Tag Archives: tianeptine

Temporarily Curing ADHD / Chronic Fatigue With a Dopamine-Sensitizing 5-Hour Fast Followed by a Jolt of Dopamine

I was almost entirely unproductive for the first two weeks of Ramadan due to having to fast from 4 AM to 7:30 PM, which, for the non-Muslims reading this, means no food, no water, no caffeine and no supplements between these hours, which where I live means 15.5 hours of fasting.

As a contractor, if I can’t work, I cannot make money, so I urgently needed a way to get my productivity back. Regardless of how much caffeine I had after breaking my fast in the evenings, I felt unmotivated and unable to focus on my programming work.

After much experimentation, I discovered the solution. This solution enabled me to be extremely productive for the last two weeks of Ramadan, making up for all of the lost hours of work in the first two weeks.

Below is the solution I discovered, generalized to a non-Ramadan context so that anyone can use it. This is not a great long-term solution, but if you are desperate to feel productive, it is worth a try until you find something better.

1. Fasting for 5-8 hours after wake up

Do not eat or drink anything, especially no caffeine and no other supplements. This pleasure deprivation causes changes in the brain that make it possible to cause it extreme stimulation afterwards. Water might be OK, though in my case I didn’t have any water, feel free to experiment and comment below.

I rearranged my sleep schedule so that I started waking up somewhere between 12:30 PM and 2:30 PM, going to bed after 4 AM. If you are not doing an Islamic fast, rearranging the sleep schedule is not necessary.

I cannot say exactly how many hours are needed, but starting with a 5 hour fast would be a good idea.

The fast is really uncomfortable, naturally. You are depriving your brain of what it desires, making it feel bad so it can feel good later on.

2. Having a very small carb-heavy meal upon breaking the fast, another small meal 4 hours later

Upon breaking the fast, I would have half a slice of bread (45 calories) with jam and butter, and a cup of strong black tea with honey in it. The whole meal was probably about 200 calories.

Due to my pre-diabetes, I had to have 1000 mg of berberine, 300 mg banaba extract and 600 mg olive leaf extract. I also discovered 230 mg ALA made me far more energetic and prevented my usual post-meal dry eye.

About 4 hours after my first meal, I would have another similar meal, that would help me continue working for 2-3 more hours.

After that you can have your final meal of the day, which if too large would affect your sleep quality and your ability to be productive the next day. These days I’m trying a 600-calorie diet to cure my pre-diabetes, my goal is to love every last pound of unneeded fat that I have (perhaps 7 more pounds to go), so my last meal of the day, having it an hour or so before bed, was quite small, and carb-free.

3. Zinc and copper

I had 12.5 mg of elemental zinc from sulfate and 2.5 mg copper from copper glycinate. Both of these trace elements encourage neuronal excitation, making you feel more motivated. Too much causes excitotoxicity, therefore I do not recommend ever going above the above doses.

Zinc improves energy production and does something to the brain that makes it more receptive to dopamine, or at least it feels like that.

4. 120 mg L-Dopa with green tea

L-Dopa a supplement that increases dopamine in the brain. This is a dangerous supplement to use in the long-term, because it desensitizes your dopamine receptors by overfeeding them with dopamine. The green tea is needed to prevent L-Dopa’s negative side effects. I took half a teaspoon of matcha for this. This might be broscience, but there are a lot of people saying the green tea or green tea extract is necessary.

It is possible that the L-Dopa is not necessary. I took it because I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try it for two weeks until Ramadan ended. Now that Ramadan is over I have stopped taking L-Dopa and I seem to be going through withdrawal, confounded with also stopping tianeptine.

5. My usual stack from before Ramadan

I continued to take smaller doses of my supplements from before Ramadan. That meant 300 mg piracetam, 2 Perika, 1 carotenall on some evenings (not sure if I need this supplement), 25 mg tianeptine sulfate, 2 nettle root extract.

I have stopped taking tianeptine because I ran out of it, and I have felt very down for the past two days because of this, and perhaps also because of stopping L-Dopa. Tianeptine is a real thing and many people have reported it. I still love tianeptine and will probably order some more to use it occasionally. It is really good at making me productive after a night of bad sleep.

6. Protecting the liver

Earlier in the year I had some liver damage from high doses of vitamin A and from spirulina. I have continued to have very mild liver tenderness and sometimes pain after taking supplements. Tianeptine, piracetam and nettle root extract seem to be the biggest culprits.

For the above reasons, I started taking NAC regularly, and more recently stated milk thistle. These days I always take 1000 mg NAC and 1200 mg milk thistle every time I take supplements, and this has made liver pain a rare occurrence.

7. Caffeine

I would have many cups of coffee from breaking the fast until 4 hours later when I had my second meal. Normally I would stop taking caffeine 8 hours before bed, but on this program 4 hours before bed seemed to be good enough, perhaps due to the fact that I was taking tianeptine, which makes up for the effects of sub-par sleep.

8. Exercise

Exercising during the fast seemed to lead to better results afterwards. But I stopped exercising a few days into the program because it wasn’t strictly necessary, and because my low-calorie diet was making me feel really de-energized during the fasting hours.

Discussion

The goal of this program, as the article title says, is to deprive the brain of stimulation for a number of hours, then to give it a shock of dopamine-increasing substances, including a carb-containing meal with a sweetened drink. The contrast in dopamine between the fasted state and the fed state is sufficient to cause your (well, at least my) motivation skyrocket. In fact a few times I felt too stimulated, unable to focus on a single task because I kept wanting to write down an idea or a few paragraphs for one of the books I’m working on. Olive leaf extract seemed to help with focus.

Another thing that seemed to help with focus was working with all of the lights off (while wearing blue-light filtering glasses to protect the eyes). Working in the dark is an old focus trick I discovered years ago, but doesn’t always work, perhaps dopamine has to be high to begin with.

Long-Term Concerns

L-Dopa is used to treat Parkinson’s disease and has serious long-term side-effects. For this reason you must never rely on it. Too much of it causes dangerous recklessness and impulsiveness. If you feel a “buzz” from it, you’ve probably had too much.

Tianeptine has amazing effects, but the fact that it gives me liver pain, and the fact that it causes withdrawal, makes me hesitant about using it in the long-term.

Now that Ramadan is over, I’m working on developing a new program where I can do without most of the supplements I take. I’ve discovered that 2-minute bouts of intense weightlifting (deadlifting a 160 pound weight) bring back my motivation and ability to focus, work and write when nothing else can. What I plan to do is start doing these 2-minute bouts throughout the day and see what happens.

My Chronic Fatigue Treatment Program

[August 28, 2017 Update: I have unpublished this book as the program, which seemed to work well for many months, has stopped working reliably. As I’m not certain of the value of the information presented in it, for now I will keep the book unpublished.]

In this essay I will summarize the treatment program I have developed over the past 9 years to treat my chronic fatigue, which used to completely overshadow my life for months at a time, preventing me from getting anything done or taking any joy in life.

This is not a cure but a treatment, as the fatigue comes back if the treatment is stopped. I will categorize my treatments into “essential” and “optional” treatments. The essential ones are necessary for the treatment to work and cannot be dispensed with. The optional ones improve the effectiveness of the treatment program but can probably be skipped.

Essentials

1. Meal Time Management

The foundation of my program is to take in zero carbohydrate or protein calories until 3 PM (8 hours after my wakeup time). I spend the day drinking unsweetened black coffee with matcha (green tea powder) added to it as a creamer and as a source for l-theanine, the amino acid that prevents coffee jitters.

I only use organic coffee that I grind right before I make the cup of coffee. I cannot stand pre-ground store-bought coffees.

Oils are an exception. I drink tablespoons of MCT oil and walnut oil in the morning (and some people put coconut oil in their coffee), this will not affect the program.

2. The Feeding Window

I only eat between 3 PM and 5 PM, a two-hour feeding window. If I eat later than that, it affects my sleep quality and brings back my fatigue the next day.

3. Avoiding Sugar, Fruit Juice, Grains and other Simple Carbohydrates

I do not eat bread, anything made with wheat flour, rice or potatoes, fruit juice, sweet fruits or sugary things. In short, I avoid eating/drinking large amounts of high-glycemic foods. These foods keep my blood sugar high throughout the night, reducing my sleep quality and giving me fatigue the next day.

I do not avoid them religiously. I still have small amounts of fruit (such as an occasional apple). But I make sure to never have significant amounts of simple carbohydrates except on special occasions.

3. Carotenall

Carotenall is a source of carotenoid anti-oxidants (vitamin A-like substances). I have one upon wake-up. Without this, nothing else works.

Beta-carotene (which is commonly called “plant-based vitamin a” doesn’t work. Retinol (animal-based vitamin A) works, but I need extremely high doses of it (100,000 iu the night before to feel the benefits the next day), which is toxic to the liver.

Spirulina (a tiny sea creature high in vitamin A) also works, but it is toxic to the liver because it is always contaminated with other creatures that produce liver toxins. I received severe liver pain from spirulina, even though the brand I tried was a highly-rated organic one from Amazon.com. I tried a different brand (the Health Ranger) which prides itself on having clean and high-quality supplements, but even that gave me liver pain.

4. Nettle Root Extract

I have one capsule of Now brand nettle root extract (250 mg) in the morning upon wake-up. Nettle root extract is a powerful anti-inflammatory supplement. I do not know the specific reasons why it works, but it does, and my chronic fatigue treatment cannot work without it.

Do not confuse with nettle leaf extract. Do not use non-extracts, the supplement should say “extract”. I have tried multiple brands, only Now brand and Solaray brand have worked for me.

5. Perika

I take 3 Perika tablets upon wakeup. Perika is a high-quality extract of St. John’s Wort, it is what St. John’s Wort should be. I have taken St. John’s Wort but it doesn’t work for me, Perika does.

Perika is necessary to create a form of mild optimism / happiness that is conducive toward feeling motivated.

6. Caffeine With Proper Timing (Probably Essential)

I stop drinking caffeine 15 minutes before my meal time (i.e. at 2:45 PM). If I have caffeine with my meal or after it, this brings back some of my fatigue the next day.

Caffeine is an important part of my day. It might be possible to use the rest of the treatments mentioned while being caffeine-free. I haven’t tried it, so I cannot say whether it will work.

7. Berberine and Banaba (not Banana) Extract (Essential for Me)

These two herbal extracts together are essential for managing my insulin resistance, and without doing that, the worst of my chronic fatigue comes back. If you sweat an hour or two after eating and the sweat smells somewhat sweet, or you carry amount significant amounts of belly fat or cellulite, or your eyes get very dry after eating, you probably have insulin resistance (or some other insulin-related condition).

I spent four months of zero motivation and productivity from March 2014 to July 2014 until I discovered this combination. I take a supplement called GlycoX which contains 500 mg berberine and 25 mg banaba extract  per capsule. I take 2 with my 3 PM meal, and 2 more at 5 PM. Different people will need different amounts.

8. Copper and Magnesium (Possibly Essential)

I take 2.5 mg copper glycinate and 130 mg elemental magnesium (from magnesium citrate) in the mornings. Copper helps with will power (the ability to focus on whatever one wants to focus on at will), while magnesium helps promote calmness and reduce eye dryness.

Copper is pro-excitatory for neurons (makes them more likely to fire), meaning that if it is missing, one feels fatigue in the brain, while if there is too much, neurons fire too often (known as excitotoxicity), causing a feeling of being scatterbrained and unable to focus. I recommend being careful with dosages of copper, more is not necessarily better.

9. Vitamin D3, Zinc Sulfate and Vitamin K (Essential for Evening Productivity)

I take 2000 IU vitamin D3, 25 mg zinc sulfate and 5-15 mg MK4 (a form of vitamin K) with my 3 PM meal. In this way my mind feels active and desirous of learning throughout the night, enabling me to listen to new audiobooks (my eyes are too dry at night to use them to read). If I don’t take these, I lack the motivation and the ability to focus necessary for being interested in learning.

Zinc, like copper, helps with the ability for neurons to fire. Zinc also reduces oxidative damage and inflammation. 25 mg might be too much, I plan to test lower amounts. Too much zinc, like copper, causes excitotoxicity.

The MK4 is not essential for these benefits, but it is necessary to prevent organ damage that is caused by vitamin D3, due to the fact that it increases calcium levels in the blood. MK4 also has the additional benefit of reducing inflammation and helping with insulin sensitivity, in this way improving sleep quality.

There is a fad where people take very high doses of vitamin D3. Taking 5000 IU gives me kidney pain, therefore I recommend not taking more than 2000 IU. I took 5000 IU vitamin D3 for years seemingly without issue, perhaps the reason my kidneys hurt now if I have this much is kidney damage caused by it.

Optionals

1. Piracetam (Possibly Essential, Possibly Not)

Piracetam helps reduce inflammation in the brain and improves memory and processing speed. I take 290 mg upon wakeup and 290mg around 11 AM. This is a relatively low dose, as some people take many grams of it per day, but it seems sufficient.

After the liver damage I got form spirulina, piracetam would bring back some liver pain, therefore I reduced the dosage to 290 mg.

2. Tianeptine Sulfate

Tianeptine sulfate is an anti-depressant and brain enhancer. It has amazing powers of reducing feelings of stress, promoting calmness and reducing social anxiety. It gives me a sort of calmness that makes it easy for me to spend hours on a single task without getting bored. I take 25 mg in the morning and 25 mg around 11 AM.

3. Oils

I take a tablespoon of walnut oil (which is high in the Omega 3 oil alpha-linolenic acid) in the mornings, which helps with motivation and brain function, and also helps with my eye dryness. I also take MCT oil, avocado oil, hazelnut oil and grape seed oil occasionally to experiment with them.

4. Melatonin

I take 250 mcg (0.25 mg) melatonin at bedtime, it helps improve sleep quality and reduce fatigue the next day. More is not better, taking 1 gram or 5 gram makes me wake up many times during the night and makes it difficult for me to fall back asleep.

The Social Factor in Chronic Fatigue

As I explain in detail in my book, I have discovered that social settings matter in chronic fatigue. If I don’t feel motivated, going to a coffee shop to work often brings back my motivation. Being surrounded by loved ones also reduces fatigue and increases motivation

There is a new theory of depression known as the Immune-Cytokine Model, which says that loneliness causes inflammation, designed to make us feel bad, to motivate us to go back to our loved ones, in this way ensuring that we do not spend time away from the safety of our families and tribes.

Ways of benefiting from these observations is to move in with your parents or another loved one if you can, to join meet ups and clubs (such as a martial arts club), to work outside (for this to work, you must be somewhere where you feel watched, if you feel entirely ignored by everyone, it doesn’t help, this is just how the brain works). Even getting a pet may help.

Things to Avoid

ALCAR

ALCAR (acetyl-L-carnitine) is a great supplement for managing blood sugar. Unfortunately, it causes a (pleasurable) feeling of laziness, where lying down and doing nothing is all I want to do. Taking any ALCAR today also seems to reduce my motivation the next day.

ALA

Alpha-lipoic acid (not to be confused with the omega 3 oil alpha-linolenic acid) is an anti-oxidant supplement that helps with blood sugar. It gives me neuropathy (pain in my fingers and toes), probably due to the fact that it removes minerals from the body, and it also gives me extreme depression and fatigue if I have too much of it, or if I have it on an empty stomach.