Medication submerged my personality
I empowered myself with nutrition at age 19 in order to eliminate pharmaceutical drugs from my life. At this young age, I had already been on countless drugs to manage my “incurable” disease. I was taking drugs to treat the side effects of those drugs.
This medication cocktail made my mind a foreign inhabitant of my body. My moods, thoughts, and behavior escaped my command. I had the body of a teenager, but often had the emotional control of a toddler. I felt ashamed, angry, disoriented. I have never been more distanced from my soul.
I offer this introduction to make this point: it’s not outrageous to claim that a nutrient alters personality and even transforms the experience of life. Medication does, as you see. The difference is that mood-altering medication rarely empowers, and it often submerges the soul. Nutrition does empower, and it often surfaces the soul.
How phosphatidylserine changed my life
Phosphatidylserine is a supplement that changed how I live in my body. I credit it for helping me reduce personality patterns that did not serve me.
- It improved my ability to focus my creative energies
- It helped me override patterns of anxiety and anxiety-induced insomnia
- It helped me reduce physical restlessness
I’ve supplemented with phosphatidylserine for a year now. In this post, I will share my personal experience as well as the research-backed effects of this powerful brain nutrient.
What does phosphatidylserine do?
Phosphatidylserine is a type of fat found in every cell of the human body, but most concentrated in brain tissue. It enables the brain to use glucose (blood sugar) more efficiently. Glucose is brain fuel, and when the brain has better access to fuel, it thinks better.
In addition to glucose mediation, phosphatidylserine orchestrates balanced cortisol levels. The adrenal glands produce cortisol in a circadian rhythm: this hormone should peak in the morning and then gradually decrease until evening.
When our cortisol levels fall out of this pattern, the body loses equilibrium. Chronic stress levels cause the adrenal glands to pump out mega-doses of cortisol, which then desensitize two parts of the brain called the hypothalamus and the hippocampus. These act as the shut-off valves for cortisol. When they become desensitized, cortisol levels go haywire.
This illustrates the cycle of hormone resistance: excessive production of a certain hormone causes cells to become overwhelmed, and the cells down-regulate their response to that hormone. Now, the body produces even more of this hormone, because it is not getting into cells. Phosphatidylserine rebalances high cortisol not by blocking the production, but by re-sensitizing the hypothalamus and hippocampus to this hormone. (Source, source)
My experience with phosphatidylserine benefits
Phosphatidylserine helped me become still
Although I never received a diagnosis of hyperactivity as a child, perhaps because I was born just before that was a fad, I was a hyper and active little creature. Growing up, I danced myself dizzy, ran frenzies around the house, and required tactile projects to keep my buzzing fingers busy. (Actually, I held to these habits until very recently.)
As a young adult, my high energy effusively fed my creativity but also my Type-A tendencies, a pattern from which I’m actively recovering. In addition, I realized my challenge of fully relaxing into my body. For example, one romantic partner brought to my attention that I would reach my cuddling limit when my pent-up energy from staying still needed to escape.
While I attribute my energy patterns partly to the innate personality of my physiology, I’ve learned that my high cortisol levels were partly to blame. High cortisol occurs in a state of hyper-adrenia, which is the opposite of adrenal fatigue. Individuals may be predisposed to either type of adrenal dysfunction or, in my case, may experience alternating periods of both. I plan to write a post discussing this in more detail.
When I began taking phosphatidylserine, I arrived into the full relaxation of my body. I could be still and present, without feeling a build-up of energy. And, for the first time in my life after age 2, I could take a nap. Now, if I feel deeply fatigued or brain fried during the day, I can rejuvenate my body and mind with a power nap.
Phosphatidylserine calmed anxiety
Have you heard the term monkey mind? This Bhuddist term references the mind chatter that fidgets from one branch of thought to the next. I lived most of my life with chronic anxiety that felt like a circus worth of monkeys in my mind.
I feel compelled to write a future post about my recovery from anxiety, a struggle which I’ve not addressed here. In short, I unknowingly suffered anxiety and only realized it once I had recovered.
Phosphatidylserine partly provided the foundation for me to incorporate other anxiety-healing tools. By significantly supporting my focus and stillness, it made a meditation practice more accessible and less intimidating to me. I felt a deeper control of those restless, rambunctious monkeys in my mind.
Another crucial aspect in my recovery from anxiety is Anxiety Release, a formulation from my company Meo Energetics. This essential oil blend works energetically to balance the part of the brain (the anterior cingulate gyrus) that can get stuck processing the same negative thoughts.
Clinical research supports the anxiety-relieving effects of phosphatidylserine. Research shows that it may reduce the intensity of stress and could promote the production of dopamine, a “happy brain chemical.” (Source, source)
Phosphatidylserine improved my sleep
Over the years, I’ve vastly improved my lifelong pattern of insomnia with tools such as my melatonin glasses, my intelliBED non-toxic mattress, and wind-down bedtime rituals (reading and meditation).
Even with these resources, insomnia still intruded into my life when I was out of my sleep routine. For example, my hormones and stress levels continued to throw off my sleep patterns. I also struggled to fall asleep when traveling.
Phosphatidylserine provided a stillness in my body and mind which radically improved my sleep. This supplement, by re-sensitizing my body to cortisol, allowed me to access a quiet and lovely lethargy when I went to bed.
Other phosphatidylserine benefits
ADD and ADHD – When it comes to addressing the widespread diagnosis of hyperactivity in children, nutrition and supplementation offer drastic results without the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs. Again, this topic requires a future article. Phosphatidylserine has been used to address ADD and ADHD (source, source). Given my own experience with grounding my energy and calming my anxiety, I believe this supplement should be used with both holistic and conventional treatments for hyperactivity.
Weight loss – In excess levels, cortisol triggers the body to store belly fat. The cortisol drop from phosphatidylserine often supports healthy, long-term weight loss. I can’t speak to this effect, but I didn’t desire weight loss.
Memory -Phosphatidylserine is a popular subject in memory and Alzheimer’s research. Although studies show mixed results, there is compelling research to suggest phosphatidylserine supports memory function, perhaps by improving levels of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter involved in learning and memory, and Alzheimer’s correlates with a shortage of this crucial brain messenger. (Source, Source, Source)
Exercise endurance and recovery – Clinical research supports the use of phosphatidylserine for exercise recovery and reducing the physiological consequences of overtraining. It also suggests that phosphatidylserine improves endurance levels during high-intensity activity. (Source, source)
Phosphatydlserine comes in three forms:
- Soy-based, which carries GMO sourcing concerns
- Bovine-based, which is not widely available, due to concerns of pathogens
- Sunflower-based – which I prefer and use.
**I use and recommend this brand of sunflower-based phosphatidylserine.**
My experience dosing phosphatydlserine
The optimal dose of phosphatidylserine varies from individual to individual. Fortunately, you can easily find your ideal dose with awareness of your energy level and symptoms.
It took me two weeks of small adjustments to optimally dose phosphatidylserine. I started with three capsules daily, one at 12pm, one at 3pm, and one before bed. I discovered that my body was very sensitive to the supplement, and taking it in the afternoon made me too tired. Many people, however, thrive with this 3-times-daily dose schedule.
Now, I take two capsules two hours prior to bedtime. This allows the phosphatidylserine to hit my system when I’m ready to sleep.
Remember, phosphatidylserine often reduces cortisol levels. Cortisol plays a crucial role in your energy level, and should peak in the morning. It is often recommended to take your first dose of phosphatidylserine after 12pm or later in the day.
Do you use phosphatidylserine? What is your experience?
Just started taking this (day 1) and am enthused by your article as I have had anxiety / monkey brain for all my life. I also found sodium butyrate very positive for balancing my mind. I know you can get this from fibre however I eat a WFPB diet which should help but since taking the SB if have noticed a marked difference. So now I am enthusiastic to see if PS provides additional relief as I still suffer from insomnia / restless sleep. Thanks again for article – very much appeciated
Hey what brand did you get?
I’ve read lots of products have different formulas these days- years ago PS from myprotein worked wonders. Then I purchased years later there soy formula which did nothing.
I’ve been taken natures best in the uk 4 before bed and its kept me up more if anything
The recommended above isnt available and others discontinued (why?)
Hello Nick, I’m in the uk too. The brand of P.S I’ve always used for 20+ yrs since age 21 (I’m 44 now) mainly for sports and performance and well-being improvement which makes me think sharper, fast reaction time, easy bodyfat loss (via improved glucose utilization pathway I’m guessing), higher testosterone and much increase in energy especially endurance & strength(maybe via claimed imoroved nutrient absorbtion), yet relaxing the feeling of ‘restless body’ is the product by Ultimate Nutrition UK, called ‘Pimasorb’ …which is in syrup form. One note though, is try only 1/3 to 1/2 of a teaspoon 3 to 4 times a day instead of a full 1 or 2 teaspoons with each meal as suggested on the label. Too much I found can cause tender joints, maybe since too much blunts the neccesary anti-inflammatory effects by lowering cortisol too much, as we seek just less cortisol rather than a cortisol deficiency. If need any more info feel free to drop me an email
What brand of sodium butyrate do you take?
This was recommended by a biochemist friend due to spiking cortisol levels caused by quarantine teaching expectations. I have 2 autoimmunes and know my bodies response to cortisol from times I have had to take large doses. I have to wait for a delivery from iHerb expected around April 22nd. I am hoping it helps!
At 200mg before bed, how long before change/benefit is seen, would you guess. Have you tried only dosing in the morning? Vs the evening and effects with that?
Such a great write up on this and personal experience!!
It takes about 20-30 minutes to kick in. Dosing in the morning is OK, but you typically want higher cortisol in the morning to give you a little ‘get up and go’. At night time, before bed, I take 3 200mg gel caps. I would never take that much during the day, because it would make me sleepy. However, if I was having some sort of anxiety or stress, I wouldn’t hesitate to take one 200mg cap any time of day.
Try Seriphos which is more effective then PS. It is phosphorated serine and works for my high cortisol
I’ve read formula since 2016 isnt effective?
I just emailed the company and they said they still use the phosphorolated serine…
Phosphatidylserine helps most people with insomnia by mitigating cortisol. However, one of the listed side effects is insomnia. Does anyone know the mechanism by which it causes insomnia?
I’d like to know this too!
It’s a IMAO-B inhibitor. Raises monoamines.
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I just started taking ps to help my sleep, I tend to have high cortisol at night So It’s hard to fall and stay asleep! So far I’ve only taken one capsule of 150 mg at bed time and while it helps me to fall asleep, I still wake up after 2-3 hours before I fall back to sleep. I also noticed I feel better during the day! The only problem it’s making me feel nauseous and bloated and giving me heart burn! I’m going to try it for a week hope this will subside. Thanks so much for your article it’s very helpful.
Hi there, I’m having a similar experience. I started taking PS about 3 weeks ago. I take 150 around noon and the 150 before bedtime. I’ve noticed that i’ve had a lot of gas and bloating. I’m hoping my body will acclimate and this will subside.
Was your body able to adjust?
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I have been taking PS for 1 1/2 months. First month 3 x’s day – now I’m doing 2x’s day. My sleep is incredibly deep REM for sure. And my dreams are like going to a movie. so vivid. Especially things from my youth, Unbelievable how the brain has so much stored info. Dreamt about an a restaurant my family would go too all the time. I haven’t thought about that restaurant since 1964!
Love PS – Not sure how long you can continue taking. Ill ask my doc that one.
Highly recommend for sleep and better focus.
One of the nutritive benefits of PS involves the conversion of serine to glycine through the SHMT enzyme pathway. This requires the active form of vitamin B6 (P5P). Glycine can also be converted back into serine. Glycine is a component of glutathione, the body’s primary endogenous antioxidant. Glycine itself can act as a neurotransmitter, exerting both excitatory and inhibitory effects.
There is another connection between serine and glutathione, which relates to the combination of serine with homocysteine to form cystathionine. This involves the CBS enzyme and also requires P5P as a cofactor. Cystathionine is converted into cysteine, another component of glutathione. The reduction of homocysteine levels has various benefits, including normalization of nitric oxide levels because high homocysteine levels can interfere with the functions of nitric oxide.
The third component of glutathione is glutamate, the well-known excitatory compound involved in NMDA/AMPA receptor functions which govern learning and memory, among other things. Incorporation of glutamate into glutathione could potentially reduce the “excitotoxicity” of glutamate excess.
These pathways of transmethylation and transsulfuration are really important parts of our metabolism and genetic mutations related to these pathways are common. In my experience it’s helpful to augment PS supplementation with methyl donors, because the other metabolic fate of homocysteine is remethylation back to methionine. It seems wise to balance cystathionine formation with remethylation. It’s worth mentioning that the conversion of serine to glycine (through SHMT) also helps to advance the metabolism of folate (vitamin B9) into its active form.
It’s all quite fascinating. I wonder if Lauren is still taking PS on a regular basis.
Oh boy….this could be complicated….what about if you have slow COMT that doesn’t do well with methyl donors. My sleep seems to be crappier since I started PS. Or is it just extra stress? Trying to lower cortisol.
Mine too. I’m taking a compound with PS. And wide awake between 1030 pm and 130 am. When do I take it?
Does anyone know if Phosphatidylserine reacts with the drug Depakote. I can’t find anything out there on the web.