Joy is missing school up to three days a week because of debilitating headaches and migraines. She was active healthy and really engaged in school and sport, but the last six months have seen a slow deterioration. Most worryingly Joy reports that when she finishes a cross country run, she experiences ‘blindness’ for 30 minutes after exercise. She can distinguish light and dark but has no visual picture. Naturally, her parents are worried. A neurologist had been consulted and tests performed, but nothing was connecting the dots.
Detailed questioning of Joy and her parents revealed two significant events that we felt were part of the story. Firstly, while the family were travelling in Thailand nine months previously everyone picked up a gastro-intestinal infection. Joy suffered more than anyone and had an upset stomach for months after everyone else had recovered. During her recovery she suffered a concussion. Falling forward down a staircase, Joy hit her chin and created a significant hyperextension in her neck and was violently ill for six hours after. Testing showed significant vision and vestibular deficits and loss of deep neck flexor control. We also suggested a suite of laboratory tests to rule out viral and bacterial infections, blood-brain barrier integrity and neuroimmune food. Only two positive findings were identified, but they were potentially significant. Joy reacted strongly to both gluteomorphin (gluten) and casomorphin (cow’s milk). Both these proteins create central nervous system reactions specifically in the brain.
Telling a 12-year-old that she can no longer eat wheat, gluten or dairy is never easy, and it went as expected. She downright rejected it. No pizza, no ice cream and summer holidays were around the corner. Eventually, along with her understanding parents, we agreed a 14-day trial of excluding these items upon returning from summer holidays. In parallel, an exercise programme designed to restore vision and vestibular deficits and neck control was created.
Joy was very good at doing her corrective drills and after re-assessment had made good progress. Headaches were still present but much less frequent and less intense. However, after the 14 days of exclusion, she made a dramatic shift. No headaches and most importantly she completed a cross country run without any visual changes afterwards. A month later and her school attendance was back up to 95%, and according to her parents, her mood had significantly improved.