By Dr. George Goodheart
Summary: Dr. George Goodheart, the founder of Applied Kinesiology, describes the biochemical, musculoskeletal, and hormonal response of patients suffering from hyperinsulinism and offers a very simple but still overlooked step to help remedy the problem: “What does not seem to be understood or practiced is that sugar and all carbohydrates cause this dysfunction and that sugar and high carbohydrates must be restricted.” This is one of the earliest chiropractic papers on what was soon to become a huge area of holistic healing. From the Digest of Chiropractic Economics, circa 1965. Reprinted by the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research.[The following is a transcription of the original Archives document. To view or download the original document, click here.]
Low Blood Sugar and Hyperinsulinism
Many individuals have symptoms of low blood sugar. Many times both the patient and his doctor do not realize that sometimes these symptoms of low blood sugar are caused by a condition of hyperinsulinism that literally is an overactivity of the islets of Langerhans. The patient who complains of fatigue and who has a normal blood count and otherwise normal findings frequently will show a low blood sugar. The patient who has chronic allergy as manifested by sinusitis, eczema, or asthma is almost invariably found to have a low blood sugar as part and parcel of the problem. The patient who arises with a backache, or who feels light-headed in mid-afternoon, or who suffers an overwhelming sense of fatigue about three o’clock in the afternoon, or who has lapses of mental acuity at definite intervals during the day often is running a low blood sugar.[Photo of author, with caption:] Dr. Goodheart.
Insomnia unrelated to emotional tensions and disturbances in the calcium and vitamin B levels is often caused by a low blood sugar secondary to a hyperinsulinism. These patients who get tired and have slight headaches or sensations of light-headedness and who become moody, stubborn, or irritable quite often comment that their stomach or intestines becomes unusually noisy at this particular time—they are hungry and want something sweet to serve as a pickup. And so they will usually partake of the following: a cup of coffee, tea, chocolate, pie or pastry, cookies, candy bar, ice cream, soft drinks, or the like. These sweet foods and beverages cause a rapid rise in the blood sugar level and temporarily relieve their symptoms, to be followed by a repetition the next day.
Low blood sugar is abnormal and should be prevented. However slight, it is abnormal and is caused by eating sugar and starch at meals. Cigarette smoking can also serve as a temporary lifter of the level of the blood sugar, by stimulating the adrenal-sympathetic system—the rise occurring at the expense of liver glycogen.
The pickup that follows eating something sweet is accompanied by an elevation in the blood sugar level for about 30 or 60 minutes and is soon followed by another fall in the blood sugar in a perpetual, vicious cycle. People who smoke a great deal, drink much coffee, and who have poor appetites have chronic malnutrition because they deplete the liver glycogen stores and fail to replenish the stores with proper food.
Many people are irritable in the morning before breakfast because of low blood sugar. Many people are so irritable or depressed that they or anyone else need not attempt to say anything until they have had a cup of coffee; then they become more agreeable. The blood sugar reaches its lower level in the morning, before breakfast. Less sugar and starch at dinner the night before prevents low blood sugar in the morning. Mothers know that an irritable, cranky, crying infant is usually a hungry infant. The same is true of adults, to a lesser degree, and it is of great advantage for the doctor to know that the blood sugar level is fundamentally related to the behavior of all members of the human race.
Errors in judgment are often due to making a decision when the blood sugar level is down. Brain function improves by improving the glucose-oxygen consumption. Dr. S.B. Wortis found that, weight for weight, the nervous tissue of the young in any species consumes and needs more oxygen than that of the adult. Generally speaking, nervous tissues consume oxygen in proportion as they utilize glucose; thus, in the presence of low blood sugar, tissues consume less oxygen and suffer an oxygen lack, and during periods of reduced oxygen consumption there is increased susceptibility to infection.
The rate and range of fluctuation of blood sugar is controlled by several factors, particularly diet and physical activity.
Levels of blood sugar are important in the detection of physical abnormality. Previously, calculation of the blood sugar level by the Folin-Wu method or other standards was time consuming and required the patient to have a painful venipuncture. Measurement of the blood sugar level, especially measurement of the low sugar levels previously talked about, has now become very simple and requires simply finger blood [in] the use of Dextrostix, produced by the Ames Company. This is a simple but standardized and now well-recognized method of evaluating the level of the blood sugar; it requires only one minute’s time to read and can be readily performed in the office when the patient is examined and specimens are taken for a general diagnostic workup. In my opinion any level below 80 mg is a low blood sugar level and requires remedial treatment.
The Dextrostix reagent strips are made by the Ames Company, [listed in] their catalog [as product] No. 2888. They come packaged in units of 25 and generally sell at a very reasonable price. They can be obtained from your local source or through the college of your choice. They give blood glucose concentration starting at 40 mg, 65 mg, 90 mg, 130mg, 150 mg, 200 mg, and 250 mg, thus allowing a judgment to be made in only a minute’s time as to the level of the blood sugar, without any additional equipment. It is a color comparison test and has been well standardized and well accepted.
No one symptom or symptom complex is indicative of hypoglycemia, but it is best to be alert when there are negative signs and the patient complains of utter exhaustion and nervousness. They frequently come in with a diagnosis of an anxiety neurosis or chronic nervous exhaustion. They are frequently so hungry all the time that they may be obese, and this combination of obesity and the weakness caused by an overgenerous production of insulin, which in turn causes hypoglycemia, produces in this obese patient a pattern sometimes called by the patient “rubber legs.” Many patients find that candy or any form of sugar offer temporary relief, but what does not seem to be understood or practiced is that sugar and all carbohydrates cause this dysfunction and that sugar and high carbohydrates must be restricted.
The hypothalamus center for carbohydrate metabolism is the control center for many important body functions. It directs, through the autonomic nervous system, all cardiovascular rhythms. It also regulates osmotic pressures and many other functions. Any insulin-sugar imbalance can so affect the physiology of the hypothalamus [center] that controls various body functions that it may in turn trigger a vascular headache, asthma, or any number of conditions. There is a particular kind of headache, known as a histamine cephalalgia, that comes with excruciating pain when the blood sugar drops to a low level at night. The patient is generally awakened by this pain.
With the new method of diagnosing blood sugar level, it is now possible to pinpoint the diagnosis of many unusual conditions that have failed to respond in the past, and this can be done simply and quickly, without extensive laboratory equipment.
Many cases of low blood sugar are produced by smoking. Many cases of optic nerve dysfunction associated with a blood sugar level that is low respond to a hyperinsulinism diet and cessation of smoking. The exhaustion syndrome is quickly improved when a hyperinsulinism diet is followed; so also are the other symptom complexes improved when a hyperinsulinism diet, along with careful structural adjusting, is followed.
Since generally speaking hypocalcemia coexists with hypoglycemia, the therapeutic use of calcium is of prime importance, and in many patients attention to the hydrochloric acid level of the stomach is quite important [as well]. The object of the nutritional regime is to keep a trickle of usable sugars constantly going into the bloodstream. Since the diet requires the patient eat more frequently, the juice feeding is important to temper the appetite.
Abrahamson, who with Pezet wrote Body, Mind and Sugar, says, “The weakest, most vulnerable cells suffer first. These will differ from person to person and, from time to time, in the same individual, thus producing the almost infinite variety of hyperinsulinism manifestations [seen] in different persons at different times of his life. It is these widely dissimilar manifestations of sugar starvation that explain why hyperinsulinism has remained unknown for so long and why, now that we know it, it is [still] so often unrecognized. For it is like that fictional detective so adept at disguises that no one knew what the real man looked like.”
Stimulation of the adrenal sympathetic response by vigorous lower dorsal adjusting—along with selected adrenal, liver, and occasionally pancreatic substance and the addition of vitamin A, unsaturated fatty acids, and betaine products—measurably aid in the recovery of these blood sugar problems.
Spontaneous recovery from low blood sugar occurs normally in a healthy adult via the release of glycogen from the liver [and] by adrenal response. But when the liver or the adrenal function is poor, a chronic state of hyperinsulinism exists. Since poor nutrition quickly lowers liver glycogen stores, the importance of good nutrition is obvious. In experiments on rats, it was found that only 3 percent of dietary glucose was converted to glycogen. Though the average American, as the latest statistics show, eats about 16.5 lb of candy annually in the belief that he is deriving a [sustainable] energy source or reserve, it is obvious that he is depleting—not adding—to his energy reserve and disturbing his metabolic mechanism.
The weight loss that occurs in worry and anxiety states comes from the exhaustion of liver glycogen and the [subsequent] turning to muscle and fat for split products to be synthesized to glycogen by the liver and then used to bolster the falling glucose level. The nervous system that we as chiropractors use must depend, regardless of school philosophy, on an adequate supply of oxygen, which is inexorably tied to the level of sugar in the blood; this sugar level is adversely and paradoxically affected by sugar in the diet. Herein lies the cause and the treatment of hyperinsulinism.
Treatment consists of strict compliance with the hyperinsulinism diet and regular adjusting using Gonstead analysis. It has been my experience that many times there is an anterior dorsal subluxation at the level of the 6th or 8th dorsal that should be adjusted. I am indebted for this information to Dr. De Jarnette, and his method of adjustment is highly recommended here. Attention to the occipital and spinal nerve fibers following the same De Jarnette approach is very valuable.
Careful attention to details in treatment of the hyperinsulinism pattern produces a steady and gratifying response in this most common cause of the two most common symptoms that cause patients to consult their doctor, namely, exhaustion and anxiety. A single fasting blood sugar [measurement] is of little value since it is always deceptive. Challenging the patient’s insulin response with a high carbohydrate, high sugar meal and checking the blood sugar level four hours afterwards invariably will show the low blood sugar so characteristic of hyperinsulinism. Correction of this condition, first by detection and second by treatment, is just another way that the chiropractic physician can be of service to his patient and to chiropractic.
Copies of the hyperinsulinism diet are available from the author without charge. Please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope. [Note: This text preserved for historical purposes; copy of diet not available].[Callout:] To Hear Dr. Goodheart: Readers of this series of articles by Dr. George J. Goodheart will be pleased to know that arrangements have already been made for his appearance as a featured speaker on the official convention programs being held in Michigan, Iowa, North Dakota, Indiana, and Arkansas. Each convention program consists of a minimum of four hours of lecture and personal demonstrations by Dr. Goodheart. Doctors attending convention lectures who have already purchased a copy of his book Muscle Balancing Technic or who purchase a copy prior to the scheduled convention appearance will be entitled to a private consultation and personal demonstration without charge, Dr. Goodheart said.
By Dr. George J. Goodheart, 542 Michigan Building, Detroit, Michigan 48226. Reprinted from the Digest of Chiropractic Economics by the Lee Foundation of Nutritional Research. Original publication date unknown.[Note accompanying reprint by the Lee Foundation:] The above article is reported as a professional service by Standard Process Laboratories. Certain persons considered experts may disagree with one or more conclusions and opinions expressed by the author, but the same are considered nevertheless to be of current interest to chiropractic physicians. Reporting of such article shall not be construed as a recommendation concerning use of any specific product or products, any nutritional or other procedure employed being a matter for the doctor’s professional knowledge and judgment, depending upon his evaluation of the individual involved.