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).



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.

A Work in Progress

I am feeling very very grateful to have been introduced to Provocation Neutralizaion (PN) – I think it’s possible my days of depression are over.  I’m realizing though that my days of testing food against these drops are probably over too though.  A couple days ago I tested all day long, eating food after food that typically cranks my immune system – and shutting it down again with the serotonin dilution drops.  And right now I’m not depressed and my tongue isn’t swollen (Hallelujah) but I have a cold and a mild eye infection.  In other words, keeping my immune system busy with my diet is not going to be a good idea long term because it opens me up to infections and other health problems.  I’m still going to have to find a way to eat that doesn’t cause an allergic response in the first place.

Fortunately I know how to eat to avoid the high serotonin and subsequent immune system jacking (thank you, Ray Peat).  The bad news is, I don’t know how to eat in a healthful manner that doesn’t pile on more and more pounds.  Since I’ve introduced sugars back into my diet I’ve gained 5 pounds – added to the 50 I already needed to lose.  Feeling kind of corpulent.  I don’t want that trend to continue.  I was really excited to be able to eat fruits and veggies that fill me up without a high calorie load, but I’m not sure it’s a great idea to do that all day every day.

So I’m looking at PN as a blessing – a way to avoid the depression and hopefully a way to bring down my inflammation and reduce health problems secondary to the inflammation (hyperglycemia, hypertension).  As far as knowing what’s best for me to eat at this point – still a work in progress.  With less fatigue, I can exercise though.  Maybe lots of low-fat dairy and walking will be in my future.

PN – More Tests

Yesterday I did more testing of my Provocation-Neutralization (PN) treatment.  Basically I ate things all day long that should have made me feel terrible.  Lots of rice, bananas, fruit salad, more rice.  I tried to eat low-fat to see if it would be possible without hunger now that I seem able to tolerate fiber.  Here’s what I ate yesterday (don’t judge – it’s not perfect):


The banana, rice, and fruit salad would have all been intolerable for me last week.  But now?

I feel great!  Lots of energy, smiling for no reason, stable mood, ability to focus and get work done.  The PN serotonin drops are working.  There’s no way I could eat the way I have been the last few days without seeing problems.

What I am noticing is that about 1-1.5 hours after eating one of these formerly forbidden items I start to feel an immune response – a sore tongue usually, but toward the end of the day I could also feel a little soreness in the lymph glands.  Each time this happens I use a drop of the PN solution at 5 minute intervals, up to 4 times, and it goes away.

Overnight I seem to be developing a cold.  Apparently I’ve been keeping my immune system occupied.  So today will be a day off – only easily digestible food.

If anyone is reading this and is interested in learning more about PN, it seems the doctors who do it are associated with Environmental Medicine.  My doctor is listed on that site, for example.

I know it’s probably too soon to get excited.  I can’t help it though.  This is the first time in a long time I’ve felt genuine hope that my health could turn around.  I can eat fruits and vegetables now – food that is satiating and fills me up.  I was full on 1750 calories yesterday!  Hard to do that eating meat and sugar.


The Apple Test

In order to test my newfound freedom with fiber, made available to me – apparently – by Provocation Neutralization (PN), I ate a giant apple yesterday at 8AM.  My normal response to eating something with this much fiber would be tongue swelling/soreness within an hour or two and then depression beginning later in the evening.  Occasionally the depression would show up the next day.

So I ate the apple at 8:00AM.  Exhibit A: Poorly composed picture of half-eaten apple in front of my work computer:img_7110

By 10:00 my tongue was sore and a little swollen. . Normally that would last several hours, and would finally be dealt with by popping in ibuprofen because the soreness would be so distracting.  But yesterday I used my PN drops instead.  1 drop every 5 minutes for 20 minutes.  At that point the soreness was reduced 90% or so.  An hour later, no additional drops, the soreness was barely perceptable.

At lunch I had 2 medium sized tortillas. Keep in mind, I’ve had nothing resembling bread for months, given my typical reaction to it.  About an hour later – tongue soreness again.  Again, 4 drops, and again the soreness was almost gone afterward.  Soreness completely gone a couple hours later.

No depression yet.

Later last night I was at home and my daughter was being argumentative about everything.  I started feeling really irritated toward her, and couldn’t tell if this was her yanking my chain or the food causing a mood reaction.  I took 1 drop of the PN serotonin solution just in case it was the latter, and no longer felt the need to run screaming through the streets.  Still not sure if there was any kind of biological issue at play – I kind of don’t think so.  My kid can be very headstrong.

Anyway, mood has been great overall.  I have been highly productive – no brain fog, no inability to concentrate.  No fatigue.

I think this shit works!

Green Light

Yesterday at about 7AM I ate some crunchy fiberous sauerkraut – the kind that usually makes me depressed because of the fiber.  About 2 hours later I was crying.

The treatment strategy for using the diluted Provocation Neutralization (PN) solution is 1 drop every 5 minutes, up to 4 times, and then repeat after 1 hour if necessary.  I took a drop under my tongue.  And then another one 5 minutes later.  Then I didn’t need any more because I felt better.

And then I felt great the rest of the day.

And I still feel great!

Now, in all fairness it’s possible the poisonous reaction to fiber just hasn’t kicked in yet.  Usually there’s an indication within 24 hours but not always.  So today I’m going to eat an apple. In the last 3 years I have never eaten an apple without becoming depressed.  This will be a real test.


I just ate a bunch of raw sauerkraut.  Normally this would make me depressed by the end of the day.  We’ll see if my miracle tincture of diluted serotonin will have any effect.

I’ve received emails from a concerned reader who thinks everyone would respond with a stress response (inflammation or swelling at the injection site) to serotonin during the Provocation-Neutralization (PN) testing process.  I don’t know, I suppose that’s possible.  I didn’t have a healthy control person next to me also getting the injection. It wasn’t double-blind, or even single-blind.  Could be placebo effect, false positive, experimenter bias, subject bias, performance bias…  However, I don’t think my MD is a sheister woo-peddler who’s desperate to get my $27 for a tincture of woo medicine.  I think in the time he’s been doing this work he’s probably seen enough benefit from this procedure that propels him to continue using it.

It’s entirely possible I don’t really understand what’s going on, too.  I might be wrong.

But it seems to be a pretty harmless thing to try.  I’ll probably know within 24 hours if PN is going to be helpful for me or not.  If not I go back to eating a lot of meat and we pretend this foray into the magical world of woo never happened.

A Fascinating Turn of Events

I went to my functional medicine doc yesterday.  I almost didn’t go, figuring that I had already exhausted his best ideas (which I thought because I had exhausted all of MY best ideas). Oh, the arrogance of me sometimes.  I went anyway hoping to get some advice on treating high blood pressure since my hydrochlorothiazide may be causing dips in potassium and heart palpitations.  He had some interesting ideas for treating hypertension, but much more.

Regarding the hypertension, he suggested I try a combination of the following:

  • CoQ10 – 200mg/day
  • L-Arginine 2000mg 2-3x per day
  • Magnesium to bowel tolerance

Having never tried L-Arginine (an amino acid) I thought this was pretty cool.  So I’ve ordered some CoQ10 and L-Arginine, and I already have Magnesium Glycinate.

I know, I said was done with supplements.  I still need to get my blood pressure down though.  And….it’s possible I might have overstated my position.  Just a tad.

So now let’s get to the really interesting part.  We again discussed my inability to eat/digest starch and fiber without becoming depressed, acknowledging nothing tried thus far has made a dent. He said, “Have you ever heard of Provocation Neutralization?”  No, no I haven’t.  He explained that there is a form of testing and treatment that helps some people with mysterious “intolerance” symptoms.  He went on to say that considering my problems seem gut related and manifest as mood symptoms, maybe neurotransmitters are involved.  I prepared myself to hear something about needing more serotonin – because that’s what everyone says – but he didn’t go that direction.  In fact, he said, “For example, if you’re having trouble tolerating the serotonin that’s being produced, the answer isn’t to give you a lot more serotonin to deal with.”

Huh?  Is this guy actually saying something non-positive about serotonin?  I can honestly say I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about serotonin outside the internet.  He had my attention.

He went on to describe Provocation Neutralization, saying that he’s not sure exactly why it works, but it seems to work for some people.  Testing (via injection) is done to determine whether there is an intolerance to a substance, similar to traditional skin-prick allergy testing.  If there is a reaction – swelling of the injection site, or induction of the actual symptom to treat (in my case depression), the need for treatment has been established.  Then, a “neutralization” dose of the same substance is administered.  The neutralization dose is determined by doing additional injections at progressively weakened concentrations, and determining the highest concentration that causes NO reaction. It’s a little complicated, and I had to have it explained to me a couple of times.  It sounded a little like homeopathy to me – the idea of using the same substance at a diluted concentration to treat an allergic reaction. It’s not exactly homeopathy though – we’re not talking about dilutions of 1:10,000 or anything – these are larger amounts of the actual substance.

I was excited to try it.  They did the testing right there on site, using serotonin as the substance of interest.  The lab tech did a small subcutaneous injection of serotonin at a dilution of “2” – I’m not sure if that means a 1:2 ratio of serotonin to saline?


That caused a “wheal response” (swelling at the injection site) which suggests my body is launching an immune response to serotonin. The injection site itched, similar to your average IgE (histamine) allergy reaction.  Apparently my body thinks serotonin is an invader that needs to be attacked.  An autoimmune reaction.  Can you believe that?  I’m allergic to my own neurotransmitter.

I asked the lab tech how this can happen – she said it’s not uncommon.  The immune system gets ramped up due to our toxic world and starts attacking things it shouldn’t.  This may or may not be the cause of my long-term chronic inflammation and inability to tolerate starch/fiber.  It’s really interesting, isn’t it?

She did 2 more injections at progressively diluted concentrations in order to determine the neutralization dose that I can use to stop symptoms when they arise.  The “3” dilution (1:3 ratio?) still caused a reaction (tearfulness) though not as much swelling.  The “4” dilution caused no reaction, and thus was determined to be my neutralization dilution of serotonin.  She then mixed up a bottle of serotonin/saline at this ratio and gave me instructions to take 1 drop 2x a day, with additional drops 5 minutes apart for treatment of symptoms as needed.

What the hell is this witchcraft?  I have no idea.  I’ve never heard of it and aside from a couple of poorly produced youtube videos from the 90s there’s not a lot of information on this.  I did find this article, but Provocation Neutralization is generally regarded as experimental, unproven, and quackery.  I don’t care.  I’m trying it.

My plan is to get a couple days of 2x/day dosing in and then do a fiber/starch challenge.  The idea is to neutralize my immune response to serotonin, which can reportedly happen within minutes.

Of course I’ll report back.

Rat on a Wheel

Heart palpitations have continued this week.  It’s been 6 days of this now, despite supplementing potassium.  I wonder if I damaged something.  Or maybe a flock of parasites infested my heart.  Sounds like a romantic ballad.

My weight has been trending up again since adding sugars to my diet.  I am in an endless loop here.  Low carb stabilizes my fatness and brings it down a little – the stress hormones feel good and the lack of starch helps my mood improve.  Then my health starts to tank after a few months so I add sugars back in a la Ray Peat, and my fasting insulin starts to climb, along with my weight and body fat %.   I’m thinking about doing a carb cycling program – several days of low carb followed by several days of low fat.  That might be enough to keep my health intact – protected from the low-carb monster – while keeping my fasting insulin down.  Exercise needs to get worked in here too.

The universe has been telling me in a loud voice to start meditating. I’ve been seeing it everywhere I look.  It’s hard for me to sit still and quiet my mind – all the more reason to do it I suppose.

“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless youre too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” -Zen proverb.


Three days ago I took 5 drops of Turpentine on a sugar cube.  A few hours later I took some activated charcoal to help with detoxification of any killed organisms.  A few hours after that I started having heart palpitations.  3 days later, I’m still having them.

I’ve become disillusioned with this process.  I’m tired of getting nowhere, of having so little to show for my efforts, my discomfort, my financial expense.  I have thrown out the rest of the Humaworm, the Turpentine, and about 50 other supplements sitting in my supplement grave yard.  I threw out all prescription meds that had piled up – Armour, Hydrocorisone, Metformin – and I’ve kept only my hypertension meds.  I hope to get rid of them too, but they’re doing something I need so they can stay for now.  I have a doctor’s appointment scheduled for Friday, which I’ll keep in order to renew those scripts, but other than that I’m done. Done with docs, done with silly expensive supplement protocols.  Done with paying people to help fix my health.

I’ve been decluttering the house.  The supplements, my daughter’s room, my closet.  I told my CSA farmer to donate the rest of my summer share.  I can’t eat vegetables and my family won’t eat most of them.  Don’t need to clutter the house with squash anymore. I love when the family leaves the house so I can sneak more crap into donation bags.

I continue to have hot flashes that take my breath away.  They’re way more than just getting warm.  They make me feel like I’m suffocating and angry.  They make me sweat embarrassingly.  All I can do is grit my teeth and get through it.

I feel like shit every day.

Does anyone still read this?