The 12th Invest in ME Research Conference June, 2017, Part 2
MEMum presents the second article in a series of three about the recent 12th Invest In ME International Conference (IIMEC12) in London.
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Vitamin C for sleep (seriously!) - ameliorates excitotoxicity

Discussion in 'Sleep' started by Mary, Jan 15, 2017.

  1. Mary

    Mary Senior Member

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    I've posted several times about my sleep cocktail of nutrients, most of which add or enhance GABA. They include niacin or niacinamide, inositol, l-theanine, Theanine Serene, l-glycine, 5-htp and melatonin. If anyone wants more info on how I take these, let me know.

    However, I recently had an unpleasant experience with glutamine. It's an amino I take in conjunction with BCAAs, which helps reduce PEM. Recently I increased my dose of both of these and ended up with insane insomnia, and none of my GABA supps above would do anything for it. I figured the extra glutamine, which I had never reacted to before, had converted to glutamate and that was causing the problem so I stopped it. However, the BCAAs and extra glutamine had increased my energy noticeably so I badly wanted to get back on the glutamine.

    I don't have MCS but am sensitive to MSG, which causes severe insomnia for me, so I figured this sensitivity to MSG might be a form of MCS. Anyways, in researching what to do about MCS, I came across this:
    http://www.doctoryourself.com/mcs.html which talks about using high dose vitamin C for MCS.

    Then I remembered I had recently stopped taking vitamin C (it's a long story), but I had been taking a fairly good dose for a long time until 5 weeks or so. So I added back in 9000 mg of vitamin C (in divided doses) and slept way better than I have for awhile. I realized my sleep had been getting worse for awhile too. So I've been taking my vitamin C now for 3 days and have slept well (with all my other sleep supplements).

    Then this morning I found this article about vitamin C being a neuroprotector against glutamate-induced neurodegeneration - bingo! https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25701025

    I never would have connected vitamin C with sleep. I plan to increase the glutamine again tomorrow (hopefully will sleep okay tonight) and will see what happens.
     
  2. Hip

    Hip Senior Member

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  3. Mary

    Mary Senior Member

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    @Hip - FWIW, I take the C throughout the day - breakfast, lunch and dinner, and actually don't take it before bed. So if it doesn't help taking it right before bed, you might try taking it throughout the day. I am taking about 3000 mg (in bulk ascorbate acid form) with each meal.
     
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  4. Kierkegaard

    Kierkegaard

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    The interesting thing here is that vitamin C actually increases norepinephrine (a stress hormone/neurotransmitter) because it (with copper) is a cofactor (speeds up) for the dopamine beta-hydroxylase enyzme, which converts dopamine into norepinephrine. So this means that you're getting some sort of antioxidant/antiinflammatory benefit that's outweighing the norepinephrine increase.

    Pretty fascinating stuff.
     
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  5. CFS_for_19_years

    CFS_for_19_years Hoarder of biscuits

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    I know how great it feels to take a lot of Vitamin C. One time long ago in the middle of a cold or flu I took 22gm of Vitamin C before I ever developed diarrhea. My cold/flu symptoms felt much better. I don't recall how long I persisted in taking Vitamin C, and most of the time I took mineral ascorbates (Vitamin C bound to magnesium, calcium, zinc). Eventually I developed stress fractures in my feet. The radiologist could not explain why this was happening. He asked, "What have you been doing to your feet?" I wasn't bedbound at the time, and prior to developing the stress fractures, I was able to walk 20-30 minutes per day.

    Be careful with taking excessive amounts of Vitamin C. It may be OK for the short term, but long term it will pull minerals from your body. I think I developed stress fractures due to excessive intake of Vitamin C. My bones had become depleted of minerals. Some time later when I saw a naturopath she told me to not take more than 2000mg of Vitamin C per day.

    http://www.acu-cell.com/vitc.html#overdose
    http://www.acu-cell.com/vitc.html#copper
     
  6. Marc_NL

    Marc_NL asjemenou

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    Can you tell how you take the powder in order not to damage your teeth, do you drink it with water?

    FWIW, I also have better sleep since starting vitamin C (3g per day) a few weeks ago but I'm not sure it's the vitamin C because I also started some other things in this period.
     
  7. Mary

    Mary Senior Member

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    @CFS_for_19_years - thanks for all the information. I didn't know all that and will keep it in mind. I think the problem may be determining an appropriate dose of vitamin C - some may need more than others. Since taking the 9 grams per day made such an immediate difference in my sleep, I will just gradually cut back from there, keeping an eye on my sleep. (I don't take my minerals in citrate form)
     
  8. Mary

    Mary Senior Member

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    I do dissolve it in water. Ooops! I had not thought about it damaging my teeth. Well, I have some straws which I use when I drink lemon water and can use them for the C as well.

    Interesting that you are sleeping better after starting vitamin C. Yes, I understand there are other things you started taking at the same time - I guess the only way to know for sure would be to cut something out and do one thing at a time, though I know I wouldn't want to do that - would just want to keep doing whatever it was I was doing that was helping me sleep!
     
  9. SuzieSam

    SuzieSam Constant companion

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    Very interesting! My husband had a sleep study done recently which showed he's basically half awake all night as his brain is too active. He doesn't dip down into the lower levels of sleep enough to get refreshed.

    The sleep doc recommended something called CBTI which sounds unsuitable for his problem.

    I need to look into whatever you take to see if it can help him, @Mary. Thanks.
     
  10. Mary

    Mary Senior Member

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    @SuzieSam - In my efforts to get a good night's sleep, I've come across 7 things which have helped me a lot, which may all be interrelated but I am going to list them separately here.

    1. Increasing or enhancing GABA - GABA as you probably know is a calming neurotransmitter essential for sleep. You can take plain GABA, which does not cross the blood-brain barrier, but there are GABA receptors in other parts of the body so it can be helpful. However, the amino acid l-theanine does cross the blood-brain barrier and helps the brain produce GABA, so both plain GABA and l-theanine can be useful.

    However, for me, taking these alone does not do a lot. A couple of years ago I learned that niacin and niacinamide sensitize the GABA receptors and when I added in niacin at night before bed (it seems to work better for me than niacinamide), I started sleeping better immediately. If I take niacin during the day, it makes me tired. It can slow down methylation and also increase GABA but I do fine with it at night. The niacin also lowered my cholesterol (I wasn’t trying to do that but it just happened)

    Niacin will cause flushing - your skin gets red and hot and prickly, it’s temporary - it’s caused by vasodilation and is harmless. Actually I look forward to it now because it usually means I’ll be asleep soon. Niacinamide does not cause flushing and it’s supposed to be just as effective, but I wouldn’t take both. I was taking 500 mg niacin before bed and 500 mg more in the middle of the night. I’ve had to increase that due to a lorazepam taper I’ve been doing, but I think it would be an effective dose for most people.

    DON’T get time-release or extended-release niacin - this has been linked to liver damage. And non-flushing niacin (which is available) will not be effective for sleep. I would either take plain niacin which causes the flushing, or niacinamide, and no other form of niacin.

    Inositol also has been very helpful and it too enhances the effect of GABA - 500 mg before bed and 500 middle of the night is a good dose, some may need more.

    I can’t tell anyone how much to take, just what works for me.

    2. Cortisol - if cortisol is high at night, this can cause severe insomnia. The Adrenal Stress Index Test measures cortisol levels throughout the day/evening using 4 saliva samples.

    13 years ago or so I had severe middle of the night insomnia and nothing would touch it, until I had that test done and discovered high cortisol at night. I was given Seriphos (originally formulated as phosphorylated serine) and it helped almost immediately. I had to titrate up to find an effective dose and found I needed 8 capsules a day (which is quite a high dose), taken in the morning on an empty stomach in divided doses - it caused insomnia when I took it at night, and then after a few months it made me tired and I realized my cortisol was going too low and I had to drop my dose, which was good.

    Interplexus, the maker of Seriphos, changed the formulation around last May to phosphatidylserine, not the same thing at all as phosphorylated serine! And the new formula worked nothing like the old formula. Fortunately, Interplexus responded to customer outcry and are returning to the original formula. They said it should be manufactured by the end of this last December. However, if you decide to purchase Seriphos, make sure that you are getting phosphorylated serine. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ineffective formula (phosphatidyl serine) was still being sold for some time to get rid of stock. Whew! Sorry it’s so complicated! But I wanted you to have all this information.

    I would not take Seriphos without having cortisol levels tested.

    Relora can also be helpful in lowering cortisol. After the formulation change of Seriphos, I started taking Relora (at night) and it’s helpful, so if high cortisol turns out to be an issue for your husband, you might just try Relora. I think it would be fine to just try the Relora without the test.

    3. Excitotoxicity - This explains what excitotoxicity is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Excitotoxicity

    I explained above how Vitamin C helped (and is still helping) me with this issue. Also, it would be very good to avoid MSG in all its iterations - it is an excitotoxin (it’s crazy, MSG is in almost all processed foods although you rarely see it labeled as such - there are articles written about all the ways manufacturers get around calling MSG, MSG, but instead are allowed to use innocuous phrases such as "natural flavoring" or "yeast extract", there are a lot more)

    4. Blood sugar - low blood sugar at night can raise cortisol. I also just learned in that Wiki article on excitotoxicity that hypoglycemia is linked to excitotoxicity. In any event, low blood sugar can cause insomnia whether due to raising cortisol or causing neuronal excitotoxicity. I’ve been eating low carb for years , e.g., I might have some chicken and broccoli for dinner - no starches. And never realized it was contributing to my insomnia. It’s a long story but I’ve started eating a potato with dinner sometimes, or else I’ll have a few bites of potato before I go to bed; if I’m hungry middle of the night, I’ll have a few more bites of potato. This helps too to keep my blood sugar stable and to sleep better.

    5. Serotonin - 5-htp, which helps the brain produce serotonin, also helps me with sleep. I take 150 mg before bed. I don’t tolerate prescription anti-depressants and think they can be quite harmful as well. I think instead we just need to get the proper nutrients to make what our bodies need - there is no such thing as a Prozac deficiency.

    6. Melatonin helps too. Theoretically my body would make all it needs - it doesn’t - but all of us with ME/CFS have sleep issues.

    7. L-glycine - this is quite calming and also helps with sleep. I take 2000 mg before bed and more in the middle of the night if I need it.
     
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  11. SuzieSam

    SuzieSam Constant companion

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    Thanks @Mary! I'll read that again tomorrow after a cup of tea and make notes. Lots to work on :) :thumbsup:

    Very helpful about the cortisol - I'm sure my daughter (17) has a spike of evening cortisol running her brain ragged when she's exhausted. Bonkers at night for a years, after being a miracle night time baby and small child.

    We'll be doing the 4 point cortisol test ASAP. I didn't know anything could bring it down, so thank you! She takes 6mg melatonin to sleep because of a sleep disorder. I wonder how these other things could benefit her.

    It's well worth investigating. The sleep doctor told us that nothing can turn her aberrant production of melatonin into daylight hours off. So she takes Ritalin to wake her brain up for school, then zonks out. Not ideal.

    But now I am wondering if there's something akin to the phosphorylated serine, but to lower melatonin?

    The things mainstream medicine fails us on are legion... :cry:
     
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  12. Mary

    Mary Senior Member

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    @SuzieSam - 6 mg of melatonin is a pretty high dose and very well could be why your daughter needs Ritalin in the morning to wake up. I think it's quite possible her problem may not be aberrant melatonin production, but, rather, taking too much melatonin, which can leave you tired and feeling hungover. You might try some of the things I suggested above to improve her sleep and hopefully be able to lower her melatonin, and maybe then get off the Ritalin.
     
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  13. Kierkegaard

    Kierkegaard

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    Just a technical nerd note: cortisol is to the stress response as an imaginary caboose-braking system (cabooses don't carry the brakes) is to a train. If cortisol is up, this means by definition that other compartments in the HPA response, notably norepinephrine (which starts it in the brain), CRH, ACTH, and other adrenal hormones with cortisol (like DHEA) are also up.

    Lowering cortisol without lowering norepinephrine, which starts the stress response, would be disastrous, ultimately causing higher stress given that the brakes provided by cortisol are working less. This is why Dr Hertoghe calls cortisol an "antistress hormone" -- it lowers norepinephrine and CRH and everything that follows from, i.e., the whole sympathetic nervous system.

    So, I say this to say that phosphatidylserine has to reduce norepinephrine and/or CRH and other parts of the stress response, leading to lower cortisol, or else it would mean cortisol is being lowered while the other parts are going strong, causing higher and longer stress levels.

    This is why "steroid shots" (i.e., cortisol) can stop panic attacks: cortisol is the antistress hormone for the SNS.

    Also worth noting -- adding to your excellent description of blood sugar -- that low cortisol can cause nighttime awakenings through inadequate blood sugar, cortisol being responsible for gluconeogenesis -- so the body has too-low levels of blood sugar, leading to a spike in epinephrine/norepinephrine, leading to waking up.

    Likewise (and what I'm apparently dealing with), when your body temperature gets too low because of insufficient thyroid signalling, your body spikes epinephrine/norepinephrine, causing you to wake up. When I wake up before I should, more often than not my body temp is lower than it usually is. Sometimes I notice that when my body temp catches up and becomes "normal" (for me), I start getting sleepy again.

    Another nerdy FWIW: serotonin converts to melatonin, so for many people sufficient serotonin should be enough.
     
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  14. Kierkegaard

    Kierkegaard

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    @SuzieSam, @Mary,

    Yeah, 6 mg is way too much, technically 20 times as much as the body should produce endogenously (300 mcg), and even if your melatonin is "low", you're probably producing a good majority of this 300 mcg amount. I was just talking with a friend who said he liked taking melatonin but it made him have really vivid and weird dreams. Turns out he was taking a whopping 20 mg!

    Melatonin, like most hormones, declines with age, and is a big reason why older adults have difficulty sleeping. Adding low-dose time-release melatonin is an easy solution.

    I've found the best results with a 1 mg sublingual melatonin tab. Almost always helps with feeling sleepy. The bioavailability is considerably higher with sublingual supplements, seeing how it bypasses the liver, so you can probably take half a tab and get as much of an effect.

    Also, when we're talking about melatonin, we're talking about a hormone that is activated any time we experience darkness (even during the day), and is inhibited by blue light. So more organic, behavioral methods I've recommended to clients (therapist here) have included downloading f.lux on your computer and Twilight on your phone, which turns down the blue light on your phone when the sun goes down (the Twilight app allows me to watch Youtube videos and such because it not only turns down blue light but also allows you to turn down your contrast to super low levels). Getting blue blocker glasses (not the most stylistic thing) and wearing them a few hours or so (depending on how screwed up your circadian rhythm is) before the sun goes down gets a kick start on starting melatonin production.

    Whatever you do, don't take melatonin and then play video games, do your makeup, or anything else that involves bright light, because the effects will cancel out.
     
  15. brenda

    brenda Senior Member

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    On blue blockers - I have found that it is better if I wear them every time I use a screen or have artificial lights on.
     
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  16. Kierkegaard

    Kierkegaard

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    Might be easier to download the (free) f.lux and Twilight program and app, respectively. They do the same thing as blue blockers without the pain of wearing them.
     
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  17. brenda

    brenda Senior Member

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    I do use them but for those that are extremely sensitive it is not enough.

    Apparently we have light receptors in our skin as well as our eyes, so it is worth covering that while using screens and artificail light.
     
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  18. Mary

    Mary Senior Member

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    Very interesting - this is new information for me - thanks!
     
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  19. SuzieSam

    SuzieSam Constant companion

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    Wow, fantastic information all round. I'm definitely going to get my daughter to try to ease off on her 6mg melatonin - sublingual! She just can't fall asleep without the punch of it to knock her out.

    The extra supplementation in it's place makes excellent sense.

    We both utilise f.lux and twilight. I use them all day for my ultra sensitive eyes. On bad days I wear my prescription sunglasses indoors, but it's rather dark and gloomy! I wonder if blue blocker prescription lenses are possible?
     
  20. Mary

    Mary Senior Member

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    Good luck @SuzieSam - let us know how it goes!
     
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