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Potential benefits of the beta blocker "Propranolol"

Discussion in 'General Treatment' started by ash0787, Jan 23, 2017.

  1. ash0787

    ash0787 Senior Member

    • similar effect to benzodiazepines such as clonazepam which is recommended for CFS but without the issues that come with that class of drugs but also reduces tachycardia
    • don't seem to cause dependency or develop tolerance, you can actually reduce the amount over time if you feel better / need to be upright a lot
    • reasonably cheap and not restricted as much as other drugs
    • starts working very quickly so can be increased in response to symptoms, but effect lasts for 12 hours+
    I started taking this drug in september because I was having an anxiety and panic issue due to a new symptom, around that time I had a lot of trouble with orthostatic intolerance and my health was generally not that stable although I could predict and control the crashes to some extent, I remember struggling to even fill in building gaps with wood filler with a silicone gun thing, or instructing my cousin on how to do simple construction work etc

    By december I was able to spray paint etc though ( its not a real wall don't worry )

    so I think its not a coincidence, what this particular drug seems to do is remove most of the adrenaline from your body and possibly some testosterone, it also seems to lower the nerve communication to the muscles in both directions, so in that sense it acts like a painkiller, although you can still feel 80% of the pain, I think what its doing is its removing the sort of fight or flight mode that we often get into where the nerves are in overdrive and the muscles are twitching slightly, particularly seems to happen in the legs, I've heard it called 'restless legs' but it also creates a feeling in the chest of sickly overexcitement, this is what seems to happen if I run out of the drug, get an exponential decline in health over about 5 days.

    Even taking 20mg it puts me into a complete resting state, where I don't really want to leave my chair at all
    and I started asking other people do get things for me instead, this is actually what I should be doing relative to my health level at the moment, its just that normally we are in a sort of overdrive mode.

    You might think that since it lowers blood pressure its going to make your vertical tolerance worse,
    its possible that it will if you are really bad like don't even try to stand up at all level bad, but for moderate people its going to actually be good in the long run because the improvement to general health level should improve your tolerance.

    From a search here's some other people that seemed to get good results with it

    Anyone willing to give it a try or is there perhaps another drug that you take which you feel does
    the same effect ?
    dadouv47, barbc56 and edawg81 like this.
  2. edawg81

    edawg81 Senior Member

    Upstate, NY
    I took Propranolol 18 months ago for migraines, before I knew I had cfs, severe symptoms of fatigue and before this big crash where i finally got a diagnosis. I felt fine to begin with before starting the med other than the migraines, marginal pem and anxiety.

    It did help with the migraines initally, for about 6 months, but after that my migraines got worse than before I started the medication. It seemed to make my fatigue a lot worse and gave me brain fog, I had trouble jogging and felt dizzy most of the time. That said I still had more energy then than I do now after this big onset crash this year. After I came off of it I felt a lot better but my migraines were still a big problem. I would try it again if I thought it would help, but I don't have enough proof yet, my symptoms are very flu like now, so I don't think it would be helpful.

    Glad you found something that helps you.
  3. erin

    erin Senior Member

    Interesting post. I am recently wondering about the similar issues you mentioned above.

    I have been so slow and lethargic, more than my regular ME fatigue. I was wondering whether I'm going to have a huge new crush. Or is it the beta blockers now blocking the adrenals?

    I've been on beta blockers for 3 years now. I was on 6 months regular blood checks for Hashimoto's hypothyroid. A cardiologist put me on them when having palpitations, he suggested thyroid checks. I stayed on them and now new thyroid supplement I am on and I am feeling truly crap (excuse my language, but the best word to describe).

    I had do to something about this, I was living abroad and I went to a nearest health person; NHS internist abroad, who was against me using them anymore.He even suggested beta blockers might cause adrenal and thyroid problems.

    Now back to UK, manage to see an ME specialist, now suspected adrenal fatigue.

    When I started beta blockers they worked magic. They stopped those horrible palpitations waking me up in the middle of the night. I appreciated this so much.

    Maybe the palpitations were sign of the Hashimoto's beginning stage, a hyperthyroid stage and now I am down to hypothyroid and the beta blockers are slowing me further down?

    I want to reduce my dose now but I am frightened, I believe it is not that simple to reduce the dose or eventually gradually stop taking them totally. Some people describe terrible effects and ending up ER even having heart attacks.
  4. barbc56

    barbc56 Senior Member

    I assume you are taking this under a doctor's supervision.

    I literally was close to dying from taking too high a dosage of a beta blocker, sorry I don't remember the name. I had not been feeling well, figured it was my me/cfs/fibro so hadn't called the doctor. I finally called an ambulance and was admitted to the hospital for bradycardia. I had a heart monitor. That night, I woke up surrounded by the resuscitation (?) team. Evidently my heart rate went down to 32, I had tried to get out of bed and fainted. I have no idea what my bp was other than it was low. They immediately hooked me up to an IV and within a couple of minutes my vitals were normal. I was in the ICU but only for a few hours.

    This is my personal experience, so I don't know if this pertains to you. I do know beta blockers can be used effectively for anxiety attacks but it needs to be under a doctor's supervision. My daughter did very well on this for migrains.

    Apologies if you are Working with a doctor , but just in case.

    There have been several times that I attributed my worsening symptoms to me/cfs when it was something else. This can be quite frustrating as how do you know when to get checked out. I actually had something similar happen several months ago but nothing like the last experience. My BP can be all over the place, so I now monitor it after resting for 15 minutes.

    But like I said, talk to your doctor about this. We all react differently.

    Hope you continue to feel better.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2017
    erin likes this.
  5. Sushi

    Sushi Moderation Resource Albuquerque

    I take a very low dose of propranolol for cardiac reasons and, like other beta blockers (and all drugs), we all respond differently. Some benefit from beta blockers due to their suppressing tachycardia and adrenaline, some find that they sap their energy. If you have a low heart rate and/or low blood pressure those are important factors to discuss with your doctor when considering a beta blocker.

    For myself, I've found that increases or decreases in dose don't always have the expected results--i.e. I get more PACs (premature atrial contractions) on a higher dose than on a lower one. Though beta blockers aren't regulated as strictly as benzodiazapines, they are serious drugs and need to be monitored.

    I hope you continue to get good effects from propranolol.
    Butydoc and dadouv47 like this.
  6. ash0787

    ash0787 Senior Member

    Erin thats possible, it even says on the instructions be careful if you have symptoms of hypothyroidism,
    and various other things, the actual common and semi common side effects seem ok though

    You can't really get this drug without seeing a doctor who will tell you about all these things and check for drug interactions ( something they are good at ).

    I didn't mean to just make it yourself in a chemistry lab and drink it

    I suppose there is a danger of taking one too many tablets if your memory is poor and since they are quite strong, I guess thats a reason to get the smaller ones since its easier to tell if you took 8 instead of 4 rather than 2 instead of 1. I think thats going to be a problem with any medication though.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2017
  7. lnester7

    lnester7 Seven

    I am on it and had much better quality of live, my fatigue is almost tolerable most days.
  8. carer51

    carer51 carer/partner of moderate/severe sufferer

    I take propranalol for the physical symptoms of anxiety (I don't have ME/CFS myself, it's my partner, I hope it's okay to post). Whilst it really helps with palpitations and unpleasant sensations with my heart and calms me down a little I wouldn't say it sedates me or psychologically calms me or anything like that. Though I have had a significant spike in anxiety lately for various reasons both known and unknown, so I think it's harder to see the benefits right now.

    I am taking it quite often, it does help to stop anxiety spiralling into panic due to feeling like my heart is beating too hard/fast, but doesn't help the psychological anxiety not related to palpitations etc. Lately I often wake up in the morning with palpitations and need to take one right away.

    It does help a lot with the physical anxiety/palpitations related to specific activities, and that can help keep you more calm and not wear you out as much. I check my heart rate now and then and it seems pretty normal, even high, even on 40mg. I haven't had any negative effects at all as far as I'm aware.

    It does sound like it affects everyone differently - I take 40mg at a time, often 2 or 3 times a day lately due a stressful period and some palpitation issues withdrawing from another medication.

    My doctors (I am in the UK, referring to NHS) actually seem pretty casual about this medication, they don't mention it much or ask me about it, my prescription is for 3 times a day (for anxiety) but I try to keep it to just when I need it. Often lately, that does happen to be 2-3 times a day. They don't take my blood pressure or anything like that. Nobody has mentioned issues with coming off it, but then again they hardly ever do, a psychiatrist I saw didn't seem to believe that coming off venlafaxine would be an absolute nightmare despite that being common knowledge among my peers and easily accessibly information, I had to reduce it much, much more slowly than he recommended.

    Sadly I don't think this medication would help my partner as he doesn't really have issues with anxiety or palpitations/tachycardia/OI as far as I know.
    ash0787 likes this.
  9. ash0787

    ash0787 Senior Member

    I think the people it would help the most are ones that have a good recovery rate from PEM etc and have pronounced cycles of health and illness with a lot of variation in symptoms over time rather than people that don't recover quickly but also don't use much energy and can stay in a restful state

    Unfortunately it doesn't stop you from picking up infections :cry::depressed::ill:
  10. Forbin

    Forbin Senior Member

    I took propanolol (Inderal) very early in my illness. It didn't do anything for my symptoms, but it did lower my waking pulse into the 40's and my sleeping pulse into the 30's. I stopped taking it when I awoke one morning with my hands feeling freezing cold. After that, my resting pulse was around 52. No doctor had ever noted my pulse rate as being that low beforehand. I suppose it could have been, but I also wonder if ME itself drove my pulse down, or if propanolol had something to do with it. As I've grown older, and my ME symptoms have declined, my resting pulse has gradually risen into the 60's, but there may be no connection.

    At any rate. It would probably be a good idea to get a good base line of one's resting heart rate before starting to take propanolol. At least then you would know by how much, if any, your heart rate has been changed by the drug.
    barbc56 likes this.
  11. JES

    JES Senior Member

    I agree that beta blockers are a much better alternative than benzodiazepines, however, I would not describe their effects as similar. When I used to have a lot of stage anxiety I typically medicated with either benzo or propranolol. Propranolol removes all the physical sides of anxiety (rising pulse, shaking hands, etc.), but does nothing for the "mental" anxiety, at least for me. Benzodiazepines act on GABA, which improves sleep and does a lot of good things for a brain that is hyperaroused, but unfortunately cause tolerance/dependency.

    I had moderate success treating dysautonomia/POTS symptoms with bisoprolol, which is a more selective and longer acting beta-blocker than propranolol. With propranolol the problem for me was that the effect wears out in 5 or 6 hours, whereas bisoprolol gave a more consistent effect. In long term I'm not too keen on using beta blockers due to some side effects.
    Sushi likes this.
  12. andyguitar

    andyguitar Senior Member

    South east England
    You al might want to check out the relationship between beta- blockers and the way they block the actions of serotonin. This might be the key to all this.
  13. Marco

    Marco Grrrrrrr!

    Near Cognac, France
    I was prescribed propranolol many years ago when I was having symptoms including severe heat intolerance that my GP thought might be due to stress/excess adrenalin (fair enough as a working hypothesis).

    I went from one extreme to another (freezing cold and couldn't function at all). I'd started them on a Friday night and had to quit them before the end of the weekend as I wouldn't have made it into work.

    I can't remember the dosage (might have been 40mg just once per day) but I now feel this was too high.

    In recent years I persuaded my current GP to prescribe them again for anxiety and ectopic heartbeats. 40mg again but I quarter them. I only take them as needed and don't feel too much in the way of positive or negative effects so I can't comment on how they would work taken regularly.

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