I’d never thought of seeing a nutritionist before. Especially after a most foolish purchase of a live blood analysis through Groupon saw me holding a potato to my stomach whilst a slick looking, fast-talking man pressed against my arm and decided that ‘potatoes were ok but don’t eat too many of them.’ This was the low point of my experience and one that almost made me laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of the whole situation. And from that day onward, I viewed that and similar services with suspicion.
So no one was more surprised that me when I found myself sitting in the waiting room at The Hale Clinic, by Regent’s Park, booked in for a consultation with Brianan Dolan, Naturopathic Nutritionist. It’s a slick, white building with several small waiting rooms on a variety of different levels. It reminded me of the dentist I go to back in Guildford but without the clinical smell and sounds of drilling and blood-curdling screams (okay, so I’m kidding about the screams. Sort of. It’s more of a whimper).
Even though I’d arrived early, I didn’t have time to fill in the stack of questionnaires that I’d been handed at reception. There are hundreds of varied questions ranging from mood to your family’s history of health, to your stress-levels, even to how many times a day you poo. Oh yes, all topics, in and out are covered. Halfway through, a bright-eyed, petite Irish woman appears and summons me into her office.
Brianan’s office is bare yet somehow cosily confidential – there’s a desk up against the window with a filing cabinet alongside it and down one wall there’s an examination bed with some rather scary looking tubes. For the colonic? I couldn’t take my eyes off them. For some strange reason, the idea of a colonic fascinates and scares me at the same time.
Identifying the problems
The say goes that ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ and the consultation sped by. There’s nothing I love more than talking to people who are passionate about what they do, have interesting backstories to
tell and are immensely knowledgeable. Brianan was all three. She has mind-reading skills and without even needing to be told, informed me that I had allergies and digestive problems. In fact, the reasons for me going to see her were:
- Red, itchy skin around my eyes and lips
- Uncomfortable stomach pains
- Lack of energy
- Cervical dysplasia (I was diagnosed with precancerous changes to cervical cells in 2013 and had several operations to remove these)
Whilst we spoke about all these issues and touched upon practical advice for dealing with these, the agreed focus was the cervical dysplasia. Cervical dysplasia is the term given for abnormal cell growth on the cervix and is usually a precancerous condition. If left untreated, it can lead to cervical cancer. According to Brianan, 67% of patients with cervical cancer have nutritional deficiencies – something that is likely to also play a part in other symptoms that I highlighted. For example, an increased intake of Vitamin A / Beta Carotene is linked to lower risk of developing cervical dysplasia. Studies also show that there’s a significant decline in vitamin C levels in patients with cervical dysplasia with a low intake appearing to be a risk of developing abnormal cervical cells. (1)
Other important nutrients appear to be vitamin B6 and selenium.
Increase my intake of the Vitamin A, Beta Carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, selenium and folic acid. As abnormal PAP smears can indicate folate deficiency rather than true dysplasia, it’s also important that I increase my folic acid intake as supplementation can result in an improvement or normalization of PAP smears in cervical dysplasia patients. I’m also going to push for a homocysteine test as altered levels of this, a marker of folate deficiency, can contribute to the carcinogenic process. (2)
In addition to my ‘diet cleanse’, I was advised to reduce my sugar intake and increase my consumption of plant foods. Alongside that, I would also reduce my gluten intake and avoid dairy and eggs.
And it doesn’t end there – to help with digestion, increased immunity (mine has been severely down ever since my two general anaesthetics last year) and to dampen the inflammatory response, Brianan also gave me a list of several supplements to take.
Don’t just treat the symptoms
When I left, I was absolutely astounded. Instead of focusing entirely on diet as I thought would be the case, Brianan branched out her questions to include major life events; these can apparently have huge consequences on your health. A lot of the physical symptoms people experience can be triggered by emotional stress including work, finances, relationships, family etc. As opposed to just treating the symptoms, Brianan delves deeper into the causes and revealed that often by focusing on these, the symptoms disappear or are hugely alleviated.
There was a lot to take it. However, I left buzzing with all the information and immediately popped to the shop beneath the Hale Clinic to see what I could do to start my path to improvement immediately.
I’ve tried to restrict my intake of gluten, dairy and eggs, although some does slip through occasionally. I’m hoping to do this continually for 6 weeks before introducing each one and seeing if there’s any significant change physically and in how I feel. Good news is that as if by magic, my eyes became less red and I felt less self-conscious that I looked like I’d been punched in the face. I’ve even noticed that I have fewer stomach aches. Energy levels vary – it doesn’t help that I was ill for two weeks solid which really sapped my strength but I’ve also added Vitamin D to my list of supplements to take which I’ll report on soon. The chapped skin around my lips has pretty much disappeared and so far, my hospital check-ups have come back clear.
In addition to everything I mentioned above, I’ve also taken onboard a lot of Brianan’s other points. We had a fascinating and enlightening talk about poo (she also does Colonics – and if you’re not pooing after every meal you should see her), muscle recovery and blood type diets.
More about Brianan Dolan
To book a consultation: Speak directly with her at brianandolan.co.uk or book through The Hale Clinic
Where is it? Brianan takes clients in the Oxfordshire area and at The Hale Clinic – 7 Park Crescent, London W1B 1PF
Services: Nutritional Therapy, Colonic Hydrotherapy, Naturopathy, Cellulite Wraps, 3 Day Detox Packages,
How much? £120 for 60 minutes for the Nutritional Therapy
Who should go? I think actually think everyone should go just to give them the guidance on what’s best for their body. Because everyone is different, a tailored recommendation for improving your health is vital. And strangely, having seen Brianan and spoken about my exeriences with friends, I’ve discovered that I’m not alone in my strange stomach aches and afflictions – so many have similar stories that they’ve chosen to ignore.
(1) Wassertheil-smoller, S et. Al. (1981) Dietary vitamin C and Uterine Cervical Dysplasia. Am. J. Epidemiol., Nov 1981; 114: 714 – 724. http://tinyurl.com/6hvuquj
(2) Thomson, SW et. al. (2000) Correlates of total plasma homocysteine: folic acid, copper, and cervical dysplasia. Nutrition, Jun 2000; 16(6): 411-6. http://tinyurl.com/69fpxrd