By Roxie Strand, NMD
Have you ever wondered why your physician, especially your naturopathic physician, looks at your hands, nails, tongue, and skin during the physical exam portion of your office visit? Are we just nosy, or do we actually gain valuable medical knowledge by performing such simple tasks? Of course, the latter is true. In fact, before the advent of modern technology and the varied blood/lab tests available today, physicians relied solely on the patient’s history and physical exam to make a medical diagnosis. A large part of this overall physical exam is the Nutritional Physical Exam. Considering what is happening on the outside of our physical body is a mirror image of what is happening on the inside of our physical bodies, finding subtle physical signs provides us with an enormous amount of information.
The full Nutritional Physical Exam includes 15-20 categories with greater than 50 nutritional signs examined. Some of the most common physical signs and their potential associated nutritional causes include:
· Dry skin, hair – possible hypothyroidism, essential fatty acid deficiency
· Premature hair loss – possible parasite infection, heavy metal toxicity
· Dandruff – possible low stomach acid, excess refined carbohydrate diet
· Excess ear wax – possible food allergies
· Multiple skin tags (usually on neck) – possible blood sugar abnormalities
· Ridging of nails – possible decreased mineral absorption from gut
· Flabby tongue with teeth marks – possible food allergies, poor digestion
In a society where chronic illness is all around, it is time for us all to get healthy. The first thing to do is to become aware of you! So the next time you are in front of the mirror, I invite you to take a few minutes to assess your nutritional status. Perform the above Nutritional Physical Exam on your self and answer the question…just how healthy are you?