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Wednesday, May 06, 2015

How is a "Fast" or "Slow" metaboliser worked out and what does this mean for me?

The following article is based on the lecture in metabolic typing and the InterClincal Laboratories Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis as presented by InterClincal Laboratories Director, Zac Bobrov.

General Adaptation Syndrome

Hans Seyle defined three stages of the stress response which he called general adaptation syndrome, or GAS. The three stages are: 1) The alarm stage 2) The resistance stage 3) The exhaustion/recovery stage. These stages of stress have corresponding nutritional requirements and endocrine actions that are used in metabolic typing to identify the various sub-types of Fast and Slow oxidisers.

The Stress Response 

The three stages of stress identified by Hans Selye correlate with the metabolic sub-types that Dr David L Watts developed. 
  • These stages include the alarm, resistance, and the exhaustion/recovery stages. 
  • The metabolic sub-types are determined by either increased or decreased thyroid and adrenal function, and how this relates to the stages of stress. 
  • There are four sub-types in both the fast and slow metabolic types – 1, 2, 3 & 4.

Fast and Slow Oxidisers

Dr George Watson (PhD) researched the effect of nutrition on mental illness. As each of the steps in the Krebs cycle and glycolysis require specific nutrients, he recognised that a lack or excess of nutrients can contribute to a reduced or accelerated cellular metabolic rate. He found that research subjects responded best when given nutritional formulations that responded to their metabolic type – Type 1 (slow oxidisers) or Type 2 (fast oxidisers). Dr George Watson recognised these metabolic types according to what he termed cellular oxidation rates. This name came from oxidative phosphorylation.

Calcium to Phosphorus ratio  

Dr Melvin Page determined an ideal calcium to phosphorus ratio for blood. 
  • Hair tissue mineral analysis uses the ideal calcium to phosphorus ratio for tissue which is 2.6:1. 
  • This ratio is used on the graph to help determine either fast or slow metabolic type. 
  • If calcium is low in relation to phosphorus. As calcium (sedative) is being dominated by phosphorus (stimulatory), this shows a fast metabolic type. 

Sedative & Stimulatory minerals 

  • Dr Melvin Page noted that minerals had either stimulatory (sympathetic) or sedative (para-sympathetic) actions.
  • The hair analysis report also uses the dominance of either stimulatory or sedative minerals to determine the metabolic type. 
  • Generally, a predominance of sedative minerals will cause a patient’s report to read as slow metabolic type and the opposite for ‘fast

Sedative Minerals

Vitamin B2 
Vitamin B12
Vitamin D 

Stimulatory Minerals

Vitamin A 
Vitamin B1, B3, B5, B6
Vitamin E 

Dr D.L. Watts, 1995, Trace Elements and Other Essential Nutrients, 6th Writer Block 

Endocrine glands 

Dr Melvin Page described the endocrine glands as having either sympathetic or para sympathetic action. Their actions affect the ratio of stimulatory to sedative minerals. 
  • Alterations in endocrine activity will influence mineral metabolism, absorption, retention and excretion. 
  • Minerals are involved in endocrine function in hormone secretion, hormone activity and target tissue binding sites. 


  • Thyroid
  • Anterior pituitary
  • Adrenal medulla
  • Testes


  • Pancreas
  • Posterior pituitary
  • Ovaries
  • Parathyroid
  • Adrenal cortex

“fast” and “slow” oxidation types

George Watson described “fast” and “slow” oxidation types as follows: 
  • Fast oxidisers/metabolisers are more than adequate in pyruvate and oxalo-acetic acid production, but inadequate in the production in acetates. This results in incomplete energy production in the Krebs cycle. The fast oxidiser is in a state of rapid glycolysis, which accounts for the high metabolic rate. 
  • Slow oxidisers/metabolisers generally metabolise glucose at a reduced rate. This is a result of the inability to split glucose molecules to form adequate amounts of pyruvates and oxalo-acetic acid in the glycolysis cycle. This leads to an inability to produce citric acid in the Krebs cycle. F

Metabolic sub-types 

  • Type 1 relates to a metabolic type that is closest to “normal” i.e. coping with stress. 
  • Fast 1 is characterised by increased thyroid and adrenal function. 
  • Slow 1 is characterised by decreased thyroid and adrenal function, and can experience any of the four stages of stress. 
  • Type 2 relates to the alarm stage of the stress response. In this stage of ‘fight or flight’, adrenal function is elevated while thyroid function is depressed. Fast 2 and Slow 2.
  • Type 3 sub-type can refer to both the resistance and exhaustion stage of stress. This involves a elevated thyroid function and an depressed adrenal function. Fast 3 and Slow 3. 
  • Type 4 refers either the exhaustion stage or the alarm stage – depending on the metabolic type (i.e. fast or slow) Fast 4 relates to the exhaustion stage of stress. Slow 4 is usually a result of an alarm stage that has progressed to the stage of resistance. 

What does this mean for the patient?

Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are indicated by the Ca/K ratio, which is used to work out the metabolic sub-type. 

  • Studies have shown that in hypothyroid states, the intestinal absorption of calcium increases with lower than normal calcium excretion via the kidneys. 
  • Elevation of calcium in relation to potassium indicates a trend towards hypothyroidism, while a low tissue calcium to potassium ratio indicates a trend towards hyperthyroidism. 

Hypo-adrenia and hyper-adrenia are referenced as part of the metabolic type is indicated by the Na/Mg ratio.

  • Production of the mineralocorticoid aldosterone is usually higher in the fast metaboliser than in the slow. Increased aldosterone production may be indicated by excessive tissue sodium relative to magnesium levels. 
  • Elevation of sodium in relation to magnesium indicates a trend towards hyperadrenia, while a low tissue sodium to magnesium ratio indicates a trend towards hypoadrenia. 

Fast Metabolism 

Fast metabolism is synonymous with sympathetic nervous system dominance, fast oxidation and type A personality. 
  • Excessive sympathetic nervous system activity releases epinephrine from the adrenal medulla which increases the availability of glucose for rapid metabolism. 
  • The adrenal medulla stimulates other areas of the body which can increase the metabolic rate.

Slow Metabolism 

Slow metabolism is synonymous with parasympathetic dominance, slow oxidation and type b personality. 
  • Slow metabolisers generally metabolise glucose at a reduced rate. Energy production can become inadequate if the ability to split glucose molecules to form adequate amounts of pyruvates and oxaloacetic acid in the glycolysis cycle results. 
  • This leads to the inability to produce citric acid in the Krebs cycle. 
  • Low HCl and tissue alkalinity are also often present. 

File:Citric acid cycle noi.JPG

A person's metabolic typing and stage of stress, as per Selye's GAS, determines what nutrients to emphasise (stimulatory or sedatory) in their diet as well as what nutritional supplements to prescribe.  When the prescribing is correct, the benefits, in terms of improvements in stamina and general well-being can be quite dramatic, although this may take several months to become apparent and lasting.

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