Crazy Train

All Aboard the Crazy Train.  Guess who’s conducting.

I’ve had some stressful things come up.  I’ve been crying and worrying.  I thought all the crying and worrying was because of the stressful things.


Let me back up a bit.

I was eating simple sugars as my primary source of carbohydrates for 2 or 3 months there, from January or February through April of this year.  Occasionally I’d have starches and I’d invariably regret it, because it would almost always make me unbearably depressed.  A few days later, after being off of them again my mood would improve.I realize this isn’t normal, and have accepted that there’s some bad stuff going on in my gut, including lots of serotonin being produced and released into the bloodstream when I eat starches. In March my serotonin level was 155 (range 11-204) – fairly high.  And that was on a GOOD day.  Hence, the depression that is always just under the surface.

Well I felt GREAT eating sugar, but it seemed that doing so was making some of my labs worse, so I decided to stop and to instead eat starches.  It was rough going – depression, irritability – these things became commonplace to me again, after feeling so much better for a long time.  There were some days that felt a little better, but in general I struggled during those few starchy weeks.

About a week ago I noticed my 4-year old becoming more anxious and telling me she’s scared of me when I yell.  She became unwilling to let go of me when it was time to say goodbye in the morning. She was crying more and was startling more easily.  I realized I had to stop with the starches again.  It was more important that my daughter have a sane mom than for me to have triglycerides in the normal range.  Today, at least.  So after 3 weeks of eating them, I again stopped.

I’ve been back to sugars again the last few days.  But I haven’t been able to regain that sense of calm.  I’ve been crying and sad – less aggressive maybe, but still depressed.  My dad is having health problems, which scares me, and things are changing in my work life.  I thought these stressors might be putting me over the edge.  It was in this frame of mind that I wrote my last two posts, and called to make a doctor’s appointment, thus giving up my quest for unmedicated health.

I figured maybe 3 weeks of eating starches had raised my serotonin so high that now I couldn’t cope with life. Today, while unable to concentrate on my work, I started researching Cyproheptadine, an antihistamine that Ray Peat says can be effective at reducing serotonin.  It’s not without side effects though – most commonly sedation and sometimes weight gain.  Neither of those sounded good to me, which is why I’ve hesitated to try it thus far.  Then I came across a thread from a month or two ago on my Facebook Ray Peat group.  Someone asked the group if there was a NON-SEDATING way to reduce serotonin.  One person suggested black tea, saying it was helpful for her in that respect, and a couple others agreed.  Worth a try, right?  I went to the store and bought some Luzianne iced tea bags – iced tea is double the strength because you’re likely to water it down with ice cubes after it’s made.

About 20 minutes into this cup of tea I started feeling like myself again – able to concentrate, to sit up straight, clear headed and emotionally stable.  Happy even!  What a relief.  Now I know the depression wasn’t due to life circumstances (though of course they’re on my mind)…because they haven’t changed.  They’re still there.  My dad’s still not well, and my work is still stressful.  But now I feel like I can cope again.

Black tea.  Serotonin reducer.

I know it’s not the caffeine that made the difference because I’ve been drinking coffee and swallowing caffeine tablets on top of it, trying to muster enough energy to get through the day.

Depressed?  Drink black tea.

I’m so going to cancel that doctor’s appointment.

15 thoughts on “Crazy Train

  1. newtopaleo

    Pretty sure its the serotonin causing you trouble. Been thinking that for quite a while now. Also raises your BP. Look up theanine in the RP forum. Its probably why the tea worked. Flush those suckers out from your intestines and bump up the probiotics/RS. Likely the serotonin is coming from your gut right?

  2. Yes, 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut. So there’s theanine in tea? Interesting. I’ll be drinking tea a LOT.

  3. Marie

    If one is concerned about serotonin, does that mean no dark chocolate? I’m going to try the black tea too. I feel awful when I drink green.

    Lanie, although we do have the same health issues I empathize with all the ups and downs. I have been trying to find the right mix for my issues for a long time. I don’t say this to discourage you but I think you are on the right track if you are listening to your body and not following any one particular approach too closely. It has been hard to accept there is less certainty but the more ridged I am with any diet, the worse my health becomes.

    in solidarity 🙂

  4. Hey Marie,

    I’m not aware of dark chocolate causing an increase in serotonin…insulin maybe, but not serotonin. Maybe you know something I don’t? Can you say more about that?

    I agree – if something’s not working for me I stop doing it. I really just want to feel better. Do you see me being dogmatic about something? I have blinders on sometimes – let me know!

    Sending you healing vibes. Here they are: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  5. Marie


    I don’t know if it is an accurate account but I remember that one of the reasons dark chocolate was so popular was because of all the claims that it boosts serotonin. If you google it you will see. I never knew that serotonin could be a bad thing until I read some of Ray Peats work.

    Again, I’m not all the informed on the issue 🙂

    thanks for the healing vibes! sending them back your way!

  6. I wonder if all those pop-psychology folks mean “endorphins” when they say “serotonin”. Maybe they’re confused?

    The only science I can find that suggests chocolate contains some serotonin is this:

    And it’s not clear whether the quantities identified are large or small.

    I don’t know….Peat has talked about eating chocolate and hasn’t mentioned serotonin being a problem, so I’m choosing to believe it’s ok!

  7. Susie

    Way to persevere through the oodles of Peat Q & A blogs. I know…I do the same. It’s a career strand of its own. You got “grit”, depressed or not. 🙂
    Now, in my camp, if I can just get this overactive adrenal machine to quit spewing adrenaline, I’ll be happy. I really don’t care to march through the impending levels of adrenal fatigue and failure. I’m Peat fooding, progesterone, but do not seem to need thyroid. I’ve had conversion trouble but not low T4. If I take more than a smidge of T3, I pop up into hyper land, which feels awful. So, how to quiet these adrenals?? I’m bag breathing, Dr. lam yoga breathing (though he’s an absolute creep that I loathe, successfully terrorizing people for a buck).

  8. Are you eating enough carbohydrate? Adrenaline is one of the first stress hormones to show up when glycogen is low. I wish I could better advise…I’m barely understanding my own situation at this point. Then again, maybe I’m a slow learner. Thanks for visiting my little corner of the web!

  9. Susie

    I believe that I’m taking in enough carbs. I need to look into Chronometer that I’ve read about, instead of guessing totals. I mainly consume local, grass fed ruminant meats, plenty of fruits (papaya, mango, raisins, dates, melon, etc). I drink OJ, plenty of milk and cheese, salt. I have recovered from leaky gut and multiple food sensitivities, which would trigger adrenaline and tachycardia ( scary ER trips). I avoid grains, soy and chili peppers because of it. I’ve tried liver, per Peat and Paul Jaminet, but not only gag on it, but tend to feel very poorly afterward (extreme fatigue). Pork and chicken liver don’t seem to give me problems.
    I drink 1-2 cups of coffee max, per day, always with milk and some sugar. I occasionally have a Mexican coke. I have been having a bit of organic dark chocolate in the afternoon. I use only grass fed butter, refined coconut oil and some organic olive oil. I’m supplementing with Great Lakes gelatin, niacinimide, designs for Health vit D and K, B complex, p5p, biotin, coQ10, and vit C crystals and magnesium. I have the probiotic approved by the GAPS author (the one specifically for people with sensitivities). I do my carrot salad religiously. I use progesterone and Unique E’s vit E topically. With all of this adrenaline overload, I find myself confused by the conflicting information on white sugar, coke, coffee and chocolate. Sorry to ramble on….just not sure what I’m missing. : /

  10. Do you take temperatures and pulse before and after eating? That might give you some clues. Also do enter a couple days of data into Cronometer. It’s really interesting what you learn. A lot of the Peat folks say to have a 3:1 carb:protein ratio – I always feel I need more protein than that to feel satisfied, but maybe that would work for you. I’ve also read it’s important to balance each meal – not just the overall day – at a 3:1 (or a 2:1) ratio. It would be interesting to at least keep a notebook where you write down what you eat and note times of high adrenaline in there too – then see what you ate just previously. Maybe it was a poorly combined meal (too much protein, not enough sugar). That’s a drawback of Cronometer – you can’t categorize according to time of day or meal eaten unless you pay for the upgraded memberhsip. In some ways paper and pen is as good or better.

  11. newtopaleo

    Were you low carb at some point? Maybe you should start a blog 🙂 If you can handle coffee two cups you should be able to handle a tiny bit of thyroid. Supplements can have additives that inflame your gut like silica. Whats your co2 on labs? Initially you may not be able to handle niacinamide if you are not a sugar burner. Skip the grassfed butter and olive oil for now and use only coconut oil. Does your calcium consumption from milk exceed the phosphorous from the meat? How much copper are you getting? Red light? Aspirin? Would be easier to find whats missing if you tell me your serotonin, TSH PTH, estrogen, progesterone levels for starters.

  12. Beno

    Hi, Lanie; I don’t know if you already tried ketogenic diet. I’ve recently discovered links and videos about it. I thought I’ll share this with you. Here is a link to a video on youtube . It’s said it reduces inflammations in the body, lower blood glucose levels, prevents heart disease.

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