(Thanks to Darden for allowing Health Rising to republish her blog – which was first published on her Fibrofriends website
In September of 2017 I embarked on a healing program using Nutritional Balancing under the supervision of a licensed acupuncturist named Theresa Vernon. Nutritional Balancing is a therapy that utilizes the diagnostic method of hair tissue mineral analysis and prescribes specific nutritional supplements to address problems of mineral deficiencies and toxic metals. After a year of following this program I have observed a slow and gradual improvement in my health and although I am far from fully recovered I feel that I am on a solid healing path.
Dr. Paul Eck, a biochemist and naturopathic physician developed after years of research and clinical experience a unique system called Nutritional Balancing, which explains the significance of tissue mineral levels, ratios and metabolic patterns and treats them with a sophisticated system of nutritional supplementation. He established in 1974 a hair analysis laboratory called Analytical Research Labs, and a line of dietary supplements specifically formulated to balance body chemistry called Endo-met Laboratories. Eck died in 1996 but his work continues with his laboratories that are owned by his sons.
Hair tissue mineral analysis is one of the most effective ways to measure the functions of the body at the cellular level. Blood tests can reveal acute conditions but they are often not accurate at diagnosing chronic conditions. This is because blood values must be maintained in narrow ranges to maintain their ability to transport crucial body substances. Hair tissue is an excellent biopsy material to measure mineral imbalances in the soft tissues of the cell.
Dr. Eck discovered that the ratio between minerals was more important than the mineral levels alone. Minerals interact and compensate for each other as the body adapts to internal and external stressors. The mineral ratios calcium/potassium and sodium/magnesium for example are particularly important in determining the body’s stress response. Dr. Eck’s program also takes into account oxidation or metabolic types, a concept that was first developed by Dr. George Watson, a researcher at UCLA.
The role of toxic metals in human health was another important area of Eck’s research. Toxic metals are minerals that have no known function in the human body and are considered harmful. These include mercury, cadmium, aluminum and lead. They can interfere with the absorption and metabolism of essential minerals and they can displace these minerals at enzyme binding sites.
In other words toxic metals can replace vital minerals, an occurrence that Eck found in thousands of individuals with chronic illness. Nutritional Balancing eliminates toxic metals and other toxic substances by correcting mineral ratios, improving energy pathways, and balancing the oxidation rate. This is a slow process that takes many months or years depending on the individual.
Another common problem for individuals with chronic illness is copper toxicity, a condition in which copper is retained and builds up in the body tissues and organs. Copper is found in many foods and it requires good liver, gall bladder and adrenal function to utilize it properly. A build up of excess copper can occur when a person experiences prolonged periods of stress that weakens the adrenals. Excess copper depletes zinc and it interferes with thyroid function, which results in slowing down the metabolism.
Copper has a stimulating effect that can cause headaches, sleep disorders, digestive problems, and neurological conditions; and it exhausts the body’s ability to respond to stress. Individuals with a copper overload and zinc deficiency are caught in a downward spiral of stress that weakens adrenal function and slows thyroid activity so the body has less and less capacity to eliminate excess copper.
Beginning in the 1970’s physicians and medical researchers Carl Pfeiffer, Abram Hoffer and William Walsh established a strong association between copper toxicity and many mental disorders including schizophrenia. Pyroluria is a genetic blood disorder that puts a person at a particularly high risk for developing copper toxicity and it is found in at least 40% of schizophrenics, alcoholics and psychiatric patients. Although not recognized by mainstream medicine, pyroluria, which is also known as pyrrole disorder and kryptopyrroluria is diagnosed with a quantitative laboratory test that measures krytopyrroles in the urine. High levels of pyrroles cause an abnormal synthesis of hemoglobin resulting in a deficiency of vitamin B6 and zinc. The standard course of treatment for pyrouria and copper toxicity as developed by Pfeiffer and Walsh is to supplement with zinc picolinate, pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P5P), and magnesium.
I suffered from an undiagnosed health condition for over 40 years and have been on the search for a diagnosis and treatments since I first became ill in 1973. There are many overlaps between my symptoms and those of persons with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Syndrome. My symptoms at first included profound fatigue, headaches and eyestrain, however I was never bedridden and I never suffered from any cognitive difficulties. My condition affected many systems of the body including thyroid and adrenal function. For years I alternated between feeling either “wired” or “tired” and I developed severe night sweats that disturbed my sleep. In 2001 my condition began affecting my connective tissue and muscle recovery so that I could no longer be physically active.
I have been fortunate to have the financial resources and tenacity to explore many health therapies and to consult with many health practitioners, mostly in the fields of alternative medicine since mainstream medicine had nothing to offer me. Most of the things I tried were not helpful and I hit many dead ends however I discovered important clues along the way that lead me to the course that I am currently pursuing. In 2008 I began writing my blog “fibrofriends” to document my journey and to share with my readers the few therapies that were helpful.
I arrived at a diet very early on that was crucial for managing my condition. This included a strict avoidance of all drugs and stimulants including caffeine, alcohol and sugar, and eating a diet that includes animal fats and protein and liberal amounts of salt. The list of foods that I needed to avoid increased gradually over the years to include all fruit and foods with even a small amount of sweetener as these things provoked an agitation of my nervous system.
Other lifestyle adjustments that have helped me manage my condition are keeping to a regular meal and bedtime schedule, taking a nap in the early afternoon, learning meditation and biofeedback self regulating skills, and managing external stress in my life. But despite my best efforts and discipline in these areas my health condition gradually worsened.
The few therapies that did provide relief and improvement in my health were removing my thyroid gland and reversing Wilsons’ Low Body Temperature Syndrome by taking for a period of time T3 alone; wearing an oral appliance or mouth piece designed by Oral Systemic Balance to optimize my breathing; doing three years of LENS neurofeedback that treated many of the symptoms of adrenal fatigue; and treating Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. I have written about these and the many other therapies I pursued in my blog posts.
A number of my naturopathic physicians ordered hair analysis tests to assess the presence of heavy metals. I have four laboratory tests by Doctor’s Data dating back to 2003 that show moderately high levels of mercury, aluminum and lead. These were treated in a two year intensive program that included taking the drug DMPS and alpha lipoic acid; doing infrared saunas, coffee enemas and lymph massages; and undergoing jaw cavitation surgery. I experienced no real noticeable improvement in my health from this program and subsequent hair analysis tests showed no significant change in my toxic metal or mineral levels. In all of the tests my copper levels were very high but my physicians did not pay attention to this.
In 2016 I consulted a health practitioner who works with the Mensah Medical, a clinic that specializes in treating health disorders with nutrient therapy applying the research of Drs. Carl Pfeiffer and William Walsh. I was diagnosed from specific blood and urine tests to have a copper overload, low zinc, pyroluria and high histamine, which is a considered sign of under methylation. The diagnosis of pyroluria was perplexing as I do not have any of the symptoms associated with this condition, which include depression, anxiety, poor anger control, mood swings, poor dream recall, and poor short term memory.
Furthermore I was unable at to tolerate at very small doses the prescribed supplements, which were Zinc, B6, and P5P. I consulted another health practitioner who ordered a hair analysis test from Analytical Research Laboratories. The copper was exceedingly high again but this practitioner did not share with me the detailed report that comes with this test, nor did he tell me about Nutritional Balancing.
In 2017 I consulted Andrew Cutler, Ph.D., an expert in heavy metal toxicity and I embarked on his prescribed detox program that involved taking alpha lipoic acid every four hours at three-day intervals. My health deteriorated to an alarming degree on this program, which I discontinued after six weeks.
Further research on the Internet lead me to an article entitled “Metals and the Mind” by Theresa Vernon. This informative article discusses copper toxicity, pyroluria, heavy metal toxicity, adrenal fatigue, and slow oxidation. It put together all the disparate pieces of the puzzle of my health condition and explained how Nutritional Balancing can treat this.
Vernon is an acupuncturist and herbalist by training. Although she found Chinese medicine to be an effective healing system for many people, it was not adequate in helping her most difficult patients including herself. Her search for alternative methods of healing lead her to Nutritional Balancing, which she has been using with much success as her primary healing modality for over 20 years.
She has found it effective in helping people with a variety of health issues including chronic fatigue, autoimmune disorders, seizures, scoliosis, vein problems, digestive disorders, etc. She works with her patients remotely by phone using hair analysis tests from Analytical Research Labs as her diagnostic tool. The therapy is very affordable. The initial cost for a hair analysis test and consultation with Theresa is $260 and this includes unlimited follow-ups on the phone or via email. She makes a profit on the supplements she orders from Endo-met Labs to cover the time she spends supporting her patients. Her patients receive a very detailed report from Analytical Research Labs with the results of their hair analysis tests.
Theresa is familiar with patients like myself that have copper toxicity and pyroluria but do not have any symptoms of mental illness. She also has worked with patients like myself who are very sensitive and reactive. I have been unable to take nutritional supplements of any kind for at least ten years but I am doing well with those manufactured by Endo-met.
In October of 2017 I began taking a formula called Paramin that contains vitamin D, calcium, magnesium and boron, first taking ½ a capsule a day and gradually increasing to 6 tablets a day over a six month period. One might think that a formula with such common ingredients would not make a difference but my response was remarkable. I experienced for the first time in my life detox symptoms manifesting as a film and strong taste of ammonia in my mouth. When these symptoms subsided I increased my dose. I felt quite tired during the first six months but I could tell that it was a different kind of fatigue and that my health seemed to be improving in a very gradual way.
After six months I added Endo-pan, a zinc supplement; then Limcomin that corrects low sodium/potassium ratio, which is a symptom of adrenal burnout and being in a catabolic state; and Endo-dren, a supplement that supports under active adrenals. There are still three more supplement formulas left in my program as I start each one at a small dose and slowly increase.
The cost of the supplements initially was very small ($30 a month) as I was taking a small amount and has increased to about $200 a month. After one year of being on this program I can say that I am not completely out of the woods but that I am healing. My sleep is the best it has been in 25 years and my digestion is close to normal. I no longer feel light headed when I get up after lying down or when climbing stairs or hills.
Clinical signs of improvement include increased blood pressure (was low), normal blood sugar (was low), normal TSH (was very low despite normal amounts of T4 & T3 and no symptoms of hyperthyroidism, now in normal range with no change in thyroid replacement), and stabilization in vision as measured in an eye exam (correction is the same in both eyes).
I still have low energy but I feel very relaxed as opposed to feeling stressed as I did in the past. A subsequent hair analysis test done in September of 2018 showed an improvement in adrenal function, an increase of toxic metals that are being mobilized and high levels of calcium and magnesium that rise when one is eliminating toxic metals from tissue storage.
At this point I am still very reactive to stimulants of all kinds and I am not able to be active physically other than taking short walks as this healing process requires a lot of energy. I suspect that my recovery on this program will last at least another year.
If Nutritional Balancing is so effective at treating chronic illness one wonders why it is not better known about. I believe there are a number of reasons for this. Number one is that it is not a quick fix with healing taking months and in more difficult cases years. Number two is that the therapy is inexpensive with practitioners who only get paid for consultation of analysis hair analysis tests and a markup of the supplements. Unfortunately we have a for profit medical system where there is little incentive to research or practice therapies that are not lucrative. Nutritional Balancing is the least expensive therapy I have ever done.
The third reason is that Nutritional Balancing is not simple. It is confusing for people who have studied nutrition because it follows a different logic, which takes time to understand. Most naturopathic physicians are not familiar with this system of healing as it is not taught in naturopathic school.
And the fourth reason is that there is a medical doctor named Lawrence Wilson who is associated with Nutritional Balancing. Wilson has developed his own variation on the program. He recommends not only taking the supplements but eating a specific diet that contains 70% cooked vegetables with each meal and an avoidance of fish, red meat and some vegetables; and the addition of infrared saunas and coffee enemas. Wilson wrote a book entitled “Nutritional Balancing and Hair Mineral Analysis” and he has a network of health practitioners who work with him and advocate this program. According to Theresa Vernon, Wilson’s diet and additional therapies were not part of Dr. Eck’s original program, they are not necessary for healing, and they are too severe for many people to tolerate.
I wonder if the metabolic features of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as found in the study by Dr. Robert Naviaux and expounded by Veronique Mead are caused by mineral depletion and toxicity at the cellular level. The hibernation state that is found in persons with CFS is described as a cell danger response affecting multiple organ systems. Perhaps the brain is down regulating functions of the body to conserve energy in the face of such depletion and toxicity. In other words people with CFS are in a survival state and their bodies are doing everything they can to keep them alive. I believe this was the case for me.
Dr. Eck believed that illness is a sign of disturbed energy production and his system targets the mechanism of fatigue at the cellular level, shifting the body’s available resources and restoring energy production. I suspect that this therapy may be helpful for many people with CFS and FMS however it would take a significant number of patients with these disorders who are willing to stick with the program for at least a couple of years to see if this is the case.
The diagnosis of copper toxicity and pyroluria was long in coming for me (43 years!) but I feel it is the underlying cause of my health condition. It explains my condition of exhaustion and agitation, my thyroid and adrenal dysfunction and the deterioration of my health as I became more and more depleted in essential nutrients and toxic with heavy metals and copper. This is an impossible cycle to break with diet and lifestyle management alone. I remain hopeful that I am on the final leg of my search for answers and healing.
For more information about Nutritional Balancing:
- http://www.arltma.com (Analytical Research & Endo-met Labs)
- https://www.tvernonlac.com (Theresa Vernons’ website)
- https://www.dhalab.com (lab that tests for Pyroluria)