My first article on POTS was one of the most well-trafficked articles on my entire website. POTS is the acronym for “Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome” which (among other things) can make you feel very dizzy and lightheaded when you first stand up. This occurs due to a dramatic drop in blood pressure and a significant increase in heart rate (tachycardia) when you stand up. It’s a problem of orthostatic “intolerance” not so much high or low blood pressure. It’s probably realted to some kind of dysautonomia, a problem within the nervous system. It’s really common among middle aged people, and those who take anti-hypertensive drugs. POTS is much more complex than I’ve described. If you’d like to read my first article on POTS, click here.
Some of you have emailed me and asked if smoking POT can cause the syndrome of “POTS” or if it could help it.
The answer is no, it does not cause POTS, and no it doesn’t help. In fact, it may exacerbate the problem by speeding up your heart (more tachycardia!). I have some ideas to help you with natural support.
A study published in The FASEB Journal highlights why certain medications that block acetylcholine breakdown are often extremely helpful for POTS patients. Keeping acetylcholine intact is one target for drugs.
This new study closely examined choline which feeds your cell membranes and connective tissue. The scientists researched “fibroblasts” cells which they extracted from POTS patients who were deficient in choline. Interesting, these patients were also deficient in betaine which is an amino acid and a methyl donor sold as a dietary supplement.
The scientists looked at choline transport and cell membrane health as well as mitochondrial function in their tissue samples and compared them to healthy cells from patients without POTS. Before I tell you the ending, let me first tell you what choline is. It’s a nutrient found in foods like beef liver, eggs and milk and it can be made in the liver. It’s critical to making membranes and “wrappers” for all your cells so it’s important for connective tissue and blood vessels. Choline is helpful for making your nerve cells talk to each other properly. It is needed for acetylcholine production; acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter best known for supporting memory.
The study ties up the fact that choline deficiency is bad for a POTS patient. The researchers found that choline deficient cells all had disrupted cell membranes! That means they can’t communicate well.
The protein carrier used to transport choline around the cells was two to three times lower in POTS fibroblasts and the ability to utilize choline was decreased by a whopping 60 percent! Choline deficiency hurts your mitochondria too, and leads to poor oxygen consumption. Basically, your cells can’t breathe, can’t make energy and can’t talk to each other. They also noticed poor blood sugar control and impaired electrical activity within the mitochondria.
Taken together this means a ton of cellular trouble!
It’s the first study of its kind to show that people with POTS have a breakdown in cell membrane integrity. I’ve said this for many years, and I’ll say it again: It’s all about your cell membrane! The research proved when choline was supplied to the POTS cells, healthy function returned! There are millions of people struggling with POTS.
The POTS research certainly suggests that choline is a major player. Choline-rich foods include egg yolks and beef liver. We live in an egg-yolk phobic society and not many people are much into beef liver either! Methylation difficulties which most people have also contributes to POTS. You can read more about methylation by clicking here. In the meantime, ask your physician if choline is right for you. It’s sold everywhere but remember, just because a study is positive doesn’t mean it’s right for you so please have an intelligent discussion about choline with your doctor.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.