Day 346, Beef Tenderloin, Breakfast, and the Bite of Lithium on the Body
Lithium disrupts the functions of protein kinase C, causing many of its troubling side effects. However, the over-activity of protein kinase C dismantles the function of the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that most makes us human. What can we do to solve this dilemma?
Yesterday, was our one-year-wedding anniversary from when we married in my husband’s former retirement complex to the west of here. As we planned, we ate at the Corner Bakery Cafe to celebrate. A young, blond woman graciously opened the heavy front door for us, so I could easily push my husband’s transport chair through. Another man moved a table for us, so I could push the transport chair to the tables and chairs near the window. With loving conversation, my husband and I enjoyed the sandwiches and salad, paid for with a generous gift certificate our realtor gave us when we closed on the condo last year.
Afterward, we got gasoline, then stopped at Safeway and bought just over a pound of beef tenderloin. Upon arriving home, a man was servicing the garage door, and I had to pull into the garage to the right of where I normally do. I did not position perfectly to get the jeep into its stall and scraped the passenger-side mirror against the metal support column. Thankfully, the mirror did not shatter or come off its base, but it received a white scar down the back.
Exhausted from the driving and minor accident, in addition to not sleeping well the night before, I never did get the filet mignon fried last night. However, we plan to celebrate our anniversary for several days into the future.
Today is a new day! The kitchen is still not cleaned, but I did get the new water and ice filter installed in the refrigerator this morning. That was fairly easy. I also put peppermint oil on broken, recently peeled, stiff, dry skin, a patch of eczema on my left, middle finger this morning. The patch of eczema is infected and burning, making it hard to even type, let alone get the dishes done, especially since I am left-handed.
However, I will not let eczema stop me. I have had it in the past, often much more severely than I have it now. I am taking evening primrose oil to encourage it to heal. I have often used evening primrose oil as a prophylactic also.
What wonderful things will happen today?
My weight, though still higher than it was, is less than the last time I weighed. So gratefully, eating out yesterday was not a problem, even though I cleaned my plate as I typically do. The calories counts on the menu helped me figure out what to order; I am grateful that restaurants are doing that now.
I also want to spend some time with Mind Meister today. I made a mind map with the same content as my master task list in JV Life Tracker, the to-do app I programmed in Java. Mind Meister allows me to add more content to each activity, especially Weblinks.
Below, is a portion of my JV Life Tracker mind map. This is the mindfulness link to a short meditation I recorded as an mp3 to encourage my success in becoming a thought leader.
In the last few days, I have abandoned Cronometer again. One day, I logged two meals, the next day one, the next day nothing. My logging gradually dwindled. However, I have still logged 73% of all days since Lisa’s Diet Takeoff Day (June 22, 2019), so my plan is still on course.
Let me pick myself up, dust myself off, and continue.
I made a frequent breakfast of chocolate, blueberry, walnut, and coconut. It has a few more walnuts than what I typically make and a bit less coconut. However, it is still great!
Here are the ingredients: (Just mix in a bit of water–no need to cook it.)
I am munching on it now. Delicious! I call it Brazil Nut Coconut-Chocolate Joy with Blueberries and Maca. It makes you feel good and is good for your cognition as well.
Speaking of cognition, I have been thinking more about the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that reduces impulsiveness, increases social awareness, and improves judgment.
First of all, I am glad that I finally understand that it is the impairment of this part of the brain that is responsible for so many of the weird behaviors that show up during mania. If you have never had mania or known anyone in that state, perhaps you do not understand much about it. Mania is truly explosive. It can feel great but that is because all inhibition is gone. Whatever comes into your head, you do. Your attention span is limited. You flit from one focus of attention to another, very quickly. I recall that the meaning for symbols in my head was scrambled. I do not know exactly how long it takes to come out of this state naturally because, in severe mania, I have always been hospitalized and put on drugs. Even though I did not like getting treated for my mania, I typically did not put up that great of a resistance.
Lithium for the Prefrontal Cortex
What can be done? Lithium has been used in the United States since 1969. It did not catch on really quickly. Other drugs do similar things. However, lithium is still one of the best drugs for mania if not the best. Depakote is also prescribed and I have taken it myself in conjunction with lithium. However, it does not help me very much.
What does lithium do?
The exact mechanism of how lithium works is still a mystery. Scientists know what lithium does in the body, but which mechanism(s) is/are therapeutic is not entirely known. However, in this century, some light has been shed on this mystery. Among other things, lithium indirectly inhibits the activity of protein kinase C. Over-activity of protein kinase C has been found to be responsible for dismantling the operation of the prefrontal cortex. Why does protein kinase C become overactive? That is a good question. There may be multiple genetic susceptibilities. However, environmental factors can make it worse, like stress, psycho-stimulant drugs, and sleep deprivation. In fact, one of the ways scientists test for drug action on mania in an animal model is to induce mania in rats by depriving them of sleep. (I know, no fun for the rat.)
What Action does PKC Normally Have in the Body?
So what action does protein kinase C normally have in the body? I presume this family of enzymes would not be there if there was not some purpose for them. Protein kinase C is a family of protein kinase enzymes involved in controlling the function of other proteins through phosphorylation of hydroxyl groups of serine and threonine amino acid residues on these proteins. They play key regulatory roles, including important roles in signal transduction cascades, cell functions such as proliferation, and organism functions such as memory. Systems affected include the digestive system, the sensory system (especially the eyes), the urinary system, the reproductive system, the integumentary (skin) system, the circulatory system, the kidney, the nervous system, the ventricular system, and the endocrine system.
Though I have been on lithium for over 30 years, I was overwhelmed with all the side effects (extreme thirstiness, dry mouth, dry eyes, too little sweat, too little concentration of the urine, etc.) and did not appreciate what lithium could do for my brain. Just its action on protein kinase C can affect many systems. Lithium is not a synthetic drug designed by drug companies. It is a simple, natural compound called lithium carbonate found as zabuyelite, though it is made readily made from lithium chloride. Lithium replaces sodium in the body and that changes everything. By the way, if you are thinking that over-the-counter lithium orotate will also prevent mania, be cautious. I tried out lithium orotate and had a devastating manic episode.
Filet Mignon (a.k.a. Beef Tenderloin)
This morning, I pan-fried the filet mignon we bought yesterday. My husband loved it and said we could eat it at any time. I wish he was so liberal with his money for other things. However, I think we will eat it once in a while. Life is rich!
Whether this is the best thing for our health, I do not know. I will ensure we do not eat it too often. The above beeve shows where filet mignon comes from. Filet mignon is cut from a little exercised muscle and is, therefore, the most tender cut of beef.
I believe eczema I am experiencing is made worse by the presence of lithium. However, my first experience with eczema occurred while I was in college before I was ever exposed to lithium. I lost all the skin on my hands and feet. It peeled off, got infected, itched, burned, and looked horrible, causing me grief psychologically and impairing my ability to help a partially deaf young man I was tutoring in computer science. At a dance, my partner held my hands above the wrists. He would not touch my unsightly hands. My roommates thought the eczema was athletes’ foot and made me cover my feet in the shower.
During my first visit to the student health center, a nurse thought it was athletes’ foot too. However, treating it like athletes’ foot did absolutely no good and perhaps made it worse. I went to the student health center again and talked to a dermatologist. He diagnosed it as eczema.
The dermatologist prescribed antibiotics as well as cortisone cream. He recommended soaking the affected areas in black tea. I did so and left the leftover tea in the apartment’s kitchen cupboard. When one of my five roommates discovered it, she went ballistic that I had tea in the apartment. (Tea is against the Word of Wisdom.) I explained that my doctor recommended it for soaking my feet, and she let me keep it and put it back in the cupboard. By the way, tea works very well. I may try it again.
The filet mignon was a bit filling perhaps. I am usually hungry by now. I just checked with Cronometer, and I have eaten enough calories for the entire day. Wow! That happens all too easily.
Weight Gain Effect of Lithium
The side effect of lithium I like the least is its ability to cause weight gain. Fortunately, most of the weight gain happens when I am first put on lithium. After that, the weight gain usually levels off. However, I have to be constantly vigilant or I will gain weight. The effect could be compounded by being on Risperdal also, which also has the effect of weight gain.
I think part of this effect is because of lithium’s effect of depressing the thyroid. Even taking replacement thyroid does not entirely fix that. And I cannot take too much thyroid or I get the side effect of hyperthyroidism. It is a fine line.
So perhaps there is something else about lithium that is causing weight gain above and beyond its effects on the thyroid gland. I just have not figured out what it is. This table of the effects of protein kinase C may give me some clues.
Protein kinase C affects the contraction of the smooth muscle cells in the digestive system and increases gastric acid. Conversely, weak stomach acid can cause constipation, reduce the absorption of vitamin B12, and cause skin problems such as psoriasis, which is related to eczema.
If lithium inhibits protein kinase C, what does it do to the smooth muscle? I think it would decrease motility. Maybe that is another reason my digestive system is so slow, resulting in constipation. What happens when your gastrointestinal tract does not contract? Can weight problems be a result? Can slow motility increase the absorption of calories? That may be true, but I do not think I have the full answer.
Here is a clue: “Other hormones and brain signaling chemicals that affect hunger, blood sugar regulation, and fat and energy storage might play a role in lithium related weight gain. As these processes are very complex and regulated at multiple levels in the body, additional research is needed to determine the possible influence of lithium.”
Since protein kinase C is involved in signaling throughout the body, it could be part of the signal cascade for satiety.
It appears that leptin can block PKC. Maybe if I did not have leptin resistance, I could block PKC naturally and not need lithium. Leptin probably does not block PKC as much as a therapeutic dose of lithium however, or we would likely see the side effects of dry mouth, dry eyes, dry sweat glands, and diabetes insipidus. If leptin blocks PKC, that does not answer the question of weight gain because it is doing at least one thing the same as lithium, not necessarily something different. Leptin does seem to have an antidepressant effect. Are people with bipolar disorder more prone to leptin resistance? People with bipolar are likely to have low plasma leptin levels.
Obese people are more likely to have leptin resistance, which could mean high leptin levels. People with obesity are more likely to have depressive disorders. Could it be that lithium only causes weight gain in people with leptin resistance?
Not all my questions are answered, but leptin resistance could be involved in the lithium weight gain equation. Overcoming leptin resistance will most likely improve weight control, even if lithium does not cause it. A study’s result suggests that leptin may be associated with lithium-induced weight gain. Valproic acid use causes weight gain also and affects leptin. Overcoming leptin resistance is something to consider when starting a weight reduction program. I think I have made strides at doing it in the past. However, I may have peddled backward lately.
Leptin sensitivity is affected by what you eat, the timing of when you eat, sleep, stress reduction, and physical activity. Those things can help people with bipolar disorder also. I did not know that leptin could affect PKC. And until lately, I did not know that PKC had anything to do with bipolar disorder. The question is: how can you measure your leptin resistance? I guess the most reliable way to measure it is this: Do you and can you stop eating once you have had enough? How do you know you have had enough? Consider Cronometer. If you are gaining weight, that may indicate you have eaten beyond your needs as well. By then though, it is too late.
Click the mind map below to see what you can do to overcome leptin resistance.
If you would like to join me on this journey from the beginning, please start with Day One.