by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© August 2012, The Center For Development
Assessing a personÕs metabolic type and correcting it can be a very helpful method of improving a personÕs health. This article discusses what is a metabolic type, examples, and how the concept is used in nutritional balancing science.
WARNING: Metabolic typing that is offered by some other individuals and groups is not the same as that presented in this article and on this website. Please be warned that other systems of metabolic typing, and other methods to assess the oxidation type are different and may be incorrect, confusing and dangerous.
WHAT IS A BODY TYPE OR METABOLIC TYPE?
Typing or categorizing people in various ways is an ancient science. Its purpose is to simplify diagnosis and correction of health. Ancient physicians noticed that people fall into certain categories and those within such categories often have similar health problems and often need similar remedies or therapies. This gave birth to the idea of typing people in order to quickly assess what is wrong with them and what they require for healing.
Among the most famous ancient metabolic typing systems are:
1. Acupuncture. This very ancient system classifies people as yin or yang, plus many variants such as yin deficient, blood deficient, yang rising and more. The reader will find the slow and fast oxidizer concept close to the ancient oriental concept of yin and yang. For much more it, read Yin and Yang on this website.
Acupuncturists also may classify people in other ways based on the pulses, tongue diagnosis or other methods.
2. Ayurveda. This is also an ancient and very complex system of healing that classifies people as pitta, vatta and kapha, and combinations of these three doshas, as they are called.
3. Hippocrates. This Greek physician classified or typed people using a system of four elements – air, earth, water and fire. He described people who had excessive amounts of each of these as sanguine, melancholic, phlegmatic or choleric. He related each of these types to various organs, glands, the complexion and other factors.
4. Other typing systems describe morphogenic types, meaning typing based on appearance, for example, or other qualities. Some books speak of adrenal types, thyroid or pituitary types based on the activity of their glands.
5. Autonomic types. Dr. Melvin Page, DDS and others, perhaps, such as William Kelley, DDS, type people by which branch of the autonomic nervous system is dominant – sympathetic or parasympathetic types.
6. The stage of stress. Hans Selye, MD classified animals by what stage of stress they were in – either the alarm, resistance of exhaustion stage of stress.
7. Genetic types. These include metabolic types based upon oneÕs blood type, race, color, location or other genetic factors.
8. Vegetarians, the elderly, or even by diseases. One can also type people by what they eat, such as vegetarians, or by a personÕs age, sex or health complaints.
In each case, the goal is to simplify the understanding of why people are ill, and also how to approach them to help them more easily.
NUTRITIONAL BALANCING AND THE OXIDATION TYPES
The idea of classifying people as fast or slow oxidizers was first proposed by Dr. George Watson, PhD, author of Nutrition and Your Mind and Psycho-Chemical Energy and Personality Strength. Originally, he divided people into fast and slow oxidizers based on their response to odor testing. He later correlated this with blood pH and CO2 levels. The blood of fast oxidizers tended to be slightly more acidic.
He also identified another metabolic type he called sub-oxidizers. This was a group of people that did not quite fit into the fast or slow oxidizer category. Dr. Watson theorized that the types were based on oneÕs relative ability to handle carbohydrates in the glycolysis cycle and fats in the Krebs cycle.
THE WORK OF DR. PAUL ECK
Dr. Paul C. Eck, my mentor and friend, studied a number of modern and some of the ancient systems mentioned above. He then synthesized them in a simple way that works beautifully in most cases. Others have their own system that I find dangerous and incorrect. Here is Dr. EckÕs system:
1. Fast Oxidation = an alarm stage of stress = a more yang and more sympathetic state of body chemistry. For example, he asserted that an alarm stage of stress (the fight-or-flight response) is a sympathetic state. It also tends to correspond to a fast oxidizer. This is not too hard to understand. All are characterized by excessive activity of the thyroid and adrenal glands and a hyper-alert state of the nervous system.
2. Slow Oxidation = a resistance or exhaustion stage of stress = a more yin and more parasympathetic state of body chemistry. As stress continues, the thyroid and adrenal glands begin to Ņburn outÓ and one goes into the resistance and exhaustion stages of stress. The oxidation rate begins to slow and the body begins to move from a sympathetic to an unhealthy parasympathetic state. The latter occurs not because one chooses it, but because the sympathetic system becomes depleted of nutrients and can no longer function correctly. As a result, the body flips into a parasympathetic state, in part to prevent further catabolism and breakdown of the body.
The distinction between the resistance and exhaustion stages of stress are not clear to me. They may correspond as follows:
a) Using the Na/K ratio. A high ratio is an alarm stage. A ratio between about 2 and 5 is a resistance stage and a ratio below 2 is an exuaustion stage of stress.
b) Mild slow oxidation or a fast oxidizer with a low sodium/potassium ratio may be a resistance stage of stress, whereas a very slow oxidation rate, especially with a low sodium/potassium ratio is definitely an exhaustion stage of stress and a parasympathetic state of body chemistry.
To read more on this topic, read The Oxidation Types on this site.
3. Mixed Oxidation. This is a mixture of fast and slow oxidation, and is discussed below.
4. Four Lows Pattern. This is strictly a hair analysis pattern that may correspond to Dr. WatsonÕs sub-oxidation state. It is a very special condition only seen on hair mineral analyses, to my knowledge, and critical to correct. For more on this, read Four Lows.
This is the basic correlation of these concepts. Dr. Eck used hair mineral analysis for his assessment of metabolic type. He found ways to correlate a patientÕs symptoms and the metabolic typing concepts with the readings on the hair mineral test.
WARNING: Others may use questionnaires, blood tests or other methods to assess the oxidation rate. I have found these to be extremely inaccurate.
After much experimentation, Dr. Eck found that certain mineral ratios are the most reliable way to indicate the oxidation type and stage of stress. Here are the basic criteria using a hair mineral analysis, provided the hair is not washed at the laboratory.
HAIR MINERAL ANALYSIS DETERMINATION OF THE OXIDATION TYPES BY DR. ECKÕS METHOD
To assess oxidation rate, Dr. Eck made use of the ratios of calcium-to-potassium (Ca/K) and sodium-to-magnesium (Na/Mg). For accurate mineral readings, the hair must not be washed at the laboratory. Only two commercial laboratories in the United States do not wash the hair, Analytical Research Labs and Trace Elements, Inc. I do not recommend using Trace Elements, Inc. for hair testing. They are not as careful, they do not list the ideal hair values, their graphs are more difficult to read, and their nutrition programs are terrible.
Let us examine exactly how these ratios are used to assess the oxidation type, and why.
The Calcium/Potassium Ratio. This ratio has more to do with thyroid glandular activity. Dr. Eck found that a high calcium level in relation to potassium is associated with a slower oxidation rate. Thyroid activity lowers calcium. Potassium also sensitizes the tissues to thyroid hormone. Also, calcium stabilizes cell membranes and decreases cell permeability.
A high calcium is associated with sluggish thyroid activity and reduced cell permeability which also decreases oxidation and cellular respiration. Note that diagnoses of hyperthyroidism are possible in this instance and occur quite commonly. They occur because the body may respond to reduced cell permeability and low cellular thyroid activity by secreting more thyroid hormones.
Thus blood tests and some symptoms will indicate hyperthyroidism. However, it is not the same as a primary hyperthyroidism, which may have different causes. Mercury or copper toxicity in the pituitary can also cause a secondary hyperthyroidism in slow oxidizers.
Dr. Eck settled on a ratio of 4:1 as the ideal calcium/potassium ratio. This ideal Ca/K ratio, in practice, works exceedingly well.
The Sodium/Magnesium Ratio. The sodium/magnesium ratio is more indicative of adrenal glandular activity. The adrenal hormone aldosterone causes sodium retention in the kidneys. Magnesium, it turns out, also has much to do with adrenal activity. Magnesium loss, which turns out to cause a high reading in the hair, is often associated with sluggish adrenal glandular activity.
An elevated hair sodium in relation to magnesium is associated with excessive adrenal activity. Dr. Eck settled on an ideal ratio of 4.17:1 for the sodium/magnesium ratio. This ideal ratio also works exceedingly well in almost all cases.
To summarize the way the oxidation metabolic types are calculated:
į Slow Oxidation is defined as a calcium/potassium ratio greater than 4 AND a sodium/magnesium ratio less than 4.17.
į Fast Oxidation is defined as a calcium/potassium ratio less than 4 AND a sodium/magnesium ratio greater than 4.17.
į Mixed Oxidation. If one ratio indicates fast and the other slow, the pattern is called mixed oxidation. This is an unstable and temporary state that will resolve to either fast or slow in a number of months.
Mixed oxidizers he would call fast-mixed if the ratio that was fast was relatively further away from the ideal than the ratio that was slow. In other words, let us imagine that the calcium/potassium ratio indicates fast oxidation because the ratio is 1:1. This is about 1/4 of the ideal.
Now let us say the other ratio, the sodium/magnesium ratio, is 2:1. This is only about 1/2 of the ideal value. In other words, it is closer to the ideal. Therefore, this person would be labeled a fast mixed oxidizer because the ratio that is fast is more extreme. Said differently, the balance of the two ratios is tending more to the fast than it is to the slow oxidation rate.
į Four Lows or sub-oxidation. Dr. Watson identified another type he called a sub-oxidizer. Dr, Eck correlated this to another hair analysis pattern that is called four low electrolytes. Discussion of this pattern is beyond the scope of this article but is found in a separate article, Four Lows.
CORRELATION WITH YIN AND YANG
A fast oxidation rate is more yang while a the slow oxidation rate is more yin. Reasons for this are that fast oxidizers are warmer and sweatier and often have a ruddier complexion. These are more yang qualities. They are also more prone to bacterial and viral infections that affect people who are yang more than those who are yin.
Slow oxidizers are colder, more sluggish, generally more ill and more toxic, and more prone to fungal infections, among others.
Mentally and emotionally, fast oxidizers exhibit more yang qualities such as aggressiveness, anger and rage. Slow oxidizers exhibit more yin qualities and attitudes such as depression, fearfulness and psychological withdrawal.
WHY IS METABOLIC TYPING IMPORTANT FOR HEALING?
Many practitioners donÕt want to bother with metabolic typing and just correct body chemistry based on their symptoms, blood tests, x-rays, diagnostic label or other methods.
However, without question, I have found that metabolic typing by Dr. EckÕs method only, is useful for the following reasons:
1. It is helpful for doctors and patients to realize that one does not have 10 or 20 problems or symptoms, in many cases. One simply is in a metabolic type that is characterized by all of these symptoms together. For example, slow oxidizers are often tired, depressed, anxious, cold, with a low thyroid and weak adrenals, spacy, with sleep problems and so on.
Otherwise one seeks to correct each symptom separately, when in fact all will improve as the oxidation rate is balanced.
2. Balancing the metabolic type and oxidation rate greatly improves a personÕs energy efficiency. This is an enormous benefit because it can help resolve 10 or 20 different symptoms, including even problems the client is unaware of such as a latent cancer or a sub-clinical heart problem.
Energy is the common denominator of health, as anyone will find out if he or she tries this system of nutritional balancing. Correcting the energy level by correcting the oxidation rate can have a dramatic effect on a personÕs health even if nothing else is done for the person.
3. Thyroid and Adrenal Insights. These glands are so important and so out of balance today in most people that the information gained about their functioning that can come from the oxidation rate determination is fantastic all by itself. Correlated with other factors on the hair analysis, they often give an accurate and fast glimpse of the personÕs overall state of health and the causes for many symptoms.
4. Psychological Insights. The metabolic type often helps a practitioner and patient understand a dozen or more mental or emotional symptoms, with ease. Also, improving a personÕs energy level often has dramatic effects upon conditions such as depression, mood swings, anxiety and others. Glandular balance also has much to do with mental and emotional disorders. This is all revealed using this type of analysis of the hair mineral patterns.
5. Recommending A Diet. Dr. WatsonÕs concepts and those of other researchers can be used successfully to help balance the oxidation rate with food and dietary principles. For example, fast oxidizers, who are often babies, need fats and oil in their diet in greater amounts. This is quite important. Feeding young children more starches and sugars, for example, is causing obesity, diabetes, hyperactivity and other childrenÕs problems today.
6. Recommending Nutritional Supplements. This is another fantastic benefit of metabolic typing. Drs. Watson and Eck figured out which nutrients speed up the oxidation rate and which slow it down. By properly combining the nutrients, formulas have been designed that are powerful to balance and correct the oxidation rate.
Otherwise, nutritional supplement recommendations are too often hit or miss guesswork. They can easily unbalance the body in subtle ways. I see this daily in my practice. It does not matter how good the quality or value of the products. If they are not given in a way that balances the body chemistry, they are much less effective and can cause many problems.
7. Reducing Stress. Balancing the oxidation rate greatly reduces stress on the body. This is often apparent in the correction of stress-related symptoms such as fears, anxiety and others.
8. Assisting Toxic Metal Elimination. This is another powerful benefit of metabolic typing and correction by nutritional balancing science. Many times patients work with us who have used all the other methods of eliminating toxic metals. These include chelation, oral chelating agents, clay baths, foot baths and other methods.
Their hair test often reveal toxic metals. When their oxidation rate is balanced, the rate of elimination of the metals dramatically increases without a need for chelators and other methods. This is the main reason I do not need IV or oral chelation, which are less safe and overall, much less effective, I have found.
9. Eliminating Toxic Chemicals. Modern medicine offers very little in the way of methods of eliminate the hundreds of perhaps thousands of toxic chemicals that surround us everywhere today, especially in developed nations.
Balancing the oxidation rate facilitates the elimination of hundreds of toxic chemicals quite easily and cheaply. It occurs because the adaptive energy improves, eliminative organ function improves and the stress level decreases.
10. Prediction And Prevention. If one knows the oxidation type and rate, one can predict and then prevent many physical and emotional health conditions.
This is only logical because each metabolic type or imbalance is associated with specific diseases. In this manner, one can guess which symptoms are likely to arise, often years before they actually manifest. One can also head off the symptoms easily by balancing the metabolic type before a full-blown disease develops and makes correction more difficult.
11. Guiding other recommendations. I routinely use the oxidation type and oxidation rate to make lifestyle and therapy recommendations such as for sauna therapy, massage, tai chi, yoga, and even medical therapies.
12. Reducing or eliminating altogether latent ailments. Latent illnesses are ones that show no indicators at this time, even on the hair mineral analysis. However, they are growing inside and someday will cause a heart attack, cancer, diabetes or any of a hundred other conditions.
Sadly, most people have several of these, even as young as in their childhood. The incidence is growing as more children are born toxic and depleted due to their motherÕs levels of toxins and nutritional deficiency.
The key here is the improvement in the energy-producing mechanism of the body. When the oxidation rate is balanced properly, the body automatically begins to correct even genetically-programmed imbalances to the best of its ability. I know of no other way to do this so easily and routinely. One cannot just look for latent conditions, because they are too subtle to detect at their early stage. However, one can, by balancing the oxidation rate, improve the bodyÕs own ability to scout out these problems and address them.
This is one reason why progress in healing is sometimes slow with nutritional balancing science. What is often occurring is that latent conditions are being corrected. This will then avoid a far more serious ailment later in life, even 20 to 50 years later. It is a very important, hidden reason for determining the oxidation rate and type and correcting it immediately.
This is also the reason I do the hair analysis first, not correct the hormones first or do some other tests first.
13. Safety. While this is a clinical observation, mainly, the concept of balancing the body and metabolic type is a very safe approach to healing. It is far safer than any symptomatic approach, in my experience, though no method is perfect. Safety means that as we suggest foods, nutrients and other procedures that balance the body, the likelihood of doing damage or otherwise harming the person is minimized.
In contrast, giving symptomatic remedies, for example, or other methods of healing that do not involve balancing the oxidation rate often do not improve the patientÕs overall vitality, even if all symptoms clear up. Therefore, the patient is left weaker in some way and is more open to problems in the future.
Antibiotics or just taking a lot of vitamin C, for example, will kill off many infections. However, antibiotics are all somewhat toxic. The drugs have subtle side effects in many cases that weaken the patient. Vitamin C is not toxic, exactly, but it will lower copper and chelate or remove other minerals. If used indiscriminately, it will unbalance the chemistry to some degree. Nutritional balancing uses some vitamin C, but only in low doses and in a very precise way so as not to unbalance the metaboli type or balance.
14. ŌSpiritual DevelopmentÕ. What I mean by this is very precise. People may say that any effort to improve oneÕs mind or energy level or something else like this is spiritual development. However, this is not quite so.
Spiritual development, as used on this website, refers to achieving a very high level of physical and mental health. This will allow a person to achieve his or her highest potential. It is, in fact, the crowning achievement of nutritional balancing science. There is much more to this development having to do with unfoldment of the subtle human bodies such as the etheric body. This seems to absolutely require balancing the oxidation rate of the body in a delicate way. I donÕt know why this is so, but it appears to be the case.
This, by the way, is one reason why nutritional balancing does not use many herbs and other popular products that others recommend. These simply are too imprecise in their action to balance the chemistry. The topic of spiritual development is the subject of other several articles on this website such as Spiritual Development.
Finally, recall that other doctors and practitioners use different methods to assess the oxidation type, and recommend different diets for each type. These may be very dangerous and I would avoid them.
1) Eck, P., Interview in the Health View Newsletter, #27-29, 1979.
2) Page, M., Degeneration - Regeneration, 1949, 1980.
3) Selye, H., The Stress of Life, 1956.
4) Watson, G., Nutrition and your Mind, 1972 and Personality Strength and Psychochemical Energy, 1979.
5) Wilson, L., Nutritional Balancing and Hair Mineral Analysis, 2010.