This past March, one of our board members, Dale Ledbetter, sent me an e-mail. It was short and to the point… “You will find this interesting!” It was a link to an article written by Dr. Russell L. Blaylock, a nationally recognized, board-certified neurosurgeon, health practitioner, author and lecturer.*
I read the article, Low Energy Increases Alzheimer’s Damage, with such interest because it associated low blood sugar with the Alzheimer’s patient. Dale and I both tried to find out where Dr. Blaylock lived… maybe in Florida? But before we discovered the answer, things got hectic with planning the HSF’s gala so we didn’t follow up…until this past week.
That’s when I ran across another article written by Dr. Blaylock and immediately decided to contact him.
Dear Dr. Blaylock, I was so excited to read your articles on hypoglycemia! As president & founder of The Hypoglycemia Support Foundation, it would be a pleasure and honor if I could interview you for a future article to be posted on our website and FB page. To see our mission statement, including our past, present and future goals, please visit us at www.hypoglycemia.org. Hope to hear from you, Roberta Ruggiero firstname.lastname@example.org
Right away I received the following from Dr. Blaylock’s son.
Hi, Dr. Blaylock said he would be happy to do an interview but he is out of town at the moment. Is this something he can do via email? If so I would be happy to forward any questions you might have prepared. Damien
Thus started my connection with Dr. Blaylock. Here is the first question I asked and his immediate response.
Question: I get so many e-mails from frustrated hypoglycemics who say their doctors still maintain that hypoglycemia doesn’t exist. Why is hypoglycemia still not widely accepted as a condition/disease by the medical community? This is 2014!!
Answer: The principle reason is that early studies mistakenly concluded that reactive hypoglycemia was an artificial phenomena caused by relying on the glucose tolerance test (GTT). Alberti in 1975 and Hogan in a 1983 paper concluded, based on their research, that if you did a GTT study on these individuals they had a significant drop in blood sugar, but if you gave them the glucose with a normal meal their blood sugar did not fall sufficiently to come under the classification of hypoglycemia. The second mistake was to set the standard for the diagnosis so low—40mg/ml.
I remember well when these studies came out. Doctors would carry these studies in their pocket and tell their patients and colleagues that there was no such thing as reactive hypoglycemia. I knew this to be false because my father had it, my brother and myself. I knew it to be real. Most refusals to accept this diagnosis is based on these two poorly done and thought out studies.
First, the 40 mg/dl level is far too low for the limit and second is that more recent studies have shown that it is less the level of glucose in the blood but rather the speed that the blood sugar drops that is important. For example, a fall over many hours from 90 mg/dl to 40 mg/dl would cause fewer problems than a fall from 90 mg/dl to 70 mg/dl over a few minutes. I also suspect that the counterregulatory mechanism in people with this condition are hyperactive and over time become more hyperreactive. For example, the adrenal release of epinephrine is more intense and along with the glutamate response heightens anxiety, tremulousness and a feeling of doom.
Most hypoglycemics have noted that over the years their symptoms not only get worse but they develop new symptoms often not associated with reactive hypoglycemia—such as depression, suicidal thoughts, obsessive-compulsive behavior and a loss of mental energy—memory loss and periods of confusion. This is due to changes in the reactive sensitivity of the counterregulatory systems (both epinephrine and glucocorticoids) and changes in sensitivity of the glutamate receptors. I suspect that prolonged hypoglycemia reactions also trigger inflammatory mechanism in the body and brain and this worsens glutamate reactions, a process I have named immunoexcitotoxicity. This appears to be a common mechanism for a great number of neurological disorders. This would also cause the type of symptoms over time to change. The physician is confused because so many seemingly unrelated symptoms develop, many he or she does not understand. Doctors like diagnoses that are commonly known and easy to pin down quickly. When a great number of systems are involved, especially difficult to understand brain mechanism, they prefer to ascribe the problem to stress or mental problems.
It is known that hypoglycemia can result in seizures of the grand mal type and that is directly the result of hypoglycemia-induced glutamate release and not the energy deficit of the brain.
The brain regulatory systems are mostly concerned with protecting neurons. If the blood sugar drops slowly, the brain is in very little danger, as it can take slower corrective actions. But, should the blood sugar fall more rapidly the brain assumes that things are approaching a disaster rapidly and emergency measure must be taken rapidly—this activates mechanism not activated during slow glucose reductions—mainly activation of the panic system in the brain. This system, mainly operating via the amygdala, triggers all the symptoms of anxiety—rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling and a sense of panic. The brain, in essence, is screaming for the person to increase their energy intake rapidly. Again, it is not the fall in glucose itself that endangers the brain, but rather the reactive release of glutamate. The glutamate causes many of the symptoms the person associates with hypoglycemia—anxiety, panic and even anger.
One of the things I remember quite well when I was a medical student was how much my fellow students hated biochemistry—it was a subject that flunked out most medical students. I loved biochemistry and majored in it in college. The other thing is that the vast majority of physicians do not understand brain pathophysiology of the disorders associated with reactive hypoglycemia.
They have been convinced that the disorder is not real and therefore they refuse to even consider it as a diagnostic differential. For many, their arrogance exceeds their understanding.
The above answer may take time to comprehend. Although I personally write in an easy to understand layman’s language on my website and Facebook page, it is imperative that we add a medical and technical point of view. It is for this reason, the past year I have approached numerous doctors, hospitals, endocrinologists and holistic physicians, inviting them to join the HSF and share their much-needed expertise to address some of our most pressing medical fears and concerns. Some doctors have agreed to and others are considering my request.
So for now, I want to express my sincere appreciation to Dr. Blaylock for his thought, thorough and quick reply. It is such an honor to be able to share this valuable, detailed information with you, my readers,
Here’s to your health,
*Dr. Blaylock attended the Louisiana State University School of Medicine and completed his internship and neurological residency at the Medical University of South Carolina. For 26 years, Dr. Blaylock practiced neurosurgery in addition to having a nutritional practice. He recently retired from his neurosurgical duties to devote his full attention to nutritional research. Dr. Blaylock writes “The Blaylock Wellness Report” newsletter and has authored four books, Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, Health and Nutrition Secrets That Can Save Your Life, Natural Strategies for Cancer Patients, and his most recent work, Cellular and Molecular Biology of Autism Spectrum Disorders.