Paavo Airola - Let's Live - April 1977Index

What Is Hypoglycemia?

Part Two

The Symptoms

SOME PEOPLE - even some doctors who should know better - dismiss hypoglycemia as a minor disorder blown out of proportion by self-diagnosing hypochondriacs. Some others consider it to be an extremely dangerous disease that has hit modern civilization like an epidemic plague. In the words of Dr. Harvey Ross, "It is a disease that will not kill you, but may make you wish you were dead." The main reason for such a discrepancy in the evaluation of the seriousness of this condition is the fact that hypoglycemia is extremely difficult to diagnose.

On the surface, hypoglycemia, as a single disease, is simple enough - it is blood sugar that is lower than normal. But even this is an unreliable way to diagnose hypoglycemia There are people who have low sugar levels without hypoglycemic symptoms. There are also many persons who can have symptoms of hypoglycemia, even severe ones, while having blood sugar within normal range.

The biggest problem, however, is the fact that practically every symptom of the expansive hypoglycemia syndrome can be caused by other pathological conditions. This is the reason why hypoglycemia is often referred to as a "great mimicker." It can mimic virtually every symptom in a medical book. What this can mean to a desperate patient is eloquently illustrated by the following actual cases.

Paradoxically, Dr. Stephan Gyland was himself a physician. While busy practicing in Florida, he fell ill. He experienced weakness, dizziness, faintness, unprovoked anxieties, tremors, rapid heartbeat, difficulties with concentration, and memory lapses. Realizing that a physician is his own worst doctor, he consulted a specialist. He was told that there was nothing wrong with him physically, that he was a neurotic, and that all the described symptoms were "in his mind." He also was told that this disqualified him from the practice of medicine.

But Dr. Gyland refused to accept the "all in your head" verdict and consulted another doctor. In his own words, "During three years of severe illness, I was examined by fourteen specialists and three nationally-known clinics ..." None of these experts or world-famous clinics, which included the Mayo Clinic, ever tested him for hypoglycemia, although one doctor did suspect low blood sugar. This doctor, however, prescribed candy bars, which, of course, would only worsen his condition. Although they could not seem to find anything wrong with him, the specialists did not hesitate to pass authoritatively the assortment of such diagnoses as: brain tumor, neurosis, diabetes, and cerebral arteriosclerosis.

Still very ill and unable to work, since none of the suggested treatments were of help, Dr. Gyland desperately searched medical literature, hoping to find a solution for his problems. He happened to see the original paper on low blood sugar and its symptoms, published by Seale Harris, MD. The symptoms described by Dr. Harris matched Dr. Gyland's in detail!' He immediately took the test for low blood sugar, whic confirmed the diagnosis of hypoglycemia. He went on the hypoglycemia diet suggested by Dr. Harris. and watched his symptoms fade away one by one!

The tragedy is that although Seale Harris' work on hypoglycemia was published 25 years before Dr. Gyland became ill, none of the diagnostic specialists or prominent clinics were aware of it or maybe they just refused to recognize it. Just imagine what that could mean to the patient with less persistence or skepticism than Dr. Gyland regarding his own colleagues' infallibility? He could have spent a,fortune lying on a psychiatric couch treating his nonexistent neurosis. Or, he could have been operated on for a non-existent brain tumor!

The Case of Miss A.

Miss A. is a beautiful actress, now very healthy, very successful, and very happy. Three years ago, she came to me in desperation. While on the verge of committing suicide, she was given by a friend and urged to read my newly published book, How To Get Well, which among other things, discusses the nutritional and biological treatment of hypoglycemia. After reading the section on hypoglycemia, she made an effort to contact me. Here is her story in her own words:

"After my second child was born, I became weak and apathetic, especially in the mornings. I couldn't get started until after two or three cups of strong coffee. Later in the day, I would get weak again, and extremely depressed. I was irritable all the time and gave a hard time both to my oldest child and to my husband. Sometimes, I would break out in a cold sweat. Some other times, I would break into tears for no apparent reason. At rehearsals, I couldn't concentrate on the script, my memory was bad, and the only way I could get through a performance was to drink a couple of cups of Irish coffee. Finally, at one performance, I not only forgot my lines, but I also fainted. I was told to quit working and see a doctor.

My doctor gave me a complete physical checkup and, after taking over $200.00 Worth of tests, he told me there was nothing wrong with me physically; he referred me to a psychiatrist. This started me on three years of weekly visits to a psychiatrist. In the meantime, I started drinking more and more frequently, until I consumed two bottles of wine every day. My relations with my husband deteriorated more and more, until 2 years ago, he left me completely. He took both children with him, since I was no longer able to take care of them. My psychiatrist finally suggested that I enter a mental hospital for observation and tests. He also suggested that this may be the only way I could stop drinking. At the hospital, they diagnosed my condition as schizophrenia. I was given several drugs, I don't know what. Also, I was treated with electro-shock therapy. I was released from the hospital a year ago, but my health has seemed to get worse since then.

"As soon as I stopped taking stimulant drugs, I could hardly move. I started drinking huge amounts of coffee with lots of sugar. I was always exhausted, depressed, drowsy, and confused. I couldn't get work any more, and I exhausted all my money on psychiatrists and doctors. Life became more and more unbearable, Finally, I couldn't see the point in living. Fortunately, I have many dear friends who stuck by me, and one of them brought me your book, That's why I'm here. You are my last hope. Please, can you help me?"

My first question, after she finished her sad story, was "Have you ever taken a glucose tolerance test?" No, she didn't remember anyone giving her such a test. I said that before I would attempt to outline a therapeutic nutritional program for her, I would like to see the test done. I referred her to a physician whom I had been working with at the time. A few days later, she returned with the test results. The six-hour glucose tolerance test revealed not only an extremely low sugar level, but also an exceptionally fast drop. It was one of the worst charts I have seen.

The story has a very happy ending. After following the prescribed diet for three months, Miss A was not only able gradually to stop drinking coffee and alcohol, but her energy and vitality slowly returned, and for the first time in years, depressive and suicidal thoughts were replaced with increasing optimism and hope for a better future. The best part of all is that she is now again with her husband and children, and is hoping soon to resume her acting career.

Do You Have Hypoglycemia

I will now list some of the long array of symptoms that are associated with hypoglycemia, or caused by low blood sugar. Naturally, this will be a limited listing, because to list all of the symptoms the millions of hypoglycemics experience would be to fill an entire book. As you read this list, I am sure you will find some symptoms that will apply to you. Does this mean that you have hypoglycemia? It may mean that - then, again, it may not. In the following chapter, I will show how, in addition to the patient's subjective description of symptoms, the doctor must use other diagnostic methods to arrive at a final and correct diagnosis.

Perhaps the most reliable list of the most common symptoms is that of Harry M. Salzer, M.D., psychiatrist, of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Dr. Salzer spent many years working with his own psychiatric patients whose conditions proved to be caused by low blood sugar. Treating them nutritionally, he was able to restore their health and eliminate not only the somatic (physical) and neurological symptoms, but also the psychiatric ones. Dr. Salzer also points out that hypoglycemia can mimic any neuropsychiatric disorder. Patients with low blood sugar have been diagnosed as having such illnesses as schizophrenia, manic-depressive psychosis, and psychopathic personalities.

Dr. Salzer became so interested in "problem hypoglycemia" that he later became the medical doctor of a foundation dedicated to research in hypoglycemia.

Here is Dr. Salzer's list of the most common symptoms of low blood sugar, based on his questioning of over three hundred hypoglycemia patients whom he had treated. The symptoms are listed with the percentages of patients complaining of them.

This is not all! Add to this the following symptoms, which I have encountered in my work with hypoglycemics as well as those mentioned by Dr. Gyland on the basis of his experience in treating over six hundred hypoglycemics after he was cured from prolonged suffering of his own undiagnosed hypoglycemia:

How many of these symptoms do you have? If you have a few, especially of short, passing duration, don't worry. Most people at one time or another, experience not just one, but many, if not most, of them. Remember, the key word is passing. Occasionally, we all may have most symptoms of hypoglycemia. If our sugar-regulating and emergency stress mechanisms work effectively, the body chemistry is quickly restored and health normalized - with symptoms fading away. But if you have an actual, untreated functional hypoglycemia, the symptoms may go away or change character, but they will soon reappear. You may have just a few of the listed symptoms, or you may have most of them, depending on the severity of the condition.

What should you do if you suspect that you have hypoglycemia?

My first advice is: do not play doctor and do self-diagnosing. Go to a good nutritionally and biologically oriented doctor, who will, upon listening to your symptom description, suggest the 6-hour glucose tolerance test. On the basis of the personal clinical examination, your subjective description of symptoms and how you feel, results of the glucose tolerance test, and possibly a urinalysis and other tests, if needed, your doctor will be properly equipped to correctly diagnose your condition. If it is a clearly diagnosed functional hypoglycemia, ask him to treat you in the way I suggest in this book - that is, if my therapeutic program for hypoglycemia makes common and scientific sense to you. And, if it doesn't, there is another, conventional, high-protein approach, which is also capable of alleviating the symptoms of hypoglycemia, although, as I will explain later, it may have harmful side effects. If you wish to consult a doctor who is familiar with my approach to the treatment of hypoglycemia, you may request a list of such doctors from the International Academy of Biological Medicine, PO. Box 31313. Phoenix, AZ 85046. They will send a list of doctors free of charge, if you enclose a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope.

More Enlightened Doctors

It is important that you follow the above mentioned diagnostic procedure, including the all-important glucose tolerance test (GTT). We have a steadily increasing number of enlightened doctors who understand the syndrome of hypoglycemia, so the chances that you will be mis-diagnosed are decreasing. Beware, however, like the plague, of a doctor who, without tests, will dismiss your complaints with, "There is nothing wrong with you, it's all in your head." Here are just a few mistaken diagnoses that thousands of hypoglycemics have received from incompetent doctors, or doctors that didn't "believe" in hypoglycemia and, consequently, didn't bother to test patients for it. The list is compiled from the reports by Drs. Gyland, Salzer, Fredericks, Martin, Weller, Cheraskin, and others.

This partial list of incorrectly diagnosed hypoglycemia shows how extremely important it is to have an absolutely correct diagnosis. Since hypoglycemia can mimic so many other conditions, the correct diagnosis can/be extremely difficult and time-consuming to reach. Because incompetent or overworked doctors didn't have time or interest to make an in-depth study and a thorough testing of their patients, thousands of hypoglycemics whose conditions could have been cured by simple dietetic means, had their lives ruined, families destroyed, fortunes lost on psychiatrists' couches or in mental hospitals, or have been mis-diagnosed and treated with dangerous drugs and/or surgery for a long list of diseases they never had.