Monday, December 20, 2010

A Hot Flush

A niacin flush? never heard of it. But now I certainly know how it feels.

After a hectic holiday week and missing most of my supplements, today I got back on track. Since I had missed days worth of vities, I added a mega-B vitamin -- a big capsule I don't usually take -- to my barebones regimen of multi, fish oil, calcium. Then prepared brekkies.

Halfway through my stirfry a painfully prickly rush blossomed from by neck to my cheeks and shoulders. It was not like that old friend, the hormonal hot flash. No sweat involved. More reminiscent of the beginnings of hives. A little nausea. I stepped outside into the 10-degree morning. I got nervous.

Exhibit 1

About 20 years ago I sat in a dentist chair inhaling nitrous oxide and moving from "I think I'm gonna pass out" to "I think I'm gonna die." This happened again a year later and a panic response was born. Next dental work, about eight years ago, I couldn't breath as I sat in the dental chair. They got out the oxygen mask. By the following crown (yep, childhood dentistry has been getting replaced over the years) I was fearful for days before the appointment and updated my will.

To reverse this response has taken the attention of a compassionate dental crew who were willing to collaborate on a plan (including minimal meds administered very slowly, and my husband sitting chairside to hold my hand.) I've had two dental procedures this year without panic; I won't say without anxiety.

Exhibit 2

In September, after a week of mega-cranberry and vitamin C supplements, I acknowledged that my UTI wasn't improving. I fearfully got a prescription. Another ten days of over-hydrating plus many bottles of cranberry later, I became desperate enough to take the nitrofurantoin. First, I called my mother-in-law. She's also very careful about what she puts in her body. She talked me down. But taking each pill for the entire week was an ordeal.

This is all to say, I get nervous about medications.

Today's flesh-burning feeling has subsided and is explained with a little googling. I now realize I've had vitamin B3 responses before. Yep, definitely a niacin flush -- purported by some web sites to be a healthy thing, but I don't believe it. I won't be going out of my way to have another.

Go to the section called "Toxicity" in Wikipedia for more info about a niacin flush.

You may find this study interesting: the affects of psychedelic drugs on religious experience used high doses of niacin for the placebo group because of its psychoactive qualities.


  1. I won't go into detail, but I share your dental anxiety. The Monona practice sounds perfect for me if we return to Madison. And I fear taking meds, too. My vitamin routine is similar to yours but minus the fish oil and plus vitamin D.

  2. I was willing to just not go to the dentist, : ) but seems that wasn't going to work. Last year I researched dental anxiety. There are quite a few of us out there.

    I think the doses of meds in general can be too intense for some. After a few bad reactions (there have been other prescriptions over the years that I didn't mention here) the fear solidifies.

    I feel very lucky to have a dentist now who is willing to help me through.

    And don't think I didn't notice that you said IF you return to Madison.