Hypoglycaemia is a condition where blood sugar levels fluctuate beyond normal parameters.
Common symptoms of hypoglycaemia include fluctuating energy levels, mood changes and cravings for sweet things, particularly mid-afternoon. Naturopaths and mainstream medicine regard hypoglycaemia quite differently. This is due to a confusion in terminology. Hypoglycaemia cited in medical texts literally means 'low (hypo) blood (aemia) sugar (glyc)', where the circulating blood sugars stay below normal levels for a prolonged period. This can be life-threatening and is usually drug or alcohol induced. On the other hand, the hypoglycaemia that natural therapists frequently diagnose is a condition of fluctuating or see-sawing blood sugar levels. Here and elsewhere in this book, hypoglycaemia means fluctuating blood sugar levels, or 'see-saw glycaemia'.
Blood sugars normally rise and fall within certain parameters. After a meal, sugars rise as the nutrients (particularly carbohydrate) are digested and move from the intestine into the bloodstream. At a certain level of blood sugar, the hormone insulin is released. Insulin allows the glucose molecule to step from the blood into cells. This makes the blood sugar levels drop. Normally there are counters and checks to stop too sudden a rise or fall in blood sugars, but a fault in this balancing mechanism causes hypoglycaemia. One of the most common conditions in industrial countries is mature onset diabetes. Many people go through years of hypoglycaemia before the body becomes exhausted from juggling excessively high and low blood sugars, and the end result is diabetes. By treating hypoglycaemia, you may help to prevent mature onset diabetes.
The symptoms of hypoglycaemia:
Exhaustion, depression, anxiety, irritability, mood changes, headaches, dizziness, sweating, tremor, fast heart beat (tachycardia), muscle pain and weakness, confusion, forgetfulness, sweet craving, reduced libido, excessive hunger between meals, waking exhausted, nausea before meals, tired after lunch, craving sweets, coffee, cigarettes and alcohol. Most symptoms improve after eating, reflecting an increase in blood sugar.