was not happy about using drugs as a treatment. However, I was desperate to get this under control so I took the prescribed course of treatment.

I spent time researching psoriasis on the internet and came across lots of useful information and I spoke to some of my colleagues at work. A friend had asked me whether I had looked into my diet because she herself had found it beneficial for her eczema. She had in fact been to see a nutritionist at a clinic in London which she recommended to me. I phoned the Dr Marilyn Glenville Clinic straight away and I chatted to a very helpful nutritionist who reassured me that psoriasis was a condition they had experience in treating. She transferred me to a receptionist who booked my first appointment. This was arranged for two weeks so I didn’t have long too wait. In the meantime I was asked to complete a detailed health questionnaire that would help the nutritionist assess me and put together a tailored diet and supplement programme. I also had to write a food diary, which really made me think about what I was eating. I thought my diet was OK on the whole, but was conscious I was drinking too much coffee and possibly not enough fresh fruit and vegetables.


The nutritionist recommended that I perform a mineral deficiency test (via a hair sample) before my first meeting. This would give her more information about my nutritional status as certain minerals, like zinc, play an important role in skin health and the immune system.


At my appointment the nutritionist really went into a lot of detail about what psoriasis was, how it starts and the treatments available. She explained that it is ‘multi factorial’ (which means there are several factors that influence the condition, including our immune system, food allergies/sensitivities and poor liver function). She went on to explain that ‘healthy’ skin cells take approximately 28 days to develop, but with psoriasis this process only takes 8 days – so the cells build up on top of one another creating a very hard, scaly effect. The reason that drugs like Methotrexate work is because it interferes with the growth of skin cells by altering the body’s use of folic acid, which is an essential vitamin for the development of our cells.  


The nutritional approach is to support the immune system and liver and calm inflammation in the body by modifying the diet and taking specific supplements. She did pick up on my diet containing a lot of caffeine and lacking fruit and vegetables. She explained how caffeine can interfere with the healthy function of the liver and increase the rate at which I excrete minerals out of my body in my urine. She recommended I eat more dark green vegetables which contain vitamins and minerals to support liver function and detoxification. She also recommended I eat a lot more fruit and vegetables that are red, orange and purple because these contain a compound called beta carotene, which is converted into Vitamin A (with sufficient zinc). Vitamin A is one of the nutrients that regulates and normalises skin cell turnover.  


The nutritionist also recommended that I get my Vitamin D levels measured because of the increasing amount of research linking low levels of Vitamin D and auto-immune disorders. She explained that there was a rising incidence of vitamin D deficiency, partly because of less sun exposure, but also because we are using skin products with SPF which naturally blocks our ability to process Vitamin D from sunlight.


The nutritionist went through my hair mineral analysis results which showed that I was low in zinc. She said this was not surprising as zinc is crucial for the normal functioning of the immune system and cell division. She recommended lots of zinc-rich foods I could incorporate into my diet and said that zinc is one of the minerals that can be excreted out of our body as a result of too much caffeine.


She put together a supplement programme I could take in conjunction with the Methotrexate, with the hope that after 3-6 months I would be on a reduced dose. She gave me a general multi vitamin and mineral together with high strength fish oil to calm the inflammation, an antioxidant containing Vitamin A, milk thistle for my liver and additional zinc. She recommended that I leave them out on the day of taking the Methotrexate.


At the next consultation, which was 6 weeks on, I brought back my completed diet diaries – which I must say had been very motivating and really helped me to keep on track. My skin was improving, which was such an incentive to continue – I still had the same patches on my body but the redness and hard scales had definitely reduced. I had stopped using the topical cream and had already cut my dose of Methotrexate, which was amazing.  


The results of my Vitamin D test were back and it showed I had incredibly low levels – almost off the bottom of the scale – so the nutritionist added an extra supplement. It was in liquid form, taken under the tongue every morning.


Another 6 weeks on and I barely recognised myself! The patches of psoriasis had almost disappeared – in fact it had gone altogether from my scalp. I had so much more confidence in my appearance and I no longer felt like I had to cover myself up. I also had more energy, which I had never really thought about as being a problem, but following this new improved way of eating made me realise that I hadn’t been functioning on all four cylinders for a long time.


I was really enjoying my new diet and not missing the coffee at all – although I was allowed 3 cups a week as a treat. I was actually craving broccoli if I went more than a day without it, which I never thought would be possible! Thank you to the nutritionist and all the team at The Dr Marilyn Glenville Clinic for helping me to get my health back without having to take drugs the rest of my life.


Marilyn’s Comment


This is such an inspiring case and another example of how powerful nutrition is. As we saw Stephanie was naturally very distressed suffering with psoriasis and, although she initially wanted to deal with the symptoms as quickly as possible, she knew the drugs would only be suppressing her condition and not dealing with the cause.   


Stephanie has been able to manage her skin condition through eating a better diet and taking supplements and the improvement was significant in a short space of time. Six months on and she still remains largely symptom free and when she does have a flare up she knows why. She has managed to come off the Methotrexate, but she did this with the guidance of her GP who was supportive and encouraging of her that she had managed to help herself naturally.


If you would like to find out more about our clinics and the tests mentioned, then please see the Resources Page.

Case Study: Interstitial Cystitis

Monday, June 1st, 2009

This month’s case study is 33 year old ‘Sophie’ who came to the Clinic with Interstitial Cystitis


I had been suffering from a very painful bladder with urgency to urinate. I kept going to the GP but each time I provided a urine sample there were no bacteria. It was really getting me down because I was in constant discomfort, which was actually very exhausting physically and emotionally. The GP said I had a condition called Interstitial Cystitis (IC). He explained IC was a chronic inflammatory condition of the bladder, rather than cystitis which is bacterial. The lining of the bladder becomes incredibly inflamed and irritated. The bladder wall is naturally coated in mucous membranes which protect it from toxins in the urine. With IC this protective layer has broken down, allowing the toxins to irritate the bladder wall. The bladder then becomes inflamed and does not store urine properly.


I asked what could be done about it and he was a little vague and referred me to see an urologist. I had a procedure called a cystoscopy (a tiny camera passed into the bladder via the urethra) which confirmed what my GP had said – that the wall of my bladder was very ‘raw’ and inflamed and this was literally how it looked on camera. The urologist prescribed me a drug to calm the inflammation and have an antispasmodic effect. He said in the long term if my condition got worse and the symptoms became unbearable I may have to have an operation. This really frightened me so I started searching on the internet to see if there was anything I could do for myself.


I came across lots of links to diet and nutritional support for IC, but I knew it was something I would need professional help with. I wanted to go to a reputable clinic. By chance, one of my work colleagues mentioned she had been to The Dr Marilyn Glenville Clinic for nutritional support to help her menopausal symptoms – and she said it really worked! She gave me the phone number and I called straight away to book an appointment.


The receptionist was very helpful and managed to book an appointment for me for 2 weeks time. In the meantime she sent me a detailed questionnaire to complete and return before meeting the nutritionist. It was suggested that I perform a mineral deficiency test before my first meeting – just to give the nutritionist more information about my nutritional status, allowing her to prescribe more specifically for my needs. For the first time in months I was feeling very motivated and excited about treating my IC; being proactive rather than just waiting for my condition to get worse and then have to have surgery, which I really didn’t want. The mineral deficiency test was incredibly straightforward and just involved taking a sample of my hair and posting it off to a laboratory for analysis.


My first appointment with the nutritionist was great – she had really taken the time to go through my questionnaire and it felt like she was actually listening to me and not just trying to ‘fob me off’! She explained what she thought was going on and she confirmed what my GP and urologist had said. The nutritionist did say that it was unclear as to why IC develops, which is why it makes it slightly more complex to treat.


She explained that the nutritional approach is to calm the irritation and inflammation of the lining of the bladder by reducing intake of foods and drinks that can have this effect. She said the main foods/ingredients that can irritate the bladder and cause inflammation include caffeine from tea, coffee, cola and chocolate; spices, like chilli; sugar; artificial sweeteners; oranges; tomatoes and alcohol. She then went on to talk about some of the foods and ingredients which can calm irritation and are naturally anti-inflammatory. These included oily fish, nuts and seeds, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, walnut oil, turmeric and ginger.


This was very interesting as my diet was high in the ‘offending’ foods. I had always been weight conscious so would have lots of artificial sweeteners in one form or another and I lived on coffee as I had a stressful job and it was the only thing that would get me through the day. I wasn’t eating any of the foods that are helpful for calming inflammation – particularly the fats because of my weight worries. The nutritionist explained just how important the fats are, not only for IC but even for maintaining a healthy weight, so this reassured me.


We went through the results of my mineral deficiency test and the major mineral I was low in was magnesium. She explained just how important magnesium was for IC because it helps to relax the bladder and calm the spasms associated with it. Magnesium is found naturally in dark green leafy vegetables, such as cabbage, kale and broccoli, which I was rarely eating – a time factor more than anything. The nutritionist gave me lots of practical tips and suggestions on how I could get these foods into my diet and alternatives for coffee and sweeteners.


She gave me a recipe for barley water, which she explained was naturally supportive of the urinary system. She told me to avoid cranberry because, although traditionally thought to reduce symptoms of bacterial cystitis, some anecdotal evidence suggests it can aggravate IC. Again this was interesting because my GP had told me to drink a pint every day and somehow I knew it didn’t feel right!


The nutritionist put together a plan for taking specific nutritional supplements and herbs to support my bladder. She recommended an essential fatty acid, I had heard of omega 3 and 6 but I was not familiar with omega 7, which she was prescribing. She explained that omega 7 is derived from Sea Buckthorn and research has shown that it is specifically supportive of the mucous membranes that line the bladder.


Magnesium was added because of my deficiency picked up by the hair mineral analysis and she said once again it was a natural muscle relaxant, so would help to relax the bladder.


Finally, she gave me some herbs in tincture form and as a tea. The herbal tincture contained dandelion and marshmallow – dandelion being a diuretic and marshmallow having wonderful ‘soothing’ properties. Similarly, the parsley and cornsilk tea is supportive of the urinary tract, calming the inflammation of the lining of the bladder. The tea tasted lovely and I had soon forgotten about my coffee. In fact, looking back I think the coffee used to have an immediate effect on my symptoms, but I was too busy to stop and take note!


I felt really excited by the end of the consultation – I couldn’t wait to get started. My shopping list was so different to how it had been and it certainly made food shopping more interesting, I used to get into such a rut buying and eating the same things week in week out. I started eating avocados, lots of oily fish and I had stopped the coffee. It was unbelievable, but what motivated me to carry on was the significant reduction in pain within the first 10 days. After 3 weeks there was even more improvement.  For the first time I no longer had the dragging sensation around my bladder and my urgency to urinate had reduced drastically. It is hard to explain but my bladder felt less ‘hot’ and burning. I had even lost weight – without dieting!


Six months on and my symptoms are largely under control. I know what triggers an attack, so in the main I try to be quite disciplined with my diet. I never imagined that I would be able to treat my IC naturally and even my GP was pleased that I have managed to control my symptoms without the need for drugs or surgery.


Marilyn’s Comment


Sophie is an inspiration! We saw how debilitating the symptoms of IC can be. Sophie totally turned her diet around and was diligent about taking her supplements and she has managed to control her condition and maintains it six months on. As the nutritionist explained, IC is still largely misunderstood. In some, the response is not as dramatic as we have seen with Sophie but certainly symptoms can be reduced. My advice is to take control of your health, whether that’s in conjunction with conventional medical treatment or on its own.



If you would like to find out more about our clinics and the mineral deficiency test, then please see the Resources Page.


Case Study: cystitis

Friday, May 1st, 2009

This month’s case study is 40 year old ‘Hannah’ who came to the Clinic with cystitis


I had been suffering from persistent cystitis for about 6 months, with the symptoms getting gradually worse. I initially went to the pharmacist to buy some over the counter medication, but it had got so severe that I ended up visiting my GP who prescribed a course of antibiotics. He also told me to drink large quantities of cranberry juice as this is an age-old remedy for cystitis. It soon cleared up, but within a month it was back with a vengeance. All day at work I had an overwhelming urge to urinate every few minutes, normally with little urine to pass, so this obviously wasn’t great whilst trying to work as a busy PA. The pain on passing urine was so intense sometimes that I would feel sick and on a couple of occasions I actually developed a fever. I was getting so fed up with being in discomfort and it was starting to affect my social life and work life. Intercourse became difficult because this would often trigger a bout of cystitis. I had started to feel quite depressed by it all because it seemed to be ruling my life, so I decided I had to do something about it.


I was chatting to a friend who had suggested that my diet and general nutrition may influence the symptoms, so I did an internet search on nutrition and cystitis and I came across The Dr Marilyn Glenville website. It was excellent because it told me all about cystitis – what it is, how it is caused, the symptoms and both conventional and natural treatments available. My GP had never taken the time to explain this and was so quick to prescribe more antibiotics. I took on board the recommendations but knew I would need some expert guidance to keep me on track and keep me motivated!


I phoned the Dr Marilyn Glenville Clinic and spoke to a very helpful nutritionist who reassured me that they could help with my condition and talked me through what a consultation would involve. She explained that it would be an hour one-to-one and the nutritionist would go through my medical history and recommend dietary changes, including vitamins, minerals and herbs where necessary. I was very excited by this and decided to book my first consultation.


The receptionist at the Dr Marilyn Glenville Clinic posted me a comprehensive questionnaire to complete and return before my consultation, which allowed me to write down my main health concerns, symptoms I was experiencing and a ‘typical’ two day diet diary. I was horrified after filling in the diet diary to see how much chocolate I was eating, and very little vegetables and salad. I knew this was a problem but, because my job was stressful and I worked long hours, I used chocolate to get me through the day and by the time I got home I didn’t fancy preparing and cooking vegetables.


I met with the nutritionist a couple of weeks later and we went through my questionnaire in depth and she took a very detailed account of my symptoms and how I had been treating it up until now. She explained that cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder, and it can be the result of infection, irritation, or bruising, or even a combination of these three factors. Women are more prone to cystitis than men because the tube (urethra) that runs from the bladder to the outside of the body is much shorter (about 5cm/2ins) in women than it is in men (about 18cm/7ins). This means that bacteria can more easily travel to a woman’s bladder than it can a man’s. What’s more, the opening to the urethra is close to both the anus and the vagina in women (in men it’s quite a distance away), which provides even easier access for bacteria to enter the urethra and to make its way up to the bladder.


The nutritionist explained that the natural approach to dealing with cystitis involved treating the underlying cause of cystitis, while encouraging the body to heal itself. The fundamental aim is to help restore your health so that you are less susceptible to future attacks of cystitis. Taking over the counter remedies and antibiotics do not address the underlying cause – they simply deal with the symptoms.


She said that it was important to keep my system alkaline because over-acidity will aggravate the bladder. Foods that create acidity are animal proteins (found in meat and dairy), sugar, chocolate and caffeine – all of which I was consuming a lot of!


She gave me lots of practical tips on how I could incorporate more vegetables and salads on a daily basis. She noted that I was also drinking a lot of coffee – it had increased over the years, partly to help my energy and I suppose it was partly habit! She told me why coffee is not good – it’s acidic, which can irritate the bladder, and it has diuretic properties, which make us excrete valuable minerals and is dehydrating. So all in all, it was not at all good for me given my condition. She gave me lots of alternatives; both coffee substitutes and herbal teas. She also picked up on my lack of water, which is fundamental for cystitis because it dilutes the urine to help flush out harmful toxins that may be irritating the bladder. I said I found it hard to drink water so she suggested I have it warm and add some grated root ginger and Manuka honey. Manuka honey is naturally anti-bacterial and ginger is anti-inflammatory. She also recommended I drink a solution of water with bicarbonate of soda to help relieve the burning sensation.


The nutritionist recommended nutritional supplements, which she explained were specifically to address the bacterial imbalance, boost my immune system and calm the inflammation. I was put on an anti-oxidant (A, C, E, selenium and zinc) to boost immunity and help maintain healthy cells within the urinary tract. To this she added a probiotic (friendly bacteria), concentrated cranberry powder, Echinacea (for my immune system) and essential fatty acids. The cranberry powder was the equivalent of drinking a lot of juice, without the added sugar! The essential fatty acids were put in place to reduce inflammation and help the pain.


She also recommended looking into changing my bath and shower products as the harsh chemicals can irritate the area. She recommended some natural toiletries that were plant-based with essential oils.


I felt really motivated by the end of the consultation – I couldn’t wait to get started with the diet and supplements. She ordered the nutritional supplements for me to make it simpler and they arrived within a couple of days. I had never taken supplements so it was quite a challenge remembering them, but after a week it became second nature! I was so amazed to see that the more ‘unusual’ foods I had been recommended to eat were all stocked in the supermarket. This was great because it was so convenient for me, which was a huge factor. Due to my busy lifestyle, I needed everything to be simple and easy to implement. Even at work it was great because the restaurant had a salad option and homemade soups, which I had never thought about eating in the past!


The honey and ginger was amazing – I started every morning with this – it really set me up for the day. It was strange because I actually didn’t miss the coffee! As I really got into the diet I found myself actually ‘craving’ green vegetables and almost lost the taste for sugar. Within the first month the frequency of me urinating had reduced and there was definitely less pain. The whole area felt more comfortable. I generally felt better – had more energy, slept better and seemed to get less stressed at work. It wasn’t until changing my diet and taking the supplements that I realised, for so many years, I hadn’t been running on all four cylinders.


I had a follow up consultation in 6 weeks so the nutritionist could see how I was getting on. She had asked me to keep a daily diet and symptom diary so we could go through it together. She was very encouraging and said that I had done very well taking on board the changes. In the first 6 weeks I hadn’t suffered with cystitis, so for the first time in months I hadn’t taken any antibiotics.


Three months on and my diet consists mainly of fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, beans, nuts and seeds, salad and brown rice. I now look back and wonder how I ever ate so much sugar and coffee. My palate has really changed since seeing the nutritionist and I am totally converted with my toiletries – they are all natural and organic and smell wonderful. I can’t thank the team at The Dr Marilyn Glenville Clinic enough and just wish I had found out about them earlier. I have not had a bout of cystitis since!


Marilyn’s Comment


Hannah’s story is such an inspiration as it really does show how the power of nutrients can prevent such debilitating symptoms. There are times of course when medical intervention is needed, (i.e. if the infection had spread to the kidneys). However, cystitis is such a common condition that we see time and time again in the clinic and we have such good success. With the persistent symptoms Hannah was experiencing it was her body telling her to take note and listen. She could have continued taking the antibiotics and not actually addressed the root cause. Due to modern day living it sometimes feels easier to take the ‘quick fix’ but, as we can see from this case, after a while the body stops responding to the conventional treatment and symptoms can often get worse. Listen to your body – don’t ignore your symptoms, particularly if they are persistent – deal with them and take your health into your own hands.



If you would like to find out more about our clinics and the supplements and natural toiletries mentioned, then please see the Resources Page.