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Protein problems

Discussion in 'Gastrointestinal and Urinary' started by Graham, Nov 16, 2017.

  1. Graham

    Graham Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Does anyone have any insights into a problem with protein digestion?

    A friend has been getting overwhelming panic attacks and muscle cramps for some time now, which do respond to a certain extent to Beta-blockers or benzo. This friend accidentally found out that reducing protein intake reduced symptoms. Cutting out meat portions for 2 years meant no symptoms, but also a steady weight loss.

    Blood tests, including endocrine levels, are normal - could it be a brain/autoimmune thing?
  2. Barry

    Barry Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Am I right in thinking that most allergies invariably involve the immune system over-reacting to various proteins?
    Subtropical Island and Nellie like this.
  3. Helen

    Helen Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Could it be a meat allergy, maybe caused by a Lyme infection?
    Low stomach acid ( do the blurp test) that causes problems with digestion? Ageing and hypothyroidism decreases stomach acid.

    Is there a reaction to all kinds of proteins? Probably not as there is a smaller amount in many foods. Rice protein powder use to be what most people can have without allergies.

    Does your friend get the albumin level checked? According to one of my doctors, a low number indicates a deficient intake and/or uptake. He was worried when he once noticed a low number in my lab test, as it´s so important to get enough of protein. The weight loss, I guess, is caused by loss of muscle tissue.
    Just some thoughts. Probably nothing new, but just in case...
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
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  4. Woolie

    Woolie Senior Member

    Gosh, @Graham, that's tricky.

    You can have an intolerance to certain meats, but the symptoms are more like you see in shellfish allergies (rash, breathing problems, swelling etc.).

    I know that's probably not of much help...
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  5. adreno

    adreno Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    High protein intake can lead to increased ammonia levels in some people, which might explain the symptoms.



    Red meat is the worst in terms of ammonia production. He might be able to tolerate small portions of fish and poultry. Some supplements may also help, e.g. ornithine, yucca, AKG, carnitine. And a high fiber diet, as mentioned above.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017
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  6. zzz

    zzz Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    While higher ammonia levels could produce the reported symptoms, I would expect that such high levels would produce other symptoms as well. Instead, when I hear the symptoms of muscle cramps and panic attacks, what comes to mind for me is a magnesium deficiency. A high protein diet may enhance the need for magnesium. (Bunce, G.E., Reeves, P.G., Oba, T.S., and Sauberlich, H.E. Influence of dietary protein level on the magnesium requirement, J. Nutr., 79, 220, 1963.) Your friend may not be eating what is normally considered a high protein diet, but problems with his metabolism that may be related to his illness may mean that he has to consume a higher level of magnesium than normal in order to consume normal levels of protein. Impaired kidney function can result in too much magnesium being excreted, which would also result in higher levels of protein consumption causing your friend's symptoms.

    Without adequate levels of magnesium, muscle cramps are one of the first symptoms you would expect to see. As magnesium is the primary antagonist of NMDA receptors in the brain, excessive activity at these receptors would be expected, and in some people this manifests as panic attacks.

    Due to your friend's illness and/or impaired kidney function, higher than normal levels of magnesium may be required to eliminate these problems. For this reason, normal levels on magnesium tests do not rule out the need for additional magnesium. Some people are very sensitive to magnesium supplementation, though, so any increase in magnesium consumption should be done gradually. Due to low absorption levels, oral supplementation of magnesium often is insufficient to resolve serious magnesium deficiency. Instead, in terms of potency, the following forms of magnesium may need to be considered, with the most potent listed first: IV magnesium, IM magnesium injections, nebulized magnesium, Epsom salt baths (full and foot baths), and magnesium cream applied to large areas of the skin. The first three methods are by far the most potent. But as most doctors will have nothing to do with them, nebulized magnesium has the advantage that it can be done without involving a doctor (at least in the UK).

    Dr. Myhill gives complete instructions on using magnesium by nebulizer, including where to get the nebulizer and magnesium and what dosage to use, in Magnesium by nebulizer. It would probably be a good idea to start at a lower dose than she specifies - maybe a quarter as much - since some people are very sensitive to magnesium.

    If your friend is able and willing to do IM magnesium injections, Dr. Myhill gives instructions and dosage for these at Magnesium - treating a deficiency. Dr. Cheney uses the same dosage, except that the drug he uses in combination with magnesium is taurine, of which he uses 1.5 cc.
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  7. Valentijn

    Valentijn Guest

    Has he tried protein powders, such as hemp, pea, or rice protein?
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  8. arewenearlythereyet

    arewenearlythereyet Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    I would suggest eggs as being one of the better protein source in terms of digestability and amino acid content. I eat 3 a day. Also good for choline.


    Low stomach acid also could be due to high anxiety. Flight of fight response effectively shuts down stomach acid production. This is also seen in people with low B12 more commonly with PA. there is a lot of experience of this problem and how to combat this on the pernicious anaemia society website. And their forum at health unlocked.


    I also agree that muscle cramps seem to indicate an electrolyte imbalance of some sort (magnesium, sodium or potassium)
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  9. Awol

    Awol Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    I'm surprised that cutting out meat portions would result in weight loss, if your friend can replace those calories with other sources?
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  10. Kafka

    Kafka Established Member (Voting Rights)

    I'm going to throw in my humble two cents...

    Possible magnesium deficiency? Muscle cramps & panic attacks are both symptoms
    Blood work does not consistently pick up magnesium levels.

    Don't have a link at hand, but have read this online and I am currently dealing myself with low magnesium (due to ketosis - treating symptoms and it is working) not diagnosed through blood work.

    There seems to be some link also between magnesium deficiency and protein synthesis. ?? I'm just skimming google...
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  11. Scarecrow

    Scarecrow Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Would an experiment with branched chain amino acids help to identify whether the problem is with protein digestion or protein synthesis?
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  12. Inara

    Inara Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Another possibility: For the digestion (or conversion) of protein Vitamin B6 is needed. More protein intake, more Vitamin B6 is used. Maybe your friend has a B6 problem. The symptoms would fit.

    Low stomach acid was mentioned, and the possibility of more ammonium in the gut. In this case I would expect bad smelling bloating and other digestion issues, like undigested rests in the stool.

    My personal experience with eggs were very bad (it once caused a bilious attack, plus digestion and stool problems and bloating). There are amino acids powders if protein digestion is a problem.
  13. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    London, UK
    Dear @Graham,
    I suspect a simple explanation here. I doubt protein is relevant. I also very much doubt any sort of allergic or immune basis. What I think is more likely is that meat is very often cooked in a way such that there is likely to be ingestion of amines such as tyramine. Red meat often goes with onions, high temperature cooking, red wine, gravy ingredients and so on - all the things that tend to contain tyramine (or monosodium glutamate) and in perfectly healthy people predispose to bad dreams, anxiety and so on. I have become largely vegetarian and I find it much more relaxing.
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  14. Wonko

    Wonko Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    I've become a large vegetable - it's not relaxing.

    You'd think it would be, but it's not.

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