Diane Dawber is living the good life these days. She is feeling strong and healthy, enjoying living on Wilmer Road next to Sydenham Lake
But that has not always been the case. In 1990, while she was working as a teacher and living in Amherstview, she had a foot injury, but tried to ignore it and carry on with her life.
“Gradually, the pain spread and we found out I had other injuries which all contributed to the pain,” she said, when interviewed last week at her home.
By the mid 90’s, the pain was pretty much all consuming, and she found it difficult to get around or even to sit.
Things did not improve much, if at all, and in 1996, with 5 other people in similar circumstances, Diane formed a study group.
“It was made up of nurses and teachers with chronic conditions who wanted to figure out how to improve our health,” she said.
The group’s focus was on reading and researching and sharing information. It was a self-help group of a sort but, as Dawber said, it was not about commiserating and sharing coping mechanisms, it was about finding solutions.
“We read books, and followed recommended therapies of all sorts. We tried every diet known to man, we tried environmental clean ups, we tried vitamins and mineral supplements, bio-mechanics, exercise and every strategy we could find.”
In the first six years during which the group met, they calculated that collectively they had spent $250,000 on supplements.
Gradually, through more and more focused research, the group, whose numbers began to increase, began to have success. One by one the original members found their way to better health.
The solution, which is tailored to each individual, has to do with nutrition and “gut bacteria” and the way to determine what will help an individual makes use of the sense of smell.
The group of friends and fellow travellers has become a charitable organisation, which is called Health Pursuits Reading and Research: MEND, which has developed a kit that is available to the public from the website healthpursuitsgroup.com.
The kit includes 56 vitamins and minerals, and instructions. The process is based on two simple premises. One is that individuals are unique, and the second is that our sense of smell can provide valuable information.
“Take one of these, say vitamin D for example,” Diane Dawber said, pulling open a small plastic bottle with a vitamin D pill in it. “If it smells bitter to you, you likely have more vitamin D than your body needs. If it smells sweet, you are low, and if it doesn’t smell at all you are likely OK for vitamin D.”
By using a combination of substances a picture can emerge of what issues are at play for an indvidual, and those can be confirmed by blood or other medical tests.
Over the last few years, Diane has been compiling all the information that was used to put the kits together into book form. The result is a new book, the Nutrient Scent test, which is a resource volume that includes sections on each of the substances in the kit, their interactions, and examples of individual cases.
The back jacket includes this short description of subject matter: “The Nutrient Scent Test provides you with a tool that is relatively inexpensive, easily accessible, and wide-ranging to determine when nutrients are adequate of deficient using your body’s nutritional intelligence.”
For Dawber the book is a culmination of years of effort, and marks the end of a chapter in her life as well. The original group does not meet any more because they are all doing well, and the website and Facebook groups are where meetings take place between people who are working on their own health issues and sharing information between each other.
A celebration event is set for December 11th from 12:30pm to 5pm at the Isabel Turner branch of the Kingston Frontenac Public Library to celebrate the completion of the book and the 15 years of research that went into its creation. The public is welcome to meet all of the original members of that group that began meeting 22 years ago.
“It’s more of a celebration of the fact the book has been completed than anything else, and a chance to inform more people about the Scent Test,” said Dawber.