I have written about chronic fatigue on this blog before, and the blog post I wrote in 2017 titled Intense Fatigue & Identity Loss has been one of the most frequently viewed on here. It is apparent that quite a few of you are also looking for answers and explanations for mysterious health symptoms, some of which can accompany a spiritual awakening.
In this post, I am going to share a potential solution that I discovered and began implementing earlier this year. If you struggle with fatigue and have not seen much improvement over time, try to keep an open mind as you read this. This strategy I am going to share may or may not provide answers for you, but most things are at least worth a shot when we are desperate to regain our health, right?
If you are curious about my past experiences and the symptoms I have had during the past 5-6 years, I have shared some details about what happened to me in the next section in this blog post. Feel free to skip the next section, though, if you just want to hear about the approach I am currently taking and whether or not it has helped me.
My Experiences & Symptoms
In the spring of 2013, approximately a year before my spiritual awakening began, I was already beginning to see the first signs of burnout from stress. I was initially alarmed when I noticed splinter hemorrhages under my fingernails along with muscle spasms/twitching in my fingers, which began occurring daily and sometimes lasted for hours at a time. I quickly discovered these were obvious signs of magnesium deficiency.
I continued enduring more stressful events, including the unexpected death of my brother in January of 2014. By then, I felt exhausted, burned out, and frazzled. My digestion had significantly slowed down, and my skin had become dry and flaky, which I thought was probably related to a hormonal imbalance. I was nearly finished with grad school and ready for a break to de-stress. I assumed a couple months of rest and relaxation after graduation would solve everything. About two weeks before graduating in the spring of 2014, my spontaneous spiritual awakening occurred, which I didn’t initially perceive as stressful or challenging. But this began to change as I suddenly had a lot of time after grad school to sit and question everything about my life and life, in general.
Rather than getting better, my health got worse with the appearance of new symptoms. I realized how awfully tired I was now that I no longer had the adrenaline from stress to keep me moving. I had nothing but time to rest, yet my body suddenly would not allow me to stay asleep for more than 3-4 hours at a time. It was clear that my blood sugar had become imbalanced, too, because for the next two years, I had to nap after eating meals. I went through a phase of feeling tired but wired that gradually shifted into just plain tired. Although I never bothered with getting tested for it, I started researching adrenal fatigue when a naturopath indicated that I had a lot of the symptoms of it towards the end of 2014.
In 2016, I began to notice increased sensitivity to heat when I fainted while sitting alone at a park one day, and it nearly happened again later that year, possibly due to low blood pressure that probably fell too low when exposed to heat. (I still sometimes feel dizzy, lightheaded, and nauseated when I take hot showers or sit outside during hot days in the summer.) The typical symptoms of magnesium deficiency, like twitching muscles, chest pain, and heart palpitations continued to linger, despite all the supplements I was taking.
During all those years of trying to overcome burnout and fatigue, I experimented with too many vitamins and supplements to name, adaptogenic herbs, different diets, and various natural and alternative remedies. Sometimes physical exercise gave me a mild, temporary boost of energy. Other times, I immediately needed a nap after mild exertion. There was nothing I tried that really seemed to help in a clear and obvious way. Any improvements I saw in my health came very subtly and gradually.
The Solution I Recently Discovered
Earlier in January of this year, I continued with my experimentation with supplements, and this time I decided to start taking a tiny two milligrams of copper. Within about three days of taking copper, my tummy was very upset. This was odd to me. Even after I stopped taking copper, for about two more weeks, I had stomach cramps after every meal. This was confusing because I thought I had several symptoms of copper deficiency, including a lot of gray hair that I started seeing when I was only 15, yet my body had a toxicity reaction to the supplement.
My body’s puzzling reaction to copper got me curious about this specific mineral, so I read more in depth about copper toxicity versus copper deficiency, which eventually led me to the topics of hair tissue mineral analysis (HTMA) and the science of mineral balancing based on the research of Dr. Paul Eck. Dr. Eck spent years researching and studying the functions and properties of essential minerals and their interactions with each other, and he was especially curious about copper. I finally felt like I hit the goldmine when I began reading about copper dysregulation, which is when both copper deficiency and copper toxicity occur simultaneously in the body. This issue seemed to explain so much about my health history.
In March of this year, I ordered my first HTMA from Trace Elements. HTMA is a hair test used to measure levels of essential minerals and heavy metals. For two weeks, I anxiously awaited my results because I truly hoped I would receive some kind of answer that could help explain the mysterious symptoms and the insignificant amount of progress I was making. Not only was I tired, I was tired of being confused without any clear answers.
Thankfully, my HTMA test results did, in fact, reveal some helpful pieces to the puzzle. Here is a summary of the issues that were revealed based on my levels and ratios of the minerals and heavy metals that were measured:
- the “four lows pattern” (all four macrominerals (calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium) were significantly below ideal levels)
- low adrenal and thyroid function
- copper dysregulation
- severe sympathetic dominance
- slow oxidation
- mild anemia
- poor eliminator of several heavy metals
Listed below are some of the minerals that were measured, with a side-by-side comparison of my levels versus the ideal levels seen in normal/healthy individuals. Keep in mind that interpreting HTMA results is more than just seeing whether a mineral level is too high or too low. It is equally important to pay attention to the ratios, such as the sodium to potassium ratio, which relates to stress, vitality, and inflammation, or the calcium to potassium ratio, which is considered an indicator of thyroid function.
(All values are in mg%)
Calcium = 25, ideal is 40
Magnesium = 3.4, ideal is 6
Sodium = 7, ideal is 25
Potassium = 1, ideal is 10
Copper = 0.7, ideal is 2.5
Zinc = 15, ideal is 20
The written report I received with my HTMA results indicated some of my issues, and others were pointed out to me by my HTMA practitioner and Dr. Lawrence Wilson. Dr. Wilson shares a lot of information about minerals, heavy metals, and the nutritional balancing program on his website. If you choose a practitioner from Dr. Wilson’s list of approved helpers, you will receive an interpretation of your results along with a customized nutritional balancing treatment plan created by both Dr. Wilson and your HTMA practitioner.
The great thing about HTMA is that you can order the test online and submit your hair sample through the mail without having to get a doctor involved at any point in the process. And if you want assistance from an approved HTMA practitioner, many of them offer their services through the phone or internet.
My Opinion of HTMA and the Nutritional Balancing Program
As I mentioned before, my HTMA results helped explain past and current symptoms, which was a relief in itself. I finally understood why my previous strategies to increase energy were likely going to remain ineffective as long as my body was stuck in the four lows pattern. The four lows pattern requires a unique approach, and it can take some time to emerge out of it, but Dr. Wilson has reported that people in the four lows see positive results when they stick with the nutritional balancing program.
From my observation, many doctors, including alternative practitioners like naturopaths, don’t acknowledge or truly understand the profound impact that minerals play in the quality of our health. I feel like vitamins often get more attention than minerals. If we follow the general advice of increasing our vitamin B, C, and D intake or take a few minerals, like magnesium and iron, without understanding our specific imbalances, we may not see much improvement over time. Once we figure out what our imbalances are through an HTMA test, we may be guided in a different direction that will address our specific issues.
I have not been extremely diligent with following the treatment program ever since I started following it this past summer, but what I have noticed so far is less insomnia, fewer heart palpitations and muscle twitches, improved digestion, and more days where I don’t feel quite as drowsy or drained. There haven’t been extremely dramatic improvements yet, but I’m hopeful considering the positive changes I’ve begun to see. I realize it will take more than a few months to address all these imbalances.
In addition to taking the supplements that my HTMA practitioner recommended, I have also been drinking about 300-400 mg of liquid ionic magnesium mixed with pink salt in water daily for around six months. It seems that the magnesium supplements I took in the past were not enough to resolve my deficiency, but switching to the ionic form recommended by Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of The Magnesium Miracle, might be what my body needs to help address this particular deficiency. (Ionic magnesium is not part of the nutritional balancing program. I am doing this temporarily to boost my magnesium level.)
I plan to order my second hair test in a few weeks to track my progress and to see if anything in my treatment plan needs to be modified. I may find that I need to follow the program more closely if there is little to no change in the updated HTMA results. Until then, I plan to stay focused on getting my calcium and magnesium up to normal levels. I will write more blog posts about my experiences with HTMA and the nutritional balancing program in the future to let you all know if it ultimately works for me or not.
Based on my experience with it so far, I believe HTMA is an extremely valuable tool for detecting underlying imbalances that can contribute to health issues. If you have issues with fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, hormonal imbalances (especially adrenal and thyroid disorders), mood swings, brain fog, joint pain, depression, poor memory, headaches, blood sugar imbalance, or just about any chronic health issue that you have not been able to resolve, I would consider it worth getting a hair test. Please note, the only two labs that Dr. Wilson recommends are Analytical Research Labs (ARL) and Trace Elements Inc. (TEI) because they do not wash the hair sample at the lab, which is essential for receiving the most accurate results.
I also feel that I should mention that HTMA is not necessarily meant to diagnose health conditions. The ratios can point towards problems you are likely experiencing, but diagnosing health problems is not essential for the nutritional balancing program to work. The real point of HTMA is to find out which minerals are imbalanced. As you resolve those mineral imbalances through diet, supplements, lifestyle, etc., symptoms should start to go away because you are bringing the whole body back into balance.
If you are curious about anything here, feel free to ask me questions in the comments section. I am not extremely knowledgeable on HTMA, but I would love to share what I have learned if it could possibly help.
1. Energy: How it affects your emotions, your level of achievement, and your entire well-being by Colin Chatsworth, Loren Chatsworth, and Paul Eck
Highly recommend reading this book if you’ve struggled with chronic fatigue and burnout! This was such an enlightening read and extremely validating, too. You can begin to understand some of the important mineral interactions and ratios after reading this, which will help with interpreting HTMA results.
2. The Magnesium Miracle by Carolyn Dean
Another extremely informative book in which Dr. Dean discusses a wide range of research and anecdotal evidence about magnesium that proves how this simple but essential mineral is key to maintaining good health.
3. Why Am I Always So Tired?: Discover How Correcting Your Body’s Copper Imbalance Can… by Ann Louise Gittleman
Still have not read this one, but it looks like a great resource if you want to learn more about copper imbalance and all the issues that can arise if you are affected by it.
4. Video: Wendy Myers interviews Morley Robbins to discuss copper dysregulation:
5. Info on copper toxicity/imbalance:
The section about the copper personality was especially fascinating to me because many of those traits apply to me and several women I’ve known who have similar personalities and identical health problems. I wonder if there is a tendency for highly sensitive people to have a copper imbalance.
6. More on copper toxicity:
7. Biography of Dr. Paul Eck and his research on minerals:
8. Dr. Lawrence Wilson’s free nutritional balancing program:
This is the general program that will be customized once you get your HTMA results interpreted by Dr. Wilson and an HTMA practitioner. As Dr. Wilson mentions on his website, you can try the free program without ordering an HTMA, but you may not make as much progress if you do not know which imbalances you have that need to be addressed.