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.

Nope.

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.

Stream of Consciousness

After eating starches for a few days – some potatoes one day, a cup of brown rice pasta another day, and some homemade gluten-free bread another day, I spent the last 4 or 5 days being depressed, irritable, and tired.  I turned off the starch spigot 2 days ago, and last night I finally started to feel better.  Still have a short fuse though.

My body is sick.

I started feeling sick around December 2012 (here’s a random post from around that time, but there are many like it), when I was in the midst of a very stressful time in my life and was trying to maintain my health on a low-carb diet.  I now realize that that was just stupid.  The human body needs carbohydrates for fuel – especially when it’s stressed, as stress devours nutrients.  Low carb folks don’t realize this, however, because they do fine – great, even – for 6 months or a year, they lose weight, it’s all very rewarding.  And then at some point it catches up.  They’re cold all the time, they stop sleeping well, they become tired and their bodies stop fighting infections well.  I lurk over at Jack Kruse’s site sometimes and of the 5 or 10 long term followers still hanging out in the forums there, most are having worsening health problems.  They refuse to question the good doctor though.  They believe him when he says it’s their “zip code” that’s the problem (all of the EMF, you know), and several of them are planning out of state moves – uprooting their kids, quitting their jobs.  Because Jack Kruse said to!  They’re ignoring all information to the contrary, blaming themselves for their health problems rather than blaming the TERRIBLE ADVICE THEY’RE GETTING.

EAT SOME CARBS, DAMMIT!

It’s easy to sit and judge from outside, but I know I’ve fallen into the same trap.  I’ve gotten caught up in what someone is saying and I stop listening to the messages my body is sending.  I followed the low-carb path out of habit long after it stopped feeling good.

I was feeling great on a Peat-inspired high-carbohydrate (high-sugar) diet for a few months.  I felt happy – free of depression and anxiety for the first time…ever.  It was great.  I thought anxious was my personality.  Nope.  It wasn’t.  I know that now because I’ve seen what it’s like to not have it.  The last time I felt that way was about 2 weeks ago.  I remember watching my daughter play and having that feeling – that great feeling of “there’s nothing wrong.”  Even my bad body image takes a break during these periods of time, which last only a few hours. I look back my diet log in Cronometer and around then I was eating a high sugar, moderately low-fat diet at the time, no starches.

Well, that’s great, except my diabetes is probably causing endothelial damage as we speak…and of course then there’s the rising triglycerides/cholesterol (read: impending heart disease).

I’m on a merry go round of silly dietary stuff. I’m pretty tired of tracking what I eat. It would be worth the effort if I was seeing some improvement, but…I’m not. I’m tired of looking around and seeing nothing I can eat that isn’t in some way making me more sick (except milk….hm….all-milk diet?).  I’m avoiding going to the doctor because I think what’s next for me is 2-3 prescription medications, none of which I want to take, because it feels like I’m giving up.  I broke my body (somehow) – I should be able to fix it!  I’m intelligent and determined!

But also tired of running into brick walls.

I’ve decided to start another resistant starch experiment.  I ordered – and received – the 3 probiotic products (scroll a bit to see the “Frequently Bought Together” section) recommended by RN over at Free The Animal.  I may use Dr. BG’s 7 step fix-your-gut protocol. I don’t know if I’ll be using potato starch or not.  Pros: It’s still in my kitchen cabinet and it’s easy and tasteless.  Cons: Possible organ failure related to long-term use.  I’m at the point now where I’m willing to roll the dice on this one.  Or, maybe I’ll find a resistant starch that has a smaller granule size, thus side-stepping the organ death thing.  Don’t know.  I’m not going to do anything though, until I get my gut critters analyzed.  A year ago I ordered a sample kit from the American Gut Project, out of curiosity.  Then I moved 3 times within about 6 months and never got around to using it.  Only problem is, now I can’t find the sample kit. Guess I have some house cleaning to do today.

What else…oh, the hot flashes stopped a couple days ago.  Don’t know why they started.  Don’t know why they stopped.

/stream of consciousness.

Good Times

I’ll get to the resistant starch stuff…later.  That’s going to take a little research and a little discussion that I’m too tired to articulate right now.  But we’ll get there.

Today, just for a minute, I want to talk about how much better I feel now than I did 2 months ago.  Two people in my life this week commented to me that I’m not moody or depressed anymore.  One of those people has asked me for help with his mood problems. I gave him a Ray Peat-inspired shopping list and told him to buy some lights.

I few months ago when I started following Peat’s recommendations I never felt at peace.  I realize this now only because now I have stretches of time that I feel GREAT.  Like, peaceful and happy and content with my life exactly as it is.  A complete lack of anxiety or depression.  Back in November I started having these moments.  They were fleeting, but they were there.  Just in the last week or so those moments have been lasting longer – for hours sometimes!  I have no idea what is happening biochemically in me that causes that feeling, but it’s fabulous.

This week I got my period and had no PMS.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I had a mood swing that lasted all of 5 minutes which made me cry for no good reason.  That was it.  My PMS used to last days.  DAYS.  And now it’s over in 5 minutes.

Also, this week, my hunger stopped being so crazy.  I feel like a normal person again, and have for the last 5 or 6 days.  No crazy appetite.  WTH?

I’ve got the whole family on the Peat plan now.  I make Peat-friendly meals and we all eat them.  My daughter used to get rashes when she drank milk.  She would get them around her mouth and in random areas on her body.  She also used to have keratosis pilaris (KP) on her arms and cheeks. Turns out that milk doesn’t CAUSE these skin problems…milk causes an increase in nutrient metabolism, requiring more vitamin A.  The deficiency of vitamin A causes skin problems.  Now she gets plenty of vitamin A in her diet and no longer has rashes or KP.  Brilliant!  Thanks for making that clear, Dr. Peat.

Anyway Peat offers no quick fix, no express train to a lean body.  But if your goal is to be happy and to feel at peace, even while carrying those extra pounds, this (for me, anyway) is the way to do it.

hs-CRP

So my hs-CRP is really flippin high.  It’s like over 8.  Everyone else at the Kruse forum is always talking about their microscopic hs-CRPs of like 0.04…well, mine is 8.  If my hs-CRP were a mammal it would be an elephant.  If it were a phone it would be one of those car-phones from the 80s.  If it were a building it would be the Empire State Building.  You get the idea.

It creeps into my consciousness frequently.  What’s causing that high number?  The hs-CRP (highly-sensitive C-Reactive Protein) test is a measure of inflammation. It’s likely to be elevated due to acute conditions (like an infection or trauma) or chronic ones (like an autoimmune condition). This study caught my eye:

Relation between a diet with a high glycemic load and plasma concentrations of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein in middle-aged women.

These guys found that having a high-glycemic diet (particularly when obese) is correlated with high hs-CRP, among middle-aged women.  I like that.  It’s better than cancer.

I should stop worrying so much.  Oh yeah.  I’m working on that.

Anxiety N=1

So I’m starting to take myo-inositol to address symptoms of anxiety and some depression.  As I described in a previous post, clinical studies indicate this stuff can be as effective as SSRIs, without the side effects.

So I decided to do my own N=1 study on the effects of myo-inositol on anxiety.  This won’t be the greatest experiment the world has ever known, because there are confounding factors.  I’ve started exercising more recently, and I’ve reduced the stress in my life in the last couple of months. Also, it’s not a single- or double-blind anything, and there’s no control group.  Just me goofing around with some powder I bought on Amazon.  Still, it wasn’t expensive and I thought it would be fun.  Studies indicate it takes about a month to see the effects of myo-inositol on anxiety, and dosing should be in the neighborhood of 12g/day.  I have a 5g scoop so I’m going to do 10g/day (5g 2x a day).

I took this Anxiety Self-Assessment today.  It cost $7 for the full report.  I’ll take it again in about 6 weeks and see if there’s been much change.

Here are my assessment results:

anx1

Anx2

Here’s the text provided verbatim by Psychology Today that describes what you’re looking at in the above graphical representations:

Overall Anxiety (score 53)

Definition – Overall level of anxiety

According to your test results, your level of anxiety is moderate, which means there is a risk that it could become a problem in your life. Although you are generally able to cope, your stress and worry might sometimes interfere with your ability to function in your everyday life. This is nothing to beat yourself up about – anxiety is a very common problem with a wide range of causes. The most important thing however, is that you take active steps to decrease the frequency and intensity of these emotions, so that they don’t dictate the way you carry out your life. Educate yourself by reading informative sources on the subject. You can start by checking out the Advice and Tips section, but if you feel unable to deal with these anxious feelings on your own, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

Generalized Anxiety (score 36)

Definition – A state of continuous apprehension and anticipation of something horrible, characterized by excessive anxiety and unrealistic worry.

You seem to have very few signs of generalized anxiety and excessive worry. Essentially, this means that you have developed a repertoire of coping strategies as well as a support network for dealing with both the small stressors and the big worries life throws at you. Chances are that you generally sleep well, maintain a stable mood, feel calm, are able to concentrate and are not overly irritable or edgy. Certain things, or just “one of those days”, however, can occasionally take their toll on you. This is not too serious (you are human, after all), but you can always benefit from building on your current coping abilities.

Physiological Anxiety (score 19)

Definition – Somatic manifestations of anxiety such as fatigue, tension, digestive problems, palpitations or pounding heart, sweating, etc.

You appear to show very few, if any physical manifestations of anxiety. Some of the ways our body will signal that it is experiencing high levels of anxiety include fatigue, tension, digestive problems, palpitations or pounding heart, sweating, and a general sense that your health is not up to par. You still may be feeling stress, but you don’t seem to be experiencing any strong somatic symptoms on a regular basis.

Mood Instability (score 60)

Definition – Level of mood instability (mental agitation and psychological distress).

Your score indicates that you sometimes experience a variation in your mood, which may very well be a consequence of an elevated overall anxiety level. You are generally able to remain calm and relaxed but may lose some control of your emotions when faced with stressful situations. This could result in occasional moments of impatience, as well as some moodiness and irritability. Chances are that these mood swings are causing trouble in your relationships with others, although you may not even realize it. Deal with the underlying anxiety that is causing this shift in emotions and it will make you feel better.

Existential Anxiety (score 67)

Definition – Anxiety state related to personal mortality, self-acceptance, guilt, and meaninglessness.

Your score on this scale was moderate, indicating that you are somewhat satisfied with life and are generally able to handle the fact that there are things beyond your control. You feel OK about yourself on the whole, but sometimes experience an excessive amount of discontent. Individuals with this profile may have some difficulty finding meaning in their lives, experience sporadic feelings of futility, or worry about the future. These flashes of existential anxiety have not reached a serious level in your life, but there is the possibility they could create a snowball effect and become more harmful.

Ruminations (score 81)

Definition – Recurrent thoughts that are distressing and disturbing.

According to your results, you tend to over-think your problems. Rather than distracting yourself with more positive activities and thoughts, you almost always dwell on pessimistic feelings. This is an unhealthy habit. Endless reflection can contribute to depression, complicate relationships, and even encourage drug and alcohol abuse. Consider seeking social or professional support, as well as writing your thoughts down.

***********************

So check in with me in 6 weeks or so.  By then perhaps I’ll be a zen-like goddess of harmony and tranquility.

Anxiety and Myo-Inositol

I haven’t talked much about it on here, but I have some problems with Anxiety.  I have Social Anxiety to some degree, which makes me dread having to talk to people I don’t know (or even those I do), despite really liking people in general.  I had to teach myself the importance of looking people in the eye – it’s always been (and still is) very difficult for me.  I learned how to make friends by watching TV.  Turns out there’s kind of a formula to it.  To relate to men be a good listener and know stuff about stuff.  To relate to women be a good listener and be willing to share stories about yourself.

The internet seems to be very helpful as far as getting around my social phobia – I can gain lots of information and even relate to people without having to actually face them.  Practice and experience with people doesn’t lessen the anxiety.  I’ve been in a human services or customer service field for over 20 years…and it’s still there.  I know it’s irrational – I know other people aren’t nearly as scary as I think they are, and I know they’re probably just as scared of me.  And still it persists.

I also have what some might call Generalized Anxiety – I just worry about stuff.  I worry about money, I worry about my child’s health, I worry about getting in a car and driving…normally this stuff doesn’t stop me from doing things I want to do, but I do go through a lot of unnecessary worry, even though I know it doesn’t help anything.  That’s no fun, and I really don’t want to turn my daughter into a worrywart by sending her the message that the world is a scary place.

I’ve been reading buzz lately about myo-inositol being effective in the treatment of anxiety, without the side effects of SSRIs and without requiring a diagnosis and subsequent medical establishment discrimination.  So, because I’m now a data driven consumer of health-related information, and because I now require peer-reviewed evidence of a treatment’s efficacy before trying it, I decided to do a search of scholarly articles on the topic of myo-inositol.  Please join me as I explore the internet.

Article 1:  Of people currently being treated for OCD with an SSRI, they additionally gave half of them myo-inositol, and half got placebo.  Conclusion: myo-inositol is NOT better than placebo in treating OCD (another anxiety disorder) – at least it doesn’t offer added benefit when already taking an SSRI.  Pros: Randomized, double blind study with a control group.  Cons: Only used a very small sample (n=10 – meaning, only 10 subjects participated in the study).

Article 2: Studied myo-inositol compared to Fluvoxamine (Luvox, an SSRI) for panic disorder (an anxiety disorder that involves panic attacks.  I don’t have those.)  Conclusion:  They both work for reducing panic attacks, and the myo-inositol had fewer side effects than the Luvox.  Pros: Randomized, double-blind.  Cons: Small sample size (n=20).

Article 3: This is a meta analysis (meaning an analysis of many studies done on the topic) of myo-inositol.   Here’s a rundown of the studies they analyzed:

  • #1:
    • N=21
    • Dx (Diagnosis): Panic Disorder
    • IV (Independent Variable):12g of myo-inositol per day.
    • Outcome: Frequency and severity of panic attacks decreased significantly with myo-inositol compared to placebo, with minimal side effects
    • Pros: Double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized
    • Cons: Small sample size
  • #2
    • N=13
    • Dx: OCD
    • IV:18g myo-inositil daily
    • Outcome:Inositol significantly reduced scores of OCD symptoms compared with placebo
    • Pros:double-blind controlled crossover trial with placebo
    • Cons:Small sample size
  • #3
    • N=12
    • Dx: Schizophrenia
    • IV: 12g myo-inositil daily
    • Outcome: No beneficial effects
    • Pros:controlled, double-blind
    • Cons:Small sample
  • #4
    • N=11
    • Dx: Alzheimers
    • IV: 6g of myo-inositil daily
    • Outcome:No clear therapeutic effect
    • Pros:double-blind, placebo controlled
    • Cons: Small Sample
  • #5
    • N=11 children
    • Dx: Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity (ADDH)
    • IV: 200mg per day per kg of body weight
    • Outcome: Kids got worse on the myo-inositil
    • Pros:double-blind, crossover, placebo controlled
    • Cons: Small sample
  • #6
    • N=9 children
    • Dx: Autism
    • IV: 200mg per day per kg of body weight
    • Outcome: No benefit
    • Pros: double-blind, crossover, placebo controlled
    • Cons: Small sample
  • #7
    • N=12
    • Dx: ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy)-induced memory impairment
    • IV: 6g daily
    • Outcome: No effect
    • Pros:crossover–double-blind
    • Cons: Small sample

Overall conclusions of the study?

These results suggest that inositol has therapeutic effects in the spectrum of illness responsive to serotonin selective re-uptake inhibitors, including depression, panic and OCD, and is not beneficial in schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, ADDH, autism or ECT-induced cognitive impairment.

Hm….Ok, it’s looking good.  Of the 4 studies testing the effects of myo-inositil on anxiety, 3 demonstrated improvement.  It doesn’t appear to help schizophrenia, brain damage, autism, or ADDH (…I thought it was ADHD…).  There were also a number of studies citing the effects of myo-inositil on depression, with favorable effects being demonstrated.

Ok, good enough.  I’m ordering some!

ETA: Given the high average doses, I bought it in bulk.