Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Interesting Conversation At Therapy Yesterday

While in the waiting room for outpatient therapy yesterday, my wife and I ended up talking to the mother of a young man who was on the rehab ward at the same time as me.  His was a tragic situation: he had been in a car accident, and while in the hospital, all he could do was moan.  I never heard any form of speech.  He was 17, and about to go off to college when the accident happened.  The wonders of being young, he is now talking, driving, and anxious to get back to skiing.   Another woman in the waiting room was a very pretty blonde in her 20s, who suffered a traumatic brain injury two years ago, and is just now having therapy to fix some of her problems.  She mentioned a website that touted niacin and omega-3 for traumatic brain injury recovery.

A little digging found this article in 2010 Stroke:
Niacin Treatment of Stroke Increases Synaptic Plasticity and Axon Growth in Rats
Background and Purpose—Niacin is the most effective medication in current clinical use for increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. We tested the hypothesis that niacin treatment of stroke promotes synaptic plasticity and axon growth in the ischemic brain.

Methods—Male Wistar rats were subjected to 2 hours of middle cerebral artery occlusion and treated with or without Niaspan (a prolonged-release formulation of niacin, 40 mg/kg) daily for 14 days starting 24 hours after middle cerebral artery occlusion. The expression of synaptophysin, Nogo receptor, Bielschowsky silver, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and its receptor tropomyosin-related kinase B were measured by immunohistostaining and Western blot, respectively, in the ischemic brain. Complementing in vivo studies, primary cultured neurons were used to test the effect of niacin and high-density lipoprotein on neurite outgrowth and brain-derived neurotrophic factor/tropomyosin-related kinase B expression.

Results—Niaspan treatment of stroke significantly increased synaptophysin, Bielschowsky silver, brain-derived neurotrophic factor/tropomyosin-related kinase B expression, and decreased Nogo receptor expression in the ischemic brain compared with middle cerebral artery occlusion control animals (P-.05=""

 Conclusions—Niacin treatment of stroke promotes synaptic plasticity and axon growth, which is mediated, at least partially, by the brain-derived neurotrophic factor/tropomyosin-related kinase B pathways.
Niacin is a low-risk addition to my diet because it is water-soluble, and therefore doesn't build up toxicity in the body, unlike the fat-soluble vitamins, and is known to reduce depression.  I doubled my evening dose of niacin last night from 1 gram to 2 grams, and while it might be placebo effect, I feel more energetic and less depressed this morning.

UPDATE: There are some risks at the 6g/day level, but I have felt so good today that I am going to stay at 2 g/day.


  1. There have been some liver toxicity issues with megadoses of extended-release niacin, you might want to look into.

  2. Don't diss "placebo"--sometimes I think that is the main operative mechanism.

    I the what-ever-it-is works and does not have bad side-effects, go with it and say thanks.

  3. Instapundit posted something in the last week or so about Phosphatidtyl Choline being a good thing for the brain (especially memory). He linked to a product on Amazon, but it can also be found in Soy Lecithin capsules. He suggested 400 mg was a good dose.