Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

JenniferRM comments on Open Thread: April 2010 - Less Wrong

4 Post author: Unnamed 01 April 2010 03:21PM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (524)

You are viewing a single comment's thread. Show more comments above.

Comment author: JenniferRM 02 April 2010 05:58:43AM *  5 points [-]

Theanine may be "one of many compounds found in tea" but, on the recommendation of an acquaintance I tried taking theanine itself as an experiment once (from memory maybe 100mg?). First I read up on it a little and it sounded reasonably safe and possibly beneficial and I drank green tea anyway so it seemed "cautiously acceptable" to see what it was like in isolation. Basically I was wondering if it helped me relax, focus, and/or learn better.

The result was a very dramatic manic high that left me incapable intellectually directed mental focus (as opposed to focus on whatever crazy thing popped into my head and flittered away 30 minutes later) for something like 35 hours. Also, I couldn't sleep during this period.

In retrospect I found it to be somewhat scary and it re-confirmed my general impression of the bulk of "natural" supplements. Specifically, it confirmed my working theory that the lack of study and regulation of supplements leads to a market full of many options that range from worthless placebo to dangerously dramatic, with tragically few things in the happy middle ground of safe efficacy.

Melatonin is one of the few supplements that I don't put in this category, however in that case I use less than "the standard" 3mg dose. When I notice my sleep cycle drifting unacceptably I will spend a night or two taking 1.5mg of melatonin (using a pill cutter to chop 3mg pills in half) to help me fall asleep and then go back to autopilot. The basis for this regime is that my mother worked in a hospital setting and 1.5mg was what various doctors recommended/authorized for patients to help them sleep.

There was a melatonin fad in the late 1990's(?) where older people were taking melatonin as a "youth pill" because endogenous production declines with age. I know of no good studies supporting that use, but around that time was when the results about sleep came out, showing melatonin to be effective even for "jet lag" as a way to reset one's internal clock swiftly and safely.

Comment author: Kevin 02 April 2010 06:15:44AM *  2 points [-]

That reaction sounds rare. Do you think 20 cups of tea would have triggered a similar reaction in you?

There is a huge variation based on dosage for all things you can ingest: food, drug, supplement, and "other". Check out the horrors of eating a whole bottle of nutmeg. http://www.erowid.org/experiences/subs/exp_Nutmeg.shtml

Comment author: gwern 03 April 2010 01:36:15AM 0 points [-]

Do you think 20 cups of tea would have triggered a similar reaction in you?

Who knows? I doubt she'll ever find out. 20 cups of tea is a lot. 10 or 15 cups will send you to the bathroom every half hour, assuming your appetite doesn't decline so much that you can't bring yourself to drink any more.