To Supplement Or Not To Supplement

That is the question…

It seems as if every week there’s a new consensus on vitamins and supplements.  Or rather, a recycling of an old concesus; they’re beneficial, they’re a complete waste of money, they’re harmful, they’re beneficial, they’re a complete waste of money, they’re harmful, they’re…well, you get the idea.

So, although I can’t attest to the global value of them, I thought I’d write a little about my own experience with supplements.

Last year about this time I went to an endocrinologist.  For a couple of years I’d been having some odd hormonal issues – night sweats and hot flashes and wildly swinging moods with PMS.  These issues were startling because I’m only 36 and was around 33 when they started – much too young for the signs of menopause.

My bloodwork definitely showed some abnormalities in my hormones but, other than that, I was told I was fine and sent home with some Lasix to reduce water retention in the few days leading up to my period.  I was told that if I wanted some more tests done in regards to my migraines I would need to see a neurologist.  But, I was told by an ENT that no neurologist would do much until I have my nose “fixed” (more on that later).  After years of no progress with my migraines and no real solution from the endocrinologist I decided to do some serious Internet research and see what I could come up with.

I got lucky and discovered that 4 supplements seem to show good results for those who suffer from migraines.  They are B2, magnesium, Butterbur and Feverfew.  Here are the links to some of the research I did:

http://www.bastyrcenter.org/content/view/437/

http://www.migrainesurvival.com/should-you-be-taking-magnesium

http://www.butterburresearch.org/migraineprevention.html

http://www.neurology.org/content/64/4/713

I read in a couple of posts that Feverfew causes rebound headaches; i.e., if you stop taking it your headaches come back with a vengence.  Not sure why you would stop taking it when it works but, just in case, I decided to go for Butterbur instead.

The only problem with Butterbur is that it contains compounds that cause liver problems.  So be sure to get a brand that processes out the dangerous compounds.  I use this:  http://www.petadolex.com/.  I get it from Amazon using their Subscriber service so it ships automatically every 2o days (There are 60 75mg capsules in the bottle and I take 3 a day – the recommended dose.)  Just to be on the safe side my doctor wanted to do a liver function test after 3 months.  There were no problems.

So, here’s the total of what I started taking:

  • 100mg B2 4x day (2oomg a.m. and 200mg p.m.)
  • 400mg Magnesium Citrate 2x day (400mg a.m. and 400 mg p.m., each with a full glass of water)
  • 75mg Petadolex (Butterbur) 3x a day (75mg a.m., 75mg at noon and 75mg and p.m.)
  • I also threw in a B-Complex because taking one type of B vitamin can make you deficient in the other B vitamins.

(NOTE: I emailed my long-time doctor for approval before beginning to take these.)

My results were pretty good.  The supplements have definitely decreased the frequency of my migraines but have not decreased the intensity of them.  So, when I do get one I am still guaranteed to have to resort to my usual arsenal of medications (Frova, Excedrin, Fioricet, Vicodin, Flexoril, etc.)

And, interestingly enough, in addition to helping with my migraines, after about 6 months I no longer have the night sweats and only have the hot flashes during the few days of PMS, whereas before I was having them at any time during the month.

Given my success I began to wonder about other supplements to help with my issues of fatigue and joint pain, etc.  I read two books, one about vitamin D3 the other about 10 specific supplements recommended by a former chemist for “Big Pharma” who quit his job when “…he discovered that the drugs he was creating for drug companies were nothing but toxins, and that the real cures could be found on every supermarket and superstore shelf…” (from the Publisher’s notes).

To be sure, I take just about everything I read with a Texas-sized grain of salt.  But, I decided to take the 30-day challenge and see what happened.  I figure if I start to feel like crap, I’ll quit.  So far, so good; I’m about 14 days in and feeling fine; a little bit better, in fact.

But, WHEW! I ended up with a lot of bottles!

Here’s a list of everything I’m current taking:

Type Dose Frequency
C 500mg 1/day
Magnesium Citrate 400mg 2/day
Garlic 500mg 1/day
Super-B 1/day
CoQ10 300mg 1/day
Petadolex (Butterbur) 50mg 3/day
K (MK-7) 90mcg 1/day
B-2 100mg 4/day
Hawthorn 150mg 3/day
E 250IU 1/day
–          A 5000IU
–          D3 1000IU
–          K 50mcg
–          Selenium 75mcg
Cinnamon 1000mg 3/day
Milk Thistle 240mg 2/day
D3 2000mg 3/day
Evening Primrose 1000mg 3/day Cycle Days 1-15
Fish Oil 1200mg 3/day
Valerian Root 500mg 1/day
ProgesterAll 1/day Cycle Days 15-28

I was already taking the CoQ10 for headaches, the Evening Primrose Oil for PMS and the ProgesterAll for hormone regulation well before I started taking the B2, magnesium and Butterbur last year.

Every evening I put all the supplements for the next day in a little ziptop baggie.  At first, it seemed like a lot to swallow but now that I’m used to it, they don’t bother me at all.  And it’s a small inconvenience to pay in exchange for fewer headaches, less  PMSs and more energy.  I’ll keep you updated on how I feel after the 30 days is up.

Do you take any supplements?  Which ones and do you think that they help?

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One thought on “To Supplement Or Not To Supplement

  1. Pingback: Grains and Blood | whole food hungry

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