The Four-Low Electrolytes Pattern

A very important and unique hair analysis pattern occurs when the first four minerals are all below the ideal levels. (calcium <40 mg%, magnesium <6 mg%, sodium <25 mg% and potassium <10 mg%).

Individuals with this four-low pattern often do not respond well to regular nutrition programs. Often they have consulted many doctors and nutritionists with poor results. Interpreting the significance of the four-low pattern and how to help these individuals required a lot of effort and was a tremendous breakthrough.

Chronic Stress

Individuals in the four-low pattern are exhausted, though they continue to push themselves. They may have other symptoms of adrenal exhaustion such as allergies and sugar cravings. They are usually fast oxidizer personalities. However, they are tired and unable to maintain their sodium and potassium levels. While their sodium and potassium levels have declined, calcium and magnesium have not risen, at least in part due to a personality tendency.

When the sodium and potassium levels are low, normally one would increase the levels of these minerals by boosting adrenal activity. However, when sodium and potassium increase, calcium and magnesium levels tend to decrease. In these individuals, calcium and magnesium are already low. The body does not permit further decreases, as this could be harmful. Thus the person remains stuck in the four-low pattern.

The best analogy to describe the four-low pattern is a car with its wheels spinning in the ice or mud. The faster they spin, the more stuck the car becomes. One uses up a lot of energy and yet goes nowhere. The only answer is to slow down.

Putting the Adrenals to Bed

The nutritional approach to the four-low is to slow the person down. This is similar to slowing the wheels of a car that are spinning out of control. In the case of the body, slowing down allows the adrenal glands to rest and can enable the person to come out of the pattern. Otherwise, the pattern tends to persist and can be very intractable.

High doses of the sedative minerals help to slow the adrenals. The supplement program consists of high doses of only a few supplements, usually calcium, magnesium and zinc. If the sodium/potassium ratio is less than 2-2.5:1, copper and zinc are added. A digestive aid may also be helpful. A simple program is best until the pattern shifts.

The time required to come out of the pattern varies widely. In some people, the four-low is temporary. It may show up on one test and then disappear on the next. In other cases, a year or more may be needed to come out of the pattern.

Children With Four-Low

Twenty years ago the four-low was a relatively rare pattern seen mainly in hard-driving business executives. Now it shows up in housewives and increasingly in small children.

Here are three possible causes for the four-low in a young child. A parent has the four-low pattern and the child picks up the personality tendency from a stressed parent. Usually the parent is demanding of the child, and the child responds with the four-low type of stress response.

The four-low in a child may be part of a malabsorption syndrome, usually involving a gluten allergy. Also, a child could be born with imbalances that would predispose them to this pattern.


Individuals with the four-low mineral pattern often have food allergies, usually including wheat, dairy and at times gluten. They are also usually deficient in hydrochloric acid, which is associated with low levels of sodium and potassium. Also, their personality is often sympathetic dominant which turns off digestive secretions and reduces the ability to digest food. Thus attention to diet and digestion is important.

The Four-Low Personality

There is a definite personality tendency associated with the four-low-electrolyte pattern. Addressing the personality issue is very important to correct the four-low pattern. One who becomes aware of the personality pattern and makes changes will respond much faster.

Individuals with the four-low pattern are usually very intense, compulsive, driven, often very self-critical and perhaps critical of others. Often the adults work very hard and have difficulty relaxing. They enjoy the intense drama of life, although they may not admit it. It is as though they enjoy the sound of the spinning of the car tires. They are often unaware of their pattern and how it is affecting them and others around them.

An excess of a toxic metal such as mercury, for example, could contribute to this personality tendency. However, the four-low pattern must be improved first before focusing on the metal toxicity. Otherwise, the wheel-spinning activity uses up so much energy that it is difficult to eliminate toxic metals.

Sabotaging the Program

Recently, a client with the four-low pattern began a nutrition program. He began to feel better within a month. However, instead of listening to the advice about slowing down, this client took on more work and in fact worked seven days a week. One day he called concerned because he felt dependent on the supplements. The personality connection was again explained. However, he refused to slow down and thus it was impossible to do more for him as long as he stubbornly maintained his breakneck, compulsive lifestyle.

Four-Low Review

Often people with the four-low pattern are frustrated and discouraged because no one has been able to help them. Understanding and identifying the four-low on a hair analysis can be a real breakthrough for these people.

Here is a quick review. Keep the supplement program very simple, especially avoiding supplements that speed up the metabolic rate. Discuss diet and food allergies. Discuss tendencies for compulsiveness and criticalness and the need for change. Many techniques and methods can help this. Finally, repeat hair tests can monitor the progress in overcoming the four-low pattern.

A few final notes. At times, high doses of calcium, magnesium and zinc can make the four-low individual more tired for a while. The goal at first is to force the person to slow down. It is wise to warn the patient of this possibility. If the fatigue is very annoying, the dosages could be lowered slightly.

We have also observed that the all-four-low pattern may be associated with malabsorption and allergies, particularly gluten, that may stem from an impaired digestive system and other systemic causes.

Also, it is important to note that at times the four-low-electrolyte tendencies occur in people with only three low electrolyte levels. It is important to look for four-low tendencies in these borderline cases and handle them appropriately.

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