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Hypoglycemia
(Low Blood Sugar)

Effects, Vitamins/Supplements, Herbs, Nutrition/Diet

 

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is a condition in which there is an abnormally low level of glucose (sugar) in the blood.  Reactive hypoglycemia occurs when blood sugar drops to abnormally low levels two to five hours after eating a meal.  Symptoms of reactive hypoglycemia include sweating, tremors, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, and hunger.  Most often, this results from the oversecretion of insulin by the pancreas.  Insulin facilitates the transport of glucose from the bloodstream into the cells, especially those of muscle and fatty tissue, and causes glucose to be synthesized in the liver.  If the pancreas is not functioning properly, normal carbohydrate metabolism is impossible.  As the blood sugar drops, stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol kick in at high levels to prevent the blood sugar level from dropping dramatically.  Another type of hypoglycemia is known as fasting hypoglycemia.  This occurs as a result of abstaining from food for eight or more hours.  The symptoms are often more severe than those of reactive hypoglycemia and can include seizures, loss of consciousness, and a loss of mental acuity.  Liver disease or a tumor of the pancreas is generally the underlying cause of this type of hypoglycemia.

A person suffering from hypoglycemia may display any or all of the following symptoms:  fatigue, dizziness, heart palpitations, nausea, blurred vision, an inability to concentrate, lightheadedness, headache, irritability, fainting spells, depression, anxiety, cravings for sweets, confusion, night sweats, weakness in the legs, swollen feet, a feeling of tightness in chest, constant hunger, pain in various parts of the body (especially the eyes), nervous habits, mental disturbances, and insomnia.  People with hypoglycemia can become very aggressive and lose their tempers easily.  Any or all of these symptoms may occur a few hours after eating sweets or fats.  The onset and severity of symptoms are directly related to the length of time since the last meal was eaten and the type of foods that meal contained.

More and more Americans today may have this condition, due to poor dietary habits that include eating large quantities of simple carbohydrates, sugars, alcohol, caffeine, and soft drinks, and insufficient amounts of complex carbohydrates.  High stress levels are believed to be a contributing factor in the increasing incidence of hypoglycemia.

Hypoglycemia can be inherited, but most often it is precipitated by an inadequate diet.  This is referred to as functional hypoglycemia (FH).  Many other bodily disorders can cause hypoglycemic problems as well, among them adrenal insufficiency, thyroid disorders, pituitary disorders, kidney disease, and pancreatitis.  Immune deficiency and candidiasis are strongly linked to hypoglycemia.  Glucose intolerance and hyperinsulinemia (high blood insulin levels), producing hypoglycemia, frequently occur in people with chronic liver failure.  Other common causes are smoking and the consumption of large amounts of caffeine, found in colas, chocolate, and coffee.  Though it may seem paradoxical, low blood sugar can also be an early sign of diabetes (high blood sugar).

Diagnosis of hypoglycemia can be difficult because the symptoms often mimic those of other disorders, including adrenal dysfunction, allergies, asthma, candidiasis, chronic fatigue syndrome, digestive or intestinal disorders, eating disorders, food allergies, hypothyroidism, kidney failure, malabsorption syndrome, menopause, mental disorders, neurological problems, nutritional deficiencies, sepsis (blood infection), stress, and weight problems.

To diagnose hypoglycemia, a health care provider may perform a glucose tolerance test (GTT).  However, many people have symptoms of hypoglycemia even though the results of a five-hour GTT are within normal limits.  A useful diagnostic test may be to follow the dietary and nutritional supplement regimen outline and see if symptoms improve.

Source:  Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC and James F. Balch, M.D.


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This information is not intended to treat or cure any disease. For questions concerning health conditions and the use of dietary supplements, please consult your physician. Do not use this website as a substitute for appropriate medical care and consultation, nor should any information in it be interpreted as prescriptive. See Disclaimer for further information.