Last month, my case report of post-herpetic neuralgia ended by my administering magnesium after several only partly-successful neural therapy treatments. Magnesium was the final touch that permanently corrected my patient’s pain.
In my experience, knowledge of nutrition is essential for successful treatment of some interference fields. This is why I devoted a whole chapter of my book Neural therapy: Applied physiology and other topics to nutrition.
However I have purposely avoided discussing nutrition in these newsletters for two reasons. The first is that many others can write about it better than I can. The other is that information on neural therapy is still in short supply in the English-speaking world of medicine. So neural therapy continues to be my priority.
Having said that, the subject of nutrition can be overwhelming for the uninitiated. Sadly it continues to be ignored in medical schools. So this newsletter I am going to break with policy and simply list some common nutritional deficiencies that can be picked up in a general physical examination. These signs are by no means comprehensive, but they are the common ones, at least in my practice.
Before even starting I always ask patients to rate their own energy level on a 1 to 10 scale. “10” is all the energy ever wanted; “5” is enough energy to get through the day, but feeling tired all the time; “less-then-5” means unable to get through the day without naps or stopping to rest, etc. I assume anyone who is less than 7 has nutritional deficiency and that includes those who are hypothyroid.
Beginning at the feet of my supine patient, I examine the toes. If the second toes are longer than the first, the patient is at risk of being zinc deficient. I don’t know where I learned that, but experience tells me it is true so I then watch more carefully for symptoms and signs of zinc deficiency. I have also been told that smelly feet are caused by zinc deficiency, but I am less sure of that one.
Tight hamstrings was the clue that alerted me to the possibility of magnesium deficiency in last month’s patient. I test straight-leg raising routinely and although tight hamstrings have other causes, magnesium deficiency should be considered especially if other symptoms such as leg muscle spasms or constipation are present.
Depressed deep tendon reflexes at the ankles is a sign of hypothyroidism which in the Western World is usually autoimmune in origin, but can be due at least in part to iodine and/or selenium deficiency. Iodine deficiency is becoming more common with the avoidance of iodized salt and possibly also from competition by other environmental halides, especially bromine and fluorine.
The condition of fingernails can reflect a whole host of diseases, but the common signs of nutritional deficiency include: brittle or split nails indicating hypochlorhydria, and white flecks on the nails (leukonychia) due to zinc deficiency. These white spots can be useful to watch when treatment is instituted. Observing the white flecks “grow out” with none replacing them indicates zinc stores have been replenished. Thin or deformed nailscan be due to iron deficiency and “clubbing” in the absence of pulmonary or liver disease is a good sign of gluten sensitivity, especially when found in younger people.
Dense, lumpy breasts or breast cysts is a sign of iodine deficiency and can be corrected within a few months by supplemental iodine. Cystic acne, frequent carbuncles and pelvic cysts may also respond.
A little-known sign of gluten sensitivity is dental enamel hypoplasia (white spots in the dental enamel). Gum recession when focal, is often a sign of an unhealthy tooth, (especially one restored with mercury amalgam), but when the recession is diffuse, folate deficiency should be considered.
Depression has multiple nutritional causes but commonly overlooked ones are vitamin B12 deficiency (don’t trust serum levels), vitamin D deficiency, food sensitivities (including alcohol), and any medication affecting liver function.
Hypertension, especially when of recent onset, deserves to be investigated for magnesium or vitamin D deficiency, food sensitivities and insulin resistance.
Rosacea, in genetically vulnerable individuals, is often associated with gastric hypochlorhydria. Improved hydration, increased salt consumption and attention to adequate dietary zinc will improve stomach function, if not the rosacea.
Acne is a hallmark of the western diet, always associated with food sensitivities (especially gluten) and excess dietary sugar, but sometimes requiring nutritional supplementation with vitamin A, D, zinc and omega-3 oils. In fact, many skin conditions improve with these supplements alone.
Dark circles around the eyes suggests intestinal dysbiosis, in particular candida overgrowth. “Puffy” eyelids indicates allergy, sometimes called “allergic shiners” in children.
Hair in humans, as in livestock and pets, is an external expression of health. Dull, brittle, or thin hair has multiple possible causes, but should alert the clinician that improvements in diet and/or digestion or hormone status are needed.
Finally, whenever a sign of nutritional deficiency is detected, treatment should never be limited to that one obvious deficiency. Nutritional deficiencies are always multiple and raise the question “Why?” If the diet is not the reason, digestion and absorption must always be investigated.
Neural therapy is a powerful method of addressing the body’s regulatory controls, but it cannot be expected by itself to overcome poor diet and an unhealthy milieu intérieur.