Be happy, but not TOO happy…(oh, and my test results…)

The first part of my post title refers to a Science Daily article I read this morning while waiting, or fidgeting is more like it!, to drive to the hospital to pick up my blood test results: these refer to the tests that Sherlock and I took before beginning our biocurcumax experiment. More precisely, to the November-January period of my CMC (cocoa mass curcumin) experiment, when I was also taking a low dose, no more than the daily recommended dose, of Scutellaria baicalensis and Zyflamend.

A quick aside: you can read this rather interesting Science Daily "happiness" article here: In a few words, a new study suggests that "moderate happiness may be preferable to full-fledged elation." The “don’t be too elated” study seems quite appropriate in view of my current test results: yep, more seesaw results. I am getting used to going a bit up then down, so it’s no big deal, now that I have had time, a few hours, to process and digest the numbers. Ready? Ok, here goes.

My IgG went up from 27,80 to 31,90 g/L. Now, that’s not a huge jump in the wrong direction, but it’s still a jump, 12% or so. However (!), my m-spike went down slightly, from 2,20 to 2,17, and my monoclonal component decreased from 25,7 to 25 %. These aren’t huge changes compared to my previous tests, but I think the two itsy bitsy decreases are interesting. From what I understand, in fact, the m-spike and IgG count go down together, hand in hand, and vice versa. Perhaps I was fighting a cold or some sort of infection during those two months, so my good immunoglobulins increased. It’s very possible. Well, I won’t say any more on the matter until I speak with my hematologist next Wednesday.

Ok, first let’s get the negative stuff out of the way:

Ferritin ( = iron stores) is back to 7, down from last test’s 10 ng/mL. No worries, it has been that low. It will go back up.

My albumin is down from 49,5 to 48,2 %. Oh well. It’s been lower.

Beta-2 microglobulin went up to 1,9 from 1,6 mg/L. Still way within normal range, though.

Hematocrit went down a bit, from 39,5 to 37,4 g/dL. Hmmm. Well, it, too, has been lower.

Now for the good stuff:

My serum iron jumped from 62 (barely within the normal range) to 81 microg/dL. Guess all those steaks and spinach with lemon juice made a difference, after all! 

Bence Jones is negative. For the blog readers who are not members of the very exclusive Myeloma Club: that’s good.

Total protein went down a teeny bit, from 8,8 to 8,7, creeping back toward the normal range (high end of the normal range is 8,6 g/dL). Good.

LDH, or lactate dehydrogenase, decreased from 158 to 146 U/L. Also good, since high levels of the LDH enzyme are associated with aggressive disease, which we do not want!

Creatinine is stable at 0,7, no change.

Calcium went down from 9,6 to 9,2 mg/dL. Still way within the normal range. Nice to see it go down a fraction.

CRP is still within the normal range. I hate it that I don’t get a number but only a “less than” value.

Oh, I almost forgot. All of my celiac disease tests were negative, and you know what that means: pasta for lunch!

Well, even though I know that the myeloma is still stable (Sherlock, whose mind is much more analytical than mine, confirmed my feeling), I admit that I am not the happiest camper in the world right now. I would have liked to have seen a drop in my IgG count, a substantial drop. But it’s true that my m-spike dropped a wee bit, and besides, the above-mentioned happiness study shows that, compared to blissfully happy folks, people who are only mildly happy have room for improvement. I like that. Furthermore, if you are completely happy and satisfied, you have nothing to wish for, as Sherlock wisely pointed out to me earlier today. And that is no fun. So, hey, every so-so test result has a silver lining, isn’t that the saying? 

My questions, for now:

1. Did the Scutellaria baicalensis clash with the curcumin cocoa mix, even though I took them at different times of the day?

2. Did I take enough Scutellaria to make a difference? (Off the top of my head: probably not.)

3. Do tests taken in certain periods of the year yield similar results? (Work in progress.)

4. When I am testing one supplement, should I quit taking curcumin for a month or so, to see if said supplement really works by itself? Now there is a scary thought. It’s like asking the Peanuts character Linus to give up his security blanket for a month or so. Tremble tremble  ! But, in the interest of science…who knows…I might consider it.

Sherlock and I agreed earlier that I should change over to the…atomic bomb, i.e. take biocurcumax the way she is: once a day, all in one gulp. Forget about tickling my myeloma cells with a half dose twice a day. My gut feeling right now is that I want to blast the blasted myeloma cells with the entire arsenal, i.e. the full dose. At this point, I should mention that I am a pacifist in real life, but when it comes to myeloma cells, well, I feel like crawling down my bone marrow with a bow and curcumin-containing arrow and hunt the malignant cells down one by one.

I am going to look over my tests this weekend, and Sherlock and I will come up with a plan for March. Tomorrow Stefano is driving to southern Italy with his parents and brother to make sausages and whatnot out of a poor dead pig (I tried to save the pig’s life, but was outnumbered…this is a long-standing family tradition), so I will be “alone” in Florence with the four kitties. Plenty of time to study this issue. And go play cards with my girlfriends. Life is good. 

Blood Tests and A Good Story

Sherlock and I had our blood tests done today up at the main hospital in Florence, as usual. My cocoa mass/curcumin powder, Scutellaria baicalensis and Zyflamend experiment has officially ended. Funny thing is, I just realized that I am going to miss my powder concoction at the end of the day! Oh well. I get these test results back on January 31st, which is rather late, but that’s because I also got tested for celiac disease, a test that requires special consideration.

Today the BioCurcumax experiment officially begins. BioCurcumax is, allegedly, a more bioavailable form of curcumin manufactured by an Indian company called Arjuna (you can read a bit more about it on my Bioavailability page). It’s basically curcumin mixed with essential oil of turmeric (curcumin mixed with a fat). We shall see!

Anyway, this morning, in between dodging the coughs and sneezes of others while waiting to have our blood drawn, Sherlock and I discussed exactly HOW we would conduct this experiment. We decided the following: I will take it in two doses of 4 grams each, whereas she will take it in one big gulp. We decided it would be interesting to take it in different ways rather than the exact same way, which was our other option. We will continue to take quercetin, but I will switch to the capsule form.

Today we start with 4 grams of BioCurcumax. Tomorrow, 6 grams. On Thursday we will go up to the full 8-gram dose, which we will take until early March, then we will have blood tests repeated.

So, as things stand today, this will be my protocol for the next couple of months:

Quercetin capsules with bromelain: 1.5 grams, 10 minutes before taking curcumin.

BioCurcumax capsules: 8 grams, divided into two doses, on a empty stomach.

Vitamin D drops, cholecalciferol, oil-based preparation: 2500 IU per week.

Freshly ground flaxseeds added to my food.

A multivitamin on occasion, with mostly B vitamins.

As time goes on, I may make a few minor changes. If that happens, I will post about it here. The main difference between my intake and Sherlock’s is, as I mentioned, that she will take the daily dose all at once. She will also continue to take vitamin C, which I do not take except as part of an occasional multivitamin. That’s it, for now.

A good story. Beth told me about one her blog readers, Earl, who is treating his precancerous prostate condition with…well, go see for yourselves: My hat’s off to you, Earl! 

Bioavailability Saga

I have ended my quick expedition into the realm of bioavailability, at least for now (little dance of joy!). Not the most exciting topic I have ever researched and discussed (I mean, even molecular science had much more appeal for me!), that’s for sure, but an important one right at the moment. Based on what we have learned and in spite of a bit of residual uncertainty, Sherlock and I have decided to go ahead and take the full eight grams of Biocurcumax. Right now, we are both on eight grams of C3 Complex—I am taking it via a cocoa mass/curcumin powder mixture and she is taking capsules with bioperine dissolved in hot milk, more or less.

The pharmacist in the town of Calenzano, near Florence, has made one-gram BioCurcumax capsules for us, which will make this experiment a lot easier. I mean, fewer capsules to swallow.

Interesting note: from what I have been reading lately and what a blog reader wrote to me in a recent exchange, if for instance you double the dose of a particular substance, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will double its bioavailability. That is the reasoning that convinced us, or me at least, not to halve the dose of BioCurcumax in our upcoming experiment. I’m afraid that the chapter on bioavailability is only temporarily shut. I will have to come back to it. But for now, basta, enough, I’ve had it!

Anyway, tomorrow morning (early early early, in a vain attempt to beat the crowds now that we are right smack in the middle of the flu season!) Sherlock and I are meeting up at the hospital lab to have our tests done. Even though, unfortunately, there are so many factors involved in how our tests turn out, these tests should give me some preliminary results on the cocoa mass/curcumin concoction and Scutellaria baicalensis/Zyflamend. We shall see.

One of the classical music radio stations is broadcasting Bach’s Goldberg Variations, one of my favourite pieces of music. I am in music heaven right now! Ahhhh, che bellezza…

Marvellous Pharmacy In Calenzano

This post is mainly for my Italian readers so I will (more or less) translate the relevant info into Italian for those who aren’t very familiar with English. First, in English. Thanks to a tip from a curcumin-taking doctor friend, I recently discovered a pharmacist in Calenzano (a small town near Florence) who orders curcumin C3 Complex powder directly from the Italian Sabinsa distributor in Milan. He then makes curcumin capsules (as well as other herbal preparations) in his own little Galenic laboratory. Brilliant! By the way, I asked Dr. Balducci if I could post about his pharmacy because I felt it would be helpful to let others know about this amazing resource. He agreed immediately. I would like to add that he is a very friendly and helpful doctor, ready and willing to answer any questions.

Upon request, Dr. Balducci will mail supplements to any location in Italy. If you are live in Tuscany, within a certain range (Florence and Siena, e.g.), he will even have your order delivered right to your doorstep. How about that for service! The pharmacy’s phone number is (055) 882 4687, by the way.

Ok, now for my "shocker" of the day. I just ordered and picked up (yesterday!) a huge bottle of BioCurcumax capsules. Dr. Balducci ordered the raw material directly from Arjuna in India, and made the one-gram capsules that I had requested. He has had so many requests for BioCurcumax that he has finished his current supply, but he has reordered it and should have it in stock again by mid January.

You see, my friend Sherlock and I are going to start testing BioCurcumax in January. After having blood tests done in early January, we will begin taking these capsules, the exact same amount etc. After two months, we will go have our second set of blood tests. We have planned to do this together. Our own teeny tiny “clinical test”! I will have more details as we get closer to January.

In italiano: ho scoperto un meraviglioso farmacista a Calenzano, il Dr. Balducci. Nella sua farmacia ha un laboratorio galenico dove realizza ogni sorta di preparato. Ad esempio, è possibile trovare la curcumina C3 Complex che arriva direttamente dal distributore italiano della Sabinsa. Su richiesta, il Dr. Balducci spedisce in tutta Italia. Quelli che abitano in Toscana (tipo, a Firenze o a Siena) hanno inoltre la possibilità di farsi recapitare la “spesa” direttamente a casa.

Ma la notizia forse più sensazionale è che il Dr. Balducci ha ordinato la BioCurcumax direttamente dalla ditta produttrice, la Arjuna, in India. Io e Sherlock abbiamo deciso di fare un nostro piccolissimo test “clinico,” nel senso che prenderemo insieme le capsule di BioCurcumax a partire da gennaio. Faremo insieme le analisi del sangue, sia prima sia dopo. Ovviamente prenderemo la stessa quantità di BioCurcumax che, a proposito, dovrebbe essere sette volte più assorbibile della curcumina “normale.” Beh, vedremo cosa succederà!

Per ordinare la C3 Complex o la BioCurcumax (o altro), telefonate direttamente al Dr. Balducci: (055) 882 4687. In bocca al lupo!