The Bipolar Bum

Backpacking and Bipolar II. Taking Manic Depression on tour.

Folinic Acid and Vitamin B12 – The beginning

Over the next few posts I’m going to explore the issue highlighted in an article that was sent to me entitled:

How a vitamin cured my anxiety: Elisa Black’s story of lifelong struggle and new hope for the future

The basic premise when (probably over)simplified seems to be that a mutation of the gene MTHFR can cause some of us to fail to absorb and process essential B vitamins properly.  The results of this can span from higher instance of PTSD, pre-menstrual anxiety and a plethora of mood disorders including Bipolarity.  The article suggests that supplementing with the bio-available version of B9 Folic Acid – which is Folinic Acid – so that our bodies don’t have to process it themselves can lead to a decrease in overall symptoms and in some cases more-or-less cure the mood disorders caused by the absence of these essential chemicals.

The WAY in which this happens is still a bit of a mystery to me (and, for all I currently know, to doctors) – so I’m going to be reading as much as I can about the B Vitamins and supplements before I start trialing the supplement next month.  Folinic acid supplements are currently on BACK-ORDER where I live owing to their incredible popularity, which I take as a good omen.

What’s interesting is that I’ve read COUNTLESS times, having had an interest in raw food, CRON and veganism that B12 deficiency can ‘mimic’ Bipolar Disorder symptoms as well as cause a plethora of neurological faults.  Combined with Vitamin D it is the supplement I see most-recommended by thorough, science-abiding health nuts.  They all warn of the dire consequences of B12 deficiency.

I understand Bipolar Disorder to be the label for a coalescence of various failures, malfunctions and problems in various chains of events, biological systems and arrangements of neurons.  Rather than thinking of Bipolar Disorder as one disease, which scientists are finding THE cure for, like malaria or the plague – I think of it as an umbrella term for a collection of symptoms.  The logical outcome of failures in a multitude of possible scenarios.

When we picture these various chain reactions that culminate in our mental health, or the lack there-of, it’s easy to understand why cures for these ‘illnesses’ are elusive, inconsistent and often transient.  No one yet knows the cause or specific conditions that results in the GROUP of symptoms we call Bipolar Disorder.

Thinking about Vitamin B12 in isolation for a moment, any of the following could be the case:

  • Patient’s diet is deficient in animal products – B12 almost totally absent from food intake
  • Patient eats enough animal products but cannot metabolise them properly to absorb B12
  • Patient absorbs B12 but the mechanism by which B12 protects Myelin is flawed somehow.
  • And so on, and so on…

The ‘cure’ for this suggested by one doctor may be to eat more eggs, fish and poultry.  This would definitely work for some but not for others, and the doctor may not understand why.  They may decide or not even think to supplement B12 after that.  They may move onto something else, deciding that B12 wasn’t the problem.

This would definitely work for some but not for others, and the doctor may not understand why.

Sound familiar? Sound like EVERY modern-day Bipolar medication and treatment?  Electroboy gets zapped when ECT has long since been unfashionable.  It works for him and a minority of others.   Doctors are more than prepared to do a cingulotomy on treatment-resistant patients.  They essentially burn away material from the frontal lobe just to see IF it will help at all and, sometimes, it does!

Saying “I have Bipolar Disorder” in this context becomes a very vague and useless statement as far as getting well is concerned.  It seems we can abdicate responsibility somewhat for getting well by just trying medications at random that appear to have worked for others – which is what I’ve done thus-far and what doctors seem to have to do.

An alternative may be present in the form of rigorous blood work, identifying certain genetic markers and trying to patch the hole(s) in whatever pipes in our brains are leaking.  I’m going to try and see if I can be tested for the MTHFR mutation and I intend to document as faithfully as I can what using the supplement does for my energy and mood.  Luckily, my partner has also geared up to help.  She will also be keeping a diary of my observed energy levels and mood.

So, exciting times ahead.

If any of you supplement B12 or Folic/Folinic Acid – I’d love to hear from you about how it’s going.  I’m keen to learn the specifics of how long you’ve been doing it and if your symptoms are TOTALLY in remission or how else it has influenced them.

All the best,

H&J

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15 comments on “Folinic Acid and Vitamin B12 – The beginning

  1. Ros
    20/03/2015

    Hi again

    I really hope this works out for you. I saw that article just the other day – on Facebook – and my immediate reaction, before even reading it, was ‘I bet that’s a B vitamin!’ I then sent it to a friend who has bipoloar. I don’t know whether she plans to do anything about it, but her young son has been suffering from terrible migraines and her father also had bipolar, which suggests to me that there is something genetic going on. Of course, it may not be this gene…

    I don’t have bipolar, but I do have a strange mix of other neuro-immune disorders including ME/CFS and pernicious anaemia (an inability to absorb B12 caused by autoimmunity). B12 and Folate are vital links in a chain of reactions (the methylation cycle) that is essential for the neuro-immune system. Hence a lack of B12 and or folate can result in physical symptoms, psychological symptoms or both. Some people with quite severe B12 deficiency have ended up on psychiatric wards rather than medical wards because they had no obvious physical symptoms. Here is just one example:

    http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/197/3/244.full

    It’s also very common for folks diagnosed with pernicous anaemia to become irritable or depressed when their B12 injection is due.

    I was diagnosed with pernicious anaemia two years ago. Following this, I joined the Pernicious Anaemia Society and followed their forums for a while, from whence I gleaned that there can be a number of genetic mutations that affect the methylation cycle, including one on the MTHFR gene. There were people on that forum who had been tested for genetic mutations and who claimed to have been helped by folinic acid supplements. There were also people who developed symptoms of B12/folate deficiency when their blood levels were supposedly normal and who found that high dose folic acid supplements and/or B12 injections helped them enormously.

    It’s a hugely complicated area and I’m looking forward to seeing more research because I think it has the potential to help people with a whole range of disorders. Meanwhile, I think it’s certainly worth trying the supplements to see if they help you. Apart from anything else, there is no known toxic limit for B12, so it is never going to do you any harm, even if it doesn’t help. One needs to be a little more careful with some of the other B vitamins, but they are a good deal safer than most drugs. The one to watch is B6, which can damage the nervous system in high doses. I take a 100% daily allowance of all of them every 2-3 days on the basis that my nervous system is already damaged and they are the most likely thing in my diet to be lacking. No idea if it helps, but, like I said, it isn’t going to do any harm! I also take high dose supplements of B12 on top of the NHS injections because I have found that keeps me more stable – both physically and psychologically. I also take vitamin D, which seems to have cured me completely of SAD.

    Liked by 2 people

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      24/03/2015

      Hi again!

      I’m rushing around right now so I can’t write you a full reply. Thanks very much for taking the time to write this though. Some of the things you’ve said are guaranteed to help me with the direction my reading is taking me!

      I’ll type a full reply ASAP, I just wanted to say thanks,

      All the best,
      H&J

      Like

  2. Reblogged this on Dizzy With Feet Planted.

    Liked by 1 person

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      24/03/2015

      Thank you very much for the re-blog. If you have any questions/comments on the topic that you’d like me to include in any follow up articles – please just let me know.

      All the best,
      H&J

      Like

  3. UltraViolet
    21/03/2015

    I also saw this article on Facebook, and would be very interested to hear how it goes for you (and others). I’m also thinking of picking up some folinic acid. Reading through the article and having done a bit of half-arsed research as a result, the science seemed to make sense.

    I have depression rather than BPD, but if something this simple is going to work, then why not?

    Liked by 1 person

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      24/03/2015

      Hey UV,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      My Mrs has PTSD which often results in reactive depression and has been an anxious person her entire life. She’s going to start a course of these supplements with me so that we can observe each other. I’m deciding on a format for the logs so that I can publish the results on here.

      I’m thinking rating the following out of 10
      Mood
      Energy Levels
      Anxiety
      Sleep Quality

      This is pretty off-the-cuff for now and I’m sure to refine it as we get closer to getting some of the supplements. Can you think of anything specific that you’d like to hear about?

      All the best,
      H&J

      Like

  4. elizabeth
    22/03/2015

    Hi – this is fascinating: i have had a chronic b12 deficiency which oral supplements did NOTHING for. i tend to just get shots when my levels are low. it seems my gut just doesn’t absorb it, or for that matter iron.

    THOUGH! as well as my bipolar, i also have bowel cancer. as soon as i started cancer treatment, my b12 stabilised, and my iron is better than it has been ever, in my whole life. as a part of my chemo regime, i had intravenous calcuim folinate – as having good levels of folate, calcium help chemo work better, and help manage bowel cancer. also, vit D as well – high levels of vit d correlate to a lower incidence of bowel cancer, and a far greater survival rate. but they are wondering if the lower vid d isn’t so much a contributor to cancer as much as the reason for the deficiency is connected to the likelihood of having a worse outcome.

    anyhow. may all be vague. but the high folate levels & high b12 has given me, despite the whole cancer business, one of the longest periods of mood stability i’ve ever had. i def will ask for this test when i get genetic counselling.

    Liked by 2 people

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      24/03/2015

      Hey Elizabeth,

      This is exactly the kind of reply I was hoping for. I actually like a weight of anecdotal evidence at this stage of any research process I engage in. Personal experience like yours, mainly due to the extremity of the things you’re describing, both ailment and treatment, really NEED to be heard.

      Where more scientific minds might feel obligated to ignore it to ensure unbiased results – I’m mainly in this for myself and I’d take a biased result if one came along! Bugger it – I’d be happy with a placebo effect if I’m really honest! 😉

      All joking aside – it’s great to hear that your mood is consistent and I hope the rest of your troubles fall neatly into line really, really soon.

      I currently have a small window every few days to get online and keep up with e-mails from family on the opposite side of the world, Facebook messages and blog stuff. This means that I don’t read many peoples’ blogs anymore. I just read your last post though and though I don’t have much experience that will be of use to you – I do have a recommendation and hope it isn’t in poor taste. Christopher Hitchens wrote a series of essays about his experience of oesophageal cancer – stating repeatedly that he wanted to “DO it actively rather than have it done IT him”. His prognosis was much more negative than I understand yours to be but I’ve heard multiple times that his approach in writing these essays was very empowering for the readers. Notwithstanding the fact that he was an amazing wordsmith, his views on this (as everything else) are incisive and totally honest. He doesn’t doff his cap to anything else written on the subjet – it’s all pure, unadulterated Hitch that you’re getting.

      http://www.amazon.com.au/Mortality-Christopher-Hitchens-ebook/dp/B008YP272M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1427196821&sr=8-1&keywords=christopher+hitchens+mortality

      Please keep in touch but if you don’t have the time/desire – best of luck!

      All the best,
      H&J

      Like

      • elizabeth
        25/03/2015

        thank you so much – that looks wonderful. yeah, oesophageal cancer’s a death sentence in a way that bowel cancer isn’t (thank god).

        i am so down with the ACTIVE. cancer is passive and boring and dull. there are things you can do, and it is hard, you know, to get them active. xx

        Like

  5. jessmbaum
    23/03/2015

    Vitamin B6 helped my sister perk up more, less depression

    Like

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      24/03/2015

      Thanks for chiming in. B6 seems to be a miracle pill for those who get any results from it.

      All the best,
      H&J

      Like

  6. jessmbaum
    23/03/2015

    I do believe that the best way to ingest vitamins is from an actual food source though, supplements are synthetic, I wonder if that would be a fun study comparing those as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      24/03/2015

      The mutation of MTHFR specifically inhibits absorption from food though, as well as any supplements that don’t contain the bio-available compound FolINIC acid, as opposed to Folic Acid.

      For people with this mutation – absorbing the minerals from food isn’t the best way because it isn’t a way, full stop.

      The supplements in question here are to try and correct a malfunction where their own, natural biology sabotages them.

      I, personally, would always advocate eating whole foods, getting LOADS of fibre into your diet and making sure your diet is made up mainly of plants. With issues such as the one highlighted by the article though – there is no dietary solution to it. For people like me – it offers a thin ray of hope for a real ‘cure’ rather than more doctors’ guesses at which meds MIGHT alleviate our symptoms.

      All the best,
      H&J

      Liked by 1 person

  7. heartlectics
    08/04/2015

    My family has this mutation and one takes methyl folate. Seek advice from a good naturopath. Docs are hopeless with this stuff, they only know medicine

    Liked by 2 people

    • drheckleandmrjibe
      13/04/2015

      We’re now two days into taking the supplement. I’ll post about it when I’m a bit better. Cheers for taking the time to comment!

      Liked by 1 person

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