A New Phase

Welcome to Lanie’s House of Surly.  I seem to have taken a turn from depressed to irritable.  Two sides of the same coin, I suppose.  At least this way I can get some things done.  Depression sucks.

Know what else sucks?  High blood pressure.  It seems to me, after a month of being on beta blockers, including a failed attempt to get off of them, that they do nothing for me and I can manage this bitch completely by better managing my intake of minerals (potassium, calcium, magnesium).  I just took my blood pressure.  159/91.  That’s on beta blockers, and with NOT watching mineral intake for a week.  (And my meter measures low, by the way.)  That’s eating a generally healthy diet, not using the salt shaker, but not being so obsessive about it that I avoid all food that contains sodium.  I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, and I think I’m going to be informing her that it is NOT “fine to just stop taking [beta blockers]” after taking them for only 3 weeks, and that I’d like a diuretic instead.  As well as a better plan to get off of these physically addictive craptastic pills without sending my adrenaline and blood pressure to the moon.

I’ve been reading Ray Medina’s blog lately.  Very interesting stuff, and he seems to be just a regular person – not a scientist or a doctor – just a guy who has done a ton of his own research on the role of gut bacteria in health.  Just like Ray Peat seems to think everything comes back to the thyroid, Ray Medina blames the ills of society on pathogenic gut bacteria.  I don’t know who’s right, but RM makes a lot of sense.  He seems to recommend a gut-healthy diet, something along the lines of Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet, which is basically Paleo plus “safe starches”.  Yeah, I tried eating “safe starches” and I haven’t felt happy since.  After spending hours reading his blog and not finding answers to my specific issues, I wrote to him to ask:

Q: Is there such thing as a pathogenic bacteria that may cause an endotoxin problem only in the presence of starches?

A: Interesting question.

Gut pathogens, like most living organisms, utilize glucose and iron for their metabolism, although not all. Lactobacillus bacteria, for example, do not require iron for growth. Other pathogens like Candida can utilize both glucose and ketones for their metabolism. I suspect this is why so many low-carb dieters are beset by yeast infections even when glucose intake is low.

It’s impossible for me to tell whether your problem is caused by bacteria or yeast. It may be one, the other, or both.

We know that lipopolysaccharides can initiate the inflammatory cascade that results in depression. Translocation of these types of gram-negative bacterial components to systemic circulation is dependent on their concentration in the gut, whether they are kept in check by beneficial bacteria, the condition of the mucus that coats the digestive tract, the state of the cells lining the gut wall, and the tight junction proteins that bind them together.

Best regards,

Ray

He states on his site that he’s not all about giving people medical advice, so I was pretty happy he even wrote back.  What I take from his answer is that lipopolysaccharides (LPS, also known as endotoxin) can cause depression.  Various factors, such as the balance of good bacteria vs. bad and gut leakiness have a lot to do with whether they become problematic.  Ray Peat says basically the same thing, and recommends eating a raw carrot salad daily to address this (antibacterial carrot + oil + vinegar).  Ray Medina stated also that yeast may be playing a role.

Who the hell knows.

I’m not sure what to do about this.  Medina recommends a probiotic (he has his own, the production of which has been discontinued) and there are others he seems to think highly of. None are the soil-based probiotics recommended by Nikoley and crew.  The challenge with probiotics seems to be getting the microbes to survive the stomach acid, which kills most of what we ingest. I ordered one of the last 5 bottles produced by Medina himself.  Add it to the collection.

In other news, I got a Fitbit Flex for my birthday yesterday.  I’ve walked 7800 steps today.  That doesn’t include the steps during which I was pushing a stroller, because apparently it doesn’t count those.  Awesome.

Ok, I’ve lost interest in writing.  Time to go be surly somewhere else.

Progesterone: A Side Effect

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:

  • April 2013: 145/88
  • June 2013: 135/83
  • November 2013: 155/109 (had recently started Peat-inspired plan, had increased salt and fluids and was taking Progest E, at a pretty low dose.)

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.

Weird Stuff

The last few days I’ve been sick again.  It was odd though – not your typical cold or flu brought home from Kiddo’s day care.  It was just a sore throat.  Again.  I’ve had a lot of really bad sore throats lately.  And now, another wave of the worst sore throat I’ve ever had in my entire life.  So bad that I was crying this morning, unable to talk or swallow without stabbing pain.  So finally I went to the doc.  I hesitate to go to a doctor because my insurance is pretty bad and it usually means spending a couple hundred dollars.  Today I didn’t care though.  I was in pain!

So the doc asked me a bunch of questions:

Doc: “Are you taking any prescription meds?”

Me: No.  (<– Lie, I’ve been taking my husband’s Lisinopril, an ACE inhibitor for high blood pressure.  I haven’t taken it for a couple days though.)

Doc: “Any pain in your ears?”

Me: Yeah, a little bit now that you mention it….

Doc: “Have you ever had mono?”

Me: No. Why, do you think this could be mono?

Doc: No. Ok, we’re going to do a strep test. (Inserts long awful stick into my mouth and makes me gag.)  Be back in 10 minutes.

** Insert easy listening or otherwise non-offensive instrumental music here **

10 minutes later:

Doc: Well, the strep test came back negative.  But here’s something that may be going on.  Your uvula looks a little swollen.  That’s that thing that hangs in the back of your throat.  You might have uvulitis.  (Hands me a sheet detailing the causes, symptoms, treatments of this odd malady.)  Often it’s a side effect of some medications, but it can happen for other reasons, so just ignore the part on there that talks about medications.

I look at the sheet…and it seems uvulitis can be a side effect of taking ACE inhibitors…and it names 3, including Lisinopril.  No other medications or medication types listed.  Just ACE inhibitors…and Lisinopril.  The sheet he gave me says that if taking one of these medications you should discontinue it and from then on consider yourself allergic to that medication.

Well huh.  No more Lisinopril for me.

He prescribed a steroid medication and antibiotics.  Now, 12 hours later I feel awesome.  No more sore throat, no more fatigue.  Back to normal.  I love that doc.  Thanks, doc for helping me even though I lied and said I wasn’t taking any prescription medication.  Sorry about that.  I’m a bad patient.

Also, they took my blood pressure at the office and it was 136/78.  That’s much lower than my own monitor has been telling me.  Last time I went to the doc for one reason or another it was high – I’m sure this isn’t my imagination.  Maybe the Peat principles are helping my blood pressure after all.  Or maybe my BP monitor just sucks.

In other news, I’m not scared of diabetes anymore.  I’ve learned there are things that can be done to lower blood sugar, including….wait for it….wait for it…

….taking T3!

Yes, not only does it lower your LDL cholesterol and reignite the hormonal cascade that has been on siesta, apparently it also lowers blood sugar.  I’ve found a few studies here and there but need to do a more exhaustive review of the research literature on this.

Ok.  Going to eat some orange juice gelatin and go to bed.

A Plant-Based Diet

About 6 days ago I wasn’t feeling so hot – physically or emotionally.  I was still frustrated by my most recent set of labs, in which I discovered a crazy-high hs-CRP, high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol….basically everything has been going in the wrong direction for a really long time.  High blood pressure, high blood sugar, high BUN/Creatinine ratio… It’s all been a bit troubling.

For almost the last 2 years, I’ve been eating a lower-carb diet…sometimes very low.  I’ve been eating some form of meat or fish at least twice a day.  I’ve been off and on with dairy but I eat eggs almost every day.  The Paleo community says these are some of the staples of healthy living – meat, eggs, fat.  Many even advocate for a Ketogenic diet.  I did feel better when I started eating low-carb.  Not so sleepy.  More energy – not a ton, but more.

I got to thinking…If my labs have been going in the wrong direction, maybe it’s time to make a major change.  Try something else.  Something completely different.  Maybe the opposite of what I’ve been doing.

Last week I watched Forks Over Knives.  Usually movies promoting a plant-based diet are very emotional and difficult to watch, and involve footage of cows and chickens being tortured by the agriculture industry.  This one had none of that. It made a good and scientific case for giving up animal products for the benefit of your health.  It was very convincing.

Long story short…I am currently 5 days into a plant-based diet.  No meat of any kind, no dairy, no eggs.  I’m not calling it a “vegan” diet because this isn’t about veganism, per se, which has political undertones. It’s a 100% plant-based diet.  I’m giving myself 1 week to experiment with recipes and learn how to do this – and during this past week I’ve had some processed plant-based foods. Beginning Wednesday and for the next 4-5 weeks, it will be as close as I can possibly get to a whole-food plant based diet (food that has been processed or refined as little as possible and is free from additives/preservatives or other artificial substances).  I’m also remaining gluten-free, which won’t be hard if I’m avoiding processed food.  Essentially, this is a high-carb, moderate-fat diet.  Lots of starches, fruits, and vegetables. Not much soy. Some folks with an M.D. after their name recommend a low-fat plant-based diet for health.  I’m not doing that.  My diet will continue to include coconut oil and olive oil.

At the end of the 4-5 weeks I’m going to get labs done – probably just a lipid panel to start, along with hs-CRP, to see if things are going in the right direction.  Depending on how that turns out I may do more labs. If things doesn’t improve I’ll know the meat isn’t to blame, and I’ll consider targeting something else.

Time for bed.  Sleeping well again since discontinuing the T3.  Updates tomorrow.

T3 – Day 10

I don’t feel good taking T3.  I’m debating whether or not to continue.

I haven’t been sleeping well – last night I was up from 2AM – 5:30AM.  I feel depressed and irritable…and not just because I’m tired.  I’ve been tired before and I don’t always feel like this.  I feel like nothing can make me smile.  I feel bad for the people living with me.

My motivation for everything is absent.  I don’t have the energy to care.

I know it takes time to adjust, but I can’t feel like this for weeks or months.

I’m considering a REALLY big-picture change.  But before I get into that, let’s look at the evidence.  A month into starting this blog, I wrote down the physical ailments that I was interested in fixing.  They are as follows, with current updates in Bold.

  1. High fasting and post-prandial blood sugar (the post-prandial is only high when I eat carbs.  On my current diet only the fasting is high). Still a problem.  Back then, my FBG was in the range of 115-120.  Now?  Same.
  2. Allergies (seasonal and pets)I don’t have so many problems with allergies but I think that’s because I no longer have cats.  They didn’t make the trip back from California.  I tolerated those allergies for 15 years.
  3. Plantar fasciitis (pain in the soles of my feet when I first get out of bed or first stand after sitting for a while) – This is much better but I think it’s the lack of exercise and the switch to high-quality shoes over the last year.
  4. Excess body fat.  My current BMI is 31.9.  That puts me in the “obese” category.  I have always thought the BMI scale was full of shit, but it’s certainly true that I’m overweight.  My BMI is now around 34.8.  Worse, obviously.
  5. PMS, including some pretty severe mood swings. – My period has gotten VERY inconsistent.  My last cycle was over 10 weeks long, meaning I missed a period or two.  I suppose there are various reasons for this, but my hormones were all very low before starting BHRT last summer.  Now that I’ve quit the BHRT I guess they’ve returned to their low, peri-menopausal level.  My moods have been ok in spite of this.  I’m not sure why.  At some point I’ll test again.
  6. Low sex drive. – Still.  Worse, actually.
  7. High total cholesterol Not better.  A bit worse.
  8. Fatigue My fatigue is largely gone.  I think my adrenals healed since I’ve been able to go to part time work over the last 6 months.  I don’t attribute this improvement to diet.  The improvement correlated with rest and reduction of emotional stress.  And maybe the reduction of exposure to allergens.
  9. AcneStill, but less frequently.  Correlates with my less-frequent periods.

So…almost 2 years on a moderate-high protein, high fat, animal-based diet has not helped much.  Lifestyle changes (specifically stress removal) have helped.

New ailments to target:

  1. High Blood Pressure – This started about 9 months ago, and correlates with my 10% weight gain last year.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen or what I’m going to do.  I’ll keep you apprised.

The End of…The Plan

Ok, 2 days on The Plan was enough for me.

I revisited the Carrot Soup they had me make yesterday – it was on the menu again today for lunch.  I took a couple bites, thinking to myself, “Exactly how much is my health worth to me?  Enough for me to choke down this awful bowl of carrot mush?”  No.  Not that much, apparently.  I guess I’d rather go full on metabolic syndrome than eat that again.  Down the trash disposal it went.

I did stay on plan most of the day.  I was feeling completely unsatisfied by seeds and leaves and I did have a piece of plain, unseasoned, unsalted chicken for lunch, along with my seeds and leaves.  Without it I just kept thinking about food.  I was hungry.

But the deal breaker for me…is the water.  For the last 2 days I’ve drank the requisite 100 oz of water (one ounce for every 2 pounds of my current weight).  Yes, I was peeing all the time, and yes that was inconvenient.  But I don’t wanna die so I am willing to do this.  Well, I started feeling “off” tonight…like, pressure around my carotid artery.  I know that sounds weird, but usually when I feel that way I’m either getting sick or my blood pressure is too high.  So I tested my blood pressure.

160/104.  With resting heart rate at 91.

WTF?  I was thinking, how could this happen?  No salt for 2 days, nothing but seeds and leaves and some very plain organic chicken.  Why the 20 point increase in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings?  Then I remembered a time, years ago, that my husband accidentally took too much of his blood pressure medication.  As his blood pressure was falling over the next few hours, I googled, “How to raise blood pressure.”  The answer?  Eat salty snacks.  Drink lots of water.

Drink lots of water.

That’s the only change I’ve made recently that might possibly be having an impact on my blood pressure.  Is it possible that drinking beyond my actual thirst to what feels like an extreme 100 oz/day (by 7:30PM, according to The Plan) caused this?

So I took one of my husband’s BP meds (I should have my own, I know…but I don’t want to be diagnosed with high blood pressure right now because that will make it more difficult to get health insurance when I need to buy it in 6 months).  And now I’m drinking some white wine…a powerful diuretic.

I’m going to check my BP again right now:

152/92.  Resting heart rate still high – 93.

Ok, coming down.  What a mess.

Biohacking can be dangerous, boys and girls.