Four High Electrolytes

(hair calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium all elevated above ideal values)

Four high electrolytes is a pattern commonly seen on hair mineral analysis.  It is defined as a calcium level above about 40, magnesium greater than 6, sodium above 25 and potassium above 10.  It is seen in roughly 10-20% of mineral analyses.

This pattern is always dealt with first in nutritional balancing science, before attempting to correct other imbalances.  It often masks other imbalances, so its correction is essential so that underlying patterns will be revealed.


Four high electrolytes is a combination of two components.  The high calcium and magnesium indicate an underlying slow oxidation pattern.  Superimposed on this pattern is a high sodium and potassium, which indicate an alarm stage reaction, or fight-or-flight reaction.  This is a chronic activation of the sympathetic nervous system.  The pattern is also called a slow oxidizer under stress

The ratios may indicate slow, mixed or fast oxidation.  If fast oxidation is present, it is considered a temporary fast oxidizer.  A true fast oxidizer has low calcium and magnesium levels.  The fast oxidation will change to slow, usually within 4-8 months.

It may be helpful to think of this pattern as a ‘second wind’, a mechanism of the body to go into a second fight-or-flight response when in fact the body is not really capable of sustaining a full-blown alarm reaction.


Common symptoms when four highs are present are irritability, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue and blood sugar imbalances such as cravings for sweets or starches.  Often underlying depression is present as well.  Patients often have a mixed picture, with symptoms of both fast and slow oxidation.

A rough analogy for the four highs pattern is a person walking on stilts.  They is an unstable and anxious quality about their chemistry.  Some experience bipolar symptoms.  If they speed up, anxiety occurs, while fatigue or depression occur when they slow down.

Some engage in specific behaviours to maintain their delicate balance.  Habits that may be used to enhance the sodium level include the use of coffee, cigarettes, anger or other emotions.  To slow down, one may use alcohol, marijuana or other depressants.


Four high electrolytes is a stress reaction.  A stress factor is elevating the sodium and potassium levels.  Usually this is toxic metals.  These may include lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, aluminum, nickel, beryllium or others that can elevate the sodium level.  Toxic levels of the essential minerals iron, chromium or manganese can also contribute to a four highs pattern.

Other causes for the pattern include nutritional deficiencies, such as zinc and copper, or other stressors, physical or emotional.  Nutritional stressors play a major role because the pattern often corrects quickly when one follows a nutritional program suited to the correction of the pattern.


The four highs pattern almost always resolves to slow oxidation.  Patients notice they are more relaxed and feel better in general.  The nutrition program needs to facilitate this shift.  If one is a slow oxidizer, the slow oxidizer diet is recommended.  The supplement program needs to be a mild slow oxidizer program, so as not to further raise the sodium and potassium levels.  Therefore, limit the use of B-complex, adrenal and thyroid glandular and vitamins C and E to small amounts.  Larger doses will further raise the sodium level, which is undesirable.

If one is a fast oxidizer, the fast oxidizer diet is recommended and the program is a basic fast oxidizer program.  It, too, can be more mild than otherwise indicated on the chart.  This is because the natural progression is a slowing of the oxidation rate.  An excessively intense fast oxidizer supplement program may drop the person into slow oxidation very rapidly and forcefully, causing excessive fatigue and depression.

If mixed oxidation is present, gear the program to the oxidation type that is most in evidence.  In other words, usually fast or slow oxidation predominates in the ratios of mixed oxidation types.  These are called fast-mixed and slow-mixed oxidation.

The other criteria for program design for four highs are symptoms.  For example, some patients may exhibit more anxiety or insomnia.  These individuals need more of the calming, relaxing supplements including calcium, magnesium, copper, inositol and choline.


Four highs is one pattern in which I suggest telling the patient that their metabolic pattern will change, usually within a few months.  If the patient feels very tired, depressed or that the program is no longer appropriate before it is time for a retest in 3 months, one should call and the program can be modified over the phone in anticipation that one has changed to slow oxidation with lower sodium and potassium levels..

A retest within 4 months is most important for people with the four highs pattern, as this pattern often changes drastically within this time period if one follows a nutritional balancing regimen of diet, supplements, lots of rest and a wholesome lifestyle.  Sauna therapy, massage, colonic irrigation or enemas may also be helpful to inhibit the sympathetic nervous system.


Four high electrolytes is a primary hair analysis pattern.  It always requires correction before one seeks to correct other mineral imbalance.  In most cases, the pattern resolves easily and rapidly to slow oxidation.  This often occurs within 8 months of beginning a nutritional balancing program designed to reduce the secondary stress that is the cause of the pattern.

Adapted from the Eck Institute Bulletin

Volume 15 April 1999  Number 4


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