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POTS: What is it and how do we heal from it?
My amazing friend and colleague Dr. Christina Morgan now has her incredible dissertation on POTS available on her site for those that want to read. Truly fascinating and incredibly in-depth. A great source on treating POTS holistically and naturally.
I touched on this topic briefly a few years ago (see below!) but I knew Christina would be writing this paper, so I was eagerly waiting for that so I could share a MUCH better view on this issue.
What is POTS?
POTS (or Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) is a syndrome that is a “form of dysautonomia that affects the flow of blood through the body, thereby causing dizziness when standing. Technically, someone has POTS if their heart rate increases by 30 beats per minute or their heart rate is greater than 120 beats per minute within 10 minutes of standing up.”(source)
Most POTS sufferers are women that are of child-bearing age. There seems to be a huge correlation between hormonal imbalance and POTS (cough, adrenal fatigue, cough). POTS is also common in those with Lyme disease, anemia, and Ehlers-Danlos.
Symptoms of POTS
The most common symptoms of POTS are dizziness upon standing and fatigue, but other symptoms include:
- Chest Pains
- Heart Palpitations
- Shortness of Breath
- Brain Fog
- Sweating Abnormalities
- Bladder Dysfunction
1) POTS is a symptom of a nervous system that is out of balance, but there are many factors that can contribute to its manifestation. Healing the nervous system will be one of the biggest helps in healing POTS. Looking for underlying infections like Lyme and Co, EBV, parasites, etc would be the best first step.
From my post on The Nervous System, we know that an imbalance in the nervous system can be caused by nutritional issues (whether from birth or acquired), poor diet, overuse of stimulants like coffee, constant negative thinking, physical/emotional traumas as well as toxic metal build-up and chemicals that harm the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Constant stress like a physically demanding job can also cause an imbalance because the person is nearly always in a “fight-or-flight” situation. Many people notice that POTS starts right after an extremely stressful event.
2) Sodium is probably the most important nutrient to focus on when healing from POTS. And no, I’m not talking about table salt! Table salt is extremely unhealthy. It is processed to remove all minerals except sodium chloride, it usually has an anti-clumping agent added and synthetic iodine is added. Table salt CAUSES blood pressure issues, while unrefined salts balance blood pressure.
Himalayan Pink salt, Celtic Grey, and Redmond’s Real Salt are three amazing salts to try out. Unrefined salts have 70+ trace minerals- not just sodium chloride. While sodium is the most crucial nutrient for POTS symptoms, most people have many other deficiencies so getting the trace minerals can be very helpful.
Sodium deficiency signs include gastrointestinal distress, low blood pressure, cognitive impairment, muscular fatigue, general fatigue, dizziness, vertigo, rapid heart rate, and salt wasting (do your pets like to lick your legs a lot? That is a sure sign that you are salt-wasting!). A lot of these symptoms sound exactly like POTS symptoms!
A popular way to replace your salt and trace minerals is to make salt water sole with Himalayan Pink Salt. Sole (pronounced sol-ay) is a concentrated brine that people use to hydrate, replenish sodium levels, help sleep, aid in weight loss, and improve digestion.
To Make Sole :
- Fill a 1 quart glass mason jar about 1/3 full of unrefined, natural salt. Then fill jar with filtered water, leaving at least 2 inch gap at top.
- Cover with a plastic cap (metal is reactive to salt and de-ionizes it), shake it, and let sit for at least 24 hours.
- If all the salt crystals have dissolved after a full day, add a little but more of the salt crystals to the water. The sole will be ready when the salt no longer dissolves- this means the water has become fully saturated with the salt.
- There will always be some undissolved salt crystals on the bottom of the jar but this is proof that the water is totally saturated with salt. You can store the bottle covered on the counter indefinitely-salt has natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
- Start small with sole, adding just ½ tsp to a glass of water in the morning upon waking. You can add more or less depending on your taste preferences- I know of many people that get benefit from a few tablespoons of sole a day.
- OR you can try making your own capsules with unrefined salt! Salt is probably the hardest thing to get enough of because there is only so much you can add to food or water. The capsules can be helpful for those that really need to get extra sodium.
Be sure to not neglect your potassium intake too! POTS sufferers might need more sodium to begin with, but as time goes on it can start to bump potassium out of balance. For potassium deficiency signs and food sources, check this article out. To read more on the sodium/potassium ratio and why it needs to be balanced, try this post! Hair tissue mineral analysis can show you how your balance is between these 2 crucial nutrients, and it will also show us the state of your adrenals and nervous system.
Conventional Treatment of POTS
Conventional medicine has their own approach to POTS (obviously, since they named this set of symptoms with something so now they can market drugs for it!). The main drugs are fludrocortisone, (which helps with sodium retention ), midodrine (a vasoconstrictor), and beta-blockers (to decrease heart rate and high epinephrine levels). They also tend to recommend salt (usually table salt, which is absolutely horrible for health, because they don’t know about unrefined salts), exercise, and compression socks. They also recommend lots of plain water- which most people know will actually make you LOSE sodium even more!