PN Fail

Got some not-so-great news from my doctor yesterday.  They are unable to produce my serotonin Provocation Neutralization drops anymore.  Apparently the supply of liquid bioidentical serotonin has “dried up” all across the land. Hm…Well, it wasn’t perfect but I’d say it reduced my depression reaction to serotonin-producing foods by about 75%.

And just like that…gone.

I’ll probably do some investigating to see if I can find it in other countries or something, but this isn’t any simple process.  It’s not like finding a banned prescription medication at a Canadian pharmacy.  This isn’t a prescription medication with a brand name, and it’s produced by a compounding pharmacy before it even gets to my doctor.  So even if I was able to find the raw material I’d have to figure out how to get it produced.

Updates

I’ve been lacking an interest in writing.  When I get like that I find a bullet list to be the best way to express myself.  It requires minimal effort in the area of smooth transitioning.

  • I am within 1 pound of my highest weight ever.  Yup, I’ve gained 7 pounds in the last month.  I attribute this to any or all of the following factors.  (Prepare for sub-bulleting.)
    • High insulin level from eating carbohydrates
    • Increased emotional eating related to emotional unrest stirred up from marital dischord and also discovering EFT/Tapping.
    • Taking hydocortisone for 2 months.

I honestly don’t know which of those is the main factor but if I had to guess I’d say it’s high insulin.  My eating patterns haven’t changed significantly in the last month – I mean, not 7 pounds worth.  I think I need to get off the carbs ASAP.  I’ve stopped taking hydrocortisone – like 2 weeks ago – and the trend upward has continued, so I don’t really know if that played a role here.  Regarding the emotional shit, yes I guess it’s possible that I’m just plain eating more, but it doesn’t feel like it.  I really don’t eat all that much without being hungry.  I guess tracking what I eat is also in order at this point.

  • The EFT/Tapping has been helping me emotionally.  At first there was some emotional upheaval as some old unresolved emotional crap came to the surface, but then I found Robert Smith, an EFT teacher and practitioner, who recommends tapping “until it’s gone or until you pass out.” Since I’ve been following his method I’m not walking around all open and wounded feeling anymore – I tap on things longer until the emotional crap is gone.  I actually feel quite emotionally stable right now.
  • I was starting to exercise a couple of weeks ago, and then I sprained my ankle.  I let that get the best of me, and I stopped.  I guess I’ll be starting that again, ankle or no ankle.
  • Came across this study over the past week, which indicates that gut bacteria will eat the lining of the intestine when starved of fiber.  HOLY CRAP.  This was a light bulb moment.  This explains why my ability to tolerate histamine has dramatically dropped over the past 4-6 months – the critters are eating my fucking intestine and probably my DAO enzymes while they’re at it.  I tried to eat a small piece of an apple this week – a small attempt at increasing fiber in my diet. Felt shitty the next day, even with the serotonin drops.  I would have felt worse without them, I’m sure.  So still, no fiber for me.
  • I have started taking L-Glutamine again in the last week, as that really seemed to help me previously with my intolerance to histamine.  I also got some more colostrum but haven’t started taking that again yet.
  • My blood pressure is not well controlled.  When my weight goes up, blood pressure goes up too.  Considering going back on a beta blocker, despite the side effects, so I don’t stroke out.
  • I’m not doing great.  I think exercise is a key piece that needs to get in place and become part of my life.  Part of what is involved here is making time for that, and prioritizing myself and my own needs.  EFT/Tapping has made it clear to me that I’m not very good at that.  Tapping has also made me very aware that I’m spending a LOT of hours of the day doing things I don’t care about, and then I’m rushing during the rest of the day to fit in all the stuff I do care about.  It needs to change. Like this.
  • I’m just not sure how to do that yet.

Emotional Unrest

Around the time I started learning about Tapping, my marriage hit another stumbling block.  I wonder if that was a coincidence or a magical swirl of energy – the universe presenting me with opportunities to move forward in my life and heal old wounds.  Hard to say, but I’ve been crying a lot.

It’s not the same crying I was doing when I was depressed.  When I was depressed the whole world looked like shit – like a dangerous place from which nothing good could come.  This is different.  This is just sadness.  I’m  not sure if the sadness is old wounds that have been uncovered by Tapping, my marriage, or the fact that my country has decided to shoot itself in the foot.

I’m just trying to ride it out at the moment.  I haven’t done much Tapping in the last few days, trying to catch my emotional breath.

Emotional eating has increased for me recently.  Since I started tapping.  I’ve gained a few pounds in the last few weeks.

So things are not stable, but the fact that things are changing tells me I’ve found a sore spot, a wound.

I’m not doing great right now.

But I’m not doing bad either.

Exploring the Subconscious

Over the last month or two I’ve taken a giant leap away from the biochemistry of the body and toward the workings of the subconscious.  Meditation and many podcasts have me convinced that the keys to my progress at this point lie in tending to unconscious thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.

It really started when I listened to a podcast by Dave Asprey, interviewing Vishen Lakhiani. Vishen is a meditation teacher and has an online presence called Mindvalley and a book called Code of the Extraordinary Mind.  I have been listening and watching a bunch of his stuff, including amazing speakers and visionaries that he promotes, like Lisa Nichols, John DiMartini, Peter Diamandis, Jeffery Allen, Tom Cronin, Emily Fletcher, and many others. A common theme that I’m hearing is that if you don’t have the life you want, something – some subconscious resistance – is in the way.  If you weren’t resisting you would already have what you want.

I want a healthy body.  I don’t have it yet.  What’s in the way?

I came across tapping – Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) – sort of coincidentally a couple of weeks ago.  It seemed silly to me. You tap your fingers on acupressure points on the head and torso to reduce your subconscious attachment to things. I was exposed to it once before – I think also on Dave Asprey’s podcast (yup, here it is) – when he had a guest who explained the technique.  I remember him saying to select something that was causing you worry or anxiety (I picked my kid riding her bike).  The technique worked and my anxiety about that subject reduced significantly, but I attributed it to placebo effect and thought it was silly so I forgot about it.

Then I found it again a couple weeks ago when I was directed to Brittany Watkins site.  She uses tapping for weight loss.  So I just signed up for her 6-week program, which may be overkill – I probably could have figured it out on my own.  I just really wanted someone to guide me.

In the last week, just on my own, I have “tapped away” cravings for chocolate and pasta, as well as my fear of public speaking and some of my social anxiety.  I had to do a presentation yesterday in front of a group of 20 people.  That would have filled me with dread in the past, but yesterday I felt no dread.  I just went and did it.  What freedom!

It sounds really goofy and there aren’t many people I can talk to about this because I’m not sure I believe it myself…except it works every time.  What I’ve noticed is that as I’m “tapping on” a problem, thoughts, feelings, and memories come up. If I stay with them and allow myself to feel them while tapping the pressure points, they lose their power.  And it really doesn’t come back.  That’s the amazing part to me.  It doesn’t come back.  For example, as I was tapping on my fear of public speaking I remembered being in 2nd  or 3rd grade and reciting a poem about a mouse in front of my class, by memory.  when I was done the teacher criticized me in front of everyone for saying it too quickly.  She said, “I didn’t understand a word you just said.”  while shaking her head slowly.  I felt humiliated.  I don’t know if that’s where this fear of public speaking came from, but focusing on those feelings while tapping removed their power over me.

I’ve read lots of books over the years about emotional eating and it’s a clear pattern in my life that I eat more when I’m stressed or anxious.  But no program until now has made those desires to eat actually go away.  I’ve done the analysis – the “push the food away for a few minutes” and see what emotions are there that you are covering up.  But that never actually helped.  I still wanted to eat the food.  Tapping actually makes me not want the food.  So there’s something to the tapping itself – not just the re-experiencing of the emotions – that breaks that pattern.  I don’t know exactly why it works, but it works. Right now I’m trying to distinguish how much of my high level of hunger is emotional or subconscious and how much is actual biological hunger.

What I do know is that lots of emotions came up for me at first – I’ve cleared some and have others yet to clear.  We’ll see if this results in weight loss and improved health.

Chiro Fail

I had the applied kinesiology testing, and she found nothing unusual – no intolerances or deficiencies.  She recommended a bunch of supplements to decrease gut inflammation. Stupidly, I bought them.  A few days of taking them and my tongue was swollen and sore and my mood was poor.  So I quit them.  I’m trying to find the golden nugget in each interaction, though, so I’m looking at this experience as positive – I learned that I definitely have gut inflammation (still don’t know why, but I do), and I’ve learned that I’m pretty much done buying a crap ton of supplements based on someone’s recommendation.  I should have said no, but I wasn’t really asked, and I allowed myself to be pushed into it.  Won’t be doing that again.

So right now I’m just trying to get back to baseline, which isn’t as hard as it used to be.  Since starting the serotonin PN drops my mood problems are a 3 on a scale of 1-10, and they used to be more like an 8.  In fact, I expect today to be a good day.

I don’t have much of a plan right now. Some other updates:

  • I’m back to taking Hydrochlorothiazide again for my blood pressure.  Stopped for a couple of months there, but my BP is not well managed.  So back on.
  • I tried taking Armour thyroid again and it made me feel like shit again.  So done with that again.
  • I had a lipid panel done:
    • Total Cholesterol: 293
    • HDL: 48
    • Triglycerides: 268
    • LDL: 191
    • So still, I’m pretty much gonna die of a heart attack.
  • I’m exploring the idea of using hypnosis or EFT (tapping) to address my high and perpetual hunger.  Currently reading the Idiot’s Guide to Self Hypnosis.

Applied Kinesiology

Today I had an appointment with a chiropractor who does Applied Kinesiology (AK).  Now, I don’t know much about AK…in fact, I know nothing.  But I’ve been asking the universe for guidance and it led me to her door.

Yes, really, this is how I’m making decisions right now. I’m woo-driven. It’s working for me.

So I had this initial consultation – she poked my abdomen (kinda hard, actually) and did lots of evaluating my muscle groups for signs of weakness (at least that’s what I think she was doing).  When she pressed on one part of my abdomen there was a sharp pain.  She said that was the ileocecal valve – the part of the gut that joins the small intestine with the large intestine.  Then she put some different items on my tongue and pressed again.  When she did a particular combination it didn’t hurt anymore.

Given my symptoms (gut inflammation, as determined by belly poking and food intolerance), fatness and inability to lose weight, and maybe other stuff, she said she suspected food intolerances and recommended I do the half-hour food intolerance AK testing.  She wants me to eat grains, dairy – all the stuff people are generally intolerant to – for 3 days, and then will be doing the test next Monday.  I’m not really looking forward to the part about eating all that stuff for 3 days.  I’m afraid my serotonin drops will really be put to the test.

I’ve definitely got one foot solidly in the woo camp now.

 

Quick Updates

Things have stabilized.

  • I eat protein and fat during the day and add carbs at night.  Thanks to Amelia Luker for suggesting that to me way back when.  Blood sugar seems to be stable and weight has stabilized.  Fasting blood sugar this morning: 105.
  • I’m on Day 2 of learning how to meditate using Ziva Meditation.  I learned about Emily Fletcher from Dave Asprey’s podcast.  Her style really resonates with me, more so than anyone else I’ve ever heard talk about meditation.
  • My serotonin drops have resulted in my mood and energy level being consistently good.  This was not without some trial and error though.  I still can’t eat things that raise serotonin in the gut too much if I want to feel good every day.  The rise in serotonin causes an immune system reaction in me that doesn’t feel good.  I no longer get depressed though, which is huge.
  • 2 weeks ago I started taking the hydrocortisone my doc prescribed.  He said it might help with the histamine reactions I have.  I feel good, but I haven’t tested it with a lot of high histamine foods.
  • Next Monday I have an appointment with a local chiropractor who does Applied Kinesiology.  I’m trying to find out why my immune system is jacked up so high that it’s attacking my serotonin.

Next Steps

My husband keeps looking at me strangely and saying, “What have you done with my wife?”

I guess my personality is more….I don’t know…pleasant or something since I got my serotonin neutralization drops.  He says I seem happier.  I do feel like I have cleared a major hurdle.  Like a mountain-sized hurdle.

Moving on to my next challenges…my hypertension, high blood sugar, and obesity.  And hot flashes.

My doc suggested L-Arginine, in addition to CoQ10 and magnesium, to address the hypertension. I’ve taken magnesium glycinate for months, and CoQ10 off and on, so I didn’t think those two by themselves would make much of a difference, but I decided to try the L-Arginine this weekend.  L-Arginine increases nitric oxide (NO), which acts as a vasodilator.  I was hesitant to try it because one of my ongoing issues is hot flashes, which Ray Peat says occur relative to the effects of NO:

When doctors are talking about diseases of the heart and circulatory system, it’s common for them to say that estrogen is protective, because it causes blood vessels to relax and dilate, improving circulation and preventing hypertension. The fact that estrogen increases the formation of nitric oxide, a vasodilator, is often mentioned as one of its beneficial effects. But in the case of hot flashes, dilation of the blood vessels is exactly the problem, and estrogen is commonly prescribed to prevent the episodic dilation of blood vessels that constitutes the hot flash. Nitric oxide increases in women in association with the menopause (Watanabe, et al., 2000), and it is increased by inflammation, and hot flushes are associated with various mediators of inflammation, but, as far as I can tell, no one has measured the production of nitric oxide during a hot flash. Inhibitors of nitric oxide formation reduce vasodilation during hot flushes (Hubing, et al., 2010).

So I tried the L-Arginine, knowing full well it would increase NO, but still wanting to try.  Well, it made my hot flashes worse and more frequent.  So, done with that experiment. Currently my blood pressure is hovering around 140/90.  Not good enough, but probably not going to kill me today.

Peat advocates maintaining higher blood sugar and using progesterone to address hot flashes.  Still having a bottle of Progest E in my refrigerator, I decided maybe we should try this again.  So I took a few drops before bed (10mg).

 

Recovery

I’m almost done being sick.  Eye infection is retreating.

I tried something different yesterday.  I went out to eat at a restaurant that has amazing bread.  I decided to give it a try, having eaten only non-serotonin-producing foods the rest of the day.  So I had a couple pieces of bread.  This time, instead of waiting until I felt an immune system reaction I just went ahead and took a PN serotonin drop at about an hour after the meal, and then another 5 minutes later.  I then had no perceptible immune response.  No swollen/sore tongue.  Today no mood symptoms.

So maybe the best way to use these is to catch the immune system response while it is still imperceptible but likely to be occurring.

I’ve been wondering for a long time why Ray Peat’s ideas about serotonin conflict with the those of rest of the world.  Peat says serotonin is bad.  World says it’s good.  Is it possible Peat himself has a poor response to serotonin the way I do?  Maybe – like so many other things (e.g., bacteria, pollen, dairy) the substance is neutral but the body of the individual organism interprets it or reacts to it differently causing responses that are good or bad.  “Eating starches and getting depressed?  That’s because serotonin is bad.”  Well, unless what’s actually happening is the immune system is launching an attack on the serotonin so there isn’t enough of it left to support normal cognitive function. It’s pretty easy to find studies that support whatever case you want to make.  In my case it seems the serotonin is OK.  My immune system is bad.  Well, confused anyway.

I have been perplexed by my own response to starches/fiber while watching my husband and daughter eat these things with no problem at all – no mood disturbance, no digestive trouble.  How can that be, if serotonin is the bad guy?  It had to be something inside of me that was causing the problem – hence my recent love affair with antimicrobials of all sorts.  I don’t know if that was misguided or not, but I do know it didn’t fix this particular problem.  Maybe it fixed the underlying problem that caused the immune system dysfunction…?  I can only hope.

I feel like a big piece of this puzzle has been solved for me.  As far as my next steps – the ones that bring me closer to health and further from metabolic syndrome – those are yet to be uncovered and implemented.  The take-away message for me is that there is no one right way.  Depression has many causes, and people tend to diagnose and treat through the lens of their own perception and history.  It would be ridiculous for me to go around telling everyone with depression that their immune system is attacking their serotonin.  Similarly, it seems ridiculous for others to assume serotonin is the bad guy for everyone.  Or carbs.  Or sugar. In most cases whatever is being vilified by the media as “bad” is indeed bad in some contexts…and great in others.

Still figuring this out.  I hope this is helpful for someone.