High / Low Blood Pressure?

The Taste Tests
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A brief summary of ‘The Taste Tests’ in Dr. Lendon Smith’s book, Feed Your Body Right by Donna  Hudson

I discovered these tests in Dr. Lendon Smith’s book, ‘Feed Your Body Right’.  Everyone hears about the problems of high blood pressure, but Dr. Smith is one of the few to address the problem of low blood  pressure.  In times of low BP, not enough nutrients are pumped into your cells, you’ll feel tired, washed out, and your cognitive abilities may suffer.  Chronic low blood pressure is now considered to be a factor in, or possibly the cause of, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  MD’s in that school of thought sometimes give prescription drugs that raise the blood pressure, or simply advise the patient to eat more salt to naturally raise the pressure.

Dr. Smith met a guy in animal nutrition who discovered that his horses would maintain HOMEOSTASIS by seeking out the nutrients they were short of by smell and taste.  They decided that if animals could do it, humans could do it.  Take chocolate cravings, a common premenstrual symptom.  Chocolate is one of the richest sources of magnesium, and according to Dr. Smith, chocolate cravings often indicate low magnesium levels. Another common human experience is to come in thirsty on a hot day, and after you’ve had enough water, you look for something salty.  When you have enough salt to replace what was lost in sweat, the salty food suddenly becomes too salty, and you quit eating it.  If you start paying attention to what your body wants or wants you to avoid, you will find it easier to maintain your energy level.

These tests are a wonderful learning tool for demonstrating how tastes change according to needs.  They are a lot of fun done in a group, mixing the samples and pouring a little in everyone’s glass.  There will be disagreement on what the solutions taste like.  One person may actually spit it out, while another thinks it tastes terrific.  For someone in poor shape, most of the solutions will taste neutral to very good.  If your deficiency is mild, the flavor may change for the worse when you’ve drunk only half a cupful.  Or you can mix them up by the quart or pint, label them, and sample each one morning and night to see how your needs change.   You can use them to fine tune your supplements, or you can mix them up daily as part of your drinking water.  Whether you have major health problems or just the usual stresses, you may find you can get increased energy by using these tests.

SODIUM (Na) There’s all kinds of propaganda these days about avoiding salt. Americans seem to have forgotten that historically salt was very valuable, even used as currency, eg., Roman soldiers were paid in salt. Desert workers are often issued salt pills to keep them from passing out from “heat stroke”. Salt requirements vary from individual to individual, and from day to day. Stress, hard work, and illness can interfere with the body’s ability to conserve salt. Some people, especially those in ill health, are found via the taste tests to be capable of using amazing quantities of salt. Carriers of the cystic fibrosis gene, 4% of the general population, have much saltier sweat than normal.

A sodium deficiency will lower blood pressure, and contribute to fatigue and allergies. Suspect sodium deficiency if you crave salty foods, if you “gray out” sometimes if you stand up too suddenly. I find that if I’m under stress, like when traveling, that magnesium starts tasting bitter and I have trouble focusing my attention. When I test for salt, it has no taste, and my ability to focus returns for an hour or two.  All my life I felt sleepy after my standard lunch of sandwiches, till eventually I realized I was sensitive to gluten. With exposure to gluten, my overworked adrenals would crash and let too much salt escape my kidneys.

SODIUM TEST 1/8 tsp. salt in 8 oz water. Stir and taste. Can you taste salt? If it tastes salty to you, you probably don’t need sodium, UNLESS it tastes really good to you. If it tastes like plain water, or even better
than plain water, you need salt.

MAGNESIUM (Mg) and sodium seem the most common deficiencies. The USDA says 85% of Americans are deficient in Magnesium.  Magnesium supplements are available in pill form, but it makes sense to use the taste test to determine if you are taking enough or too much. Magnesium deficiency can contribute to muscle tension, nervousness and anxiety, poor concentration, confusion, depression, insomnia, heart attacks, hot flashes, PMS, menstrual cramps, high blood pressure, panic attacks, short term memory loss, bladder urgency or stress incontinence, kidney stones, hardening of the arteries, or chronic constipation. In addition, deficiency in Mg will cause excessive losses of potassium. I personally find that when I am short of Mg, my mouth seems chronically dry, but ordinary water seems to go straight to my bladder without ever helping the dry mouth. With a pinch of Epsom salts added, our local water tastes “wetter” and more refreshing to me. I suspect that taking Mg to taste would help in Sjogrens Syndrome, at least in making it easier to live with.

MAGNESIUM TEST 1/8 tsp. Epsom Salts in 8 oz water. Stir and taste. If you don’t need it, it will taste thin or bitter. If you do need it, it will taste like plain water or even better than plain water. It may taste thickor sweet if you are severely deficient.

POTASSIUM (K)   What we hear about potassium is mostly the mistaken belief (shared by many MD’s) that leg cramps are mostly caused by Potassium deficiency.  Cramps during or following exercise may indeed be caused by potassium deficiency, but cramps at rest are more likely to be calcium deficiency.  A potassium deficiency can contribute to high blood pressure and allergies.  Potassium chloride is sold in groceries under the name “No Salt” as a salt substitute for people with high blood pressure.

POTASSIUM  TEST  1/8 tsp. potassium chloride in 8 oz water.  If you don’t need it, it will taste salty or bitter.  If you do need it, it will taste like water (though perhaps a little funky), or even better than plain water.

CALCIUM  This is the only one of the 4 major cations I don’t know a straightforward test for.  Suspect a calcium deficiency if you have leg cramps or backache at night, if you get foot or toe cramps, if you have chemical allergies, if you are sensitive to electrical fields or have an adverse affect on electrical equipment, if your teeth take turns hurting but the dentist can’t find anything wrong, if your joints seem unstable or loose and stretchy, if you get PMS, if you had stomach surgery, if you get gas, bloating, heartburn or indigestion.   You can be taking a daily calcium supplement and STILL have calcium deficiency if you are deficient in magnesium, vitamin D, boron, or vitamin K. Many people don’t absorb the carbonate form of calcium very well, and get better results with calcium citrate.

ACIDS  I think of  acid as a backwards test for calcium, but Dr. Smith says that acid lowers blood pressure, so you will dislike acid if your BP is low.   Any acid will help if you need acid, but different ones do have different secondary uses.  Malic, citric, and acetic acids are used in the Krebs cycle to produce energy in the cells.  Suspect an acid deficiency if you are low in energy, if your joints seem very tight or achy, if you breathe slowly or shallowly and sigh a lot, or if you are very fond of pickles, lemons, or sour candy.  Women and children generally seem to want more sour foods than men do.  Acids can help absorb and mobilize calcium, so they can help a calcium deficiency.  However, if you are extremely low on calcium and/or magnesium, you may dislike acids.  Magnesium maleate is a form of malic acid commonly recommended for FMS.  Over 10 years ago a study of FMS patients found that  1/4 tsp. malic acid  twice a day reduced pain and increased energy in all 15 the subjects.   I puzzled over that finding for years till I realized that “malic” refers to malus, apples.  We all have heard of apple cider vinegar’s mythic properties, and the popular product “Jogging in a Jug” and of course, that “an apple a day keeps the doctor  away”.

ACID TESTS   I/8 tsp. of either citric or malic acid in 8 oz water.  If it tastes unpleasantly sour, you don’t need it.  If it tastes sour but good, you need it.  If it tastes sweet, you really need it.  You can also do this test with 1 Tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice in water.  Again, go by taste, and back off it gets too sour.  If you have calcium deficiency symptoms, and like the acid, you may want to take calcium citrate supplements. You can help absorption of ordinary calcium supplements by taking something acidic with them.

The amazing thing about these tests is that salts can change the way you feel within minutes.   If you have a chronic metabolism imbalance, you may need to continue them indefinitely.  I know a woman who could not stand salt for 10 years following a neck injury.  After reinjuring her neck, and being shown these tests, she took salt and magnesium 3 times a day for 3 years.   Whenever she would feel run down, she would taste the solutions, and drink whichever one tasted good to her.  When she got the flu, she could not endure the taste of magnesium for weeks afterwards.  By contrast, I required large amounts of Mg for weeks after the same flu.  DURING OR AFTER AN ILLNESS, YOUR METABOLISM MAY CHANGE AND REQUIRE DIFFERENT SALTS.

INTERACTIONS   If you run your magnesium intake up too high, you may start getting leg cramps.  The magnesium solution should turn quite bitter before such an imbalance is achieved, which is why I use taste tests instead buying and popping pills.  Blood pH is not not only by what you eat, but also by physical activity, and even how fast you breathe. If you get upset and start breathing fast, or just sit down and deliberately hyperventilate, you’ll raise your blood pH, and in response your kidneys will start dumping Mg.  Blood pH controls your breathing rate, so taking acid or Ca and Mg can affect your breathing rate.

EVERYTHING  ON THIS LIST INTERACTS WITH SOMETHING ELSE ON IT, AS WELL AS WITH MANY ENZYME SYSTEMS IN YOUR BODY AND MEDICATIONS YOU MAY BE TAKING.  IF YOU TRY THE TESTS AND SOMETHING CHANGES FOR THE WORSE, CONSIDER THE INTERACTIONS INVOLVED.  IF YOU ARE ON A PRESCRIPTION DRUG AND YOUR TESTS CHANGE OR UNUSUAL SYMPTOMS ARISE, DO CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR.

WARNING   This is given for entertainment and educational purposes only.  Always consult your doctor before eating salt or drinking water as you risk dehydration or drowning if you do either one.  He will get tired of you calling all the time and tell you to use your common sense.

Donna Hudson,  copyright  2004

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