Many things in my life seem to be falling apart.
I need to change my approach to life. Get off the computer.
Many things in my life seem to be falling apart.
I need to change my approach to life. Get off the computer.
I’ve become too tired, and things are just getting worse.
My blood pressure has been high periodically throughout the day:
I can’t screw around with this anymore. I’m going back on the beta blockers, full dose. I’m making an appointment with the doc, and I’m sure I’ll be on several medications within a week. I don’t care anymore. This has consumed my life long enough, with NO payoff.
I’m done with the woo woo internet health crap.
Turns out…when you stop taking a beta blocker, 3 days later all the adrenaline that it was supressing comes roaring back into the system. My heart rate is 98 bpm right now, sitting quietly. Doc said it was OK to quit cold turkey. Hope she’s right.
Had to take 1/4 of a beta blocker to make the adrenaline stop. That was an hour ago, and my pulse has dropped to 93. I hope it drops into the 80s or I predict a sleepless night. Stupid fucking doctors. Wrong again.
I’m throwing the kitchen sink at my blood pressure problem.
Over the past few days I’ve been doing the following things:
Today my blood pressure mid-day was 131/89 – the lowest it’s been in about a year. A week ago it was 152/99.
I have no idea what’s making the difference, but I don’t care. I’m going to continue all of it and hopefully it’ll continue to improve.
No more salt. High blood pressure, and it makes it worse.
No more sugar. Diabetes, and it makes it worse.
No more progesterone. High blood pressure and it makes it worse.
No more orange juice. High triglycerides and it makes it worse.
I’ll keep the liver, the dairy, the vitamins and minerals. Thanks for those, Ray Peat.
I’m back to eating a low carbohydrate diet. It’s nice to have stable blood sugar for the first time in over 8 months. Will my thyroid suffer? It certainly will. But I probably won’t die from being hypothyroid. At least not this week. I’m much more concerned about my blood pressure, blood sugar, and trigs…all of which are much worse now than they were when I started following Peat.
I’m focusing on nutrition this time around though…I won’t be eating a meat-heavy diet the way I did last time I did low-carb. This time I’ll be tracking in Cronometer for a while to ensure I meet most of my nutrients every day. I’ll be eating a lot of vegetables. Maybe some fruit….but probably not much.
Dear everyone I ever preached to about health,
I was wrong. Sorry. I’ll shut the hell up now.
As long as I’ve been reading and listening to the work of Ray Peat I’ve been hearing that progesterone has no side effects. Progesterone is “safe in large amounts (except…can be anesthetic if hundreds of milligrams are taken at once),” Peat himself said to me in an email.
I beg to differ.
The hot flashes that I’ve been experiencing for the last 2 months became troublesome for me. They were long, intense, and were paired with rage at times. I couldn’t understand why I was having them – doesn’t progesterone supplementation fool your body into thinking you’re not experiencing perimenopause (or real menopause, for that matter)? Things had been going well, and I was confused, so I asked Dr. Peat about it. His response:
Some things that reduce hot flashes for some people are supplementing pregnenolone, interrupting the progesterone each cycle, using cynoplus only in the evenings, increased salt, and coffee. The natural ovarian cycle gives the liver time to adjust its enzymes, and with continuous progesterone supplements, the liver enzymes excrete progesterone more quickly, and weaken its effects.
I thought that was interesting about liver enzymes….maybe I was having hot flashes because I’d been dosing every day instead of just the last 2 weeks of my cycle. I did this knowingly, attempting to reverse the hyper-estrogenation I’d inflicted on my body with the stupid and dangerous Wiley Protocol. Of course, taking hormones in a non-physiological way is likely to cause problems at some point, so perhaps that’s what was going on.
I stopped taking the progesterone for a few days. The hot flashes got worse. This led me to believe it WAS perimenopause I was dealing with. When the estrogen/progesterone ratio is too heavy in favor of estrogen, symptoms of menopause (or PMS, or other unpleasant things) occur. So I reversed course. I figured I’d take a LOT of progesterone, to get the hot flashes to stop. Then I’d taper down and find my new “normal” dose, after determining the threshold below which they broke through.
So a few days ago I decided to dose 3 drops every 1-2 hours, aiming for about 30 drops across the day. This would be 100mg of progesterone, about 5 times my normal dose, but according to Peat, still safe. By 5:00PM I didn’t feel very good – kind of tired and tense. I was in the habit of taking my blood pressure and pulse because I’d recently started taking beta blockers for my hypertension, which usually runs around 150/95. So I took my blood pressure and it was 165/105 – about 10 points higher than even my normally high BP, with heart rate around 105 (usually around 85). I checked periodically throughout the evening and it remained high, but the next morning was a bit lower again.
That next day I did the same thing – 3 drops of Progest E every 1-2 hours. My hot flashes seemed to be getting less intense, so it seemed like the right thing to do. Again, around 5PM I started noticing tachycardia. I took my blood pressure and it was 164/107. That’s when I started suspecting the progesterone had something to do with this, as I’d changed nothing else in the previous 2 days.
I hit Google and found this article about hypertension that occurs during pregnancy, which states the following:
In an article published in the July 7, 2000, issue of the journal Science, HHMI investigators Richard P. Lifton and Paul B. Sigler and colleagues at Yale University and Albert Einstein College of Medicine report that a mutation renders the mineralocorticoid receptor more sensitive to progesterone, a hormone that is produced in abundance during pregnancy. (…)
When the mineralocorticoid receptor is triggered by aldosterone, its normal binding partner, it switches on the cellular machinery that causes kidney cells to reabsorb more salt, ultimately raising blood pressure. Lifton’s group found that when women who have the faulty receptor undergo the hundred-fold rise in progesterone that occurs during pregnancy, progesterone overstimulates the receptor, causing salt retention, expansion of blood plasma volume and skyrocketing blood pressure.
So what this is saying is that some people have a protein mutation that makes them more sensitive to progesterone. In such a person, progesterone in high amounts (such as in pregnancy….or, say, when you’re me and desperately trying to make hot flashes disappear) can cause the kidneys to retain more fluid…raising blood pressure.
I should mention, when I was pregnant I developed hypertension (not pre-eclampsia), which led to my daughter being born by C-section 3 weeks before her due date. My blood pressure was so high she was in distress. Before that I had not had a problem with high blood pressure, and after the pregnancy my blood pressure returned to normal.
So after finding this article I went to the drugstore and bought some diuretic pills and took one. Within a few hours my blood pressure returned to it’s “normal” state of hypertension – 150s over 90s, and my pulse was back in the 80s. I stopped taking the progesterone at that point – I guess that was 3 days ago now. My hot flashes have almost vanished – just little reminders here and there. I guess I increased my progesterone level quite a bit and it’s not dropping quickly.
I wrote to Dr. Peat to share this story and the article I found, and to ask if he’s ever encountered anything like this in his research or practice. I haven’t heard back from him yet. I’m trying not to make that mean anything. He must know that everything he puts in print becomes fodder for the public so perhaps he’s choosing his words carefully. Or maybe he’s off researching the issue intently. Or maybe he just blew it off because it’s terribly inconvenient to have someone tell you that you were wrong and that in fact SOME people actually do have serious side effects associated with high doses of progesterone.
I developed high blood pressure while living in California, around December of 2012. At the time I was taking high dose progesterone and estrogen supplements, a la the Wiley Protocol. I did stop taking those in March 2013, and then there was a period of time when I wasn’t taking any hormone supplements at all, until I started with the Progest E in November 2013. Looking back at previous blog posts I see I’ve posted various blood pressure measurements over the past year or so:
What if progesterone supplementation is behind my high blood pressure? I wasn’t taking progesterone between April and November, and during that period my blood pressure was lower (according to this blog, anyway), with the exception of the time I tried to drink 100oz of water every day.
I’m sure progesterone is safe for most people…but I’m curious how many people have this mutation?
Am I rare?
New plan: No progesterone supplementation for a while. If I find myself needing it I’ll take a few drops, but no more than 3 per day, and only during the last 2 weeks of my cycle. Also no more extra salt. I’m also drinking celery juice and taking Hawthorn because I understand these things can be helpful for lowering blood pressure. I’ve tried 3 different anti-hypertensive medications – 2 caused problematic side effects and one just didn’t work. I tried everything I’ve seen Peat recommend for high blood pressure (eating MORE salt, high dose vitamin K, bag breathing, more potassium, magnesium/epsom salt baths).
There will be other new plans too. Stay tuned.
Looking back over old posts, I appeared to be doing really well around late February early March of this year. On March 6th I wrote the following:
Did I mention that I feel really good almost every day now? Now if my mood is low or I feel tired I can usually directly attribute it to something I did differently than usual, like eating starches or experimenting with a new supplement. Before Peat-ing I was tired, depressed, and anxious most days. I never felt “happy”. Then after adopting some of Peat’s recommendations I started feeling better in the mornings – not every morning, but a lot of them, and in the afternoon I’d go back to feeling low-energy. Now almost every morning is delightful and a few times a week I feel great all day long.
In that same post, I wrote that I was 1 week into a weight-training program designed for me by a trainer at the gym. I also wrote that the trainer gave me a crappy diet to follow, including tons of starches and restrictions on sugar. I had tried the diet and didn’t get to lunch on day 1 before realizing there was no way I could eat that food. The oats for breakfast made me tired and depressed.
My next post on March 16 says the following:
I haven’t written much because it’s been a rough week. I definitely have ups and downs, more so now that I’m following Peat because I didn’t used to have many “ups”…To summarize, my depression returned and stuck around for a week.
There were several variables at play, but looking back I was really stressing my body with that workout. I kept at it for a while – maybe 6 or 7 weeks, and the workouts were too long and too hard. The plan designed for me included 16 different resistance exercises, and she wanted me to do 2 sets of 15 for each one, with only very short breaks between sets. I was nauseated several times in the middle of the workout, and for the first month I never fully allowed myself to recover. I was working out 2x a week, but it took more than 3-4 days to recover from these workouts. I was just so determined to get better, to be strong and fit again, that I continued even when my body was telling me to stop. I made the mistake of having the plan designed by the owner of the gym. She was always there. Sometimes she would see me resting between sets and bark at me from across the room, “What are you taking a nap there?” Or she’d see me finish a set without resorting to poor form and she’d walk over and tap on the heavier weights, as if to say, “Time to move up to the heavier ones.” I started hating going there. It was no fun and every time I went it got harder. I finally quit going to the gym altogether. Boy, that whole thing sucked.
Of course, then I went and tinkered some more. Low fat, Vitamin B6, more sugar, starches…and I completely stopped having that happy feeling. I don’t think I’ve felt it since.
For right now I’m going to back to straight up Peat-inspired eating and living. No weird stuff. No biohacks. No experiments. I just want to feel happy again. No exercise for now. My blood pressure is still not well controlled, and I think working out caused my depression to return in March. I’m just going to keep it simple – something along the lines I described previously toward the bottom of this post.
Serotonin, Whole Blood
So, serotonin is down 10 ng/mL. The March 2014 draw was taken on a day that I felt great – no depression, no anxiety. The current draw was taken on a day I was crying, anxious, and depressed.
Now, before drawing conclusions I should mention that I wrote to Ray Peat last week and asked him about ways to lower serotonin. I also asked him about blood tests for serotonin. Here was his answer:
Foods like chicken consomme and ox-tail soup, with a lot of gelatin, help by reducing the amount of the precursor, tryptophan. Raw carrots or boiled bamboo shoots, by slightly disinfecting the bowel, help to lower serotonin. Some ways of testing the blood are very misleading, because what’s in the platelets isn’t necessarily causing trouble, its when the platelets can’t retain it to deliver it to the lungs for destruction that there’s a problem. Checking the urine for 5-HIAA can show how much serotonin is being destroyed. It’s the platelet-free plasma that should be measured, and there the level should be as low as possible.
Hm…the platelet-free plasma you say. Well, wish I would have known that before spending money on labs that are essentially meaningless.
Ok, next (and possibly more importantly):
CA 19-9, which I tested because I’m a paranoid idiot who clearly spends too much time on the internet:
So, not elevated. Doesn’t necessarily mean I DON’T have pancreatic cancer (or some other cancer) but it’s not looking likely. Apparently 5-10% of Caucasian people don’t even have the ability to express this antigen, so it’s not enough information to rule cancer in or out…but seeing that there’s no elevation, I’m less freaked out.
I think it’s time for me to take a step back from all this. I’m clearly making myself nuts, and I don’t have the knowledge to even order the correct tests for myself. I’m not seeing results and I’m getting more sick, more depressed, and have fewer answers than ever before.
Time to re-evaluate.
I guess without realizing it I’ve been taking a bit of a break from blogging. So here’s an update.
I managed to convince myself a couple days ago that I might have pancreatic cancer (PC). I do tend to go on these obsession benders at times, so it’s entirely possible I just went down a rabbit hole and got lost for a while, but here are the symptoms I’m experiencing that brought me to that conclusion:
1. Pressure in upper abdomen the last several months, particularly when I lie on my back. With PC, folks often go to the doctor when they have a pain in the upper middle part of their back, or their skin turns yellow because the liver is being affected. I don’t have either of these symptoms, but those are symptoms that indicate the disease is advanced and spread to other organs. I do feel like something – maybe a tumor – maybe benign, who knows – is growing in the upper left part of my abdomen. There are different forms of PC and it can develop in different parts of the pancreas. So while not pointing directly at PC, it’s something and I can’t rule it out…and try as I might, I can’t ignore it.
2. Digestive problems. The pancreas has 2 main functions – endocrine and exocrine in nature. It releases insulin to help manage blood sugar (endocrine) and it releases digestive enzymes to help digest food (exocrine). I’ve narrowed my diet to exclude all starches because I can’t digest them well, and when I eat a lot of fat there’s fat in my stools, which suggest some malabsorption/poor digestion. I am not one of those bloggers who enjoys talking about poop, so I’ll leave it there. But I will say I started noticing the fat-digestion problem when I started drinking orange juice back in October/November, and it’s never gone away. I started having problems digesting starch years ago – it’s why I went low carb in the first place years ago. So it’s possible it has nothing to do with my pancreas falling apart – it could be completely unrelated.
3. Blood sugar problems. There seems to be a high correlation between people who have pancreatic cancer being recently diagnosed with diabetes. The only reason I’m not diagnosed yet is because I haven’t been to a doctor. I’m recently diabetic – but again, the timing of the high blood sugar is directly correlated with the timing of adding carbohydrates to my diet. So maybe not cancer…maybe just uncovering the diabetes that’s been there for a while.
4. Hot flashes – I started having hot flashes at the end of April, and I’m still having them. While taking progesterone. Now, I don’t know a whole lot about this – I don’t know if I’ve managed to drop my estrogen too low by taking progesterone throughout my entire cycle, instead of just the second half of my cycle…and I don’t know if low estrogen even causes hot flashes. Ray Peat seems to think low progesterone causes hot flashes. I’ve upped the progesterone, I’ve lowered the progesterone, the hot flashes continue. I’ve upped and lowered sugar, protein, fat, supplements in my diet, and they’ve continued unchanged. So what the hell else causes hot flashes? That’s right…Cancer.
5. Acne – Ok, completely unrelated to cancer – I haven’t had acne since I started eating liver, and lately I’m getting it again. I’ve increased my liver and shellfish consumption in case I need more vitamin A or zinc. Still with the acne though. It just seems like something is stressing my body right now and eating nutrients faster. I’ve been out in the sun more…but have been using the red lights at home less, so those things should balance out, right?
Ok, I guess it’s a bit of a stretch, suspecting cancer, since almost everything could be explained by something else. But the pressure up against my left ribcage? No idea what that is.
Anyway, my paranoia got the better of me a couple days ago and I started researching blood tests that can indicate pancreatic cancer. The alternative is going to my conventional-wisdom doctor – the one who prescribed me these beta blockers that AREN’T lowering my blood pressure significantly – and she’ll probably order some expensive ultrasound or CT scan when I tell her I have something growing in my abdomen. Anyway, it looks like there’s a blood marker – CA 19-9 – that is elevated in 70% of people with PC. It’s not enough to diagnose PC, but it can indicate the presence of a tumor. Good enough. I ordered the test from directlabs and had the blood drawn to test it yesterday. Should have results in a couple days.
Yesterday I listened to Ray Peat’s interview with the Herb Doctors on the topic of cancer. Like most things, he seems to think cancer is a metabolic problem which can be corrected with red light, aspirin, thyroid, and proper nutrition. It gave me hope that if there is something wrong it can possibly be fixed. I’m stepping up my red light use, epsom salt/baking soda baths, bag breathing, baking soda and coffee intake. I would increase aspirin but it’s likely to decrease the effectiveness of my blood pressure medication, according to my Medscape app. I might anyway.
…you’ve got nothing.
At the age of 44, my health is now starting to interfere with everything I care about.
This used to be a hobby…something fun and interesting to do in my spare time. AROUND my other real-life activities like work, family, exercise…
Now my health is making all of that much harder.
I had a really good opportunity to promote my business today. Things came up and got in the way, as things are prone to do in life. If my health were good I could have made it work anyway. It wouldn’t have been easy, but I could have managed it. I would have needed a lot of energy and focus, neither of which I have right now because of my new blood pressure medication, which is making me foggy, lifeless, and depressed.
I started on one medication on Monday….a calcium channel blocker called Diltiazem. My ankles started swelling and it did nothing for my blood pressure. I called the doc to inform her and she told me to stop taking that one and start taking Metoprolol, a beta blocker. Now I’m 3 days into this one and the side effects are worse – I felt like a zombie last night. Plus my ankles seem to be swelling again, but I can’t tell if that’s psychosomatic. And, as if that’s not enough, it doesn’t work. Blood pressure is unchanged. I’ve just taken one more dose – if things aren’t somewhat improved in some respect by this afternoon I’ll be calling the doc again.
I wonder how many people lurking and reading this blog are laughing and saying, “Yep…she poo-pooed the EMF boogeyman and now look at her. She’s so dumb. And now her health sucks too.” Yeah, well I still don’t think it’s EMF. I think it’s serotonin and I think the reason I’m struggling is because my body doesn’t tolerate starches, and they’re in EVERYTHING. They’re in cocoa powder, supplements, caffeine tablets – even when I’ve avoided starch, I’ve still been consuming starch in these items. I learned yesterday that bananas and dates contain a lot of serotonin. Not sure if my catatonia-like depression last night was because of the dates I ate or because of the new medication.
Did you know even confectioner’s sugar contains starch? That’s right…some sugar contains starch.
I’m beginning to think that ALL of my problems are related to high serotonin, and my high serotonin is related to starch intolerance. The best I’ve ever felt in my life was when I gave up most starches (didn’t even know about the hidden ones yet) and ate sugar – finally I had energy (carbohydrates) and no starches to pull me down again. And seriously, aside from followers of Ray Peat, who would try this? How many people EVER IN ALL THE LAND actually eat a ton of sugar and eat no starches? First of all, it’s friggen hard to avoid them because they’re in everything processed and even when following a whole food diet, they’re so darn delicious. Second, EVERYONE IN ALL THE LAND says that sugar is bad. It’s a foregone conclusion now – people don’t even feel the need to provide citations for this stuff anymore. “Sugar is bad.” Everyone in the room nods. Duh, of course it is. So I (and other Peatarians) might be the ONLY people IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD to know that starch intolerance is not the same as carbohydrate intolerance.
Here’s what I think most people do (and indeed, it’s what I did): They feel like crap and they’re overweight and showing early signs of chronic illness. They hear low-carb or Paleo will cure it all – lower blood sugar, less inflammation, weight loss. What could go wrong? So they try low carb. Some people are turned off by the fact that their energy is sapped within 2 days (about how long it takes a healthy person to burn through their glycogen) and give up. Those of us persistent, determined, or desperate enough persevere, and eventually our body gives up signaling us to eat carbs and we begin living on adrenaline and cortisol. Feels good at first! Energy! Plus, if you have an intolerance to some (or all) carbohydrates because of an enzyme deficiency (or gluten sensitivity/celiac, or whatever) you feel SO MUCH BETTER. Not because low carb is the way to go but because the offending substance is gone from your diet. Inflammation drops, Jack Kruse pats you on the back, and you keep going. Weight’s dropping too – yay! “Low carb FOREVAH!” you say.
Until other things start failing. Your TSH starts climbling, you’re cold all the time and your sleep starts to suffer. Weight loss plateaus. You say, “I must be eating too many carbs! I’ll reduce them again because that’s what worked last time!” So you cut down from 30g of carbohydrate a day to 20 or 10. Pretty soon you eliminate vegetables and start eating weird things like animal hearts and fish heads. You try to convert everyone you know, because you’re sure this is the path to health! It has to be! It worked for a while! I must be doing it wrong now!
You get tired. People on the interwebs say you have “Adrenal Fatigue.” No you don’t. You need carbohydrates. EAT SOME HONEY ON A SPOON. GO! DO IT NOW! You’ll feel better.
Anyway, I did all that. Did it for years. Got really hardcore in 2012, eliminated every last shred of carbohydrate except for some veggies. Got cavities in my teeth from malnutrition – first ones since I was about 8 years old. Tired, stressed, a mess. So I found Ray Peat – he said to eat carbs. I ate them. Started adding starches, sugar, whatever. After experimenting I’m learning that for ME, sugar = feel good, starch = feel bad. Low carb felt good, not because I was doing the right thing for my body but because I was avoiding something I was intolerant to.
I think my starch-eating experiment in May completely raised my serotonin level. I break down and cry so easily now. I never feel really happy, even when I avoid all starch (even the hidden ones). I’ve been drinking black tea and matcha green tea, both of which contain theanine, which lowers serotonin, but I suspect they don’t lower the serotonin produced by the body, just the brain’s ability to receive or recognize it. I say this because they do lift my mood a bit, but the effect wears off after an hour or two, and then I’m back in the middle of it again.
I think the only thing that will really work for me is to avoid all starches. My new medication comes as a tablet containing starch. Check it out:
The tablets contain the following inactive ingredients: microcrystalline cellulose, corn starch, sodium starch glycollate, colloidal silicon dioxide, sodium lauryl sulfate, talc, magnesium stearate, hypromellose, titanium dioxide, polyethylene glycol and polysorbate 80. In addition, 50 mg tablet contains D&C Red #30 Aluminium Lake and 100 mg tablet contains FD&C Blue #2 Aluminium Lake as coloring agents.
Seriously? My white 50mg tablet contains red dye?
I guess I’ll use one of these enzyme supplements I just got every time I take it. I’m still considering taking cyproheptadine or some other serotonin antagonist, but I’m not sure it would be any more effective than tea, and it has a long list of adverse side effects. Probably the best thing to do is just avoid starch, and over time maybe my serotonin will drop as my intestinal tract is given a rest.
I”m so tired of being tired and depressed.
Oh and by the way…I had a dentist appointment a couple days ago. No new cavities. After months of sugar and orange juice. The dental hygienist, right after telling me that sugar and orange juice cause cavities, told me she was “prone to cavities” and had just had one filled. I told her to try vitamin K. She sounded excited about it.
Ray Peat, right again.