10 Years of Observations into Meniere’s Disease Causes and Triggers. An Interview with Karin Henderson.

This is the transcript of the Audio Interview between Karin Henderson and Michael Spencer.

Mike: Right, well okay, thanks for doing this…I know you are very busy, not least of all with all the people who call you with Meniere’s disease.

Karin: Yeah, well we are going to have a discussion on that word aren’t we?

Mike: We certainly are yes. So for anybody who doesn’t know you, could you give us a quick introduction and let us know who you are and how you come to know so much about Meniere’s disease.

Karin: Okay, that’s a pretty tall order.  I guess in about 2000 David, my husband, we had had to shut down our business. He had all the balance and hearing symptoms, drop attacks. It was a horrible experience here. He hid away in his office or in bed, didn’t get up, crawled up the stairs when he needed to so that’s what we were faced with.

We had one email, from a Dr Bart Moore, whose wife sent the email and she said if you know of anyone who has got these symptoms then, you might want to try these supplements. I had already been on the supplements for 5 years at this point. We had them in the house and David agreed to take them. I was really surprised because David is not the sort of person to do anything other than what he wants to do but he must have been really desperate.

So he got better within, well he started to get better in about 3 weeks. In 6 months he was completely fine. He had a few kind of blips every once in a while; we couldn’t really figure out what was going on. The other thing was he started his own website without us even knowing it. We got absolutely swamped with requests. “What were the supplements? Where did they come from? What was so good about them? So all we did was take phone calls from morning to night. It was overwhelming at times.

Anyway, in the process, and it’s really interesting because I thought about this so often, like how did we get to this point. People would come to us and tell us they had these horrible symptoms and they might get rid of their root canal, or they’d been sick with sinus problems or they’d got off these drugs and that was it.

And the other part of this was, being a nurse I would be teaching anatomy and physiology to nursing students. And so it was really… like the whole thing didn’t make a lot of sense. And in nursing you don’t really, it’s like medicine, you never ever pay attention to the causes, you only look at symptoms. And then you find a way of treating the symptoms. We all do it, that’s our culture.

So it was when people really got our attention and one of the dentists Dr Maguire started to really nag me about mercury that I started to look at this whole thing and say, “Oh boy what is going on here?” And you know, suddenly it struck me; we were dealing with ‘causes’. I started to collect all these emails of course. I actually started to analyze what was going on. It was a real tug of war here in the family because we were so desperately trying to get people better so we wanted to get them on the supplements….. we also; my passion was, suddenly now I realized people had all these causes…..why don’t they just learn to fix the causes.

Mike: Sorry, so you look at these things as original causes rather than triggers?

Karin: Well I really don’t care what you call it…….. Now that you say that, I wonder if there is a difference in that. See what I constantly tell people in emails or whatever is, there is a cause for everything. Nothing happens in our bodies without a cause, so you are always looking for a cause.

You know you’ve got the symptoms, they are right in your face, you’re living it. I mean I get emails from people who are in that episode at that moment and they are so desperate. So then I say to them, “Okay, when did this start?” Well that’s a totally different concept, nobody talks about..oh this started and what caused it? But when I go visit my patients I hear from them you know for something totally out of the Meniere’s end of it, they will say “you know I had to call 911 because I had a reaction to this drug!”

And so the cause and effect is so real in my mind that I always say the supplements are…they do their job in the background, you have to do the supplements at some point. At some point you have to face it and say my body is not healthy enough but in the meantime you have to say, okay I am in an episode right now. The supplements are going to be down the road doing their job, but it’s not going to happen right today, but if I look at today’s episode and say, “what was I doing in the last 24 and 48 hours?”

Surely at that point you would say oh right this is where I was. This is what I was doing….I mean I have people you know, they’ve been cleaning carpets in their house over the weekend, I mean all of that stuff….is carried into your lungs….it gets really impregnated into your lungs because all of the moisture and heat on top of that. I mean it’s an absolute wonderful formula for a mess….

Nobody thinks about it. You’ve got all of these chemicals sitting in there. I mean I can talk about this for hours. You know you have all of these things that nobody thinks about and you know doctors….I mean I get emails every single day, I don’t know how many times, phone calls. I just got one from a lady in Georgia, she wants to talk tomorrow afternoon because I said I can’t talk to her right now…..but her symptoms, her doctor just told her there is nothing more to be done.

Mike: Aaahhh….how often do we hear that!?

Karin: OH! Every single email tells me exactly the same! (Means so many emails say the same) Mike: I know; me too! Karin: Anyway, what else can I share with you?

Mike: Yes, so obviously I have seen you kind of first hand when we do three way emails with people you are helping me help and it amazes me the amount of time you spend on this and the amount of effort you put in. What would you say are the most common triggers or causes you are seeing when you are doing all this?

Karin: You know I have thought about that so often, because I sent you the observations right, I have just revised that because I needed to add some explanations; I needed to add some other causes but they seem to be all over the map.

Drugs are a huge, huge issue. Sinus problems are a major issue. Dental stuff with their mercury is a horrendous problem. Chemicals….but you see every single person that comes or emails us…our website traffic is so large that, we might be telling people enough that they go back and look at their own situation and then they’ll often say, okay I have read everything on your website or I’ve printed everything off your website and I’ve been studying all this stuff…..…..and so to pin it down I sort of pay attention to the most recent things that I hear about.

The acne preparations that people are using, the personal care stuff and the other thing I want to caution you and everyone else listening to his kind of thing is, you’ve got to be careful not to be diagnosing or treating yourself. You want to spend time looking for the cause and fixing that cause. But it is going to be something that I can bring to you attention but I can’t say this is the cause.

You know, like the acne preparations… you know they have lawyers out there looking for things on people’s websites, you know they’ll take action. I want to be really careful, people are always asking why we don’t specifically say what the supplements are on our websites, because the FDA comes along and checks our websites, well very often and if they see it, they see it as diagnosing and treatment plan and then we’re in trouble. Because I’m a nurse, you know other people can probably do it but as a nurse I am not allowed to do that.

Mike: Okay, something we mentioned earlier, I said about the difference between a trigger and a cause. I tend to think there could be both and several in the same person…what I mean is….

Karin: You know I think it’s true there can be the same thing in a person and when you look at it from two different perspectives, a cause can easily be say caffeine, no…. okay decaffeinated coffee right. Because the decaffeination process is so, it’s pure chemicals. Even if the word natural is in there, I mean that’s just a marketing term.

So the cause could be weakness in the inner ear and the trigger could be the chemicals in the decaffeination process, so I can see it a little bit differently but you know what? I try really hard not to get too complicated, because what I want to do is get people’s attention and say, “there’s a cause for this, start looking for the cause and here are some simple steps”.

Mike: Uhm, open your mind and look for it, right.

Karin: Yeah, because the more complicated you get the more they turn you off. I had one guy who I thought was a scientist. It turned out to be something a little different, but he was super interested in one aspect of his symptoms. And finally I said to him, “You know what? Sit back from all this stuff and say, what were you doing in order to create these symptoms.” Because it is cause and effect.

And finally he admitted, yeah you’re right because he wanted to write a paper and he wanted to create a website around his theory. And I am saying, what caused this thing in the first place. You don’t know that, so, he can do his own website and it’s wonderful that people want to help other people, but the fact is there is a cause so, when you have a cause there has to be a result, there has to be an effect. It’s a law, a natural law like the law of gravity.

Mike: What would be the………some of the things you talk about are obscure aren’t they?… like for example household cleaning products etc…..

Karin: Well you know, Mike they can be obscure but the point is there are so many of them that you can’t name them all…so lots of times people feel they have some interest in that, I send them sites for all these toxins, there are many, many sites. The US government has marvellous sites on all these things.

And you know what? No matter what part of the world they are in, be they in Japan, be they in Mozambique, I’ve dealt with people everywhere. They all have the same environment. We are very homogenous now. So the cleaning products, the soap products are all the same everywhere that you go in the world. So they know what’s in their own environment so I try to make these words pretty general so that people can use them in their own little world and think oh this is what I have to look for.

Mike: So, what advice would you give someone, say someone who is new with Meniere’s, you know they’ve just had it a few weeks or a few months and they came to you and asked for help, what advice would you give them?

Karin: Okay the very first thing I tell them right away is “This is not a disease, you’ve got balance and hearing symptoms and they have to have a cause. Nothing happens in your body without a cause” I am sure you have seen me send many emails saying exactly the same.

You know what? I have been saying those same words for years now. So again what people do is they step back from that and say, “But my doctor told me this and there is nothing to be done”. So I am saying to them, “ If that’s what they said, then YOU have to do the work” And it’s as easy as that, because once they step back and say, “ Okay the symptoms started yesterday morning”, I mean I have people who end up in emergency and all they are given is an antihistamine and something to calm them down and off they go…..

Mike: Uhm..ha ha….I’ve been there……

Karin: But you see now they have a date and a time and when you work back from that date and time they can say, “Oh I was eating this or I did this” or whatever and when we talked about that acne preparation it was so dramatic.

The guy had it for, and this was a medical student, he had it for three and a half years. And his parents called me; I booked a call with him specifically. I didn’t want to talk to the parents, because you need to talk to the person who has got the suffering. And so what we ended up doing was working our way back through all of these observations and he didn’t have any of them, until we got to these oddball things and this is a couple of years ago now, these oddball things that I hadn’t even put in the observations yet because they really weren’t a big deal.

Suddenly I asked him, have you started any new skin care stuff or do you use any of these things you see on television and here was this dead silence. He said Oh….and then he used a swear word, ha ha ha….he said, “I started all my symptoms just after I started using that stuff”. So he stopped using the stuff, then he emailed me probably a month or two later and said he was all fine. He was going to drop out of medical school for goodness sake. So this is stuff I hear every single day. So that gives me the passion to carry on and say this is cause and effect and nobody can dispute it, because it really has. Every cause has an effect.

Mike: If I look at my own situation and I think about all the triggers and causes we have come up with over the years, I can match so many of them to me. So how do I know which one is true or is it….

Karin: Well again this is where the supplements come in, because when you have all these choices and possibilities, first of all it’s a huge wake up call for people. They really get a knock on the head and say I really better start looking at this because I don’t want to live like that, but no matter what age you are, because you know we all eat crappy foods and we don’t do what we are supposed to do, we don’t sleep enough and all this sort of thing.

So the person stops in their tracks and starts looking at their lifestyle and so they change their lifestyle. It still doesn’t change anything, then they start looking at what else they have to do, well eventually they get to the supplements stage. But, when they’ve been on the supplements for a while what they find is, again, I just had an email from someone who has been on the supplements probably three or four months now; all her hearing has come back,. She is absolutely perfect in her hearing. You know people don’t believe that.

Now as soon as she feels something is going backwards, she knows because we have taught her that, she has to start looking and think “What’s going on?” She can take the grape seed extract and pour it on for a while, she doesn’t need to have it all the time. Your body heals, and if you give it the right nutrition it can stay healthy.

Now when you are exposed to the cause or trigger, whatever you want to call it, that’s when you have to start looking around and say okay and say so what is this? Sinus problems are a big issue, so lots of people take extra grape seed extract for a while and get past that but their sinuses are a filtration process, so that’s all it is, so you clean it out and keep it cleaned out but when you are in an environment that generates more stuff to get cleaned out then you have to go back and look around and say where am I?

So again, it’s a thinking process. You have to analyze what you are exposed to.

Mike: So people have got be really open minded and get proactive and look for….

Karin: Well you have to be, because this is your body, see your doctors have already told you there is nothing to be done. So if you believe them you’re just going to sit there and be disinterested forever.

Nystagmus is the horrible part of it right? And the drop attacks, are the end of the world, the vertigo, so you really don’t care too much about your hearing. I mean you do care about it but nothing compared to, I mean people get hearing aids but most of the time hearing aids don’t work because your symptoms aren’t there all the time. You know the hearing aids are there, you know if you are really…..if your hearing nerve is really worn out then the hearing aid would probably work because I hear from some that it works but it doesn’t work all the time because the symptoms are not there all the time. So then you start looking at these things differently.

But the dizziness, the vertigo, that’s horrible.

Again when you have it you’ve gotta say why is it there? And your doctor says there is nothing to be done! And the other thing you have to understand, the medical community, they are doing their job. They are trained to treat symptoms, so they are treating the symptoms, which are vertigo and dizziness and hearing stuff but they only have so many tools to use, and most of the time that’ll mean antihistamines because there is inflammation and you want to stop the inflammation but if chemicals is the cause it doesn’t work on chemicals at all. So again you have to step back and say what is causing all this.

This cause and effect thing is pervasive, and it is hard to find.

Mike: Would you agree there could be several if not even more possible causes?

Karin: Oh absolutely, if you have a weakened immune system, and our immune system is so much a part of it, we never ever see most of it and we don’t even think about it. Our immune system is red blood cells and white blood cells, is your sinus situation, all this kind of stuff, all this stuff going on in your lungs, all this stuff going on in your kidneys and your liver, that’s all part of the immune system.

So when your body is broken down, parts of these don’t work anymore or they don’t work very well so everything gets dragged down so nothing works very well. So if you are nice and healthy, which is what the supplements do then, I mean I get people who say, “I’m on these for the rest of my life!” and I say that’s a very wise decision because you don’t know what you are exposed to, but again money comes into it for most people….

Mike: That’s one of the problems isn’t it? It’s not cheap….

Karin: I’ve always been, I guess amazed and amused at the number of people that get off the supplements, go find something cheaper and then they scramble to come back and get back on them.

Mike: Oh, yeah I’ve seen that myself plenty of times yes….

Karin: Oh, yeah! Well you can’t blame them. That’s why I send people the ‘Comparative Guide To Nutritional Supplements’. Go do your own research, do objective kind of research figure out what you are looking for and why you are doing it. Because the first half of that book tells you why and what your body needs. You can’t do the tests because you are not a scientist.

Mike: Something that has interested me recently because it seems to apply to me is problems with the spine or neck…

Karin: Oh, boy oh boy am I getting lots of that!?

Mike: Me too yeah….I’ve actually recently gone and checked myself out, and as you know I live symptom free because of the supplements but I’m very interested to find out what is the original cause. I went to a very reputable Chiropractor here in Japan and guess what the first thing he said was? Oh your atlas bone is misaligned.

Karin: I hear that all the time…..

Mike: Yeah that’s what I’ve read and…..I didn’t actually tell him I have Meniere’s by the way..I just said can you just check me out…you know…

Karin: Good for you….here’s what you can look at though. And this again is when you get down to the basic anatomy and physiology I think we all got taught in school at some point and people just need to go back……it’s not like we’re trying train scientists.

You’ll notice the neck is a fabulous place to recognize circulation because if your bones are out of alignment, your blood vessels are out of alignment, your muscles are and so are the nerves. So whatever is past the neck now doesn’t get adequate supplies of whatever it needs. So you can have; I don’t know how many times I deal with migraine.

To me it is exactly the same stuff. This is a lack of circulation or an increase of circulation with the pulsating but it’s always coming from something. So when you are out of alignment and again you can send me an email and tell me what you are planning to do about it, but all I can tell people is to be really careful. I caution them NOT to go to any old Chiropractor. You have to go to one that has special certification in dealing with cervical problems and there are certifications for that. Because you can a get paralyzed, so bad.

Mike: Oh, that’s very useful to know…..

Karin: So the neck is a huge issue. Again though, if you understand how the body, how the circulation is enhanced in the body, if you relax, take deep breaths, let the blood circulate, everything comes back into alignment. If you add warmth, not heat but warmth to the area, then you are increasing your red blood supply which is carrying oxygen past the neck to every part past that, like in your eyes, your nose, your ears, your brain….everywhere.

Mike: What would you use on your neck to heat that up? Any suggestions, like a hot towel or something?

Karin: A towel, but not hot, for goodness sake don’t stick cold on it. Cold can dupe everything. You know I tell people, if you put cold on a worm it completely curls up in itself. Whereas if you put nice warm water on a worm it sort of relaxes and does its own little thing. That’s what you’re aiming for. You just want to relax and make your body feel really relaxed and nice and comfortable and then your circulation just follows.

Mike: That’s great, good information. Well, okay I am going to have to close now….go and do some real work ….

Karin: Ha ha ha ha, Oh what time of day have you got over there?

Mike: Uhm, we’re nearing lunch time and I’m starting work at 2 o’clock so I have to get off in a minute….This has been really great information, thanks very much. I am sure everyone who listens to it will get a lot out of it. And uh, let’s do it again.

Karin: Okay, I’d love to….

Mike: Thanks Karin, and you take care…..