Journal of Personal Science: Omega-3, Nursing a Baby and Postpartum Depression (Part 1 of 2)

by Allan Folz

My wife had moderately severe postpartum depression (PPD) after the birth of our first child, a boy, in 2004. The depression lifted at the same time the nursing stopped, when he was about two years old. The pregnancy itself was without major or even minor problems so the depression was a big surprise. It was frustrating because nothing we did to alleviate it actually helped. Continue reading “Journal of Personal Science: Omega-3, Nursing a Baby and Postpartum Depression (Part 1 of 2)”

Journal of Personal Science: Molybdenum and Avoiding Sulfur Helped My IBS

by August Hurtel

I live in Shreveport, Louisiana and work in the interlibrary loans department at Shreve Memorial library. I am 39 years old.

I believe, due to experiences I will expand upon below, that excess sulfur compounds, especially sulfites, may contribute to and even cause irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). If you have IBS, you can try to verify this in a few ways.

1) Try molybdenum. I take Carlson Lab’s Moly-B 500 mcg tablets (one tablet/day).

2) Avoid foods and supplements high in sulfur.

3) If you have already purchased the services of 23&me or want to, you can look at this thread in the forums — “Reactions to food containing sulfites, sulfur dioxide, bisulfite, metabisulfite. SUOX gene” — and see if you have the same polymorphisms, though if you just do the first two, you’ll be able to guess. Continue reading “Journal of Personal Science: Molybdenum and Avoiding Sulfur Helped My IBS”

Journal of Personal Science: L. Planturum-Rich Fermented Foods and Supplement Prevented/Cured My Eczema

by Shant Mesrobian

At some point during the last decade, while living in Washington D. C., I began to suffer from hand eczema. Painful red itchy inflamed dry skin covered most of my hands. It was usually triggered by cold dry weather in the fall and winter. It also flared up after a lot of cleaning — when my hands were exposed to a lot of water and soap, which dried them out. I was in my twenties when it began. Continue reading “Journal of Personal Science: L. Planturum-Rich Fermented Foods and Supplement Prevented/Cured My Eczema”

Journal of Personal Science: Nasal Congestion Due to Fabric Allergies

by Nathanael Nerode

I have an inhalation allergy to polyester and acrylic dust that caused no end of trouble, especially nasal congestion. It took 20 years to figure out.

I live in Ithaca, NY. My nasal congestion started after a multi-month trip to China in 6th grade, in 1988. The air in Beijing was truly awful, and literally everyone had nasal congestion while there. But my congestion didn’t go away when I came back.

To figure out why it hadn’t gone away, a doctor (allergist) back in roughly 8th grade did prick tests. The “dust” test was said to use actual dust collected from houses. In retrospect, it presumably included polyester dust. It was the only prick test, other than the control histamine injection, to show an allergic response. The idiot doctor proceeded to claim that I had a dust mite allergy even though the “dust mite” prick test was negative. I told him no, I didn’t, and he should learn to read his test results. I asked what was in household dust other than skin, hair and mites. He somehow did not manage to come up with “fabric”. If I’d been bright enough to think of that then, I might have been able to figure this out much sooner.

In some ways my nasal congestion was quite bad. I got secondary sinus infections repeatedly, due to the airways never, ever clearing out. I carried Kleenex with me everywhere, and bought it by the case. I had to mop my nose a few times every hour. When I caught a cold, the frequency would increase to every couple of minutes.

The congestion lasted continuously through multiple living quarters at college and back in Ithaca — of course, at all those locations I had brought a full set of clothes, and had a typical polyester bed, and most had carpeting. It mysteriously cleared up once — during a trip to North Carolina. Only in retrospect did I realize that on the trip I was sleeping on a futon in a house with no carpeting, with nothing but cotton clothes.

The allergies were definitely triggered more indoors than outdoors and were worse in fall than spring. I quickly eliminated the possibility of detergents by repeated changes of detergent with no result. I was then stuck with no further ideas for 20 years.

After 20 years, I moved into a new house while bringing very little with me (only a couple of sets of clothes). Suddenly my allergies went away. I realized the cause was something in the old house but not the new house.

I could keep stuff at the old house, and I moved in really slowly, so I was able to do challenge-response experiments, with a multi-week test time for each.

I had had work done on the new house. I first eliminated wood dust, tile dust, drywall dust, and grout dust as possibilities, because they were all over the place while I was there. Then I moved in huge piles of books. Still no allergies.

Then I moved in my clothes. (Still no bed, latex futon.) My allergies came back instantly. I moved the clothes back out, sorted them by fabric, and waited four weeks for my symptoms to clear.

Then I moved the clothes back in one fabric at a time, with a two-week testing period to see whether symptoms developed for each. Luckily I was not allergic to the first thing I tried, which was cotton.

After finding the polyester allergy and moving the polyester out, I waited four weeks for symptoms to clear up before moving the next set in. Eventually I found the acrylic allergy too.

I also had to stop testing for a month or so at least three times when I caught colds, as determined by additional symptoms or by family and friends developing the same symptoms.

This took a long time — about a year — and is not a straightforward option for most people. I haven’t tested every fabric yet. I stopped after I got through all the common ones.

After I was “detoxed”, I started having a noticeable mild contact allergy to polyester and acrylic, which confirmed the conclusions. I think this wasn’t noticeable before due to constant exposure creating suppression of the response.

So I solved the problem from a combination of luck (moving into the new house showed that it wasn’t generic “dust”) and pure grinding testing, much like most science.

I’m not sure many people would have the opportunity to test the way I did. I modeled what I did on the hardcore “challenge” protocol used for food allergies where you start with a very limited diet and “challenge” it with one thing at a time. How many people can do that with fabrics? You need a place to store the rest of your clothes. You may need to buy all-cotton socks or underwear or shirts or pants if you didn’t own any (luckily I did) — and you need to have no carpet and remove your BED from the house (which I had done anyway coincidentally).

Journal of Personal Science: Baby Shampoo Cured My Sinusitis

by Bill Mitchell

Chronic right-side sinusitis came as a shock in November 2008, at age 42. For weeks both sides (left and right) were blocked. I lost my sense of smell even after my left sinus cleared. An incapacitating headache lasted months. My right sinus was often totally blocked. I had previously been in very good health. I had never been to a hospital, never taken medication, no drugs, slender, athletic, normal blood sugar and pressure, no dental fillings, etc. Some hay fever, but no other allergies.

The breakthrough was finding out about baby shampoo. In less than a week of shampooing my nose, a six-month headache was gone. It recurred occasionally until I fixed environmental causes. I tried many things, but the two that mattered were replacing the household carpet and vacuuming my mattress every couple of weeks. A couple of years later, my sense of smell returned. When you regain a sense you thought was lost forever, you appreciate even the stinkiest odors! Continue reading “Journal of Personal Science: Baby Shampoo Cured My Sinusitis”

Journal of Personal Science: Effect of Meditation on Math Speed

by Peter Lewis


I’ve been practicing meditation on and off for years. It doesn’t interest me in a spiritual sense; I do it because I think it improves my mental function. However, what I’ve read suggests there isn’t a lot of evidence to support that. Continue reading “Journal of Personal Science: Effect of Meditation on Math Speed”

Journal of Personal Science: One Child’s Autism Eliminated by Removal of Glutamate From Her Diet

by Katherine Reid

I am a mother of five children. I live in Fremont, California. In 2009, my youngest child, who was three, was diagnosed with autism. The diagnosis came from her social and communication impairment and highly repetitive behavior. She did not play with other children. She had no imaginary play. She made no eye contact with anyone. She had no spontaneous language. She did not understand questions. Her language was restricted to repeating what she heard (echolalia). In other words, she didn’t use language to communicate. She could stack blocks for hours. She would line up toys and have a meltdown if you moved a toy out of line. Everything had to be according to her rules or she was in chaos. She had highly repetitive routines that would escalate into unrest or panic. For example, she would go to wash her hands, turn the water on, turn the water off, turn the water on, and so on. Each time through the routine she would get more upset that she couldn’t stop. These loop-like routines might last hours, typically ending because of exhaustion from crying. She also had episodes of absence (blank stares) that lasted 15-30 seconds.

My husband and I tried a number of popular therapies. We tried Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) for 3 months. She got worse; her loop-like routines occurred more frequently. We tried speech therapy for 6 months. It increased her vocabulary, but did not improve her communication in other ways. The third therapy we tried was auditory integration training. We did the full series twice, which took a total of 3 months. There was no improvement. Then she started going to a special-needs school, where each student is given an individualized program. At this point, she was 3.5 years old. Continue reading “Journal of Personal Science: One Child’s Autism Eliminated by Removal of Glutamate From Her Diet”

Journal of Personal Science: Xylitol Cures Lichen Planus and Geographic Tongue

Xylitol Improves Lichen Planus and Geographic Tongue

by Evelyn M., Westchester County, NY


In my forties — I am now 75 — my gums started to bother me. Newly-returned to the United States from Iran, I searched for a good dentist. The first one told me to get a cap on a tooth with a small chip. That was no help. A colleague recommended a specialist in gum problems. The specialist advised “scaling,” which didn’t help. Then he said I was not cleaning my teeth well enough. He put a substance on my teeth to reveal incomplete cleaning and was flummoxed when he could find no evidence of bad brushing or flossing. I gave up trying to solve my gum problem. Continue reading “Journal of Personal Science: Xylitol Cures Lichen Planus and Geographic Tongue”

Journal of Personal Science: How Much Salt Should I Eat?

by Greg Pomerantz

The Journal of Personal Science, suggested by Tom and encouraged by Bryan Castañeda, will contain articles about using science to help yourself. This is the first one. It previously appeared on Greg’s blog. If you have written something or plan to write something or are thinking about writing something that might be included, please let me know. — Seth

I spent a few weeks this summer conducting a self-experiment on salt sensitivity and blood pressure. The experiment included a three week phase on a low carb whole foods diet with no added salt, followed by a moderately extreme salt loading phase. This post is a summary of my results. Continue reading “Journal of Personal Science: How Much Salt Should I Eat?”