Hypoglycemia: A Not-So-Sweet Problem
(By Stephen Horne with notes from Four Winds)
The cells in our bodies consume vast amounts of sugar for energy. In fact, excluding oxygen and water, sugar is the primary nutrient our bodies require. When there is not enough sugar in the bloodstream for cells to do their work, many kinds of health problems can result. This condition of low blood sugar is known as hypoglycemia, hypo meaning low, glyco for sugar and emia referring to the bloodstream.
When blood sugar levels start to dip below normal, the body gives certain subtle clues that it needs help. These may include suddenly feeling cold or getting a cold nose, strong craving for sweets or caffeine, sudden fatigue or mental confusion, the inability to concentrate, a mild headache or sense of pain around the eyes. If not dealt with soon, the symptoms may worsen into irritability, severe fatigue, dizziness or shakiness.
As the above symptoms suggest, hypoglycemia affects far more than our physical bodies. It also affects our mind and emotions. The brain consumes more sugar than any other organ in the human body. Hence, when blood sugar levels drop, the first organ to be affected is the brain. Irritability, depression, mental confusion and even severe behavioral problems like ADD, hyperactivity, juvenile delinquency and mental illness may have their roots in blood sugar problems.
A person who has a severe problem with hypoglycemia may become very irrational or “crazy” under stress. When a person is startled, worried or upset the demand for sugar increases dramatically. Hence, the hypoglycemic may experience a sudden drop in blood sugar levels in stressful situations. If the drop is severe enough, the higher functions of the brain tend to shut down. The person descends into the “animal” mode of fight or flight behavior. That means they are no longer in a rational state. The only options perceived are “fight or flee.” Hence, they may lash out in uncontrolled rage, retreat into a shell or even babble in an irrational manner.
Barbara Reed, a parole officer in New York, found that a very high percentage of juvenile delinquents had blood sugar problems. She discovered that if these offenders could be put on a diet to correct hypoglycemia they would never get in trouble with the law again. This suggests that many of the problems we experience with teenagers may result from their diets. Studies have also suggested that making similar changes in prison diets may help reduce criminal activities there. So antisocial behavior in general has a strong link to hypoglycemia.
Orthomolecular psychiatrists have found that a hypoglycemic diet can improve the mental health of many patients. Dr. Michael Lesser testified before the United States Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs that 82% of previously uncontrollable schizophrenics showed improvement when put on a diet and supplements to control hypoglycemia. Other psychiatrists have reported that about 40% of all mentally ill persons are hypoglycemic.
In the book, Low Blood Sugar and You, Carlton Fredricks and Herman Goodman suggest that hypoglycemia may also be a factor in allergies, asthma, rheumatic fever, neurosis, epilepsy and even ulcers. Of course, many of these illnesses may not be directly linked to hypoglycemia, but the same dietary patterns, which cause hypoglycemia, probably contribute to a host of other illnesses as well.
(By Stephen Horne with notes from Four Winds)
The first step in overcoming hypoglycemia is to correct the diet. No supplements will permanently solve the problem if a person continues to over stimulate the pancreas and adrenals with refined sugar and caffeine. So, it is a good idea to start by eliminating (or at least severely reducing) refined carbohydrates like sugar, white flour and white rice in the diet. Also eliminate stimulants from the diet including all sources of caffeine (coffee, cola drinks, tea, guarana, etc.), alcohol and cigarettes.
Severe hypoglycemics should also eliminate all simple sugars, including fruit juice, honey, maple syrup, corn syrup, etc. It may even be necessary in the early stages to avoid sweet fruits like raisins, dates and grapes.
The diet should consist primarily of complex carbohydrates (vegetables, whole grains and starchy fruits like bananas). Meat (for type “O” blood) and dairy products are also acceptable, but they should not be the primary focus of the diet. It is best to eat about six small meals each day rather than two or three large meals. In fact, try doing what most animals do and “graze” throughout the day, eating light foods anytime you are hungry. Don’t skip breakfast, either. Good snack foods for hypoglycemics include raw nuts (chewed very thoroughly), sprouts, sunflower seeds, celery and carrot sticks and fresh or dried fruits. Go easy on the fruits in the beginning. Eating several small meals instead of one big one is easier on your digestive system, too.
When you talk about eliminating sugar, most people can’t even handle the thought. This is because refined sugar acts like a drug. When you eliminate it from your diet you go through withdrawal. Fortunately, there are some supplements, which can help you get away from sugar and rebuild the pancreas, liver and adrenals. So, the second step in overcoming hypoglycemia is to use appropriate nutritional supplements.
Licorice Root is the most important herb for hypoglycemics. It strengthens and stabilizes the adrenal glands, thus helping to stabilize blood sugar levels. It reduces the craving for sweets and thus aids the withdrawal process. Try taking 2-4 capsules of licorice root with breakfast and another 2-4 capsules with lunch.
In addition, take 2 capsules or 1-2 droppers full of licorice extract whenever you start to feel tired, shaky, cold or weak. You can also take some whenever you feel the craving for sugar.
HY-A is a Paavo Airola formula for hypoglycemics which contains licorice, dandelion, safflowers and horseradish. Besides the licorice we just mentioned, this combination contains dandelion to aid liver function and safflowers and horseradish to improve digestion. Use two capsules three times daily. It is even more effective when taken with an extra capsule or two of licorice root.
B-Complex vitamins and vitamin C seem to be very beneficial for hypoglycemics. Vitamin C is critical to adrenal function and the B-complex vitamins are necessary to regulate sugar in the body. Thus, Nutri-Calm is a very beneficial supplement in most cases of hypoglycemia.
Herbs and herbal combinations which support the liver may also be beneficial for blood sugar imbalances. Improved liver function means the liver is able to house more reserves of glycogen. The combination HY-C is a Chinese formula, which may help hypoglycemia by aiding liver function.
Where hypoglycemia is accompanied by depression, Mood Elevator is called for.
When an individual feels exhausted, confused and nervous due to adrenal “burnout,” Nervous Fatigue Formula can be very helpful. This formula increases the person’s ability to cope with stress. It also supports adrenal function.
Chromium can aid the pancreas in bringing down high blood sugar levels and may be useful to take after one has been on a sugar “binge.” It won’t cure the problem, but it can lessen the symptoms. Chromium is essential for pancreatic function.
Juniper berries and cedar berries have both been used to help the pancreas. Cedar berries are found in Pro-Pancreas Formula, a formula for diabetes.
Also Blood Sugar Formula a combination that supports the liver and the pancreas - normalizes blood sugar and provides glandular support.