Hyla Cass, MD
Margo, a thirty-five-year-old stewardess, came into my office. She'd been more tired and less able to adapt to time-zone changes than in the past.
Margo, a thirty-five-year-old stewardess, came into my office. She’d been more tired and less able to adapt to time-zone changes than in the past. When asked to describe her diet, she was quick to warn, “Don’t make me give up my drink with dinner!”
This attachment to her drink was a big clue to me that this was a dependency, not a choice. But with the right nutrients, her cravings could be stopped. I prescribed a supplement program that included 500 to1,000 mg of the amino acid L-glutamine at the times when she would usually consider a drink. Sure enough, she noticed that she was no longer craving that glass of wine.
Now you may protest, “But I just like my morning coffee or my glass of wine with dinner. I could give it up any time.” And often these habits appear to be just tension relievers or pick-me-ups. But are they? Generally, they are a sign of chemical imbalance and ultimately deplete the body of nutrients and energy.
Addictions can be treated with the use of specific amino acids. When amino acid supplements were given to alcoholic subjects, the individuals experienced
Addicted to Carbs
It’s not only alcohol that is addictive. Food addiction, to sugary carbohydrates in particular, is a major issue, especially for women.
Kim was a busy, successful, and exhausted thirty-eight-year-old professional and single working-mother. Her diet was fast food, doughnuts, and coffee, consumed on the run. Her symptoms, including irritability, anxiety, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, muscular weakness, and tremors, pointed to hypoglycemia. All of these symptoms may be “relieved” by sweets, carbohydrates, coffee, alcohol, or drugs.
When Kim drank coffee or ate high-glycemic foods, such as doughnuts and candy, she got a “sugar high” as her blood-sugar levels rose rapidly. This led to a rapid release of insulin, which removed the sugar from circulation. Then, her blood-sugar levels dropped over the next few hours, making Kim feel weak, lightheaded, and cranky. When this cycle repeated itself enough, the overtaxed adrenal glands became exhausted - and so did she.
To support Kim’s adrenals and balance her blood sugar, she eliminated refined carbohydrates, such as sugar and white flour, and cut out coffee and alcohol. She ate small, frequent meals containing protein and complex carbohydrates. Vegetables and whole grains allowed for more stable blood-sugar levels, which increased Kim’s energy and ability to handle stress. Complex carbohydrates helped raise her serotonin levels, which both calmed her down and lifted her mood.
Kim was given a high-potency multivitamin and mineral formula containing at least 75 mg of each of the B vitamins and 200 mg of chromium to help balance blood sugar; 400 mg of magnesium; 10 mg of manganese; 500 to 1,000 mg of potassium; and 15 to 30 mg of zinc. In addition, she was given 2 g of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and 3,000 mg of vitamin C; and for cravings, 500 to 1,000 mg of glutamine, as needed. This works for most cravings, since it raises brain glucose. She also needed 100 mg of 5-HTP twice a day to raise her serotonin levels.
Kim began to exercise regularly, which allowed her to burn fat, maintain blood-sugar levels, relieve anxiety, and elevate her mood. Regular exercise can actually reduce the amount of adrenal hormones the body releases in response to stress. In addition, it raises the level of the mood-elevating hormones, or endorphins, in the brain.
Kim’s new habits stabilized her mood. Her physical symptoms cleared, too. There were no more headaches, insomnia, or fatigue. The stresses of life as a busy mother and office worker continued, but she no longer fell victim to her inner chemistry. She now had an internal buffer against stress - functioning adrenal glands and a smoother supply of blood sugar to her body, particularly to her brain.
The predisposition to hypoglycemia runs in families, so if you are prone, you need to be more attentive to stress, diet, and nutritional supplements. Relaxation techniques are useful, too, and once balance is restored, psychotherapy can be helpful in revealing and dealing with the underlying dynamics.