Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP): my experience

I started VIP a week ago on the recommendation of a doctor who studied the Shoemaker protocol.  He thought I'd be a good candidate for it as it has helped many with CIRS, including those with CFS, to downregulate their hypersensitivity. In order to start it, you need to be living in a mold-free environment, or one low enough in mold that you're not reacting.  You also have to pass the VCS to show that your nervous system has recovered to some extent from the damage of cytokines and mycotoxins. MARcOns have to be gone.  I met all three requirements.

The normal, recommended starting dose is 4 sprays daily in alternate nostrils for three to six months, then a maintenance dose of two sprays a day. I did two sprays the first day since it arrived late, increased to three the second day, four the third day. I felt quite relaxed and mellow. I slept a lot more. But I noticed that it felt like I ate too much when I had a normal meal.

By the fifth day, I was having major fatigue issues, too tired to do anything until late afternoon.  I figured that with the added relaxation effect of the VIP, I was noticing the exhausted state of my adrenals.  I decided to try an adrenal glandular my old doctor had given me which, in the past, made me too hyper to sleep.  Unwilling to take a big risk, I bit off a 3rd of the tablet and noticed: NOTHING.

After three days of feeling too exhausted to sit up, having almost no appetite, feeling that I could not digest my food, experiencing air hunger, sleeping 9 hours and needing to nap during the day, I decided to stop the VIP.  My 'trial' lasted 6 and 1/2 days.

I did some research on the effects of this neuropeptide.  It has many effects on the body as do all neurotransmitters, which function somewhat like hormones (in that many tissues, organs, and body systems are affected)  Here are some of the things it does:


  • regulates neural excitability (hence, I felt like I'd taken a quadruple dose of Xanax)
  • involved in learning and memory, especially in brain regions of amygdala, hippocampus, cortex, and hypothalamus  (for a list of specific effects, http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2202/9/63)
  • essential for function of circadian rhythms
  • inhibits oxidative stress in the lungs (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2474178)
  • anti-inflammatory
  • vasodilation and bronchodilation  (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15162259)
  • increases cardiac contractibility and dilates blood vessels
  • immunomodulation
  • induces smooth muscle relaxation in the digestive system especially esophagus, stomach and gallbladder (suggests it should be helpful with GERD)
  • reduces gastric acid secretion stimulated by gastrin
  • in the intestine, supports secretion of water and electrolytes to produce pancreatic juice and bile, and pancreatic bicarbonate, leading to increased motility
There's probably more, but this list is enough to see how much it could potentially benefit ol' me with miserable memory, inflammation, high oxidative, poor circulation (in the presence of mold), slow intestinal transit time and a tendency to constipation, as well as the typical cardiac issues in ME-CFS which show up as weak pulse and sometimes, on EEGs. a flattened Q wave.  

So why am I having so much trouble?  My theory, untested as of yet, is that after being sick for 25 years, I've obtained a sort of homeostasis and by adding in just one of the things that are low, I've upset the balance.  I probably need something to counterbalance the mellow effects of VIP with some vasoconstriction.  But what?

I keep thinking of vasopressin.  It's also known as ADH or antidiuretic hormone.  When low, you have to urinate a lot and in large quantities.  This started happening to me as soon as I moved to Gambier, Ohio, where I used to sit at my desk with a gallon jug of water and go through the whole thing by the end of the day.  I only experience these symptoms now when I get exposed to mold or when I have some other kind of stress that makes me hyper and wired.  I'm not yet convinced that these are always from an invisible exposure.

Vasopressin helps the body retain water, constricts blood vessels, and increases blood pressure.  It's available by prescription in a synthetic form as desmopressin acetate.  I'm hoping to get it, or ideally a compounded natural vasopressin, and see if helps balance some of the unwelcome effects of VIP. As a synthetic form of vasopressin, it doesn't have much effect of raising blood pressure by means of vasoconstriction, because the molecule has been changed in several ways.  So far I haven't found a source that compounds a natural form without preservatives for us sensitive patients.

Shoemaker's 14 step protocol recommends correcting ADH fairly early on as Step 8, while replacing VIP is Step 13.  http://www.survivingmold.com/treatment/step-by-step    As I look over this list, I see that I've done everything through Step 7, so perhaps in our enthusiasm to make it possible for me to live a less isolated life (e.g. going into buildings in a city without getting sick), we missed an important step.