For over the past 20 years i have experience life changing vertigo, fatigue, silent and painful migraines, neck and back pain, tinnitus, brain fog, sickness and nausea to name just a few symptoms. Understandably this is incredibly difficult to carry out normal like and function, plus its a minefield to get medical help as either it seems this condition is misunderstood, not known enough about or the only option seen is to treat the symptoms which i know me me and many people have found that this just increases over time. I have seen many NHS practitioners and also paid privately to see a number of different healthcare providers and even been to Harley Street out of desperation only to come out with a large bill.
Along the way I have seen a whole multitude of doctors, ENT consultants, Neurological consultants, physiotherapists, osteopaths, tried aromatherapy, reflexology, hopi ear candles, massage, balance exercises. I was diagnosed with Menieres, and later Migraine Associated Vertigo (MAV), tried different medications but nothing has improved my life and i could spends day and months in bed and the rest of the time struggling by – with great frustration!
About 7 years ago i started to notice what i was eating was effecting my migraines, so i experimented with cutting out caffeine, chocolate, msg, cheese and a lot of dairy, aspartame, alcohol, and gluten (this is a family thing anyway as we have coeliac in the family so i have cut this out since my 20’s) however it did not seem to solve the problem and my condition deteriated further but food seemed to impact me on a more acute effect and was trial and error. Around this time, In another experiment with my neurologist i tried Torparimate which greatly improved my life with the continued exclusion of the foods above which was noted by neurologist. Sadly this was short lived and only lasted a couple of years and my symptoms came back worse than ever and was practically house bound or seeing refuge in the dark and quiet and had to leave me job. I could also find a link between my symptoms and my hormones however nobody seemed to be able to address or want to look into this and hormonal intervention made me 100% worse and spent 6 months with crippling vertigo after taking the pill!
At my wits end, a friend had seen a functional doctor and nutritionist team and had fantastic result with a skin condition so i decided i had nothing to loose (apart from more money) and thought i would give it ago! I am so happt to report this has been such a life changing event and i feel i have got to the bottom of my issues! Here is my story in the hope that this can help others, and if it helps just one person – my job is done!
So i I booked an appointment with a functional doctor and nutritionist at London Dieticians in Richmond. This was an eventful experience as just getting there was so tough due to the vertigo and feeling so awful and they got to see my vertigo in full force and spent some of the appointment on the floor! They decided to run a batch of tests to get an idea of whats going on, including stool tests, hormonal tests and blood tests. I am to start an elimination diet straight away and take a range of supplements to support my system. I was used to excluding things from my diet but this was on a whole other level and thankfully i love to cook so i was going to have to creative!
The first week on the diet I felt really good, amazing in fact, it was like a miracle. Week 2, My period comes and I feel terrible! I’m dizzy, Im having spins and falling to the floor, my head feels like its worse than ever and im spending quite a lot of time in bed with migraines and tired and fatigued. By week 4/5 I’m starting to wonder if it’s worth it! There is some positives – the condition of my feet are amazing, the skin is soft and smooth and the mystery spots on my feet have gone!! I was hoping for more to be honest but it’s im assured its a good change and to keep going. I could have very easily given up but thankfully week 5, finally I wake up one Sunday morning and it’s like a miracle…. I feel amazing! Just like that…. The relief continued for about 2 weeks and no migraine in that time which frankly is a miracle…. I am still having spins which is making my life miserable but i they have changed, they are quick and there is no migraine after which is a big change.
I have a follow up appointment in February and was a very interesting appointment as the results of my hormone test were back. They answered a lot of questions. My oestrogen was sky high and my progesterone was incredibly low with my cortisol levels flat lined. This would cause migraines on their own and relevant to my low blood pressure and how i am feeling. It also turns out i have some bad bacteria in my system which we are killing off – its not a quick fix but responsible for the change in my spinning. Still no migraines which is such a welcomed change and the brain fog i experienced has disappeared. So the next stage of the plan is to cleanse and detox by killing of the bacteria with another supplement which should help the spinning, continue the elimination diet , take epsom salt baths, drink plenty of water, rest, good quality sleep and allow the body to repair. Also i am to try and get plastics and heavy metals too, as these are big hormone interrupters and can be responsible to changes in neurological pathways. I am already quite good at this but i have now looked at everything from changing to a natural deodorant and skincare and make up products to Tropic and was so impressed later i decided to become a Tropic ambassador. here is more info if you are interested…https://tropicskincare.com/pages/clairejarvis All my cleaning products are natural too, and not storing food in plastic containers and also got myself a non plastic water bottle too!
By March we are moving onto Repair, so new supplements for me. I am working on getting as many antioxidants in my body as i can so im eating the colours of the rainbow! 🌈. Today I got in 21 portions of fruit and veg in. Impressive right! The positives are my head is alot clearer a i have more energy and not so fatigued. I am really enjoying have my smoothies every morning, and a fabulous way to pack alot of fruit and veg and other antioxidants and nutrients in. Im getting used to the diet and my gluten free wraps have been a saviour to me, you can check out the recipe.
https://claireskitchentwyford.com/2018/08/24/gluten-dairy-and-egg-free-wraps/ i have plenty of other recipes too and will be adding more.
As i have been feeling so much better and starting to function alot more i decide to jump in with both feet (and some trepidation) we have booked a skiing holiday with friends for next month and this means flying which i have not done in over 20 years! This is a BIG deal… However 2 weeks before my trip, i had a downturn and had a migraine 🙁 This was a big blow for me as i had been doing so well and to be honest you get used to feeling well and feels horrendous when it comes back! I tried to continue on and sadly passed out in the kitchen…. ive never done this before – thankfully i did recover quickly and was back up again the next day although. We ordered blood tests to check what was going on but i needed to eat well, sleep, rest and relax and give my body a break! Thankfully that worked and before i knew it i was back to health and on that flight! The flight was great and no problems and i even skied too which i thought was miraculous and could have never considered this. My blood tests came back and these were showing that actually i was doing quite well, vitamin d levels good, fasting insulin good, the supplements were doing their job and my body was responding. My hormone levels were improving but looks like i have PCOS – interesting!.
My hormones have been improving but we to introduce some bio identical natural progesterone to give my hormones a bit of support and a nudge. Im continuing with the supplements still and we can now start the reintroduction phase of foods!! yeah – part of me is looking forward to eating some different foods again. However my body had other ideas and this did not go so well, after trying foods such as beef, tomatoes, coconut, corn im having reactions, in the form of rashes on my fingers, dry hands and feet and migraines however my recovery is quicker than past history so i return back to the elimination diet as my body clearly does not welcome this change. We swap again to another supplement for my gut to kill of any remaining bacteria in the microbiome to help with the healing of the gut.
By the summer im still doing the elimination diet and trying to introduce some foods here and there but still my body is not impressed. The good news is still no migraines and vertigo. We have a busy summer and had a holiday in Italy, Spain, been camping, on boat trips, which would have not been on the agenda if it wasn’t for this programme! Towards the end of august my spins returned (no migraine though) out of the blue and had a few in a week, turned out i had an infection, which is has caused this to happen – most likely inflammation in my body caused by the infection and as soon as i get that sorted im back to my new normal. I have tried again with the introduction of foods and managed to bring back with no effect things such as olives, mushrooms, and coconut, however tomatoes and egg seem to be causing me issues but by October i am able to eat these and other foods but still excluding beef, caffeine and chocolate, dairy gluten, dried fruit, and some other foods but this is not of great concern to me as my diet has changed and prefer a more plant based diet now. This is great news as look like ive healed my gut and now we are looking at working on the microbiome, and putting good bacteria in the gut and continuing with maintaining a clean diet (which please google microbiome as is a really fascinating subject in its self) I am exercising more, lots of walking and even thinking of joining the gym! I am back driving and doing things i could never of considered and the good news is i cant remember the last time i had a migraine or vertigo and my symptoms seem a thing of the past. My periods are not so eventful and not experiencing the pain and generally doing well and feel my life has changed so much and am enjoying all that it has to offer and cant wait to do more travelling and adventuring!
What about you?
Knowing what i have been through and how truly awful this invisible illness first hand, my mission would be able to help others who are in similar situation, if it be vertigo, migraines or other conditions they are struggling with, through my experience.
Now I have a much better understanding through my experiences, and through my research, reading and listening to pod casts etc essentially the principals are the same. Heal your gut by elimination diet and input clean foods, support your own system with supplements of needed, reduce inflammation in the body by diet and detox (could be epsom salts, exercise even if its slow to begin with, get good sleep and rest and listen to what your body is telling you, Look at the microbiome and ensure you are getting a good supply of bacteria to balance out the good and bad in your gut. Food can be a very powerful thing and aiding your body to do what it does best is a very empowering thing.
I am not medically trained, and this is my own experience, and since researching i have found others who have had similar experiences. I would personally recommend trying this to anyone who is struggling with this or other conditions, however sadly this seems to be a private option and not available through the NHS. I would highly London Dietitians as they have been amazing in getting me where i am today and i know i have more work to do yet too. If you are interested in reading more or maybe these options may be helpful to you:
This heal your headache book is very interesting and i would say is worth a read as this follows quite an interesting program that covers some of these aspects> i loves the book how not to die – this to me was so fascinating and so much clicked with me but the book cover so many conditions, illnesses and health and why in general so a great informative read. The microbiome is of huge interest to me and i am sure the key to health, so i urge to look into this too! Please have a look around my page for healthy recipe, gluten free, dairy free and vegan recipes and i will be adding an elimination diet section too shortly.