Learned Helplessness, KMUD, 2013


Jan 1, 2013


  • Learned Helplessness, KMUD, 2013.doc
    58.5 KB · Views: 135
  • Learned Helplessness, KMUD, 2013.pdf
    64.3 KB · Views: 198


Jan 1, 2013
Raymond Peat, Ph.D.

Learned Helplessness

KMUD, 2013-09-20​

(transcribed by Giraffe, verified by Burtlancast)

HD: Andrew Murray
RP: Ray Peat
SE: Sound engineer

HD: Would you just please give an outline of your academic and professional background?

RP: In biology, I studied mostly at the University of Oregon, 1968 to 1972. Did my PhD dissertation on reproductive aging and how the physiology of oxidative metabolism changes with aging and interacts with changes in all of the hormones. Since then, I've been developing some of the central ideas that were involved in both aging and reproduction.

HD: I know that a lot of your research has been fairly revelational in terms of work that is being done both in academic universities and other private research, but which doesn't always come to the fore or, if it does, it takes quite significant time to reach the medical industry.
For those people who don't have a very large amount of science background, especially in physiology, could you just discuss briefly the two arms of the nervous system: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic?

RP: The general way doctors still think about them was a set of ideas established just about a hundred years ago, with opposition between the relaxing side and the mobilizing, emergency side. That has tended to be called the fight-or-flight reaction for the sympathetic nervous system, but is based largely on adrenaline. The relaxing parasympathetic side is based mostly on acetylcholine.
But in the last 30 or 40 years, a lot of complexity has turned up, even though in the general sense, those oppositions are still accurate. But it turns out there’s a lot of overlap. Each part of the nervous system does things that can also be done by the other side. And each one has more repertoire than just adrenaline or acetylcholine. They can interact in various ways with serotonin, histamine, and so on.
The relaxing side of the nervous system supposedly, the hundred year old idea is, that it takes care of peristalsis and secretion, largely. And it slows the heart rate for relaxation, and weakens the strength of the heart contraction; but it strengthens the peristalsis movement of the intestine, and wall of the bladder, and ureters, and stimulates the secretion of a lot of glands. But it relaxes the sphincters of the intestine, and the bladder and gall bladder, and such, so that it goes with secretion, digestion and excretion. All of the basically vegetative processes.

HD: Right. So that's the parasympathetic nervous system. It's all about what happens after you eat a meal for example: You relax. You take it easy. You digest your food. Everything is being produced by the glands, that are secreting enzymes into the intestine or the stomach to digest your food. The heart rate slows down.
I always think the parasympathetic is fairly peaceful and wet, if you like.

RP: And it tends to take over at night. It helps the person go to sleep by slowing the heart rate. At least it should slow things down during the night; but with problems such as diabetes, or hypoglycemia, or various metabolic disorders, it can get overactive and instead of just calming things down, slowing the metabolism, lowering blood sugar, because you don't need so much, it can cause too much insulin secretion and other glandular secretions. For example, causing too much mucus formation. And the increased insulin can lower your blood sugar too much. Then, that can lead to intensified activity of the nerves, intensifying both contraction and relaxation where it shouldn't be happening.

HD: There is the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. Under the effects of stress, your blood-pressure or heart rate raises. You get angry.
When most people think about stress, they talk about stressful situations, a stressful job, deadlines and all of those kind of things. However there is also the excito-toxics, a state of the cell where it's being stimulated so much, the excitation. That stimulation can lead to that toxic effect, and that's cell death.
You have recently written in one of your newsletters about the stress-induced excitotoxic effects of the parasympathetics. This is something I have never really heard about before: the over-secretion. Would you just describe that a little more?

RP: The place that it started to be understood was in the learned helplessness situation. They saw that when an animal believed it couldn't escape from a stressful situation, its heart slows down instead of accelerating. The very same signal that would make an animal's heart raise, if it was wandering around freely and had the possibility of escaping, if it was in a trap situation, it’s heart would slow down, and it would... Given a little too much stress and threat, it’s heart would actually stop in a relaxed position. Where, without that belief in the impossibility of escape, it would go on struggling for days (swimming in a tank, for example) where, with the expectation that it wouldn't be able to escape, it might drown in five or six minutes.

HD: So this is a kind of rationale for the explanation of hope being something that can keep a person alive?

RP: Yah, exactly. In the 1950s, a biologist shocked a lot of other biologists by talking about the rat's hopelessness causing death.

HD: You mentioned the standard treatment for Alzheimer's, and how the method to approach Alzheimer's was pretty bad science, in terms of what's understood now about the two arms of the nervous system, and how the drugs they are currently using to treat Alzheimer's are actually probably making it worse.

RP: The brain processes that allow learning and intelligent behavior, the cholinergic nerves of the brain are very important in that, as well as the serotonin, adrenaline (several other types of nerves have to be functioning). But several types of evidence made doctors concentrate on the loss of the cholinergic system. If you stimulate the cholinergic nerves, you can improve learning and behavior; but if you aren't increasing energy to keep up with that increased stimulation, you put the cell in a stress between having to work harder, but not having the fuel to do it. So if your cortisol is high, for example, interfering with your ability to use sugar, or if your blood sugar is simply low and you are being stimulated, then the cell tends to die.
The reasoning that the Alzheimer's disease was simply a wasting away of the cholinergic nerves led to treating it for the first 10 or 15 years just with chemicals to increase excitation of the cholinergic nerves; and that wasn't working at all (people were dying at a higher rate than liver disease, and such). But from the 1950’s, people were already suggesting treating dementia and other brain degenerative diseases with atropine and other chemicals that block the cholinergic nerves. And amantadine, which is now used for treating Parkinson's disease, was one of the chemicals considered anti-cholinergic in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.
Since people were seeing actual improvement with the anti-cholinergic chemicals, someone said: “Why not try adding that to the treatment?”(- Instead of stopping the excitatory cholinergic drugs, “Why not add one of these?”-). So, they reclassified them as acting against another excitatory nervous system, the system that causes glutamate (MSG) nerve toxicity. So they now call it an anti-NMDA chemical, “memantine”, which is similar to amantadine. So, it's a very similar chemical, which used to be called anticholinergic, that’s being used for both Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. But they still go on with the doctrine that they have to stimulate the cholinergic system, too, even though that has never shown improvement.

HD: How do you look at estrogen, at it’s destructive features? Why is it so bad for you?

RP: A lot of people by now have heard that there is a premenstrual related epilepsy, that revolves from an excess of estrogen in relation to progesterone (because estrogen is excitatory, while progesterone is calming). And it happens that estrogen intensifies the parasympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system, while progesterone tends to relax it. You can see that parasympathetic function of estrogen in the uterus. If there is too much estrogen in pregnancy, it will cause strong contractions of the uterus, and can cause miscarriage. If you give the drug they give to treat Alzheimer's, which is a pro-cholinergic drug, it will cause spasms of the uterus, just like estrogen. So, estrogen is acting with, or through that part of the nervous system.
For about 50 years there was a puzzle about how acetylcholine for the cholinergic nerves could inhibit the heart and the sphincters, while causing contractions of the various ducts (intestines, and so on). It's been proposed that something was being released in the cells that combined with acetylcholine to determine whether it was excitatory or inhibitory. But the main thing that happens; it’s that acetylcholine causes cells to produce nitric oxide, the chemical that became famous with Viagra and Rogaine, which causes vasodilatation.

HD: People also abuse nitrous oxide, don't they, as a kind of...?

RP: That's a different chemical. That's actually just an anesthetic, a pretty safe chemical, nitrous oxide ( laughing gas, or NAS). But nitric oxide is the free radical you find in smog. And it's produced by any cell excited too strongly. In the situation where the cholinergic stimulation is causing relaxation in blood vessels, where it causes vasodilatation, it's acting by way of increased nitric oxide. And what the nitric oxide is doing is blocking energy production, so that the smooth muscle of the blood vessel, or the sphincter, wherever it is, simply doesn't have the energy to contract. It actually steals oxygen from the mitochondrion and blocks the use of any oxygen that's there. And estrogen happens to activate the enzyme that forms nitric oxide. So it works with the cholinergic system and both of them act partly through increasing the amount of nitric oxide. And progesterone, with its quieting effect, inhibits the enzyme that forms nitric oxide.

HD: In the presence of adequate metabolic energy in the form of sufficient thyroid, would nitric oxide still be able to do this?

RP: In situations where they were studying learned helplessness, which produces increased acetylcholine and nitric oxide, they found that either progesterone or thyroid T3 would block the formation of that behavior, would keep them from dying too prematurely. Thyroid and progesterone both interfere with the production of nitric oxide.
In a situation of under-function of the thyroid gland (or system), it's now pretty well established that high blood pressure in a very high proportion of the cases is produced by hypothyroidism. And because of the belief that nitric oxide has a beneficial effect of increasing circulation, as with Viagra and Rogaine, the thought was that hypothyroidism must be lowering nitric oxide. But in fact it increases it, while still causing contraction of the blood vessels, and tightening up, increasing blood pressure.
So, the effect of thyroid is to stop excess nitric oxide, or excess cholinergic function, or excess estrogen. But the medical ideas that have been built up on the idea that estrogen is a therapeutic thing across the spectrum, and that nitric oxide is beneficial because it's produced by multi billion-dollar drugs, these interlock. So that they argued that if estrogen produces nitric oxide, then nitric oxide is good, and so on. Each thing is used as an argument for the other. But when you put them into context of thyroid and progesterone, you see that the actual problem, such as high blood pressure can involve increased nitric oxide, even though that goes against the doctrine.

HD: It's a kind of a rabbit hole that is unfortunately clouded by a lot of money.

RP: Some of the changes with aging, besides high blood pressure...for example, incontinence and edema, swelling up of the extremities, constipation (or at least, slow movement of the digestive system), leakiness of blood vessels, letting fluids swell out and then sluggishness of the lymphatic system allowing the edema to accumulate: these things are all able to be produced and relieved by either increasing or decreasing the amount of nitric oxide in the system. So, an excess of the cholinergic function, leading to overproduction of nitric oxide will cause constipation, incontinence, swelling of the feet. Just about all of the typical symptoms of aging, stress and shock, and so on.

HD: And they’re all alleviated by thyroid and progesterone, isn't it? As they are kind of opposites.

RP: Yah.

HD: Another question that I have: A person I spoke about is wanting to use DHEA; and on the bottle of the DHEA they gave a warning about possibly increasing estrogen. I think this is very similar to what you are saying about the stress-induced excitotoxic effects. The estrogen itself possibly would be produced in persons taking DHEA if they are under stress. If they weren't under stress, if they are using progesterone, had adequate thyroid, their diet was good, there's fruit sugar in their diet and they had enough metabolic energy, they wouldn't produce estrogen from DHEA because of that?

RP: Right. And DHEA and progesterone both will break the learned helplessness pattern of too much nitric oxide. But what causes DHEA and testosterone to be turned into estrogen excessively is anything basically causing stress, irritation, inflammation. The enzyme that makes estrogen aromatase is activated by anything that stresses cells. And the processes that are reversed by thyroid and progesterone are activated by, for example, prostaglandins, which are derived from polyunsaturated fatty acids, which happen to synergize with estrogen in many ways. The prostaglandins activate the formation of estrogen; and progesterone, thyroid and aspirin, too, turn off aromatase by, among other things, inhibiting the activity of the enzyme that makes polyunsaturated fats turn into prostaglandins.

HD: We do have a couple of callers. Let's take this first caller. You are on the air.

Caller: I have that premenstrual seizure problem, but it's actually not just premenstrual. It's about a week before and after my period.

HD: How long did you have this for?

Caller: About three years now.

HD: And how old are you?

Caller: I am 28. So I have like a grand-mal seizure once a month, and memory problems because of that.

HD: Dr. Peat, what approach to treat her seizures would you advise?

RP: In an emergency situation you have a good probability of either stopping, or reducing the severity of seizures just with progesterone. But in the long run, you want to stop the intake of the polyunsaturated fats that activate estrogen and inhibit thyroid. The degree of unsaturation in the fat corresponds to the degree of interference with thyroid hormone. So fish oil is more anti-thyroid than the seed oils. The singly unsaturated fat in olive oil, for example, is very weakly anti-thyroid. Butter, coconut oil, cream, beef and lamb fat, for example, aren’t anti-thyroid.
[Within]The traditional diets before 1940, even in the industrial countries, people commonly got quite a bit of thyroid in their food. If you would stew a chicken, or a fish, for example, the thyroid [gland] would always break up and be consumed as part of their food. And with that traditional diet a person probably averaged about the equivalent of maybe 30 milligrams a day of Armour thyroid in the natural, fresh, glandular material. So one thing that has contributed to hypothyroidism, resulting in high estrogen and over-activity of the parasympathetic excitatory system, one factor is just the removal of natural thyroid from the food supply. But at the same time the diet has been industrialized to include lots of these seed oils which are both, pro-estrogen and anti-thyroid. In themselves they are excitatory, produce edema of the brain, and so on.

Caller: I definitely had a history of edema, and I thought I was fat, and they gave me an diuretic in the hospital. One day I peed out eight pounds of water. So I've been using dandelion root to deal with the water retention. Beyond that, since I have cut out estrogenic foods from my diet, my gut is gotten a lot flatter. My source for progesterone is Chaste Tree Berries. And I am under the impression that over time it can work like a time released IUD. So after that for a year I may not even have my menstrual cycle any more, but it seems like it accumulates over time and helps really balance my hormonal imbalance. So I have more progesterone and less estrogen. I wonder if you know anything about Chaste Tree Berries, also known as Vitex berries.

HD: Vitex has traditionally been a pro progestogenic, and has been used for menstruating women to reduce various symptoms of high estrogen which would typically be edema, PMS, mood swings and long heavy bleeding.
Just very briefly: Did you say dandelion root or did you mean dandelion leaf?

Caller: Both of them. The root is a strong diuretic and the leaf is a mild diuretic and a liver tonic.

HD: The root is more a bile stimulant and the leaf is specifically diuretic; and it contains potassium. So it's better than furosemide and the others so called potassium-sparing diuretics. Anyway, I am more interested in helping you out with Dr. Peat's advice for your epilepsy.

RP: The minerals are very important too for getting the balance of the nervous system. Making sure you have enough of all of the alkaline minerals: potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium. Fruit and milk are very important for those.

HD: You recommend coffee as a good source of magnesium, and calcium is in milk and dairy products, and then sodium from just regular salt; and you do advocate people use salt.

Caller: [Explains that she's tried a vegan diet before, basically starved herself, depleted herself of minerals and was regularly diagnosed with low sodium. She finds that you can get calcium and magnesium from nettle (or any large leafy green) and that coffee is acidic.]

HD: Dr. Peat, what do you think about coffee and acidity?

RP: Decaf is fine as a source of niacin and magnesium. But another good source of all the minerals, but especially magnesium is well cooked green leaves. The undercooked greens aren't digestible and can actually increase your inflammatory nitric oxide and such. And irritation of the intestine from starchy, undercooked vegetable matter will, by increasing the nitric oxide that causes water retention (causes the intestine to suck up water and put it into the blood stream), will cause the kidneys to lose sodium. So the problem that happens with a lot of stress and degenerative conditions is centered around the water retention, and the imbalance, produced by loosing sodium too fast.
So, first aid is just to get your minerals up. And for example, resuscitation can be done more efficiently with extremely hyper osmotic concentrated mineral solution; sodium chloride, for example, is six or seven times more concentrated than the physiological solution. Just injecting a small amount of that can bring a person out of shock, because it inhibits the formation of nitric oxide, helps the kidneys retain sodium and starts the system producing energy. But just making sure that your daily diet includes plenty of sodium and the other alkaline metals is very helpful.

HD: We do actually have three other callers.

Caller: I want to add that Alzheimer's can be the result of iron deposits in the brain; an answer might be a substance removing this iron from the brain.

HD: Let's get these next callers. You are on the air.

Caller: bla, bla, bla... war, rats, learned helplessness... Do you think about that in terms of humanity?

RP: Oh, that was exactly why I decided to write this newsletter right now. I've been following the research actually since 1960. It was especially the social behavior of the government and how they have manipulated the press; and the public helplessness actually, it's been designed since the late 1940s. It's been actual government policy to manipulate the mass media and events [in order] to create helplessness in the population.

Caller: bla, bla, bla ... It’s incredible the forces that have been exerted against the people, everywhere in the world!

HD: That’s the mass medias for you.

RP: People are surely as smart as rats; and rats just needed a little hint of a possibility of escape.

Caller: *interrupts Peat* rambles on about brainwashing, health and 'all these things'

RP: In one of the studies in which rats had been taught learned helplessness, so they would drown in five or six minutes, just being able to see another rat escape would let the informed rat go for days without drowning. Just the recognition that someone else did it can make all the difference.

Caller: bla, bla, bla ... Is raw egg better than slightly cooked or hard boiled egg?

RP: In moderate amounts even raw eggs are fine, very digestible, and they’re antiseptic in the raw state. They have seen that the raw egg yolk killed viruses that other related chemicals weren't able to destroy.

Caller: *interrupts Peat* ... bla, bla, bla... Have you heard about not washing the eggs because they will spoil faster?

RP: Oh, yah!

Caller: *interrupts Peat* ... bla, bla, bla...which is better: raw or boiled eggs ? What about their PUFA?

RP: If the chickens were fed a more saturated diet, like they used to with orchard waste, apples that were spoiling, and whey from the cheese industry, then the animals eating those foods are... In Mexico, old tortillas are fed to the chickens regularly with chopped fruits and vegetables.

Caller: *interrupts Peat* ... bla, bla, bla ... Sugar?

RP: Yah, that makes the egg fat much safer. And in the raw state it has that germicidal effect. And I’ve known several people who cured their leukemia by drinking egg-noggs, fruit juice with milk and raw eggs.

Caller: bla, bla, bla ... Is raw milk better than pasteurized one?

RP: Yes, slightly better.

Caller: OK, but it's not that big of deal?

RP: No, if you have really good milk. It's OK to pasteurize it, but it's slightly better in the raw state.

HD: [Thanks the caller and welcomes the next one.]

Caller: I just have a question about 5-HTP, namely if you think it’s safe to take as a supplement?

RP: No, it does tend to increase serotonin. And serotonin, like histamine, can increase nitric oxide and set those inflammatory processes in motion.

HD: So 5-HTP is not a good thing to take.

RP: Any form of tryptophane tends to increase the serotonin. And the serotonin tends to increase those inflammatory things: estrogen and nitric oxide.

Caller: So, that's not good.

HD: No. You shouldn't take it. About thyroid hormone: people think it’s a stimulant. People think that they get high blood pressure when they take thyroid. I know it's not true. Would you just explain that?

RP: Yah. I was just previously mentioning that hypothyroid people have increased nitric oxide, but at the same time they have a tendency of too much contraction of the blood vessels and high blood pressure. So, at least, nitric oxide isn't able to maintain good blood flow if your thyroid is low. The thyroid does... I think the basic thing that relaxes the blood vessels (and produced by thyroid hormone) is carbon dioxide.
Hypothyroid people tend to have chronically increased lactic acid in their blood which displaces carbon dioxide. And carbon dioxide relaxes blood vessels in a very different way than the interfering with energy supply that nitric oxide does. Carbon dioxide retains a high energy level while relaxing, partly just by changing the electrical pH behavior of the cell. It acidifies the cell, which relaxes it. That relaxing effect of increasing carbon dioxide from higher thyroid function makes your capillaries and arterials relax, and let the blood flow through, providing oxygen to the tissues which then produce more carbon dioxide and keep the system active and circulating.
Carbon dioxide and thyroid both tend to increase the stroke volume of the heart the same way progesterone does, where the parasympathetic nervous system and estrogen decrease the stroke volume, and weaken the heart. Thyroid has an energizing, but relaxing function. It increases the ability of cells to retain magnesium, because magnesium is bound to the ATP energy carrying molecule. By increasing the oxidation of the cell to produce ATP, the cell then binds magnesium and releases calcium, which is the excitatory thing. So, if you have magnesium in your system and you’re producing carbon dioxide, your cells will retain the relaxing magnesium. You can see that in the way your muscles work, your heart [works]. It shows up in the electrocardiogram as a quick re polarization, getting ready and relaxed, ready for a new stimulation. In your brain it shows up as quick transition from wakefulness into sleep at night, without having to go through a lot of preparation. The brain is able to quickly relax by increasing its ATP and oxygen and carbon dioxide.

HD: Excellent. We do have a few more callers, Dr. Peat.

Caller: Hi, I have a lot of questions, but I’ll ask a short one. I understand that there’s a doctor Horowitz among other people who claim that listening to sound at 528 hertz will heal DNA. What is your understanding of this?

RP: A good person to read on that issue would be Harold Hillman, who did experiments with it in England and got fired, or got retired prematurely. But it's definitely something that Russian research in the early 70s showed, that certain musical tones would cause muscle to increase its ATP production. And that was disregarded because the level of the energy in a given vibration was considered to be too small to exceed the thermal agitation of the molecules and the muscle. But, actually, the muscle is organized with long range structures in water, which form in effect an antenna that can receive sound waves of these very low energies. So it's physically very plausible, and verified by Harold Hillman.

HD: Excellent, as always. Thanks so much.

Caller: That's obviously not an emphatic yes, but you’re saying it's totally within the realm of possibility?

RP: Yes.

Caller: I thank you so much. Bye now.

HD: Thanks so much for your call. How about a very quick breakdown of cholesterol's control by thyroid?
RP: In the 1930’s, it was demonstrated, and graphs were published showing that when a person's thyroid gland was removed, as their metabolic rate declined, the blood cholesterol increased. And when they were given a supplement of thyroid, it was just like a mirror image; as the metabolic rate increased, the cholesterol declined.
At the time, that was just a gross empirical observation. But it allowed many doctors to diagnose hypothyroidism simply by looking at elevated cholesterol in the blood, who was one of the well recognized signs of hypothyroidism. But when the essential fatty acids lowering of the cholesterol, and drugs to lower cholesterol came on the scene, it was “discouraged” ( the connection between thyroid and cholesterol), because it was too simple to cure high cholesterol, to correct it just by correcting the thyroid function. But how it works is that it activates the conversion of cholesterol to, primarily, pregnenolone and progesterone. And that was demonstrated by pumping blood into an ovary and measuring the amount of cholesterol going in and the amount of progesterone coming out. If they decreased the cholesterol in the blood, the ovary produced less progesterone.

HD: Excellent, OK. Thank you very much, Dr. Peat. Thanks so much again.

RP: OK. Thank you.​


Jan 3, 2014
Thank you giraffe and Burt! I've now got useful notes on thyroid, magnesium and CO2; lactic acid; and the fats.


Mar 29, 2016
If you stimulate the cholinergic nerves, you can improve learning and behavior; but if you aren't increasing energy to keep up with that increased stimulation, you put the cell in a stress between having to work harder, but not having the fuel to do it. So if your cortisol is high, for example, interfering with your ability to use sugar, or if your blood sugar is simply low and you are being stimulated, then the cell tends to die.
I wonder if this situation applies in a recent episode in a hospital.

Subject was given parenteral nutrition, which is food administered intravenously, for 3 days. It resulted in chills and a fever. She was given levofloxacin, an antibiotic, to counter a possible pneumonia. For 3 days, she was so alert and couldn't sleep. This was followed by a very long period of sleepiness. After the long period of sleepiness, she could not regain her ability to eat and she drank sparsely.

It turns out the parenteral nutrition included a good amount of purified soya oil. The soya oil may have resulted in fatty acids blocking the metabolism of blood sugar, resulting in high blood sugar that triggered an insulin reaction. This caused the blood sugar to be lowered, resulting in hypoglycemia. The lack of energy production in this situation set the stage for the next harm from the doctor: levofloxacin, a fluoroquilone-class antibiotic, had an excito-toxic effect on the nerves of the subject. Since the nerve cells lacked the energy (from a hypoglycemic state) to keep up with the demands of excito-toxicity, the nerve got exhausted. This would explain the long period of sleepiness, and the subsequent loss of the ability to eat.
Last edited:
EMF Mitigation - Flush Niacin - Big 5 Minerals

Similar threads

Top Bottom