In 1924, dr. Seale Harris published his first article on hypoglycaemia which until then had been an unknown disease. 28 years later, he received the recognition of the American Medical Association for his thorough research of hypoglycaemia. However, 5 years later, the recognition was withdrawn and it was officially announced that the disease did not exist even though there was no scientific basis for this volte-face.
For this reason, the decision might have been political instead of scientific. As the disease has not officially existed for 50 years, doctors have not been given much education of this suffering and official research has been sparse.
An estimated 25% of people in the Western world suffer from low blood sugar to a smaller or larger extent.
There are three different kinds of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar):
- Functional or reactive hypoglycaemia: Here, the body overreacts to a meal because the pancreas is hypersensitive to especially the easily absorbable carbohydrates and therefore produces too much insulin. This overproduction of the hormone insulin reduces the blood sugar level and the body reacts to this with many different symptoms which can be quite a nuisance. Functional hypoglycaemia is very common but is largely not recognized by classic medicine. People with this kind of hypoglycaemia are often misdiagnosed and are often wrongly treated. This type of low blood sugar is the one described here.
- Diabetic hypoglycaemia: Occurs when a diabetic person does not eat enough food or takes too much insulin making the blood sugar level fall drastically - in severe cases this is called insulin shock.
- Organic hypoglycaemia: This is caused by an insulin producing tumour in the liver or pancreas which is highly life-threatening - and occurs very rarely. If the blood sugar level is too high, you are at risk of developing diabetes. The blood sugar level must not be too high or too low; the blood should have a certain content of blood sugar. The low- or unstable blood sugar makes the energy supply to the cells unstable or reduced, which is very straining for the cells and thereby for the function of the organs.
The blood sugar then represents the momentary energy status and a fluctuating blood sugar indicates that there is something wrong with the person's energy administration. If it falls below the fasting blood sugar level which is the level of blood sugar you have prior to eating, this equals an energy crisis for many body organs.
The brain is first and foremost affected and then later, other organs and functions might be affected as well, such as movement, digestion, sensation, perception, vision, thinking, and hearing, and later on, they may even stop functioning. Death may ensue after a low blood sugar attack, but, thankfully, this rarely happens.
The main causes for fluctuating blood sugar are:
- Physical and mental stress: An overburdened lifestyle, shock, hormonal fluctuations, and poisonings.
- Malnutrition: Over-consumption of sugar/sweetening agents and fast food/junk food.
- Hereditary factors: A predisposition to a weak nervous system and to having difficulties handling stress and anxiety.
- Alcoholism: Can be both a symptom and a cause (and may also have a hereditary factor).
If you suffer from low blood sugar and feel unpleasant, you need to eat something right away. Then, the blood sugar level in your blood will increase, and the immediate crisis will wear off. However, the fluctuating blood sugar often repeats itself over and over again if you do not get to the root of the problem. Fluctuating blood sugar most often is related to stress and to eating too many easily absorbable carbohydrates.
During digestion, carbohydrates are transformed into glucose which is the most necessary fuel for our cells. If there is not enough glucose in the blood, the cells will lack nutrition and will not be able to function optimally. The glucose passes from the intestine into the blood and then further on to the liver where most of it is transformed into stored sugar. The sugar is stored in the liver until its use is required by the body.
Nutrients containing refined, white sugar are absorbed with lightning speed and then rush a shock wave of glucose out into the bloodstream which will strain and possibly damage organs. Easily absorbable carbohydrates which quickly make the blood content of glucose rise can be found in white bread, fruits, and other products containing sugar – but they can also be found in boiled vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, beetroots, and parsnip and in refined cereals.
The pancreas reacts quickly to this increase in blood sugar by producing more insulin which makes the glucose being more quickly taken up by the cells and therefore reduces the blood sugar level. A decrease in blood sugar level will often be perceived as a desire to eat.
According to what you choose to eat – the following will happen:
- If you eat easily absorbable carbohydrates, i.e. sweets or stimulants, the process is repeated from the top: a new rise in the blood sugar level, then a fall, and then a new desire to eat sweets which mediates another fall, etc.
- If you eat food consisting of complex carbohydrates and proteins, the blood sugar level will rise slowly and therefore not tend to fall again quite as quickly.
- If you do not eat at all, you will become tired, weak, and even more hungry, but the hunger and tiredness will disappear after ½ - 1½ hours because the adrenal glands begin to produce epinephrine which raises the blood sugar by affecting the cells of the liver, making them liberate stored sugar and making you feel better. In this way, however, you will strain your adrenal glands and liver which in time will become less tolerant towards other kinds of strain.
Hypoglycaemia can be recognized by:
- The symptoms occurring in less than 3 – 5 hours after meals.
- The symptoms showing up simultaneously with the blood sugar level being at its lowest.
- The feeling of weakness disappearing after consuming sweets because the blood sugar level will then rice rapidly.
The symptoms are very different from one person to the next and may include:
- A feeling of unpleasantness if you do not have your meals on time. You will feel improvement by eating but also have feelings of hunger immediately after a meal.
- A sensation of hunger, strong thirst, a hollow feeling in your stomach, a strong desire for food right here and now, and a specific craving for something fatty, salty, and sweet.
- A tingling sensation in your lips and hands, visual disturbances, soreness in the left side of the stomach by the costal margin.
- A tendency towards alcoholism, dependence on and abuse of stimulants and medicine.
- An urge for stimulants such as coffee, tea, alcohol, and tobacco.
- Confusion, restlessness, uneasiness, anxiety, lack of concentration, desperation, depression, and being on the brink of tears.
- Constipation, loathing of food, obesity, or emaciation.
- Fainting, rambling speech, cramps, a weakened immune response, and frigidity and impotence.
- Headache or migraine, restless sleep, sleeplessness, and nightmares.
- In extreme situations unconsciousness, coma, and death.
- Irritation, mood swings, flightiness, aggressiveness, desperation, violent behaviour, and suicidal thoughts.
- Problems with dry mucous membranes, allergy, asthma, and epileptic seizures in predisposed person.
- Sensation disturbances, muscle tension, infiltrations, pain in joints and muscles, and a tendency to bruise easily.
- Tiredness, weakness, exhaustion, nausea, dizziness, palpitations, and being cold.
- Violent sweats, cold and moist skin, cold sweats, a shaking hand, and a quivering and trembling body.
A number of these symptoms affect the nervous system while others affect the hormonal system which, again, affects your mentality. Research indicates the existence of parallel symptoms between PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome) and low blood sugar in quite a few women suffering from PMS.