Whatever’s the matter with Em?
Why did the NHS give up on this unhappy little girl? And how did nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville solve an almost four-year-old problem in a few weeks? Em’s mother, Lily Evans, tells the story.
‘My small daughter’s digestive issues started from birth. Em had colic and screamed for hours on end. She projectile vomited and had acid reflux. She never settled or slept and seemed to be in constant pain. For months I was a nervous wreck.
We were told she would just grow out of this colicky stage but by the time Em was 18 months old nothing had changed, apart from some added eczema and spots and her refusal to eat almost anything at all. The doctor told me there was nothing wrong with her, that she'd hit her terrible two's early and that she was just testing me. She strongly advised me to sit Em on the "naughty step" when screaming fits began.
By this point almost everyone was telling me the same: Em was fine, I was imagining things, she just had a difficult personality and was choosing to be moody. I felt insane.
By the age of three, Em's eczema had worsened into crusted boils. The doctor told me it was chicken pox, but three months later her skin was still bad and her growth had completely slipped off the chart for her age, so she was finally taken into the hospital system.
She was tested for allergies (we had long ago taken her off gluten and dairy) but the tests came back negative. She was given steroid cream for the eczema and we were told not to worry that Em wasn't growing. It was because my husband and I were "both small", which confused me because we're both six foot tall.
When Em was discharged from the hospital system still not well, I didn't lose hope in the NHS. I believe that if someone in my family had life-threatening issues the NHS could save them, but it was hard to get answers on an issue that seemed relatively minor for the hospital when its resources were so stretched.
A few months later a family member who knew I was still concerned about Em booked us an appointment with nutritionist Dr. Marilyn Glenville, to see if she could help us find answers. I didn't know much about Dr. Glenville, but I knew a couple of friends had her books on women's health and I trusted the introduction.
Before that first appointment, I filled out detailed questionnaires about Em. Dr Glenville reviewed her notes and suggested doing a comprehensive stool analysis to see what was actually happening in her digestive system. She gave me a sample report so that I could see the extent of what it measured. It cost £475 but Dr Glenville thought it would be worth it as we had hit a brick wall with the usual investigations. She suggested it was time to look at Em's digestion in a different way.
We did the sample, sent it off and a few weeks later met with Dr. Glenville at her Tunbridge Wells clinic to go through the results. The report was extensive and very interesting. Dr. Glenville explained that a few issues had been detected but the main problem to address was her gut bacteria.
Em had worryingly bad intestinal health due to a very low count of 'elastase-1', the protein-digesting enzyme of the pancreas, and almost no count of 'secretory IgA', which controls the intestinal immune system. On top of that she had very high counts of opportunistic bacteria, fungi and yeast.
Dr. Glenville said the results were good news as these factors could be improved. She explained that the reason Em wasn't growing was because her body was struggling to digest nutrients, and that her whole immune system was low.
We were advised to start Em on probiotics, which included lactobacillus, a liquid form of saccharomyces digestive enzymes, a liquid anti-fungal and omega-3 essential fatty acid capsules. Em was to take these supplements initially for three months.
Within the first couple of weeks, people noted that Em was growing, that she seemed happier, more excited and less lethargic. Her sleeping improved and her chronic diarrhoea became healthy stools.
Six weeks later, looking at the height chart in Em's room, we saw that she was growing twice as fast as she had been. For the first time, she began asking for food and seemed to enjoy eating. She drank lots of water, which I could never get down her before, and had a lot more energy as a result.
I was so thankful to Dr. Glenville for getting us answers so quickly. I know I could have spent a lot more years and a lot more money without getting anywhere and I felt such gratitude that my daughter’s health was improving so quickly.
It felt overwhelming to finally get answers on what Emily needed after my almost four year journey of dead ends. Seeing the results of her stool analysis and being helped to understand how I could use them to improve my daughter’s health felt like the greatest gift.
Em's gut health continues to improve as she grows and I couldn't recommend Dr. Glenville more highly, especially to those who may, like us, feel like they've hit a brick wall.
Dr Marilyn Glenville is the UK’s leading nutritionist specialising in women’s health.
Contact her at: The Glenville Nutrition Clinic/01892-515905
Dr. Glenville has clinics in Harley Street. Tunbridge Wells. Ireland and Dubai.