Slow Oxidation



1. A state of body chemistry in which there exists a reduced adrenal and thyroid glandular effect. This is often not revealed on blood or other tests.

About 85 to 90% of adults have a slow oxidation rate. Very few babies and small children have a slow oxidation ate.

2. A more yin body type, according to macrobiotic terms and Chinese medicine.

3. On a hair mineral analysis (only when the hair has not been washed at the lab), a calcium/potassium ratio greater than 4 AND a sodium/magnesium ratio less than 4.17.

4. On a blood test, the pH tends to be more alkaline. However, the overall pH of the body is usually more acidic than that of a fast oxidizer.

5. One of the most important metabolic types in nutritional/mineral balancing science, characterized by reduced sympathetic nervous system activity, causing more parasympathetic activity by default.

In other words, it is not a healthy parasympathetic state, but rather one that occurs because the sympathetic nervous system no longer functions and the body flips into more of a parasympathetic state.

6. An exhaustion stage of stress, according to the stress theory of disease proposed by Hans Selye, MD.

7. A reduced level of chaos in the whole body system.

History. The term slow oxidation was coined by George Watson, PhD in the book, Nutrition And Your Mind, Bantam Books, 1972. Dr. Watson used odor tests and later, the pH of the blood, to determine the oxidation rate.

Dr. Paul C. Eck applied the concept to his nutritional research soon afterwards. He found he could use hair mineral testing to assess the oxidation rate accurately and simply. We use his method and it works well.

Dr. Eck also figured out that slow oxidation is identical to an exhaustion stage of stress, with a more parasympathetic-dominated nervous system, in many cases.

There is an exception, called sympathetic dominance, that is also common.

Symptoms. Those with a slow oxidation rate tends to be tired, apathetic, depressed and even despairing and suicidal if their oxidation rate is very slow. Some are emotional as their copper level rises. Some are also anxious, although fatigue and depression are more common. Many use stimulant foods, drugs or other methods to keep going.

Their blood sugar and blood pressure tend to be low, at least until later in life when they can develop arteriosclerosis and diabetes, which raise these levels. They are often cold and do not sweat easily. Their brains often work slowly, and many have brain fog, spacey thinking, and slower thinking.

They usually have dry skin and dry hair, and many complain of constipation. They often gain weight on the hips and legs, while the upper body may be smaller. Most have underactive thyroid glands, especially the women. They are prone to osteoporosis, cancer, infections, skin problems, and many other health conditions.

Interestingly, most health conditions can occur due to fast or slow oxidation. The medical name for the condition is the same, such as arthritis, osteoporosis or cancer. However, the physiology and pathology are different, and the corrective program for each type must be different as well.

For example, one can have a fast or a slow oxidation cancer, heart attack, arthritis or diabetes. Medical science does not distinguish the difference in most cases, but they are different, and each requires a different corrective program.


1. Chronic stress. Some adults or some older children have a slow oxidation rate because they are under stress of a type that forces their bodies into slower oxidation. Here are some possible stress factors that can cause this:

Dietary factors include the use of stimulants such as caffeine in any form, sugar, or hot spices.

Many slow oxidizers crave sugar because they have difficulties keeping their blood sugar level up. However, it worsens their condition.

Many medical drugs suppress the adrenal or thyroid glands, or otherwise sedate the body and contribute to slow oxidation. These include blood pressure drugs, some heart drugs, sedatives, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and others.

Some nutritional supplements can slow the oxidation rate such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, choline, inositol, vitamin D and others. These must be used carefully by those with a slow oxidation rate.

Some recreational drugs are sedatives or nervous system depressants. They include marijuana and pain pills.

Some toxic chemicals such as certain pesticides have a suppressive glandular effect. Excess toxic metals in the body can also act as a stressor that pushes a person into a slow oxidation rate. These are discussed below.

Other causes are lack of rest, too much work, fears, depression for other reasons, or discouragement.

3. Dietary factors. Some people remain in slow oxidation because they do not eat enough protein or cooked vegetables. These foods help speed up the oxidation rate.

Some people also eat too much fruit and sugars that damage the glands and eventually slow the oxidation rate.

4. The slow oxidizer personality. Some people enjoy having a slow oxidation rate, though it is largely unconscious. They are often plodders, and some are chronically depressed or apathetic.

5. Toxic metals. Too many toxic metals in the body definitely cause a slow oxidation rate. Most slow oxidizers have copper toxicity, but they also are often high in many toxic metals because they cannot eliminate them well. This may not be revealed on any tests – blood, urine, feces, hair or others, beause the toxic metals can lodge deep in the organs.

Most slow oxidizers also have plenty of the “amigos”. These are toxic, oxide forms of aluminum, iron, or manganese. They also include oxide forms of chromium, selenium, copper, cobalt, boron, molybdenum, lithium and cobalt. Rarely they include oxides of calcium and magnesium. These are widely distributed in the environment and are in our food.

They are powerful irritants that can cause a slower oxidation rate. They accumulate in the kidneys, the thyroid gland, adrenal glands, nervous system, brain or elsewhere.

Some people are born with too many toxic metals. One can also acquire them from food, drinking water, vaccines, from one’s occupation, or other places.

A proper nutritional/mineral balancing program will help reduce slow oxidation, though it may take many months or several years of following a properly designed program.

6. Tension in the body. Many slow oxidizers have neck and back tension and adhesions that help keep them in slow oxidation. These may require chiropractic, Rolfing and the spinal twist daily to help relieve them.

7. Infections. Most slow oxidizers have many chronic infections. This is because they have difficulty fighting them off due to a low body temperature, reduced glandular activity, and reduced immune response.



High hair calcium and magnesium levels. Most slow oxidizers have an elevated hair calcium and magnesium level. This is due to reduced adrenal and thyroid glandular activity. Thyroid activity lowers tissue calcium levels.

Low hair sodium and potassium levels. Most slow oxidizers have a low hair sodium and low hair potassium. Low aldosterone is the most common cause.

Degrees of slow oxidation. A good method of assessing mild, moderate and extreme slow oxidation is to use the following criteria:

Ca/K < 30 = Mild slow oxidizer

Ca/K 30-100 = Moderate slow oxidizer

Ca/K > 100 = Extreme slow oxidizer

A very visual pattern. On a hair mineral analysis, the pattern of slow oxidation is one of the easiest to identify. The first two mineral levels are higher than the second two minerals on a calibrated hair mineral chart from Analytical Research Labs.

Visual difficulties. In some cases, slow oxidation is not easy to recognize visually. The difficulty occurs when all four macrominerals are elevated. This is called a four highs pattern.

In these cases, one cannot tell visually if slow oxidation is present. One must calculate the ratios to assess the oxidation type, as explained in the beginning of this article under Definition Of Slow Oxidation.

Factors that can skew the hair mineral readings:

1. A water softener. This falsely raises the hair level of sodium or potassium. If one has a water softener on one’s shower or bath, one must wash the hair with spring, distilled, reverse osmosis or unsoftened tap water twice before sampling the hair for a hair analysis. The two washings can be during the same shower or bath.

2. Washing the hair at the hair analysis laboratory. Most hair analysis labs wash the hair at the lab with alcohol, detergent or acetone. This will wash out some of the sodium and potassium, in particular, as these are very water-soluble minerals.

This will change the oxidation rate, in some cases. For accurate assessment of the oxidation rate, the hair must not be washed at the hair testing laboratory.

The only labs who do not wash the hair are Analytical Research Labs in Phoenix, Arizona, USA and Trace Elements, Inc. in Addison Texas. At this time (2018).

3. Release of toxic calcium on a retest. This can rarely cause the calcium and magnesium levels to rise sharply, at times, on a retest mineral analysis. This is not completely an artifact, however.

4. Release of toxic potassium on a retest mineral analysis. This can cause a faster oxidation rate. This is not entirely an artifact, however.


Blood serum mineral levels may, but usually do not correspond to the levels of these minerals in the hair. This is because the serum mineral levels are kept extremely stable, and are affected by meals and other short-term factors.

The hair is a storage and excretory tissue. Minerals that the body is deficient in are retained, or not permitted into the hair. Minerals that are in excess in the blood are often pushed off or stored in non-essential soft tissues such as the hair.


Some doctors and nutritionists attempt to identify slow oxidation using questionnaires or symptoms. We do not find these methods to be accurate.



One can have a slow oxidation rate with a normal or elevated sodium/potassium ratio, or the sodium/potassium ratio can be low.

One can also have slow oxidation along with a four highs pattern, or with a four lows pattern.


1. Sympathetic dominance. This is an autonomic nervous system imbalance that is often found along with slow oxidation. The indicators for it are a potassium level of 4 mg% or less, or a sodium/potassium ratio greater than about 5. For details, please read Sympathetic Dominance on this website.

2. Step down pattern. This is a very positive pattern, also called stepping into life. It is sometimes seen with a slow oxidation rate. The first four macrominerals on an ARL calibrated chart look like steps moving down from the left to the right. It indicates that a person is beginning a new chapter in one’s life, in most cases.

3. An oxidation rate surge. This is a sharp increase in the oxidation rate on a retest. It is usually a helpful pattern. It may be due to kidney stress, or to something else such as other stress, excitement or something else.

4. An oxidation rate collapse. This is a sharp decrease in the oxidation rate. It is often due to the elimination of a toxic metal that was keeping the oxidation rate slow or somewhat slow.


This is not too important. If one wishes, a rough and somewhat arbitrary way to do this is to divide slow oxidation into mild, moderate and extreme. Criteria are:

1. Mild slow oxidation = Ca/K – Na/Mg less than 5.

2. Moderate slow oxidation = Ca/K – Na/Mg between 5 and 30.

3. Extreme slow oxidation = Ca/K – Na/Mg greater than about 30.