When a patient in her early 70s first came to dietitian Erin O’Neill from Diet vs. Disease for help, she had been experiencing poor gut health for the past 30 years. However, when she revealed her lifelong meditation practice, Erin knew she could be an ideal candidate for the Nerva program.
A history of problems
When Sue* first presented to Erin, she was desperate for help and depressed about her long history of gut problems.
“The first thing she said to me is that she'd had painful reflux for many years, and she couldn’t find help from anyone,” Erin said. “She told me within the past six months, her gut had become particularly ‘uncomfortable’, and she was experiencing gas, pain, and fatigue, which led to feelings of depression.
“She didn’t have an official IBS diagnosis at this stage, and her doctor had prescribed pantoprazole, which is often used to treat damage from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). She’d also been taking probiotics and digestive enzymes, but they only helped her momentarily.
“For her diet, Sue told me she generally eats well overall and is mostly vegetarian. She had tried eliminating wheat, which helped for a little while, but was yet to try the low FODMAP diet.
“Sue said she had a bowel movement most days and wasn’t constipated or experiencing diarrhea, but her big issues were gas, pain, and bloating. Though, when she told me the gas and bloating weren’t occurring every day, I thought this might indicate it’s something she’s eating.”
Creating a plan
Erin chose to get Sue started on a low FODMAP diet, which she followed for two weeks before suggesting she give Nerva a go at the same time.
“For most of my patients with similar histories and symptoms, I like to start with the low FODMAP diet, and once they’re at the reintroduction phase, that’s when I might introduce them to Nerva if I think it would be a good fit for them.”
Sue proved receptive to Erin’s proposed plan.
“Despite its restrictions, she was very open to starting the diet—this is often the case with my patients who are desperate for help like she was.
“But the reason why I knew Sue would be particularly interested in Nerva was she told me she’s a lifelong meditator. She liked to go on retreats and had visited Tibet for meditation, so she was very well-practiced with that habit.
"This really helped her commit to a program of daily hypnotherapy for six weeks.”
Sue was happy to follow the plan Erin set out for her, beginning with the low FODMAP diet for two weeks.
“Once we added Nerva into the mix, she experienced a 90% symptom improvement; that’s when she moved into the diet’s reintroduction phase. It was great to see she passed every single reintroduction. During this time, she also participated in some one-on-one mindset sessions with our clinic’s clinical hypnotherapist.”
Sue and Erin were surprised by the significant impact combining the low FODMAP diet with Nerva made on Sue’s gut health and quality of life.
“Both of our minds were blown by the result!” Erin said. “We came to the conclusion that Nerva is where it’s at for Sue. It still surprises me that she didn’t have any food intolerances.”
Despite her 90% improvement success, Sue had to overcome a few setbacks when she stopped listening to daily gut-directed hypnotherapy.
“Once we finished reintroducing foods back into her diet and she started Nerva’s maintenance plan, her outcome was so positive that I recommended she keep going.
“I also felt confident telling Sue, ‘Eat whatever you want’. I know other patients wouldn’t respond well to this advice and would be very nervous to eat potential trigger foods again, but Sue was fine with the plan because of her positive result.
“However, after she completed the initial six-week program and followed the maintenance plan for a month or so, she went on to experience a few setbacks, and symptoms like gas, bloating, and pain started to slowly reappear.
“She reached out to me and said she’d had an upset stomach all day, and it felt like how it used to feel before Nerva. At first, she thought it was something she’d eaten, but then Sue revealed she hadn’t listened to the hypnotherapy sessions for a few weeks.
“I advised her to keep an eye on the severity and frequency of her symptoms, especially if it got worse—and I told her to revisit Nerva.
“Luckily, Sue was such a great fit for Nerva from the start because of her meditation practice. And it wasn’t hard for her to reapply herself as she’d already demonstrated such strong adherence to the program by listening so consistently in the past.
“Though, in my experience, I find that most of my patients are open to an intervention like Nerva because, like Sue, so many want to feel better right away.”
Erin O’Neill has been a dietitian for the past 20 years and currently works for Diet vs. Disease.
*Name changed. As we share real stories from real people, stock images have been used to ensure we protect the privacy of our users.