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Why Am I Having Strange Symptoms My Doctor Can't Explain?

Updated: May 26, 2023

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"Why am I having strange symptoms?" Has this thought ever gone through your head as you lay down in bed at night? Have you ever had strange symptoms that your healthcare provider just can't understand? Or maybe you've been to the doctor and was told that everything was ok. Your lab work checked out "just fine". Or my absolute favorite: "It's all in your head."

Sadly, in the healthcare landscape today, these statements are all too common. What's worse is that you're left feeling like you shouldn't be sick although you very clearly are. What if the cause of your symptoms or at the very least, any exacerbation, was due to the lack of specific nutrients? Could it be that you have an undiagnosed nutrient deficiency or insufficiency?

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"It's all in your head."

If you've ever heard this or a variation of this statement from your primary care provider, then you know that frustration that this causes. This disbelief of healthcare providers leading to a dismissal of symptoms can be even worse in minorities like Black people [1] and women.

Why do so many doctors believe that your symptoms aren't physiological in nature? Why do so many doctors head straight to an accusation of malingering or mental illness when you present with hard to understand symptoms?

One of the reasons healthcare providers tend to disbelieve their patients is due to the "Lab Work Lens". Now, I've just coined this term so you may not find any search results for "Lab Work Lens" on Google but I believe that the phenomena is more than valid.

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What is the Lab Work Lens?

The "Lab Work Lens" phenomena is when a healthcare practitioner considers lab work results as a more reliable gauge of your health than your own explanations of your symptoms. Sounds kind of harsh, right?

Well, not really. You see, most conventional healthcare practitioners are trained in a materialistic viewpoint. This means that they don't really take into account things that can't really be measured objectively like spiritual, mental, or emotional health.

Also, if taking insurance, practitioners must be able to prove to the insurance company that the treatments provided were actually necessary and lab work helps make a solid case.

Unfortunately, there are some patients who make a profit or gain some sympathy through pretending to be sick, or malingering. Just think of that poor girl whose mother pretended that she was sick for years.

So the "Lab Work Lens" isn't actually a bad way of going practicing medicine. In fact, it gives a practitioner a solid objective base to start with and compare treatment effectiveness when measured against future results.

So why does the "Lab Work Lens" have the opposite effect on so many patients? Meaning, these patients are dismissed or ignored by their providers because their lab work looks "normal"?

I feel that's because, in physiologically based cases, the lab work that's ordered isn't as sophisticated or in depth as it may need to be to find out what the underlying problem actually is.

Also, the healthcare provider may not be looking in the right direction.

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Sophisticated Lab Work and the "Right Direction"

Let's say that you've been feeling irritated lately. You may also have muscle cramps, eye twitching, and an inability to fall asleep. Your blood pressure is higher than normal and you may even have palpitations.

You go to your healthcare provider and tell them what you are experiencing. They order some routine labs, Complete Blood Count (CBC), Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP), and maybe even a Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) test.

You feel that this isn't enough because you've been doing your homework and you're sure that what you're experiencing is linked to magnesium deficiency. After pressing hard, your provider agrees to order a serum magnesium test.

Unsurprisingly, your lab tests all come back "normal". Your provider tells that it's all in your head and prescribes an anti-depressant and some blood pressure meds. You go home frustrated feeling even more sick and confused than when you came in.

Sadly, this story happens more often than not. But what are you to make of it? Was your doctor right about not googling your symptoms? Was it a magnesium deficiency after all? If so, why did the magnesium test come back within normal limits?

What most conventional doctors don't know is that the body guards magnesium in the serum very closely to maintain the heart rhythm. This means that you can indeed have a magnesium deficiency and a test measuring the magnesium level in your blood wouldn't show a problem[2].

This is where more sophisticated lab test come into play like measuring the magnesium content of red blood cells (Magnesium RBC) for a more accurate view of magnesium in the body.

But in the above scenario, you may have been more fortunate than most. Some healthcare practitioners won't even order labs that you request. This is where many healthcare practitioners fail their patients. They often miss or even refuse to look in the right direction.

What is the right direction?

If you're being logical, you have to admit that many diseases and chronic illness, especially lifestyle illnesses, don't stem from not having enough anti-pain medication or blood pressure lowering medication in the body.

This means that chronic illness must stem from something else. What is the body made of? Medications? Not at all! The body is made up of cells and tissues that are fed and nourished by vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

Often, when you start experiencing strange or vague symptoms, the right direction to start is looking into your diet and nutrition status to determine if there are nutrient gaps that need to be addressed.

But what about if you take a daily multivitamin and make sure that get the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of all vitamins and minerals and you're still experiencing symptoms? Surely it can't be a nutrient imbalance, right?

Wrong! Let's address the belief that getting the RDA of all nutrients will prevent nutrient insufficiencies.

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Recommended Daily Allowance

The RDA or Recommended Daily Allowance is part of a larger set of nutrition guidelines called Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI). The RDA was first developed in the 1940s as a guide for good nutrition[3].

The RDA was established for health individuals to maintain health. It's basically the lowest common denominator of nutrition that any individual can consume and possibly maintain health[4].

While the RDA may be a good starting place, it doesn't take into account issues like gut dysbiosis, poor nutrient absorption, food allergies and intolerances, chronic illness, immune dysfunction, and whole host of issues that can impact the absorption and utilization of nutrients in the body.

What about that multivitamin?

It may not be in the easiest form to digest and absorb. For example, some minerals compete with one another for absorption like calcium and iron. So taking a multivitamin with both calcium and iron may prevent optimal absorption of both of them.

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There's a huge misconception that there is no nutrient deficiencies in developed or First World countries. While there may no be frank signs of deficiencies in developed countries, nutrient insufficiencies are abundant.

For example, it's estimated that up to 50% of the population may be susceptible to choline deficiency[5]. Almost 30% of youths in developed countries don't have adequate magnesium intake[6].

Research even shows that those who faced the worse outcomes from a covid infection were those who were low in vitamin D[7].

And if the Covid-19 crisis taught us anything, it was that vitamin D deficiency is much more common in developed countries than expected.

Why am I having strange symptoms and what to do Next?

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So what do you make of vague unexplained symptoms that your healthcare provider doesn't address? Try looking into nutrient deficiencies. Eat a well balanced whole foods diet. Identify and avoid food sensitivities. Reduce stress and improve your sleep. Also if you run into a roadblock or find that you need additional help, contact your local naturopathic doctor for personalized care.

Dr. Candace Mathers, Candace Mathers, naturopathic doctor, naturopathic doctor near me,  functional medicine near me, special needs family

I'm Dr. Candace Mathers, boy mom, girl mom, Down syndrome mom and naturopathic doctor. Life Blossom Wellness will be releasing a NEW self paced online course all about homeopathy for kids! Homeopathy can be a gentle effective treatment for many conditions, especially those that are hard to manage with conventional approaches,

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  2. Ismail Y, Ismail AA, Ismail AA. The underestimated problem of using serum magnesium measurements to exclude magnesium deficiency in adults; a health warning is needed for "normal" results. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2010;48(3):323-327. doi:10.1515/CCLM.2010.077



  5. Zeisel SH, da Costa KA. Choline: an essential nutrient for public health. Nutr Rev. 2009;67(11):615-623. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00246.x

  6. DiNicolantonio JJ, O'Keefe JH, Wilson W. Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis [published correction appears in Open Heart. 2018 Apr 5;5(1):e000668corr1]. Open Heart. 2018;5(1):e000668. Published 2018 Jan 13. doi:10.1136/openhrt-2017-000668

  7. Benskin LL. A Basic Review of the Preliminary Evidence That COVID-19 Risk and Severity Is Increased in Vitamin D Deficiency. Front Public Health. 2020;8:513. Published 2020 Sep 10. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2020.00513

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