My body/limb “jumps” when I fall asleep
Tying down that limb or strapping yourself to the bed will address the symptom, but that’s not practical; this is a nervous system/endocrine problem. You’re too revved up. Your body, or body part jerking or “jumping” during sleep or as you are falling asleep is a sign of hyperadrenal stress. Your adrenal glands are most likely exhibiting higher than normal cortisol levels from an acute or chronic, unresolved stress. Essentially your nervous and hormonal system is too hyped up trying to deal with this stress. Work on reducing stress. Cut out sugar, caffeine, anaerobic workouts. Check out the alkaline-ask diets under Health Topics > Diets.
I crave sugar
Craving sugar can mean many things. It is definitely very common, but not normal. In one of the more extreme cases, your body could be having trouble metabolizing sugar due to a disease such as diabetes. However, many and most people crave sugar either throughout the day, when they are under stress, or especially after eating a meal (always needing some dessert). Your blood sugar levels are regulated by a fine balance between your adrenal glands and your pancreas. Stressed out adrenal glands from nutritional, emotional, and/or physical stress will make it harder for you to properly process glucose (sugar). A diet high in carbohydrates, especially those that are refined, along with essential fatty acid and other nutrient deficiencies, will make it harder for your pancreas to properly metabolize your blood sugar. This will lead to carbohydrate intolerance, also called insulin resistance, where your body will have more and more difficulty using the insulin it makes to process the sugars you eat. Many times, blood sugar levels are within normal limits when you crave a sugary substance. But, due to processing difficulties, that glucose is most likely having trouble getting into the cells and tissues where it needs to be. As mentioned in other parts of this site, proper glucose metabolism is necessary for repairing your cartilage, optimizing your immune system, and balancing your overall hormonal system. Additionally, “fake” sugars and sweeteners from the commonly known aspartame (Nutrasweet) & sucralose (Splenda) to the supposedly healthy sugar alcohols (xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol), will not help your cravings, especially the neurologic response you get from eating them. You will shift your body from fat-burning to sugar-burning every time you taste them, regardless of the calories, or lack thereof.
I crave salt
Craving salt often means you are losing more sodium than you normally should. The mineralocorticoid aldosterone, secreted by your adrenal glands, works with the kidneys to hang onto sodium (and chloride), which not only keeps sodium in your body, but also water. This is to maintain electrolyte and water balance in your body. Stressed out adrenal glands, especially in the later stages of chronic stress, tend to produce less aldosterone and therefore more sodium is lost – so you crave it, (or salted pretzels!). This may cause your running shorts or cycling helmet chinstrap to become white-coated with salt after a workout. It may also cause your dog to uncontrollably lick your leg after a long summer workout! Since you will lose more water with a lowered sodium level from the lowered aldosterone, you will become dehydrated more easily. Even though you lose more fluid with the lowered adrenal gland function, edema, (swelling, especially around the ankles), is a common occurrence as your body tries to regulate the electrolyte imbalance. However, the problem arises when a physician thinks that the patient is holding onto too much water, and prescribes a diuretic to help get the fluid out. That can only make things worse. Those will deplete potassium levels so now you’re depleted in two major electrolytes, sodium and potassium, necessary for some many functions.
I crave red meat
Craving red meat many times means that you are craving the iron in the meat. You may be craving other nutrients in the red meat such as the B12, folic acid, and magnesium. But iron is the most common for this craving. Consider having your physician run a CBC with differential blood test and a separate ferritin test, which will measure your stored iron. Ferritin levels should be between 50 and 150 to be considered truly “normal”, though many labs and physicians think that Ferritin levels in the teens are okay. But they’re concerned with pathology, and although that’s important, you’re also concerned about feeling your best. You will almost always exhibit symptoms of low iron with ferritin levels below 35. Between 35 and 55 you may notice your symptoms to get worse during stress, or for women, during your period. If your lab comes back out of range, going out to buy iron pills is not always the best solution, for two reasons. First, even if your blood hemoglobin and/or hematocrit are low (hemoglobin <12 women, <14 men) (hematocrit <37 women, <42 men), it could be another nutrient problem, such as vitamin B6, copper (excess or deficiency), or the mineral molybdenum. A low ferritin could be an iron absorption problem, and many “cheap” store-bought or even the “pharmaceutical grade” iron supplements are hard to absorb and assimilate. The ferritin issue is many times a protein/amino acid utilization issue also, since ferritin is a protein itself. Note: ferritin is measured in ng/mL; hemoglobin & hematocrit are measured in gm/dL.
Bright lights bother my eyes (I always need to wear sunglasses)
Well then wear sunglasses, well, not necessarily. If you are one of those people that always needs to wear sunglasses, even on overcast days or the glare will bother you, then something is just not right. What is occurring is that your pupils are dilating more than they should rather than constrict to the “bright” light. This is an imbalance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, from too much stress that your body isn’t able to handle. Look into a mirror with the lights dim or turned off and then shine a flashlight into your eye (or your eye in the mirror). Your pupil should constrict (get smaller) and stay that way for around 5 seconds. With stress, it will rebound and start to get bigger, sometimes immediately. With a lot of stress it may constrict only for a very short second before it dilates (gets larger). This is a major indicator of high stress and people usually note lowered energy levels, dizziness when getting up quickly, blood sugar problems, and sleep disturbances, to name a few.
Loud noises irritate me
Try earmuffs, they work well. Well, maybe impractical. Loud noises that bother you and really shouldn’t if they are within reason, is just another sign of adrenal gland dysfunction. Hormones and biochemistry becomes disrupted, and any extra stress is over-exaggerated, kind of like a lot of static on the radio with the music in the background. You will most likely have a lot of other symptoms related to this, such as bright lights bothering you too and maybe you just don’t like to be touched by other people, or even certain fabrics. Earplugs won’t fix it.
My eyelids twitch uncontrollably
I have seen many patients who have been to have their eyes checked by a qualified ophthalmologist or neurologist for their eyelids twitching, or note that this phenomenon has occurred to them at some point. This twitching, sometimes diagnosed as a blepharospasm, (though to a much lesser degree), is a fluttering of the eyelid, (usually lower lid), uncontrollably for a few seconds to several minutes. Considering that there is not a problem with your eye, or some other major issue going on, this is just another sign of stress, usually from the adrenal glands being taxed out.
I get headaches or even worse -migraines
Many people get headaches, either every day or many times a week. Any headache is not normal; common but not normal. People are so used to getting headaches and since their physician, who probably gets them too, treats them with a pain killer or anti-inflammatory, of course they are “normal”. Headaches can be caused by many things; too much to list here, but I will provide a few. Provided there is not a pathological issue going on, such as a vascular episode, the headache you are experiencing could be from a hormonal imbalance, a food sensitivity or allergy, blood sugar imbalance, chronic unresolved stress, a structural issue (such as a muscle spasm or a spinal misalignment), and the list goes on and on. Headaches are not caused by a lack of caffeine, that’s for sure, and not everybody gets them. Aspartame (Nutrasweet), MSG (check out the Excitotoxin Newsletter), and sulfites from wine are very common migraine triggers.
Migraines, although occurring for similar reasons, are much more complex and if you get them, you know how much more extreme and debilitating they are. If they are one-sided, as most are, there is usually a neurological consideration and there are always biochemical (hormonal, nutritional) considerations. Many times migraines are a complexity of issues that vary from person to person. There’s a reason for your migraine, and that reason is different for everybody, even if the latest and greatest medication provides relief.
My skin itches
Itchy skin is a classic allergy or food sensitivity problem. It can also be a gut problem from yeast. The “common” food allergy testing where they look for a reddening of your skin with the antigen, tests for IgE antibodies, which most of us don’t have. This is an immediate reaction such like someone with a shellfish allergy who needs to be rushed to the hospital if they ate that food. If your immune system is under stress, you will most likely react to the common allergens – mold, dust mites, ragweed, etc. Well, of course your body can’t handle them if your immune system isn’t up to par. Most people have an IgG, (delayed reaction) allergic response, where you can react to a food you ate up to 72 hours later! That makes it hard to find. Although there are allergy tests for these, and they can extremely helpful at times, they are expensive and not 100% accurate. The itching is caused by the histamine irritation to your skin, and possibly eyes, ears, and nose. The dead giveaway that this is the case is that an antihistamine works great for you. Rather than take it all the time, and especially since they don’t work 100% for most people, it’s better to find out why it’s happening in the first place through a proper neurological evaluation.
Dysbiosis (a balance of unhealthy gut flora) can also cause itching. Yeast overgrowth – in both men and women – in the digestive system from lack of healthy bacteria (probiotics) and too much sugar is often the reason.
A lack of calcium can also cause itchy skin. Read the “Is It Normal?” – I get bad leg cramps at night.
I get ear infections
Ear infections, like most other infections, are a result of an immune system dysfunction. Ear infections, most common in young children, have a very direct correlation with food allergies, primarily dairy (cow’s milk products – the protein casein). Many parents find that putting tubes in their child’s ears either does nothing at all, or helps minimally. Obviously they do not address the problem. Prolonged and extensive use of antibiotics only lead to further immune suppression, as over one-half of the immune system is located in the digestive tract, in the form of the “healthy” bacteria.
I have asthma or exercise induced asthma (EIA)
This is a common problem in many people today. Check out my articles on asthma under the Article Section. They will shed some light on your situation. There are many “triggers” for asthma and the articles explain why just looking at the lungs, where the symptoms exist, will get you nowhere.
I get bad leg cramps at night
Leg cramps at night, especially the excruciating “Charley Horse” cramps that occur in the calves, are most commonly due to poor tissue calcium utilization. Calcium, as most know, is important for bone and joint heath, but it is also extremely important for the muscles. Calcium aids in muscle contraction and if low, can lead to muscle cramping. Most people get enough calcium in their daily diet, but they do not use it efficiently. Essential fatty acid metabolism is of utmost importance for calcium to be driven into the soft tissues (muscles) to prevent cramping. This means not eating trans fats and getting the proper amount of Omega 3s (fish and flax oil) and Omega 6s (vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes) fats in your diet. Without them, the calcium won’t be able to get into your muscles. Calcium also needs an acidic environment to work well for you. That is why supplemental forms of calcium carbonate, also known as oyster shell calcium, found in many popular brands of supplements, (TUMS), is poorly absorbed and many times can cause problems. Calcium citrate and lactate supplements are best absorbed into the tissues. However, this does not mean if you have leg cramps as described to go take lots of calcium. Although the deficiency may be the issue, more commonly it is the problem of absorption. If the essential fats in the diet are off, as well as other health problems such as poor digestion, these issues must be addressed for calcium to work for you. Other signs of calcium tissue “starvation” are cold sores/fever blisters, canker sores, achy muscles especially in Spring/Summer during the first few days of yard work, itchy skin, and bursitis, to name a few.
I was told my body aches because of my age
You were told that because the individual who told you that does not know what is wrong with you so passing off your problem as “old age” or “common at your age” lets them sleep at night. Medicine is great at getting people to live longer, but it is very ineffective in helping people to live healthier. Although your body will exhibit “normal” aging patterns as you get older, the majority of people age prematurely. The life expectancy may be in the mid to late 70s today, but the health expectancy seems to be in the late 30s to early 40s. People spend over half their life, or close to it, with chronic problems as a result of poor diet, lack of essential exercise, and a high stress environment. This leads to the aching body that can no longer cope with the stress it has been receiving.
I was told to be on hormone replacement due to my age
I see a lot of women who have either been on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or are advised to do so by their physician, yet very, very few of them have ever had their hormone levels tested. It is truly unbelievable when you consider that these tests are readily available today through blood, and more accurately and cost effective, through saliva (check out the Lab Testing Section). However, most physicians are just going by the symptoms that the woman gets – hot flashes, vaginal dryness, fatigue, “not feeling herself”, etc. The synthetic hormones used can be, and have been shown to be, extremely harmful, especially in the detoxification of these hormones. With the dramatic increase in breast cancer, and the link between breast and ovarian cancers and estrogens, you should be very careful, and informed. Many times, once the hormones are checked, a woman who has been on estrogen or an estrogen compound, is shown to have extremely high levels of those hormones. Most women who are told to get on estrogen and actually need a hormone, more often need progesterone (which can convert into estrogen, but estrogen cannot convert into progesterone), or no hormone at all. Either way, changes in diet and lifestyle are necessary so the body can make the necessary estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels needed at ANY time in your life.
My heart pounds at night
Considering you have had your heart checked out by a qualified physician and were told everything was normal (and hopefully really is), a pounding heart is a sign of sympathetic dominance, from being in overdrive too long. A treatment approach involving lifestyle and dietary change with proper aerobic exercise is usually the way to resolve this issue. A high stress work or home environment, a diet high in caffeine, refined sugars, and bad fats, and other factors lead to this symptom. Too much thyroid hormone, (often from too much medication), can cause this too.
My ankles swell
Swelling ankles are a fluid issue. Provided your kidneys check out okay from your physician, this condition correlates with adrenal problems, discussed all over this web site. The major point to understand here is that what most physicians will do here is prescribe a diuretic to get the fluid out, when you are most likely losing a lot of fluid anyway, along with sodium. The mineralocorticoid aldosterone, secreted by your adrenal glands, works with the kidneys to hang onto sodium (and chloride), which not only keeps sodium in your body, but also water. This is to maintain electrolyte and water balance in your body. Stressed out adrenal glands, especially in the later stages of chronic stress, tend to produce less aldosterone and therefore more sodium is lost. Since you will lose more water with a lowered sodium level from the lowered aldosterone, you will become dehydrated more easily. Interestingly, even though you lose more fluid with the lowered adrenal gland function, edema, or swelling, especially around the ankles is a common occurrence as your body tries to regulate the electrolyte imbalance. Diuretics can many times make your condition worse over time, and you’re definitely not having the swelling from a diuretic deficiency.
I get heartburn and/or acid reflux (GERD) and/or have been told I have a hiatal hernia
Heartburn and reflux symptoms are common enough for the pharmaceutical agencies to pour millions of dollars into this symptom-suppressing condition each year with the latest and greatest anti-acid medications. Contrary to what most are told, heartburn is usually from lack of stomach hydrochloric acid (HCL), not too much. Under stress, HCL levels decrease in the body, leading to maldigestion of food and nutrients. Digestion slows down and the food in the stomach actually begins to rot to some degree. This creates a very bad digestive environment, yet a very good medium for other [harmful] stomach acids, as well as a home for unhealthy bacteria to grow. This then leads to heartburn, reflux, and even a hiatal hernia, (where a small portion of the stomach slides upwards through the diaphragm into the esophageal hiatus), and many other digestive troubles. When the acid-altering medication is prescribed, relief is typically immediate, but the long-term net result means trouble as the HCL production, now already at a lowered status, is further and further diminished. This can lead to ulcerations due to maldigestion and colonization of bacteria such as the familiar H. Pylori, also well linked to stomach ulcers. Additionally, digestion further down the track is impaired as the body relies on HCL production to trigger digestive secretions in the pancreas, small intestine, and gall bladder. Addressing food allergies, excessive carbohydrate intake, and other dietary and nutritional factors are important here in the resolution. Emotional stress can play a role as well, and sometimes so do injuries, especially those to the diaphragm.
My legs feel weak walking up stairs
Then what you need is an elevator! Problem solved. Well, not quite. That weak feeling is the muscle-organ link between certain areas of your digestive tract and your quadriceps muscles (thighs), hence the weak feeling in the legs and/or knees, or even the knee pain you may get especially while squatting or sitting down. Food allergies, a diet high in carbohydrates (especially simple sugars), and hydrogenated “trans” fats are the major culprits with weak legs.
I get dizzy when I stand up quickly
Then stand up more slowly, that’s what I was told many years ago by my doctor. But there is a real reason for this problem. Your kidneys and your adrenal glands regulate your blood pressure. Normally (and I do mean normally), your blood pressure should slightly rise as you go from a lying to sitting, or from sitting to standing position. That means that if your BP is 120/80 sitting, it should be around 125/80 when you stand up, or drop to 115/80 when you lie down. Although the kidneys could be part of the problem, the vast majority of the time this is an adrenal issue. The stressed and tired adrenal glands can’t pull their load in the job to keep your blood pressure up, so it drops when you rise up, and that makes you dizzy. If it drops too much, then you could get tunnel vision or even pass out. The long-term effect of this is low blood pressure, a sign of hypoadrenia (low adrenal function). Here’s what happens next. > Your body, being smart as it is, tries to fix this problem by raising your blood pressure to what is considered high blood pressure in medical terms. It does this so when you rise up, the blood pressure is going to drop, but it is going to drop to a “normal” level, so you don’t pass out. Pretty smart huh? But not too smart when someone wants to put you on high blood pressure medication without getting the full story and understanding the situation.
I have to awake from sleep to urinate at night
Although many people think this is normal because they drank a lot of water before bed, it usually isn’t. If you drank a lot of water before going to bed, waking up once to urinate is still not necessarily warranted, and waking at night to urinate more than once or after drinking a reasonable amount of fluid is a common sign of abnormal aldosterone levels. Aldosterone is a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands to regulate electrolytes in your body, primarily sodium and potassium. Low aldosterone levels correlate with a lower level of sodium (more lost through the urine and sweat), and higher aldosterone levels correlates with higher sodium, lower potassium. During the day, aldosterone levels are normally lower than they are at night. This results in you having to urinate more. At night, the levels should be higher, causing fluid, and therefore urine, retention. Since this is an adrenal secreted hormone, adrenal problems will cause this to function abnormally. For more information, check out the Sleep info under Articles and Health Topics. Also under the Newsletter Section is a piece on the prostate as for you guys out there, a prostate issue can make you urinate often.
I have a pain that is helped by an anti-inflammatory drug
Pain helped by NSAIDs, the Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, is a definitive sign of a fatty acid imbalance. Whether you feel better from a baby aspirin, ibuprofen, or a major player in the market today like Vioxx or Celebrex, these medications work off your biochemistry by adjusting eicosanoid levels in your body, to help fight inflammation. Series 2 eicosanoids, which are pro-inflammatory, can become elevated when a person eats too many of the saturated fats – dairy, shellfish, egg yolks, and red meat. Although these fats are necessary in moderate amounts, (especially in a developing fetus), the typical person eats way too many. To add to the problem, they also consume less of the anti-inflammatory Omega 3 and 6 fats. Omega 3 fats are fish and flax oils while Omega 6 fats are vegetable oils, legumes, nuts, and seeds. The imbalance of too many inflammatory promoting saturated fats and the lack of anti-inflammatory Omega 3 and 6 fats is exacerbated by a diet containing partially hydrogenated (trans) fats. NSAIDs help by somewhat correcting/adjusting this imbalance. Since your body is not deficient in NSAIDs, they should be used with caution. Research shows them only to be effective after 48 hours of trauma, although many people take large amounts of these medications every day. NSAIDs, in any amount or strength, will cause gastrointestinal bleeding. They will also deplete sulfur levels, which are very necessary to detoxify hormones through your liver, and interestingly enough, repair your cartilage. Probably the same joint pain you are taking the NSAID for is the same one you are also depleting the necessary sulfur that is necessary to heal it. That’s no good.
Side note: Don’t think that the easy way out is to take a NSAID and still eat poorly. And don’t think that popping them will either help with inflammation or not help it at all – it can make it worse. Taking NSAIDs, especially when you don’t need them not only causes the problems noted above but they can also cause a chemical reaction in your body that will create 10 to 100 times more inflammation than the original inflammatory reaction you may be trying to fight. This is called a leukotriene reaction. This is very common in the person taking these medications frequently and seeing little or no change, or takes them for “prevention” before and after exercising.
My mind is really “foggy”
The feeling of a lethargic or “foggy” brain when you can’t put your thoughts together is many times due to a food allergy. Allergies can take up to 72 hours to effect you, so something you ate three days ago may be causing you not to have that sharp mind. Brain fog can also be due to a hormonal imbalance, most commonly from the thyroid, as well as blood sugar imbalances. Some people also get what is referred to as ammonia toxicity. This occurs when your body is flooded with ammonia from protein being broken down in the body to be used as fuel. This often occurs with too much physical activity (people who run marathons or Ironman races), as well as those who use protein to make glucose (sugar) for energy – common in those who go too long without eating, especially over 4-5 hours. Ammonia toxicity can also be due to dysbiosis – bad things living in your digestive tract.
I get tired, groggy, or need to nap in the afternoon
This is a very common occurrence; maybe the most common complaint. The average worker is very unproductive after lunch. The worst time to try and get someone to do something for you such as a customer service representative is an hour or so after lunch. The reason for this is due to the spike in insulin from the high carbohydrate foods consumed throughout the day, especially the cereal, juice, and donut or bagel breakfast. This can also be from not eating breakfast at all, but leaving your body starving and on its own to derive fuel from your stored glucose (sugar) and fat. The other common reason, though not as common as the carbohydrate intolerance issue, is food sensitivities/allergies. The release of histamine from allergenic responses causes the fatigued, groggy symptoms. So if you want to be more productive and feel better throughout the entire day, take it easy on the carbs, especially the refined “white” carbohydrates such as flours and sugars – even potatoes. Ideally you should eliminate them 100%. If you crave a certain food or eat one food a lot (dairy, wheat, eggs, soy, corn, for example), don’t eat them for a week or so and see if you feel any better. And if you manage a group of people and you see their productivity going down in the afternoon, then it’s time to get them to change their diets. Do something simple – like switch the candy jar to a raw nut jaw and replace the soft drink cooler with water.
I get seasonal allergies
Very, very rarely does a person have an environmental “seasonal” allergy and not have a food allergy. The food allergy, from a food that is usually eaten every day or maybe a few times a week, has created a constant “tolerable” level of histamine in your body that you probably don’t even notice. Then when your body is forced to deal with more histamine from the environment such as pollen, grasses, ragweed, etc, you now exceed your tolerance mark – because you were already at the limit. Now the symptoms appear. A good analogy is to think of a bucket that is full with water (histamine). Once more water is added (from the environment), then it overflows and out come the symptoms. Lowering the water in the bucket by addressing the food allergy or allergies makes the environmental allergies much more tolerable, even unnoticeable. Strengthening the immune system to help deal with the environmental stressors is also a big help. Additionally, many times people have allergies from fatigued adrenal glands. This is mentioned all over this web site, so I won’t talk more about that here. But it is very common. Also common is a lack of digestive stomach causing the allergy. This is also mentioned often elsewhere.
My joints are very stiff – especially in the morning
The most common reason for stiff joints in the morning is improper calcium utilization. First, calcium must be available. Despite what you might think or have been told to think by the dairy association or most medical physicians, eating or drinking more cow milk is not going to solve your calcium issue. Calcium needs an acidic environment to be properly absorbed, which is why supplements such as calcium carbonate or oyster shell calcium are such poor choices. The acidity primarily comes from proper stomach acid (HCL), which along with proper fatty acid metabolism pushes the calcium into the soft tissues. Lack of stomach acid, which commonly manifests itself as heartburn and indigestion (yes, I said lack of, not too much of – another “Is It Normal?” question), from a poor diet, stress, hydrogenated fats, and not enough healthy omega 3 and 6 fats will leave the calcium with no place to go.
Perfumes, chemicals, and certain smells really bother me
Chemical sensitivities bother many people; it’s a common but not normal symptom. Perfumes have a type of chemical in them called an aldehyde that is also found in new furniture, carpets, paints, leathers, and similar items. Many people have an aldehyde sensitivity. For some people it is genetic and they need to take more of the nutrients molybdenum and/or selenium to help break down the aldehydes. For other people it is provoked by a yeast/fungal infection (usually in the digestive tract) where the yeast converts another chemical into the aldehyde, giving them more than they can handle. Whenever painting, installing a new floor or carpet, or new furniture is purchased, it is always a good idea to put certain plants in that room or rooms to help draw the aldehydes out of objects so they are removed much more quickly. The plants that help the most with this are golden pathos, spider plant, elephant ear, and lacy tree philodendrons. Use one plant for every 100 or so square feet of room. Or, in the case of some new furniture, putting the plant above or on a table next to it will suffice.
Another type of chemical sensitivity is a hydrocarbon sensitivity that is found in more volatile chemicals such as gasoline, as well as products such as Sharpe magic markers. Hydrocarbon sensitivities are usually provoked by a fatigued immune system. Therefore, building up the immune system usually helps a lot.
Many people are also sulfite sensitive, where they cannot handle sulfite containing foods such as wines and some preserved foods, such as dried fruits. Many restaurants preserve their salad bars with sulfites to keep them [looking] fresh longer. Sulfite sensitivities cause headaches and other nagging symptoms in people and they don’t even realize that they are sulfite sensitive. Molybdenum and selenium help this sometimes. Make sure your wine says “No sulfites detected”.
My cholesterol and/or my triglycerides are high
The cholesterol issue is an endless problem because it is provoked by the pharmaceutical companies. More and more people are taking the statin and other medications to help lower their cholesterol. These drugs, (Lipitor & Zocor for example), are effective more at reducing inflammation, more so than their cholesterol lowering effects. So, your job is to lower your inflammation. If you were told to go on a medication, get a second opinion first. Just because your cholesterol is over 200 doesn’t mean you need a med. It also depends on the HDL levels; that’s often know as the “good” cholesterol. Ideally the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL should be 3:1 or less. Up to 5:1 is “normal”. Over that, you need some work. The most commonly prescribed medications are helping to lower [total] cholesterol but they are causing many other problems, including cardiovascular. That doesn’t make much sense. The majority of people with high cholesterol are that way because they cannot break the cholesterol down due to such a poor diet. The problem usually isn’t that you are making too much. Your body makes a set amount of cholesterol each day so if you consume more cholesterol containing foods than you did yesterday, your liver will make less cholesterol. This is why the egg myth that plagued us for so long is just that – a myth. Eating eggs (yolks) is not the reason for the high cholesterol. The reason is a poor diet and lack of aerobic exercise. For information on aerobic exercise, visit the fitness page. For the diet part – get off all the hydrogenated fats – not some of them, but all of them. Stop the margarine and go back to butter. Margarine is hydrogenated, the worst thing for your cholesterol issue and lots of other things too (inflammation). So listen to the cows and go back to natural butter. Take it easy on the saturated fats -dairy and shellfish especially- go with poultry (free range), and grass fed beef. Beef also contains stearic acid that may actually help lower cholesterol. Increase your Omega 3s with a fish or flax oil supplement. Eat lots of vegetables – all you want, but not corn or potatoes. Use extra virgin olive oil only. Pure and “lite” olive oils are poor choices. Eat 1-2 pieces of fruit a day at the most. Only drink water, with the exception of herbal, caffeine-free teas. Stop the sodas, including diet drinks, coffee, and juices. Very few who are truly exercising aerobically and stick with the dietary change will not see a change in their “bad” LDL cholesterol. For those who don’t, sometimes the reason is an undiagnosed food allergy. And for the very few who still don’t see any improvement and the medication is warranted, then certain supplements, such as Coenzyme Q10 are necessary to protect the heart. Hey, that’s the same COQ10 that those statin drug deplete!
Triglycerides are most commonly affected by a diet high in carbohydrates, especially the refined & processed sugars. Following the guidelines above for diet & exercise with more of an emphasis on lowering overall carbohydrate intake and increasing quality protein sources (eggs, meat, fish, poultry) will lead to success in lowering triglycerides. Using pure unrefined (not toasted) sesame seed oil on your salad and other dishes will help with your carbohydrate/insulin metabolism, thus lowering the triglyceride level. Many times drastic 100+ point changes can be seen in days. Sometimes nutrients such as zinc, magnesium, chromium, or vanadium are needed. Consult with a knowledgeable physician first.
My hands and/or feet easily fall asleep
When your hands or feet are falling asleep (and the rest of you is awake, haha), that can be due to either an insulin issue or a cardiovascular issue, or both. The cardiovascular issue (heart) should be checked by a qualified cardiologist, just to rule out any immediate serious problems. Usually the issue is from too much stress – emotional, physical, and nutritional. Your body will get in a “sympathetic” overdrive state, similar to a constant fight-or-flight reaction. Resolving the stress will in turn resolve, or wake up, the problem. Carbohydrate intolerance, also known as insulin resistance, can also be the problem. Sometimes this causes just the hands to fall asleep while you’re sleeping (if that makes any sense). Many times a person thinks they rolled over and cut off the circulation to the arm so the hand falls asleep. Although this is sometimes true, it is often from a higher than normal insulin level and/or low blood sugar. Try cutting out the sugars, juices, soft drinks (including diet) and reducing overall carbohydrate intake. Eliminate all hydrogenated fats too. Hormones, especially cortisol and norepinephrine from too much stress can also be the problem.
The corner of my mouth cracks
Cracking at the corners of the mouth is most commonly a vitamin B2 (riboflavin) issue. Notice I said issue, not deficiency. Taking a B-Complex or B2 by itself may resolve the cracking, but it is not usually the answer. Most people, even with a poor diet, get enough B2 daily – even if it is from poor sources such as enriched breads. Unfriendly bacteria, living in the digestive tract, love B2. So they use up your available B2 for fuel. Therefore, while taking a B2 supplement my help you out somewhat, you’re also helping the bacteria thrive. So, obviously the answer here is to get rid of the bacteria. Carbohydrates, especially simple and refined sugars also help the bacteria flourish. That also includes fruit and fruit juice, as they will feed the bacteria.
I get cold sores or canker sores
Cold sores, fever blisters, cancer sores – they don’t make for a good day. Yes, the cold sores are the Type 1 Herpes Virus and therefore as with any virus, you’ve got to be thinking about the immune system. These things pop out when you’re under too much stress. This can be emotional stress that you’re dealing with; try some relaxation exercises, deep breathing, meditation. It can be physical stress from body pains & injuries or working out too hard (too anaerobic). It can be from chemical/nutritional stress from too much sugar, lack of nutrient-dense foods, too much caffeine, or eating something you’re allergic to. And it can also be thermal stress from the cold weather in the winter, or more commonly the heat and humidity from the summer sun. But there is a way to deal with the cold sores/fever blisters so they don’t come back, and it’s not by always having to take those liver damaging anti-viral medications. First, you’ve got to deal with the stress as just mentioned. Second, whether you’re dealing with a viral issue or not, there’s a calcium issue that needs to be addressed. Here’s how:
Calcium must be available and it must be able to get into the tissues. Despite what you might think or have been told to think by the dairy association or most medical physicians, eating or drinking more dairy is not going to solve your calcium issue. Calcium needs an acidic environment to be properly absorbed, which is why supplements such as calcium carbonate or oyster shell calcium are such poor choices. The acidity primarily comes from proper stomach acid (HCL), which along with proper fatty acid metabolism, pushes the calcium into the soft tissues and that will take care of the skin flare-ups. Lack of stomach acid, which commonly results in heartburn and indigestion (yes, I said lack of, not too much of), from a poor diet, stress, hydrogenated fats and not enough healthy omega 3 and 6 fats will leave the calcium with no place to go. Remember, stress DECREASES stomach acid (which can lead to heartburn-type symptoms, another “Is This Normal?” question.
My jaw clicks, pops, or tires when chewing – I have “TMJ” or “TMJD”
When the TMJ (temporal mandibular joint) is not tracking properly, a person is said to have TMJD (the D is for dysfunction), though many people commonly say, “I have TMJ.” Well, we all do. Muscle imbalances within the jaw, cranium (head), and neck can cause the TMJ not to open and/or close properly. This can result in a jaw that hurts, pops, clicks, can’t open all the way, can’t close properly, deviates or zigzags when opening or closing, or tires when chewing. TMJD affects a lot of people and is the cause of their headaches, neckaches, irritability, fatigue, and even constantly biting their jaw or lip. The muscle imbalances causing the problems are commonly due to past injuries to the head, neck, or jaw itself. The TMJ has an intricate influence on the rest of the body due to the neurological connection with which it functions. Therefore, just about anything can affect the TMJ and vice-versa. This is why someone may only have a jaw problem when they are sick – or their TMJ problems may have first started when they became sick. It is not uncommon for a TMJ issue to start once a woman has a hysterectomy or after she goes through menopause.
A jaw fatiguing from a typical meal or even chewing gum is similar to when any other muscle fatigues. Sometimes it is a direct muscle problem within the jaw, other times it is from a lack of certain nutrients, most common pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5).
The immune system has a strong relationship to the jaw (hence the immune example above) but also so does blood sugar. I wrote a paper (under Research Papers) linking TMJ problems to blood sugar handling problems (dysglycemia) and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
Often the TMJ is the symptom, and not the cause. Another great example is grinding of the teeth at night (bruxism). This is a stress problem that the person is not dealing with – it is not a TMJ problem. And a night guard may keep you from destroying your teeth, but it won’t fix the problem.
Also check out my research paper on TMJ and Dysglycemia under the Research Paper link.
I need coffee to get going
A need for caffeine whether it from coffee, tea, soda, or a pill form, means that energy isn’t happening naturally the way it should be. Low energy in the morning is most commonly an adrenal gland or thyroid gland dysfunction. The adrenal glands secrete a hormone called cortisol that is normally higher in the morning and lower at night, promoting sleep. Many people have low cortisol levels throughout the entire day leading to lackluster energy and performance. Some people have backwards cortisol circadian rhythms where their cortisol levels are low in the morning and high at night. We call them “tired and wired”. These people tend to need coffee in the morning to get going and alcohol at night to get to sleep. Tests today, such as the Adrenal Stress Index, can measure your cortisol output throughout the day with four simple non-invasive saliva samples. Prolonged caffeine intake can and will lead to fatigue issues, joint problems, digestive troubles, and hormone issues, just to name a few.
I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep
Waking up in the middle of the night at a specific time and always that time has a lot to do with the acupuncture meridian system 24-hour clock. For example, 3am to 5am is the time for the lung meridian to be more active. Constantly waking up during that time could very well be due to something irritating the lungs – poor air quality, lung congestion, smoking, etc. Waking up at different times and sometimes being able to fall back asleep and sometimes not is more of an adrenal gland issue. Cortisol levels should normally be low at night and then rise in the morning around 6-7am. Spikes in cortisol levels during sleep from unresolved stress can trigger this sleep problem. Additionally, the pineal gland, which secretes melatonin, turns on at night while all the other hormones turn themselves down. An under active pineal gland can result in sleep problems. Pineal gland dysfunctions are also something to consider with any jet lag issues. For more information on sleep, read the sleep article under Articles and even more info under Health Topics.
I get lightheaded, shaky, or headaches when hungry
These are common symptoms of low blood sugar issues; so balancing blood sugar is key. Eating regularly, at least every 3-4 hours, and eating foods low on the glycemic index will help. Including high quality protein foods such as whey protein (make sure it has no MSG), eggs, and meats with your meals as well as good fats such as nuts, seeds, and vegetables (avocado) will also be beneficial. Eliminating all hydrogenated fats and reducing or eliminating refined sugars such as high fructose corn syrups, sucrose, and artificial sweeteners will also be beneficial. Many times blood sugar levels are normal but the symptoms persist. This is most often due to an increase of cortisol from the adrenal glands from too much stress. The cortisol levels block the glucose from being driven into the cells. So although blood sugar levels are normal, the cravings for sugar still persist until the cortisol levels come down so the glucose (sugar) can be delivered to the tissues.
My ears ring (tinnitus)
Unless you like the sound of a low grade ringing, tinnitus is no fun. There is still a lot of mystery as to why tinnitus occurs. Damage to the tissues within the ears itself is one answer, and is irreversible for the most part. However many people have this problem constantly and have just learned to live with it. Other people may get it once a week or once a month, where one or both of the ears gets a high pitched ringing for a few seconds, or up to a few minutes. These cases are usually hormonally driven. Like most symptoms, they are stress provoked. Proper glucose metabolism is also a factor in solving the mystery of the ringing for many people. That means maintaining stable blood sugar levels by eating every few hours, staying off the caffeine, junk food, and hydrogenated fats, and adjusting your diet and lifestyle to one that is more aerobically balanced. Also check out my research paper on tinnitus under the Research Paper link.
My heels crack
Cracking of the heels is often a sign of low thyroid function. (See more information in this section with the thinning hair signs.) Cracking of the heels can also be due to an essential fatty acid imbalance. That occurs when there is a lack of Omega 3 fats from fish and flax oils. Sometimes there is a lack of Omega 6 fats from vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. The deficiency of the Omega 3 fats in many diets as well as diets that contain hydrogenated fats lead to a fat imbalance which in turn leads to the skin and hair losing its luster, hydration, and tone.
My eyebrows and/or hair is thinning
Similarly to the heels cracking symptom, thinning of the eyebrows (most commonly the outer 1/3) and/or the scalp hair is a sign of thyroid dysfunction. Though the thyroid is many times the culprit in this problem, treating just the thyroid and only the thyroid is rarely warranted for optimal success. Hormones from one gland do not alter themselves without altering other hormones, whether it is the adrenal glands, the ovaries or testes, the pineal, or the pituitary. Additionally, the immune system, primarily the thymus gland, plays an important role in thyroid health, as do the parotid glands. So although thyroid issues are becoming an ever-increasing problem and more and more people are medicated every day based off symptoms and lab tests, remember that you don’t just wake up one day with “a thyroid problem”. The entire hormonal system must be taken into account.
I get sick a lot
Getting sick is obviously an immune issue – if you are truly sick, and not just run down. The immune system is largely comprised of the thymus, spleen, and lymph tissue and half comprised of the “friendly” bacterial that line the digestive tract. An increase in stress hormones, primarily cortisol from the adrenal glands, causes the immune system to function sub-optimally. Sugar is also a big deterrent in immune health. That is why drinking ginger ale or some other sugar-laden soda when you are sick is not a good idea. You’ll further suppress your immune system.
The health of the gut is also very important since it is major part of your immune system. The healthy bacteria will significantly be decreased from a poor diet, especially one containing allergenic foods, as well as a digestive tract containing unhealthy bacteria and fungus from past antibiotic therapies or simply an unhealthy diet/lifestyle.
However, whether you get sick a lot or only once or twice a year, how do you truly know you are sick and have a viral or bacterial infection? Most will never know. We base how we feel and what our symptoms reveal to indicate that we may have a viral infection. And if it’s not going away as quickly as it should, then we take antibiotics because the thought is that it must be a bacterial infection. Well, I’ll tell you that many times you may not truly have a “bug”, but your symptoms are due to a food allergy, some free radical pathology, or some toxicity maybe from a medication you’re taking or from poor liver detoxification.. Studies show that when a person presents with signs and symptoms of strep throat that after the culture is taken, they are more likely to not have an infection than have one! Food allergies, like any allergic reaction, cause histamine to be released. That’s the same stuff you get when you’re sick (or feel sick) and take an anti-histamine drug for. Especially with constant ear infections, think about a food allergy. Free radical damage, (over-oxidizing of your tissues), can easily cause the red, inflamed sore throat as well as other symptoms. Lack of antioxidants and essential fats in the diet will cause your tissues to make you feel as though you’ve caught something, when you’ve actually caught yourself, so to speak. Taking the right antioxidants and correcting the things in your life that are causing over-oxidation will stop your tissues from destroying themselves. Check out the Newsletters on the Flu and Cold Symptoms for recommendations.
My feet get tired
Tired feet, even at the end of the day, are due to a fatigue of the tibialis posterior muscles that run down the back and inside of each lower leg into the foot. This muscle supports the arch of your foot and when the muscle fatigues, so does the arch, and the feet ache. This muscle fatiguing is also the major reason for shin splints, plantar fasciitis, bunions, hammer toes, and sometimes foot neuromas. You can learn about all those under the Injuries part of the Athletes Section. So why does the muscle fatigue? Well, that is different for everybody, but most commonly it is an adrenal gland fatigue issue (too much stress). Poor footwear such a shoes with high heels, shoes too small for your foot, and shoes with anti-pronation devices also can be the culprit. Plenty of info on this site about going barefoot and being minimalist; think like the “Sock Doc”.
I have low/high blood pressure
Blood pressure (BP) is regulated by your adrenal glands and kidneys. “Normal” blood pressure is 120/80. Low blood pressure, though not as common as high BP, is usually due to dehydration or low adrenal gland function. When the adrenal glands are not functioning as well as they should, a hormone called aldosterone is lowered and that equates to a lower sodium content. Sodium helps retain water. Less water equals a lower blood pressure. That is why so many people today are treated with diuretics to lower their blood pressure.
Sodium in the diet does not cause high blood pressure any more than eggs cause high cholesterol. Although excess sodium may further increase already high blood pressure in 30-40 percent of hypertensives, the notion it is all from salt in the diet is a myth. Following the guidelines on this site for lowering cholesterol will also help lower the blood pressure as narrowing of the arteries is one accepted explanation for high BP. Emotional and nutritional stress is also a big factor with high BP, especially carbohydrate intolerance. Also be sure to read the section herein “I get dizzy when I stand up” because many people have high blood pressure because their body has raised it to that level to keep them going.
I sweat easily and/or a lot
Don’t necessarily go for more antiperspirant. This is usually a mineral deficiency problem – most commonly magnesium, sometimes potassium, manganese, or zinc. These are, interestingly enough, the same minerals you’ll use up a lot when your stress levels are too high. You’ll lose potassium in your sweat and urine and you’ll use up magnesium trying to break down your cortisol. Zinc and manganese get depleted from too many refined carbs in the diet. Go to the athlete section now and read up on becoming more aerobic and less anaerobic. Hit the shower first, haha.
I get cold and clammy hands/feet
So you’re the one with the sweaty palm at the meet n’ greet? Okay, those cold and clammy hands (and/or feet) are probably from an essential fat imbalance – a diet containing hydrogenated fats and lacking the Omega 3 fats, (and maybe the Omega 6s). Sometimes a lack of magnesium, vitamin B6, niacin, and/or zinc is the problem as you won’t be able to convert the fats into their necessary hormonal functions. This can also be an adrenal gland problem – too much stress in your life perhaps? But often a person with this symptom is lacking the minerals they need to support their hormones, especially electrolytes like sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus.
My nails break, chip, peel, or look weird
Your nails are a good reflection of your health – here’s the rundown:
- Soft or tear easily? = lack of protein in your diet
- Dry, brittle or break easily? = lack of calcium (make sure you read up on that on this site for propter type and dose)
- Horizontal or vertical ridges? = lack of calcium or thyroid gland problem
- Thin, flat, “spoon-shaped”? = Iron or some other red blood cell nutrient deficiency
- White spots or bands? = often a zinc deficiency; also could be a toxic liver problem
- Yellow nail bed? = often a need for vitamin E, but read about that in the Newsletter section first
- Dark nail bed? = often a need for vitamin B12
- Hangnails? = mineral deficiency, often due to adrenal gland stress; overall you’re too stressed!
My tongue is really red or has groves/fissures
Provided that you did not just eat one of the artificially flavored ice treats (hopefully not) your tongue looks like that because of a lack of riboflavin (vitamin B2). This does not mean you should go take more of that B vitamin, because the most common reason for a low B2 is from unhealthy gut bacteria and/or yeast. They will eat up your B2. So if you take it, you feed them; that would be bad. So get out all the refined sugars from your diet, those bugs love those things too. Probiotics might help too. Sometimes nutrients like glutamine help (it’s good for the gut) and biotin too (that helps get rid of persistent yeast).
Specifically for Women:
I get breast tenderness correlating with my cycle
Breast tenderness means you do not have the ability to properly detoxify estrogen. Your breasts are full of estrogen receptors and these receptors love water. During times of increased estrogen in your cycle, such as during ovulation and the last week before your period, the estrogen, like all the hormones, must be detoxified by your liver. If the liver already has its work cut out for it due to other hormones keeping it busy or digestive issues (90% of the job of the liver is to detoxify the bowel), then the estrogen must wait its turn. And what better place to hang out than in the breast tissue. The increased water and swelling causes the tenderness. This is a common occurrence for many women, and many women have it every day from the estrogen’s inability to be detoxified.
I get bad menstrual cramps and/or back pain
Cramping and back pain, like all PMS, is abnormal, even though most women get it, expect it, and deal with it. The bloating and cramping puts a lot of pressure on the abdomen obviously causing distention. The distension will fatigue abdominal muscles resulting in back pain. The cramping is usually from something affecting the small and/or large intestine. This could be a food allergy or intolerance, fungus/yeast, fat imbalance, or some other digestive disturbance. Many times too much sugar or a high carbohydrate diet is the culprit. In some instances a nutrient deficiency is the answer, most commonly calcium, zinc, and/or vitamin B6. If you decide to try calcium, remember to take the advice given many other places on my site – only use calcium citrate or lactate, and take between 200-300mg one to two times a day.
I get very irritable or emotional with my period
Irritability whether you know it or someone tells you so, (like your spouse), is another common but of course abnormal symptom of PMS. This is most often due to a sugar handling problem and/or hormonal issue, primarily the thyroid. The thyroid makes the hormone T4, and that must be converted to T3 in the liver, kidneys, and intestines. Insulin, cortisol, and estrogen are the three major hormones that block the T4 to T3 conversion, so you end up with a low thyroid and mood issues. A diet high in carbohydrates, (especially refined), caffeine, and a stressful lifestyle will throw off serum and cellular glucose levels resulting in mood swings. Cutting out the caffeine, reducing stress, increasing protein, increasing Omega 3 and 6 fats, and decreasing or eliminating refined carbohydrates such as sugars and flours, many times fixes this problem. — Not that I’m saying you’ve got a problem – take it easy!
I can’t get pregnant
Inability for a woman to get pregnant (by a viable man) is an ever-increasing problem. Many women do not ovulate even though they have what appears to be a regular period. The most common answer to this issue is a low progesterone level, which can be plotted and confirmed throughout the cycle through a female hormone panel lab test. A low thyroid level can also be the problem. The balance of all the hormones, (bringing the adrenal glands into the picture), is most important. Essential fatty acid imbalances due to a lack of omega 3 or 6 fats and a diet containing partially hydrogenated fats is also an issue to investigate. This usually goes along with a diet containing too many carbohydrates, especially those refined, which also often results in ovarian cysts. Although there are a lot of drugs and procedures available today to induce pregnancy, and sometimes these are necessary, these hormonal and nutritional issues are frequently overlooked. Remember, getting pregnant is the first step. Sustaining a healthy pregnancy, delivering a healthy child, and being a healthy mom is going to be dependent on how well you take care of yourself. So looking into all this now is absolutely necessary no matter how you look at it.
My cycle is over/under 28 days
The length of your cycle is often relative to progesterone levels. A shorter cycle correlates with lower progesterone while a longer cycle correlates with increased progesterone. Though it is the balance of the hormones that is important. A low progesterone level can be perceived by your body due to a high estrogen level, and vice-versa. A low progesterone level can also be due to a low thyroid or hyper-adrenal function. The health of your thyroid, adrenal glands, and liver also play a role in your estrogen-progesterone balance and therefore the length of your cycle. Many females taking birth control pills (hormonal therapy) to achieve a “normal” cycle are not addressing the issue behind the problem. A female hormonal panel can provide very beneficial insight to the hormonal rhythms of your cycle. There is also more info about these topics under Health Topics and under the Newsletter sections.
I get hot flashes and/or sweat a lot
Hot flashes and excessive sweating are unfortunately being treated today by giving estrogen medications such as Premarin, or even natural “bioidentical” hormones. Rarely does a medical doctor today take the initiative to have a woman’s hormones checked before putting her on such a powerful medication. With the ever increasing rates of ovarian and breast cancer today, you need to be 100% certain that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is right for you. Have your hormone levels checked, or get a kit to check them yourself (check out the Lab Section). Never let anyone put you on a hormone based off your symptoms alone. More often than not, when the hot flashes, vaginal dryness, low libido, and other symptoms are a result of a hormonal issue, they are due to low progesterone, not low estrogen. Taking progesterone, when indicated, is much safer than taking estrogen and better yet is to figure out why the progesterone is low. Another major cause for those pesky hot flashes is a fatty acid imbalance from lack of omega 3 fats and a diet containing hydrogenated fats. Other times this is due to an adrenal issue or a nutrient deficiency issue, most commonly [natural] vitamin E (Newsletter on Vit E). Whatever the case, have it investigated first before going on any hormone!
I take birth control pills
Birth control pills, which is a form of hormone replacement therapy (we just don’t call it that because it doesn’t sound good), will alter your natural hormonal output. Many women deplete a lot of sulfur from their body as the hormones use up the sulfur to get detoxified through the liver. Magnesium, vitamin B6, and folic acid deficiencies are also very common. All these nutrients are necessary for proper joint health making a female much more susceptible to joint problems and tendonitis. Taking BCP to normalize an abnormal cycle or to resolve or lessen the problems associated with PMS is not the answer. Finding out the reason to those issues is much more health fulfilling. To read more about BCPs and hormones, check out a lot more info under the Health Topics and Newsletter Sections.