Chapter 6

HYPOGLYCEMIA

What is hypoglycemia and what causes it?
In a society where sugar is consumed at alarming rates, some people find out from blood analysis that their blood sugar or glucose is low, that is, in medical terms, they are "hypoglycemic" ('hypo' refers to low and 'glycemia' means sugar). People that suffer from too much sugar in the blood are referred to as being "hyperglycemic" or using the more common terms, are prediabetic or diabetic.

There needs to be a certain level of sugar in the blood for normal body functioning. The body regulates this sugar level by the secretion of regulating hormones one of which is insulin produced by the pancreas. As the level of insulin rises, the blood sugar level falls. Less insulin results in increased blood sugar levels. For most people, this insulin level fluctuation is a normal process but when the pancreas acts abnormally, problems develop. Although hypoglycemia can be caused by many complex factors such as emotional and physical stresses, large amounts of alcohol consumed on a daily basis, coffee, smoking, nutritional and enzyme deficiencies, and many other medical conditions, the large consumption of refined carbohydrates, (especially sugars) in the diet, allergies and hypothyroidism (low functioning thyroid gland) are among the most common factors leading to hypoglycemia.

When refined sugar (sucrose) is ingested, a large percentage of it is immediately absorbed into the blood putting a strain on the pancreas to secrete insulin in abnormal amounts. Sugar consumption requires chromium which helps the pancreas and body cells regulate sugar levels. Excess sugars deplete our chromium and B Vitamin reserves. Caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and stress further weakens the pancreas.

Constant abuse of the pancreas can cause it to malfunction in a "hair-trigger" like action secreting too much or too little insulin erratically even when mild amounts of sugar enter the body. If the sugar level drops too low, the brain and nervous system can be deprived of their primary fuel, glucose, causing an array of unpleasant hypoglycemic symptoms. If more sugar is consumed in an attempt to make up for the decreased sugar level, symptoms will be temporarily relieved but the pancreas will again secrete still more insulin making the symptoms (such as those in Table 6) worse than ever.

What is the best way to ingest sugars?
The best way to supply the body with needed sugars is by eating unrefined carbohydrate foods which the body can slowly metabolize into glucose. Ideal foods include starchy vegetables and whole grains. Starches are actually "chains" of sugars which are tightly bound. This binding enables the body to release them slowly through digestion thereby preventing an overwhelming dosage of sugar from hitting the pancreas all at once.

This glucose can then be stored in the liver and be timed released, as needed, into the blood stream. Eating a balanced diet which is right for your system as well as eating smaller meals at more frequent intervals are also very important.

How can I tell if I have hypoglycemia?
Recognizing the symptoms of hypoglycemia is difficult because these symptoms can also be caused by other pathological conditions such as malabsorption, hypothyroidism, sluggish liver, low adrenal function, allergies, misaligned vertebrae, candida, poor bowel functioning and stress.

For example, it is possible that a person with low blood sugar may in fact be suffering from allergies. Hypoglycemia may be more of a symptom of another underlying problem rather than the cause.

In studies on hypoglycemia, it has been noted that nearly 67% of those suffering from it complained of exhaustion as one of the most common symptoms. Sixty percent noted depression while 50% said they had insomnia and/or anxieties accompanying the hypoglycemia. [28] Other complaints are listed in Table 6.

How is hypoglycemia related to hypothyroidism?
In his research, Dr. Broda Barnes states that the incidence of hypoglycemia is much lower during thyroid treatment. This would suggest that hypoglycemia might be closely correlated with hypothyroidism. In addition, the thyroid has a profound effect on the liver. A low functioning thyroid is frequently accompanied by sluggish liver function. This can cause lower insulin production, higher glucose levels in the blood and urine, and higher cholesterol levels. Since sluggish liver function is one of the most common causes of hypoglycemia, it therefore follows that the hypothyroid patient could be highly susceptible to low blood sugar. [31]

Other nutritional means of detoxifying and strengthening the liver should be undertaken during thyroid treatment. Our clinic can help you set up a specific therapeutic dietary program to help strengthen liver and other organ functions.

What tests can reveal hypoglycemia?
Since there is a direct relationship between hypothyroidism and hypoglycemia, one should test for low thyroid function. The most reliable test for low thyroid is the simple, quick and inexpensive Barnes Basal Temperature method described in this booklet. Research has found that hypoglycemia is not only caused by an abundance of insulin in the blood but also by the inability of the liver to furnish enough glucose to meet the given stress. Low thyroid function [28] as well as insufficient Vitamin C, constipation, toxins and nutrient imbalances may cause the liver to become sluggish.

If you have actual, untreated functional hypoglycemia, the symptoms may go away or change character but they will soon reappear. If you suspect hypoglycemia, you should have a fasting blood glucose test, a urinalysis, the Barnes Basal Temperature Test and other tests that your physician deems necessary. [29] Other indicators of blood sugar problems are the occurrence of many of the symptoms listed in Table 6, immediately after eating a product high in sugar.

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Twenty-five percent of airline pilots over 40 years
of age suffer from hypoglycemia! [30]
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Hypoglycemia, like many other physical problems, can be greatly helped through proper nutrition and diet. Naturopathic Physicians get at least two years of clinical nutrition and one year of plant medicine as part of their medical training and are thoroughly qualified to assess your nutritional health needs. These services are of great benefit to people who want to get the most out of their vitamin purchases.

We strongly urge people who are not familiar with the many different choices to avoid the random purchase of vitamins. Not understanding what a person is buying can result in the duplication the same vitamin and minerals in different products and the selection of brands whose quality is questionable. In addition, there exists a real risk of inadvertently taking too much of some vitamins that accumulate in the body. This would include oil soluble vitamins such as A and D which could result in painful side-effects.

TABLE 6

Some Possible Common Signs, Symptoms and Conditions Related to Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)

(These symptoms, like others mentioned in this book, require the expertise of a physician to diagnose their exact cause. It should be emphasized that many illnesses and disease conditions have identical symptoms.)

  Abdominal spasms        Internal trembling
    Alcoholism          Irritability
    Allergies (both food        Joint pain
      and environmental)        Lack of appetite (anorexia)
    Blurred vision          Mental confusion
    Chronic indigestion     Muscle pain and backache
    Cold hands or feet      Muscular twitching or cramps
    Confusion           Numbness
    Convulsions         Obesity
    Crying spells           Phobias
    Difficulty in concentration Restlessness
    Drug abuse          Ringing in ears
    Fainting or blackouts       Staggering
    Fatigue Suicidal tendencies     Suicidal tendencies
    Forgetfulness           Sweating
    Headaches           Temper tantrums
    Heart palpitations      Vertigo
    Hunger (abnormal)
    Insomnia

Next Chapter 7 : STRESS...Turning Stress Into Strengths