I’m Due

Due for a post.  I’m not sure what to write, but I have things spinning around my brain, so let’s see what comes out.

Liver

I must talk some more about the difference eating liver has made to my skin.  Did I mention that years-old acne scars have completely disappeared? I don’t even feel the need to wear makeup anymore – my skin just has this amazing glow all the time now. It’s not oily/dry in places the way it used to be, and the color/texture is perfect.  Eat your liver!  It’s chock full of Vitamin A (as well as many other nutrients).  Only 4-6 oz, once a week.  I noticed a difference within 2 days of eating it for the first time.  I should mention I’m eating grass-fed beef liver, but until a couple weeks ago it wasn’t grass-fed – it was just regular “organic” beef liver.

I still struggle with the taste a bit.  I’ve doused it in organic ketchup and various curry sauces.  No doubt about it, it’s difficult.  It’s much less difficult if it’s soaked in milk for a couple hours, then sliced thin and cooked to just medium-rare.  If you over-cook that puppy it turns into glue once you start chewing.  Ugh.  I found these tips by Chris Masterjohn to be very helpful.  I also tried eating a bite of it raw this last time.  It was surprisingly easy.  Just put a small bite on your tongue and wash it down with milk or water.  No taste at all!  Delightful!  I’m thinking of doing the whole darn serving raw next week.

Steroids

To treat my freaking weird adverse reaction to Lisinopril, I was prescribed steroids.  I like to call them ‘Roids (as does probably everyone who gets prescribed steroids for a short period of time, I’m sure…cuz it’s funny).  This was a really interesting experience for me.  I felt fantastic while taking them.  I had lots of energy and felt alert but calm.  I slept like a rock at night.  Also, oddly, in the 6 days I was taking my ‘Roids I lost 5 pounds, even though I was eating normally.  I wasn’t even avoiding carbs.  These factors, as well as a comment on my last post, made it very clear to me that I’m deficient in thyroid hormone – a precursor to pregnenolone, which is a precursor to the steroid hormones that our bodies make naturally.  Like this:

Hormone Cascade

I’m getting plenty of Vitamin A (see “Liver,” above) and Lord knows I have plenty of LDL cholesterol to spare.  What’s missing is Thyroid (T3).  So 3 days ago I started taking T3 again.  I’ve learned from Ray Peat that taking too much T3 too soon, or increasing too quickly can backfire.  Regarding T3, he says:

If too much is taken suddenly, a person who has been deficient in thyroid is likely to experience an excess of adrenaline. Since the body normally produces about 4 mcg of T3 in an hour, taking 10 or 20 mcg at once is unphysiological.

Last time I attempted to take T3, I wasn’t being very mindful of how powerful these incredibly small tablets are.  You really do have to be very careful by starting small and increasing very conservatively.  Signs of adrenaline (heart pounding, insomnia) are indicators you’ve done too much too soon.  That’s what I did last time. This time around I’m cutting these itty bitty pills into eighths, and taking only 3mcg a day.  I’ll do that for 10 days or so, and at that point I may try a second dose in the afternoon.

Also, last time around, I wasn’t eating a particularly nutritious diet.  When supplementing with T3 you need to have a nutrient-dense diet, because nutrients are used up more quickly.  In fact (and this one had me going “a-ha!”), my current metabolism and endogenous T3 production is likely directly related to my historically poor nutrition.  No nutrition, thyroid health suffers.  In other words, my metabolism and thyroid function slowed to meet my poor nutrition halfway.  So nice of it.

Vitamin K

I’ve decided to start supplementing Vitamin K.  Apparently this is the vitamin that helps calcium get into your bones/teeth and stop wandering around in your bloodstream.  Ray Peat says you can get K from well-cooked greens or veggies, or even by drinking the broth they’re cooked in.  I might get around to that…but my motivation to do so is low.  I just don’t like them much. I’ve decided to try Thorne Vitamin K drops.  It seems expensive, but there are 1200 1mg drops in each bottle, bringing down the cost per mg and making it competitive in price.

Guess that’s it for now.

Ciao.

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.

T3 and Iodine Research

This week I began having heart palpitations and stabbing headaches.  I checked around the web to see if these were common side effects when one is supplementing with T3 (Liothyronine).  Anecdotally, numerous people in various groups and forums report anxiousness, heart palpitations, anxiety attacks…but many people say it’s transitory.

I also checked my Medscape App (which, incidentally, was recommended to me by a pharmacist friend of mine for learning about the effects of various medications).  Medscape says that for hypothyroidism an initial dose of 25mcg per day is typical, and can be raised by 25mcg each week if necessary to 75mcg/day. I was taking 25mcg a day, so I wasn’t on a terribly high dose.  Under “Adverse Effects” the following are listed as occurring in less than 1% of users: insomnia, nervousness, tremor, cramps, diarrhea, and changes in menstrual cycle.  In the “Frequency Not Defined” (in other words, we don’t know how many people have this experience) the following adverse side effects are listed: arrhythmias, headache, sweating.  I guess I’d fall into the frequency not defined column.

Anyway, I stopped taking it.  I tapered down over a 3 day period from 25mcg –> 18 –> 6 –> 0.  I was feeling unwell even on 6mcg.  I’ve felt better in the 3 days since I stopped taking it.

I am starting to think I’ve been a little too carefree in my approach to putting foreign substances in my body.

Another case in point:  Yesterday I was perusing Facebook.  I’m a member of several health-oriented Facebook groups, including one devoted to Iodine Supplementation and one based on the work of Ray Peat.  In the Ray Peat group yesterday a very thoughtful commenter asked the following:

Since milk contains such large amounts of iodine what is the advantage of a hypothyroid person drinking 2 quarts daily? It seems this would be quite an overdose of iodine…… I understand its use for the minerals, but never questioned the iodine content until now…

Hm…this post suggests that Ray Peat is not in favor of iodine supplementation.  A little research on this suggests that indeed this is the case.  Apparently in an interview, Dr. Peat stated the following in response to the question,Is iodine supplementation safe and, if not, is there a safe amount of supplemental iodine?”

“A dosage of 150 mcg (micrograms, not milligrams, e.g., ug not mg) is a safe amount of iodine. There are excellent references describing the effect of a moderate iodine excess (even below a milligram per day) on the thyroid. An iodine deficiency can cause hypothyroidism (rare now), but so can an excess. Iodine deficiency is an unusual cause of hypothyroidism, except in a few places, like the mountains of Mexico and China, and the Andes.

Most goiters now are from estrogen-like effects, but they used to be from iodine deficiency. Chronic excess iodine tends to cause thyroiditis, regardless of the gland’s size. The amounts used by Abraham and Flechas are much larger than this — very toxic doses, enough to cause severe thyroid problems.”

Well, that’s interesting.  I have not done an exhaustive review of the available research on iodine or anything, but I had never heard anyone say anything like this, whereas there are many testimonials online as to the benefits of iodine supplementation, and many people in my iodine group on facebook have been helped immensely by it.

So this spurred more research.  I ended up spending hours researching iodine and it’s effects – positive and negative – when used in high doses (which for my purposes are >1mg – basically far more than is required to avoid goiter).  I came across a number of peer reviewed articles that suggest there is significant risk in supplementing with Iodine, including risk of hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s (autoimmune thyroid disease): here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Well, score one for Ray Peat.

In case I haven’t been clear, SUPPLEMENTING WITH IODINE CAN BE DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH.

I got on my iodine Facebook page and asked if anyone knew of peer reviewed research refuting or contradicting the results of these studies.  They got mad at me and shamed me until I left.  I guess that’s why you never hear the other side of the story.

Anyway, won’t be supplementing with iodine anytime soon.  I’m sure it’s helped many, many people, but that doesn’t mean it’s without risk.  Great risk, in some cases.  This is the downside of medicating oneself based on researching anecdotes from the internet or following someone’s protocol just because he or she has an M.D.

Question Everything.  And always do your own research.

There are other changes too in my world.  I’ll talk about those 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.

Bad Sleep

Well, the T3 definitely seems to be affecting my sleep.

Today I woke up at 2:00AM (went to bed at 11:00), and couldn’t get back to sleep.  It’s now 5:00AM, and I’m alert like it’s noon.

I took all 25mcg of the T3 early enough (or so I thought) – a 6mcg dose every 2 hours between 8AM and 2PM yesterday…and yet, here we are.  I did have one glass of wine last night…but I don’t think that would make a huge difference.  I know it takes time for your body to get used to a new medication.

I’ve been charting my body temperatures and heart rates to gauge the effectiveness of the T3.  Early AM temps are averaging around 97.4 F (but right now my temp is 98.0), and rise throughout the day to an average of 98.6.  A couple days ago it got up to 99 for a little while, but I had taken 2 doses a little closer together than usual.  Heart rate starts in the high 60s and is in the low 80s by mid day (and currently it’s 68).  So the T3 seems to be at an appropriate dose – it’s getting me where I want it to be most of the day.  I’m not sure why there’s insomnia.  Stress hormones putting up a fight?

Will just continue on for now and hope it passes.

The depression has lifted a bit.  I’m still a little irritable, but it’s not as bad.

I decided not to take all of those supplements I talked about in my last post.  Further research indicates the depression is probably not detox related.  For now I’m taking my usual regimen: A multivitamin, Vitamin D3, magnesium, and a B-complex.

Anyway, It’s been just over a week on the T3…I’ll just continue on.

T3 Blues

I’ve been feeling depressed the last 3 days. I’ve taking one 25 mcg tablet of Cynomel (T3) cut up into several doses that I take several hours apart throughout the day.  Some research on thyroid hormone indicates that the 3 in “T3” refers to 3 iodine molecules.  Similarly, the 4 in T4 refers to 4 molecules of iodine.  Is it possible the T3 is causing some bromine/fluoride/chlorine detox?  This is the same way I felt taking iodine…awesome for a few days, and then depressed.

I decided to go ahead and start taking Lynne Farrow’s recommended iodine cosupplements, just in case the T3 is causing a detox reaction.  Some of these I was taking already, but now I’m taking all of the following:

  • Magnesium Glycinate – 200mg/day 3x a day
  • Selenium – 200 mcg
  • Niacin (Vitamin B3) – 500mg 2x a day
  • Vitamin B2 – 100mg 3x a day
  • Vitamin C is also recommended, 3g a day or more.  I find I can’t tolerate any of my current Vitamin C (Calcium Ascorbate – Ester C) – not even 500mg.  It gives me digestive problems.  I’m going to try a different kind.

Farrow recommends taking Niacin (Vitamin B3) in the non-niacinamide version – the version that causes a flushing reaction in many people.  I took it for the first time today to see what kind of response I’d have.  All at once at exactly 2:12 PM, I felt my face and arms get really hot.  I looked at myself in the mirror and I looked like I’d been out in the sun for 4 hours.  I also got all itchy.  It sucked.  Now, an hour later, I’m still flushed but the itching and heat has died down.  I won’t be taking that anymore.  Anyone want a bottle of exactly 89 Niacin capsules?  Free to a good home. I’m going to take the Niacinamide instead.  (<–Niaciniamide is “no-flush” niacin.  I’m not really sure why it’s discouraged regarding the iodine protocol.)

Anyway, so now I’m hot and depressed.

I’ve done the recommended salt loading protocol also – 1/4 tsp of salt in 1/2 cup warm water, then followed by 12-16 oz of regular water.

I’m tired of everything.

Hoping to report back when feeling better.

OJ and Milk and Salt, Oh My

I’ve been trying to follow some of the diet recommendations cobbled together by followers of Ray Peat.  Dr. Peat has a Ph.D. in Biology and has written lengthy and seemingly well-researched articles outlining his theories on nutrition and health.  Although he hasn’t come out and written a diet protocol (and appears happy to share his knowledge with the world for free), he has a lot of devoted followers around the web.  I was intrigued by his thoughts because they are Just. So. Different. from what everyone else thinks.  I mean, there’s mainstream (eat less exercise more), and then there’s counterculture (low carb/high fat/paleo) and then there’s Ray Peat.  Ray Peat makes low carb/high fat look mainstream.  If he was a planet, he’d be Pluto.  If he was an animal he’d be a bongo.  If he was an astrophysical concept, he’d be dark matter.

Intriguing, yet obscure.

Those who follow his teachings advocate increasing metabolic rate by eating lots and lots of sugar – preferably orange juice for it’s micronutrient properties – up to hundreds of grams of sugar per day, and drinking lots of and lots of milk – up to 2 quarts per day – for the calcium.  They recommend adding salt and/or sugar to milk or OJ, again to boost metabolism.  Protein should be eaten in moderation (about 100g/day).  Vegetables and exercise are a waste of time at best and harmful at worst.  Shellfish and liver should be consumed around once per week.  It’s all very well thought out, and as I mentioned, very well annotated and documented. I would have to spend a LOT more time combing through his writings to really understand where these conclusions come from.    I haven’t devoted that much time.  But just for kicks I decided to try out eating this way for a few days, just to see how I feel.

I was concerned about eating all that sugar.  One of my main problems is my struggle to lower my fasting blood sugar (and probably my post-prandial blood sugar, but I haven’t been testing that).  I was sure this would tip me over the end to full on hyperglycemia, so I haven’t been eating HUNDREDS of grams of sugar, but I’ve been drinking about 3 16-oz servings of OJ per day for a few days, each of which contains 44g of sugar – around 132g right there.  I’ve eaten some starch also – I’ve had rice one day (in the evening) and some gluten-free bread here and there.  I’ve also eaten some gluten-free cookies (one each day for the last few days).  (Note: Peat does not appear to advocate much starch intake, so my experiment is not without confounding variables.)

Well, the last few days my blood sugar has hovered between 95 and 110 – lower than it was when I was eating low-carb.  Interesting…eating more fruit sugar does not make blood sugar higher…not within 3 days, anyway.

How do I feel?  Well, I initially felt alright.  It was kind of nice tasting something sweet after so long not doing so.  It’s been literally YEARS since I’ve had more than 10-20 grams of sugar in one day.  I didn’t seem to have the hypoglycemia when I got hungry anymore…I just got gradually hungry instead of having my blood sugar bottom out several times a day.

What I didn’t love so much – heartburn…from all the OJ?  I had to raid the 2-year old jar of antacids in the back of the linen closet.  I haven’t needed them since I was pregnant 4 years ago, but I’ve needed them several times over the last few days.  Also lots of napping.  I seem to be taking a 2-hour nap every day.  That could be from adjusting to the T3 – maybe I’m not sleeping as soundly at night as I was before?  Or it could be Reactive Hypoglycemia from the sugar?  I haven’t needed naps during the day since the last time I ate lots of carbs, over 2 years ago.  Also I feel like I’m retaining water from eating lots of salt.

In any case, I’ve decided to table the Ray Peat diet for a while and just see how my body responds to T3.  Later on I may try this again.