The 12th Invest in ME Conference, Part 1
OverTheHills presents the first article in a series of three about the recent 12th Invest In ME international Conference (IIMEC12) in London.
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Antioxidants making symptoms worse

Discussion in 'General Treatment' started by JES, Jan 4, 2017.

  1. JES

    JES Senior Member

    Almost all literature and user experiences I've stumbled upon have suggested that antioxidants can help with certain symptoms of this disease. I haven't benefited from a single antioxidant, with the exception of Selenium, if you count it as an antioxidant. Antioxidant herbs and other supplements, even in moderate doses, tend to worsen my symptoms.

    My CFS/ME symptoms are light to moderate at most. What happens with antioxidant supplementation is usually this. A few days I can take whatever antioxidant and I notice moderate benefits, mostly a decrease of brain fog, certain myalgia and pain symptoms. After the first couple of days, I start to notice worsening. I get a flu-like feeling 24/7 that I don't normally have and notice a need for increased sleep without waking up refreshed. At the two week point I usually stop the experiment due to feeling so crappy. This year, I have in addition developed some POTS symptoms, daily palpitations and cold hands. All these symptoms with blood flow worsen with antioxidants, especially the cold extremities issue.

    My speculation is that this effect could be a result of at least three different actions:
    • Antioxidants have many anti-inflammatory activities in the body, which typically results in reduced levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and increased anti-inflammatory cytokines. In healthy people, this effect in moderation is probably helpful or at least does no harm, whereas with CFS/ME it may further imbalance the already imbalanced cytokine network and reduce the immune system's ability to fight infections.
    • Antioxidants modulate nitric oxide and reduce reactive oxygen, which again can be very helpful for an average person for example dealing with hypertension, as I've read that endothelial NO synthase should increase with antioxidant use (source). With CFS/ME it is speculated that there is an existing imbalance with NO, and again antioxidants seems to make this imbalance worse at least for me, which would explain the worsening of cold hands and blood flow I get with supplementing.
    • Lastly, it seems antioxidants can reduce mitochondrial biogenesis in humans following endurance training (article). With recent research pointing towards mitochondrial issues in CFS/ME, it would not be surprising if people with already dysfunctioning mitochondria would react worse to antioxidants, as endurance training could well be comparable to the stresses that CFS/ME puts on the body.
    Anyway, since most people, including healthy ones, tend to supplement with antioxidants in some form, the thought occurred to me that a subset of CFS/ME patients could subconsciously be making their disease worse with daily antioxidant supplementation.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
  2. aaron_c

    aaron_c Senior Member

    That last article was interesting. I think I understood 80% of the abstract--I don't know anything about the markers they were measuring--but I was left wondering if maybe VO2 max was the same in both groups in spite of the differences in markers of mitochondrial biogenesis because the antioxidants were protecting the mitochondria, and thus the mitochondria didn't need to reproduce so much.

    What are the antioxidants you have tried?
  3. Hell...Hath...No...Fury..

    Hell...Hath...No...Fury.. Senior Member

    @JES i don't know the science behind it and too brain fogged to think right now but anti-oxidants saved my life about 15 years ago.

    The way you're reacting sounds totally normal from my own experience. The only reason mine don't work as well any more is the government was trying to have them stopped a few years ago and the formula was slightly changed.

    But from my own experience, if you don't feel like crap for the first 2 weeks then they aren't working.

    I had magnificent results from mine when i first started taking them but only after a 'minimum' of 2 weeks of living death. (Normal bad ME day x 1000)

    Then all of a sudden one day you wake up and feel alive again and full of energy. I really miss that feeling :( if i ever had a break from them i'd have to start from scratch each time going through 2 weeks of hell again.

    I told everyone about it at the time, a few people tried it and all stopped taking it after a week or so, saying its not working and making them worse.

    I kept explaining that they must go through the detox process to come out the other side and not one person stuck at it even though they seen the miraculous difference in me. I personally was willing to go through any hell if it meant an improvement at the end but other people didn't want to go through it :(

    Hopefully you're not stopping too soon each time just before the results kick in. Its a tough one to call especially when you don't know for certain that they'll do anything at the end of the 2-4 weeks but just wanted to reply as this reaction is the norm in my experience.

    If i have a break and start again these days, i don't go through the 2 weeks of hell now, i'm guessing because the formula isn't as good.
    Because of not going through hell, i also don't get to wake up in a few weeks time feeling great either :(

    Either that or the fact that i've been on antioxidants for 15 years now there's less to detox so the effect isn't as dramatic now.

    Best of luck with it if you do persevere.

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