Emma-jane in bathing costume

It is always so nice to get good news stories, isn’t it? So, I was chuffed to bits to get an email from a proud gran who had been a subscriber to the Foods Matter magazine way back in 2002. At that time, my proud gran had a very sick little granddaughter.

When Patricia first contacted us Emma-jane (she is now the very glamorous one on the right!) was nearly five but she was so weak and her balance was so bad that she could only stand for a minute and had to be pushed around in a ‘major buggy’. She had continual abdominal pains and pain in her shins, both bad enough to wake her in the night.

She had had a difficult birth and had spent much of her first six months in and out of hospital where she was  diagnosed with Hirschprungs disease. She was in continual pain and rarely slept.

Emma-jane at fiveBefore she was one she had been referred to Great Ormond Street where she had been diagnosed with allergies to eggs, dairy, soya and gluten resulting in allergic colitis. Her bowels were continuously and almost totally blocked (to the point where she had regularly to go into hospital to have them cleared); an umbilical hernia and neuro muscular disease were soon added to her diagnosis. She tired very easily and when tired would go quite grey. By the time she was five, Great Ormond Street had diagnosed her with ME. It was at this point this we came on the scene. (For Emma-jane’s full history see the original article here.)

We had run an article by chiropractor, David Thomas, about a complete mineral supplement that he was importing from the USA. Seriously concerned about the scary reduction in the mineral content of our foods over the last 50 years, David had been seeking a mineral supplement that could replace some of the nutrients that we had lost; the best that he had found came from the north arm of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The Great Salt Lake catches the water from rivers and streams running all through the Rocky mountains which are made up of just about every rock type there has ever been. As a result the waters of the lake contain, in a dissolved form, all the elements present in the Periodic Table. (For more on the mineral depletion of our food see David’s articles here and here; for more on his mineral supplement see here.)

Gran Patricia read David’s article and since she suffered from ME herself, thought that the minerals might help her. Several weeks in, she thought that they were helping so suggested to Emma-jane’s mum that she might try some on Emma-jane. The effect was immediate – on the morning after taking her first dose she told her mother that she was ‘better’. Over the next year she continued to take the mineral drops and, to quote:

‘Emma-jane has continued to improve. Although she does still get bone and abdominal pains, these are occasional and relatively mild instead of everyday and quite bad. Her legs have grown and strengthened and her balance has improved to the point that she is now attending dancing class everyday and is hoping to compete in a national dancing competition next year. She has more awareness in her bladder and although she still suffers from constipation it is manageable with stool softeners and the occasional suppository. Her nails are now strong, the irritated eczema has disappeared and she has no more bruising. Her new energy is not limitless and she does still sometimes overdo it. When she does she goes completely grey, is totally wiped out for a day and will have the return of her bone pains for a couple of days afterwards.’

Emma-jane dancing with pupilsWell, that was nearly 13 years ago. Emma-jane did indeed go on to compete in national dancing competitions and now continues to do so with the children that she teaches:

‘I now teach at a dance school and have recently passed my Freestyle Associate teaching exam. Although I’ve stopped competing, I attend competitions regularly with the children I teach and we’re off to the Blackpool Winter Gardens for the finals of TalentFestUK with some of my very talented and lovely students in September. We are currently dancing at several carnivals throughout Wiltshire and so far have 2nd place and 1st place trophies for our punk rock themed entry. 
Emma-jane with winnerAfter a week of 15 hour rehearsals, we performed 3 shows in Bristol and Swindon. When I first began dancing, I struggled with my 30 minute lessons so can’t believe I’m here today dancing through 15 hour rehearsals!’ 

And here she is with one of her winning pupils.

She has completed her first year at the Liberatus School of Performing Arts in Swindon which offers ballet, jazz, modern, tap, contemporary, singing, drama and commercial (whatever that may be…). She is very anxious to complete the second and third years but it is not funded so she has to find £6,000 a year to do so. (If anyone has any inspired thoughts about how she might do that, she would be very grateful to know about them!! Please contact us.) Eventually, Emma-jane says, she would love to dance on a cruise ship which would enable her to travel the world whilst doing what she loves!

So what actually happened here? No one really knows – and I am not privy to her notes at Great Ormond Street when they eventually discharged her. One can only assume that as a result of her difficult birth and her subsequent intolerance to all foods apart from baby rice she was grossly micronutrient undernourished – and as soon as her body got access to the minerals that it needed, it took a deep breath and sorted itself out! And who said that nutrition was not important…..

And, for the record, Emma-jane continued to take the Concentrace mineral supplement for about four years; she stopped taking regularly when she went to secondary school. Since then she has taken supplements occasionally, but only when nagged into it by either her mum or her grandmother.

If anyone wishes to contact Emma-jane – or has any ideas of how she might fund herself through dance school….. please comment, or email me.

Emma-jane's dance



Way back in 1987, just as I was starting work on a major history of English food, my eighteen-month-old son, Jonathan, and his father were diagnosed with dairy intolerances. Back then the alternatives for those on dairy-free diets were few and far between and pretty unappealing so, after some months of experimentation, I launched Berrydales Special Ices, soya based ices which were dairy and additive free – and tasted delicious! While manufacturing the ices I started a newsletter, The Inside Story, about food allergy and food intolerance and, by 1995, it was a quarterly magazine circulating to over 35,000 health professionals. In 2000 The Inside Story, re-named Foods Matter, became a subscription magazine and now all of that information, and much, much more, is accessible on the Foods Matter, Coeliacs Matter and Skins Matter sites and on our two freefrom food sites, FreeFromFoodsMatter and FreeFromRecipesMatter. You can follow me on twitter @FoodsMatter or email me at michelle@foodsmatter.com And, of course, you can also follow the exciting growth of freefrom food by checking out our annual FreeFrom Food Awards celebrating the best and the newest in freefrom foods!

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