Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Soy-Powered Mind

A few weeks ago I started taking a soy-derived drug called Phosphatidylserine to help combat stress-induced high blood pressure. The results have been remarkable enough to forfeit some medical privacy to share.

First an important disclaimer; I am not a doctor, nothing in this post represents medical advice, and my experiences with this drug may be largely due to having an existing adrenal disorder, acute synesthesia, and engaging in rough sporting activities that have led to multiple concussions. As this drug is considered a dietary supplement in the US its not heavily regulated and is available in many forms which may be dangerous, such as combined with high amounts of caffeine in a diet pill. Caveat emptor, especially with things you put in your body.

My source was Vitamin Shoppe brand "Phosphatidylserine Complex", each capsule containing primarily 100mg Phosphatidylserine, 25mg Phosphatidylcholine, and a grab bag of other phosphatolipids extracted from soy lecithin. I've been taking 4 capsules a day, between meals, the first of the day with 500mg L-Carnitine before breakfast and the last of the day with 10mg Policosanol just before bed.

For the first three days the experience was shocking; colors became brighter, music richer, tastes bolder.. all of my senses increased as if I've been living in a monochromatic world and suddenly I'm in OZ surrounded by singing midgets.

On the second day I started noticing strange radial rainbow patterns around sharp contrasts of light such as my hand in front of my netbook screen. By day four I had either become accustomed to this experience or my brain compensated for it. I started noticing that I was remembering words that I had lost through repeated concussions and accidental electrocutions, as if the drug was triggering a mass repair effort on my white matter.

My mood has changed even more dramatically; in contrast it feels like I've been in a constant state of fight or flight for as long as I can remember and suddenly.. its gone. I'm calmer, happier, can concentrate better, get angry far less and have become generally nicer to everyone. Many of my friends and family have remarked about this.

The period of time I've been on this (less than a month) would have normally been extremely stressful; I've been sprinting on PySoy, went to PyCon, organizing Summer of Code, getting married (last Sunday), and working as treasurer for a local non-profit getting their bi-annual tax filings together since 2007.

Through it all my blood pressure has actually gone down, perhaps the most scientific measurement of stress, and lost 6kg of body fat while my diet has actually been fairly bad considering all the travel. As an herbalist I've seen what belief in a drug can do by itself, the changes from this drug have been far beyond what would be reasonable for a placebo effect.

While I hate the idea of being dependent on a drug, the changes to my mind, body, happiness and productivity is well worth it.

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