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Symptoms and Overflow


Sewage overflow as a metaphor for the onset of symptoms.

I was emailing with a family member who was experiencing hives. Besides seeking advice, she wondered if I could help with acupuncture.

I often get excited when asked about acupuncture, and have to remind myself to give a rational response rather than just an emotional one. So, my enthusiastic “Yes, acupuncture can help!” was followed by:

“… but you may also need to alter your diet.”

We discussed how the standard American diet causes our blood pH to become acidic. This occurs because acidic substances are the byproduct of normal metabolism. Most are formed by the metabolism of sugar and fat, but protein contributes as well. However, a diet rich in vegetables (which contain minerals) can provide an adequate buffer to counter the acids associated with those other dietary components.

The pH balance of our blood must remain alkaline for us to survive, and our bodies take steps to maintain this essential balance. Without adequate minerals in our diet, our bodies will harvest these buffering agents from our bones. We also rely on the kidneys and skin, as organs of elimination, to excrete acidic metabolites through urine and sweat.

Though our sweat is naturally acidic, an acid overload can lower the pH too much such that it becomes a skin irritant. In the case of hives due to metabolic acidosis, the body is properly following its detoxification routine. However, it is being overwhelmed by an excessively high acid load.

The Big Question

“I’ve always eaten this way. So why am I getting symptoms only now?”

This is a good question, and I’m reminded of Beate Strittmatter, MD. She’s an acupuncturist from Germany whom I heard speak at a conference a couple years ago. During her presentation, she mentioned an overflowing bucket as a metaphor for symptoms that seem to come on suddenly.

Like a bucket, our bodies collect all the consequences of the choices we make – whether good or bad. If we make unhealthy food choices, our bodies can store the toxic effects for some time (without symptoms). Eventually, these choices could add up to a point where our bucket finally overflows and symptoms occur.

Take an inventory of your bucket. What can you do now to prevent symptoms from happening later?

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