Selegiline

AKA: Deprenyl, Eldepryl, Jumex, Jumexal, Juprenil, L-deprenyl, Mover-gan, Procythol, SD Deprenyl, selegiline hydrochloride.

A standard prescription drug used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease in combination with levodopa and Car-bidopa, and mental depression when taken by itself. The molecular structure is similar to phenylethylamine (PEA), which exists in both plants and animals (and is the so-called "love chemical" in chocolate), and also resembles such compounds as amphetamine, norepi-nephrine, dopamine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, L-dopa, and tyramine.

Effects: It can help slow the progress of Alzheimer's to a moderate degree by protecting the brain cells from the damaging effects of oxygen. It also benefits memory, attention, and reaction times in those with Parkinson's, and may also increase concentration, alertness, and mental stamina. In doses of 15 to 60 mg a day, it has relieved depression in 50 percent of those who suffered severely from this illness; one study has shown that it may work synergistically with vitamin B-6 and phenylalanine in this regard (5 mg of selegiline, 100 mg of vitamin B-6, and 1 to 6 grams of phenylalanine). It has increased the life span of rats by an average of 30 percent, and, more significantly, many of them lived beyond the maximum life expectancy for that species. Anecdotal evidence indicates it may be an aphrodisiac.

Precautions: While some studies show dramatic improvements in those with Alzheimer's, others have shown no significant increase for several types of memory tasks.

It should not be taken by anyone allergic to selegiline. It may be dangerous for those with a history of peptic ulcers, profound dementia, severe psychosis, tardive dyskinesia, excessive tremors, or a previous bad reaction to selegiline. Those over 60 may be able to get by on smaller doses for a shorter period of time, as side effects may be more pronounced and more frequent. Driving or piloting any craft, operating any heavy machinery, or working in high places should not be undertaken while under the effects of the drug.

Common side effects include increased sensitivity to ultra-violet rays from the sun, mood changes, unusual or uncontrolled body movements, hallucinations, headaches, lip smacking, difficult urination, abdominal pain, dizziness, dry mouth, insomnia, and mild nausea. Less common side effects include chest pain, irregular heartbeat, wheezing, swollen feet, speech difficulties, bloody or black stools, constipation, anxiety, tiredness, eyelid spasms, unpleasant tastes, blurred vision, leg pain, ringing in the ears, chills, skin rash, a burning on the lips or in the mouth, drowsiness, frequent and decreased urination. Rare side effects include weight loss, heartburn, jaw clenching or teeth gnashing, impaired memory, and uncontrolled body movements. Life-threatening symptoms include severe chest pain, enlarged pupils, irregular heartbeat, severe nausea and vomiting, and a stiff neck. Overdose symptoms (which can occur in doses of more than 10 mg/day) include high (and possibly fatal) blood pressure, difficulty in opening the mouth, muscle spasms in the neck and heel, sweating, fast and irregular heartbeat, hyperactive reflexes, cold or clammy skin, chest pain, agitation, fainting, seizures, coma, vivid dreams, nightmares, insomnia, restlessness, weakness, drowsiness, flushing of the skin, convulsions, incoherence, confusion, severe headache, high fever, heart attack, shock, excitement, overstimula-tion, irritability, anxiety, and muscle spasms in the face.

It should not be taken with any foods that contain the enzyme tyra-mine — avocados, bananas, figs, and raisins; cheese; beer (including nonalcoholic beer), wine, and liquors; yeast extracts, bean pods, bean curd, fava beans, miso soup, or soy sauce; pickled or smoked fish, meat, or poultry; fermented sausage (summer sausage, salami, pepperoni); bologna; liver; overripe fruit — chocolate, or caffeine, as it could result in severe toxicity or death. Mark Mayell, however, insists that, since it only inhibits MAO-B and not MAO-A, it avoids this dangerous interaction. It should not be taken with any over-the-counter medications such as cough and cold medications, laxatives, antacids, diet pills, nose drops, or vitamins without consulting a physician first.

There is an increased risk of mental instability and, possibly, death when combined with fluoxetine (there should be at least a five-week span between the time one drug is stopped and the other is taken). When taken with levodopa, there is a greater risk of side effects. With Meperidine (Demerol) and other MAO inhibitors, there could be a severe drop in blood pressure — as well as potentially fatal reactions — and with narcotics, there could be a toxic interaction that may result in seizures, coma, or death. With Sertraline, an increased depressive effect may result. With Sinemet (a combination of Carbidiopa and levodopa), there could be an increase in levodopa's side effects. It should not be combined with Milacemide, opiates, yohimbe, or yohimbine. The effects when combined with Sumatriptan are unknown. Combined with marijuana or tobacco, it could result in a rapid heart rate and, with cocaine, a rapid heart rate and high blood pressure.

Dosage: Smart drug users prefer the liquid form to the pill because it is easier to calibrate into smaller doses and is more readily absorbed into the body. For Parkinson's, the usual dose is 5 mg with breakfast and lunch, which may be enough to produce feelings of well-being and increased energy in the average person. Dr. Jozsef Knoll, who developed selegiline, recommends 10 to 15 mg/ week for the average healthy person age 45 and over. Even less may be effective, especially if taken with vitamin B-6 and phenylalanine. Ward Dean, M.D., et al., state that some individuals have taken up to 60 mg for three weeks with no significant side effects. Discovery Experimental and Development, one manufacturer of selegiline, recommends the following dosages:

Age

Dosage

30-

1 mg twice a week

35

1 mg every other day

35-

1 mg/day

40

2 mg/day

40-

3 mg/day

45

4 mg/day

45-

5 mg/day

50

6 mg/day

50-

8 mg/day

55

9 mg/day

55-

10 mg/day

60

60-

65

65-

70

70-

75

75-

80

80+

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