The Ubermensch at Walgreens

Super Plenamins via Found in Mom’s Basement

I don’t talk about I much, but I have a sort of ongoing quest to become superhuman on the cheap using only willpower and widely available drugstore products. This is probably not as silly as it sounds. I do believe it’s entirely possible to level up my very being, if I can only find the right combo of stuff to ingest. In this quest, I’ve subjected my body to all kinds of experiments. Most of them have done nothing but I’ve discovered a few things that actually, shockingly, do what they’re supposed to do and make me a better, higher-functioning creature. What do you do to become a more efficient, better human?

B VITAMINS. Know why Red Bull makes you feel so peppy? It’s not just the caffeine, or you’d be getting the same sustained buzz from Coke and coffee. It’s the B vitamins, the lack of which in our systems leads to such symptoms as depression, anemia and sluggishness. While some critics claim the marketing of B vitamins is just a gimmick, I don’t believe it for a second and invite you to draw your own conclusions. Beginning a regimen of daily B complex supplements last year boosted my energy and pretty much kiboshed about 75% of my persistent battle with depression — kicked to the curb, to an astounding extent, a lifetime of feeling too tired and unmotivated to do things. The stuff is water-soluble and all excess B vitamins in your system will come out in the form of neon green urine, so don’t worry about taking “1000 percent of the RDA!” Just take a little and see what happens. THIS SHIT SAVED MY LIFE.

VALERIAN ROOT. I was introduced to this stuff by a Russian co-worker, who calls it “Valerianka” and claimed it made her calm and relaxed enough to deal with screaming clients and bosses, without the drowsiness of other tranquilizers. It’s also a natural product, available cheaply and without a prescription, with no harmful documented side effects. It’s been used to treat everything from insomnia, anxiety, depression and gastrointestinal disorders. I find it takes effect almost immediately, producing a detached, sardonic feeling and leaving me clearheaded enough to work productively without emotion—perfect for the office or working in a distracting environment. MIGHT MAKE ME A BETTER PERSON.

SLIM FAST OPTIMA. Though I’m not trying to lose weight, I thought I’d try this because having to eat when my body decides it’s hungry instead of when I decide it’s convenient is a huge pain in the ass. It claims to control hunger for four hours. Instead, this product removes appetite for about four minutes with its nasty, chalky taste. It is most definitely not food. AVOID AT ALL COSTS.

EMERGEN-C. These little packets of magic have been favorites of mine since middle school when we used to pour them straight on our tongues at recess and laugh at the weird bubbly tingly sensation and funny smell. The “champagne of energy drinks” comes in a million flavors and makes me feel nice and peppy for short periods of time. Sometimes I chug a packet with water first thing in the morning so I can make it to the bus stop. After all these years I couldn’t tell you if it’s the placebo effect or not. Maybe I should replace it with pop rocks one week and see if I feel any ill effects. Once I get a grant. FURTHER STUDY REQUIRED.

23 Responses to “The Ubermensch at Walgreens”

  1. BlueAnchorNatasha Says:

    Oh can I ever relate to this post..
    Being on the verge of discovering whether or not my gastric problems are caused by celiac disease (gluten intolerance) or not, and what, WHAT causes me to never have ANY energy and to blackout nearly daily…. I will have to say I too have reached this point. Superhuman would be wonderful. Sometimes I think if vampires existed, I would be a perfect candidate since nearly all human food causes my stomach to attack itself like an acid-filled cannibal. I have to admit, I have yet to try the B vitamins, why are vitamins in general so expensive? However, I have heard great things about them. I should also be taking a calcium/vita d supp.
    As for valerian, I make a mean valerian tea, add some rosemary and youll be hooked. Ive used it for its calming effects, but must admit I have not given it a try on my stomach problems. I have a bag of it in my herb chest, I think Ill give it a shot.
    As for shakes of any sort, Ive never tried slimfast, the very idea of purposely suppressing my body of its natural reaction to hunger just doesnt seem right. Could a person be classified as conscious-anorexic because they are avidly starving themself via hunger-suppression products? No thanks. I was drinking Boost glucose control shakes for a while, because the protein is the only thing I can handle, carbs are my gastro-enemy, it REALLY. sucks. After a couple months of that nonsense and Ive taken to just grabbing a Monster (tsk tsk I know) when I really need the energy and suffering the rest of the time. Nutritional shakes are the biggest pain and waste of money.
    Emergen-C, the stuff works, placebo or not. I dont care if its the placebo thats shooing my colds away or not, theyre fleeing in TERROR and thats what matters.
    Great post Irene!
    Also, I swear by Melatonin for insomnia, pop a dose, open a book and let yourself get sleepy. Best part of all, its not addictive, its just to enhance what your body already makes!

  2. Nadya Says:

    It’s funny, I was just drinking Slimfast Optima as I was formatting this post… I drink it for the taste! No joke. I love “Rich Chocolate Royale.”

    Kids in Russia used to give valerian to cats to get them drunk. Cats get really crazy on it.

  3. Tanya Says:

    Yeah, the valerian thing is so incredibly common in Russia. Whenever you find out your husband is cheating on you, and you press your shaking hands anxiously to your breast, your caring neighbor in her hairnet will say, “Quick, get the valerianka.” It’s the valium of the proletariat, I guess.

    Me, I strongly believe in the curative powers of tea, broccoli and a good cupcake.

  4. Luai_lashire Says:

    I’ve heard a lot about the B vitamins and Valerian before, but never tried them. I do have B vitamins in my cabinet, but I rarely take them…. the kind I got tastes absolutely awful.

    I take St. John’s Wort on a regular basis for depression. I find it has very subtle effects; it doesn’t really seem to make me less depressed so much as it increases my ability to “bounce back” when something bad happens, and not freak out over it the way I normally do. It also helps me actually gather enough willpower to get things done.

    The most effective supplement I’ve ever used though would have to be red raspberry leaf tea. There have been TONS of studies showing the effects this has to help with menstrual cramps and birthing pains. I have really awful menstrual pain, to the point where it is disabling, and no painkillers have ever been able to help much. But just one cup of this tea can bring the pain to a manageable level, and two makes it go away almost completely. It is the most striking effect I’ve ever seen from a supplement of any kind. Honestly, I don’t give a shit whether or not it’s a placebo effect; it makes the pain stop, that’s good enough for me.

  5. Erin Says:

    I don’t really understand how people can be so easily affected by these things. My body seems to have a natural immunity to any sort of outside drug. Vitamin C and iron supplements have done nothing to help my anemia.

    Drinking bottles upon bottles of coke does nothing. Red bull does nothing. Coffee does nothing. Adderoll does nothing. Alcohol does nothing. Aspirin does nothing. Sleeping pills do nothing. I’m beginning to think that I need illegal drugs in order to alter my mood or energy beyond what it is naturally. *sigh*

  6. nekojita Says:

    It’s funny seeing this post. I succumbed the the Acai trend today and impulse bought a smoothie mix with it. I got hypersensitized to online Acai ads after hearing that someone had spent hundreds of thousands over the course of four days last month purchasing placement for them. They have a very creepy ‘They Live’ vibe – “One Flat Stomach Rule – OBEY”. !

    I’m also a fan of B vitamins. Fish oil, or more specifically the DHA/Omega 3 in it, has worked wonders for my own depression issues. I’ve read studies supporting its effectiveness. It might help with that other 25%. Just go for the stuff marked ‘mercury free’.

  7. Irene Kaoru Says:

    BlueAnchorNatasha: I’ve had people recommend melatonin to me but I’ve shied away from it because it is said by some to be habit forming. Luckily, my only persistent sleep disorder is that I can sleep like the dead through anything short of nuclear war.

    Luai_lashire: Try the kind that come in gelcap form. They smell a tad bit funny but they go down easily and taste like nothing at all.

    nekojita: I’ve tried a couple of Acai smoothies and juice drinks but haven’t made enough of a habit of it to include it in this post. For the record, I didn’t feel a bit different but it was delicious. Also, I might try the fish oil trick. If it gives me special powers I’ll let everyone know.

  8. Ornith Says:

    I’ve never used valerian as a tranquilizer, but it’s a fantastic sleep aid if you have trouble with waking up in the middle of the night. Like you say, very subtle – it doesn’t knock you out or leave you groggy or anything, you just don’t wake up at 4am for no reason. Only problem is that it reeks to high heaven – it stunk up my medicine cabinet even through the capsules and the jar and tasted pretty funky (I cannot imagine ever drinking valerian tea – BLECH).

    As for St. John’s Wort, it’s a natural SSRI antidepressant (like Prozac, Paxil etc) – the efect you describe, Luai, is exactly what antidepressants are supposed to do. However, do NOT take it if you’re actually on an SSRI or other antidepressant without clearing it with your psychiatrist – mixing multiple medicines that affect serotonin uptake can cause a nasty thing called Serotonin Syndrome.

    As for getting rid of cramps and other PMS symptoms, I started taking the Pill and they went from cramps that were once mistaken for possible appendicitis, and mood swings that triggered my depression so I could never really recover, to almost none of either – and on an extended cycle to boot. HAHA EAT IT UTERUS!

    Fish oil and ordinary multivitamins haven’t seemed to do much for my depression, but I’m still taking them on the grounds that they can’t hurt. I’ll have to try high-dose B-vitamins – the low energy is the worst of my problems at this point. Two things that have helped, though: dark chocolate (it was suggested/prescribed to me by psychiatrist, so it’s guilt free!) – also supposed to be good for your heart these days – and getting one of those light therapy lamps, since it turned out my depression is at least partly seasonal, and there’s some evidence that it can help even non-seasonal depression. Mine is a floor lamp model made by BlueMax, which is helpful if you’re short on table space, and very handy as a task lamp besides – very pure white, bright light. My cat seems to like it, too. Actually, the cat’s also been AWESOME for my depression; not coming home to an empty house, snuggles and kisses, goofy antics to cheer me up, making me get out of bed (so I’ll feed him) – a friendly cat is the best antidepressant ever. And petting cats has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce stroke risk!

    They say a glass of red wine a night is good for you now, too. I love the new medical science – better health from eating chocolate, drinking wine, and petting a cat? Sign me up! I hear good things about delicious blueberries, too. And – since that has me thinking of this morning’s breakfast (oatmeal with blueberries and honey, yum!) – local raw honey is supposed to be helpful for allergies.

  9. Chris L Says:

    Can this please be a continuing series?

    Not that there’s any way to test this on an personal/anecdotal level, but “studies” say that vitamin D supplements are a good way to stave off cancer if you don’t live in places where it’s sunny all the time. (Like… Vancouver.)

  10. Jerem Morrow Says:

    RedBull is an all too constant companion. Don’t dig my dependency on it, whether real or fabricated. But I swear, the sheer ludicrous volume of B’s in them, stave off every-fucking-thing.

    Recently introduced to Emergen-C. Hang-over DESTROYER.

    Neko: Drink tons of DHA/Omega 3 via Silk soy mil…juice. Huge difference.

    Oh, and of course, extra virgin olive oil, when I can and a clove of garlic every day. I may smell of the stuff, but I’ll out live Cher.

  11. Nadya Says:

    This is great! I love hearing what works for people.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who notices the creepiness of the Acai Berry ads. Shudder!

    I didn’t know that fish oil/Omega-3 had anything to do with depression, but it’s done wonders for my skin. Mer suggested I try it, and it’s helped my skin stay clear. Zoe also told me once that eating avocados is really good for skin… I’ve been eating it a lot more, and my skin has improved. Thank you, co-editors!

    I also found out the hard way this week not to take vitamins before bed because they make you stay up. DUH.

    Tried valerian for the first time this week, and it didn’t seem to do anything for me. Will try it again tonight and see if it makes me go to bed.

  12. Irene Kaoru Says:

    Those home made face masque skin care recipes I sometimes see in magazines usually make me laugh because it’s often just as good for you if not better to EAT the ingredients, not smear them on your face.

    Nadya: Re the valerian……maybe you just didn’t take enough? When all else fails there’s always tylenol PM!

  13. January Says:

    I really like valerian root as well, but don’t take it if you’re pregnant! Valerian is an abortificant, and if I’m not mistaken, can also cause birth defects.
    I love b-complexes. I’ve got a ‘stress’ complex that I always forget to take, it’s full of B vitamins…and other stuff- probably both valerian and St John’s…but apparently I’ve forgotten to take it for so long that it’s completely disappeared from my dimension. Oops.

  14. BlueAnchorNatasha Says:

    Erin: I know how you feel about that too. Every day that I leave my house I hope that nothing happens to me that requires surgery. Anesthetics have NO affect. The majority of pain killers, with the exception of aleve (good ole naproxin) and my horse pills, AFTER theyve thrown me in shock. I guess its good though, at least Ill never become addicted to anything. Hell even vicodin has no effect, that was fun after surgery.. Ok addicted to nothing except caffeine. I went to the hospital with a migraine I thought was caffeine induced, bcause that was the common factor, and went cold turkey from caffeine for two months. Now I dont abuse it. Turned out it was sinus related. Anyway, I really havent experimented with herbs and supps emough to tell what works and what does not.
    I DID however take a B12 a little while ago, and I think I feel a difference, but only the day will tell.

  15. Ben C Says:

    After reading this I tried melatonin for the first time last night and it knocked me the fuck out.

    I also brought some Valerian to work but I don’t want to open the bottle because I’m afraid my office-mate will think I farted through my socks.

  16. the daniel Says:

    Function brand drinks, motherfuckers. Alternative Energy is great, and Vacation for when you need to chilllllll. I just spent like 80 bucks on a couple flats of them :)

  17. Chris L Says:

    Update: my housemate was just telling me about how a lot of supplements (including Omega 3s) don’t really do a whole lot of good beyond the placebo effect, because vitamins and such don’t often work (much) on an individual basis – they need to be to work in synergy with other nutrients. The Vitamin Bs are an exception to this, and can be digested individually. Vitamin C, too.

    He got this from Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food” – which everyone should probably read. (If you get all your vitamins and minerals from nutritious food, it’ll do more than a stack of pills could, anyway.)

    Of course, there seems to be a bunch of anecdotal evidence posted here that suggests some of these things DO work, so who knows?

  18. izi Says:

    people should try Osha root or Bear root thats grown in the united states. its called bear root because bears eat it after hibernation to help get their digestive system going. the native americans are known to use it for many medicinal puposes. It is a anti fungal medicine for wounds and infections and with digestian. side effects are gas and wacky dreams

    i stopped dreaming while i was in high school and since i have taken osha root my dreams are vivide and creepyer.

  19. William Says:

    Valerian: HEADACHES. If you stop taking them…next day, do you have a headache or not? It does that. Terrible thing. But, if you never stop taking it….
    St. John’s Wort: Sensitivity to SUNLIGHT. I.E. You BURN easily. So, maybe the SAMe? But that compacts your stool and is great for your joints! Drink milk again. That stuff is great! Just keep eating bananas and other potassium rich foods. If you can get off the coffee, get over the head ache HELL of that (SAMe can help there.) you’ll chill quite nice…
    B’s are always great, but do tend to try me skin out.
    Ah, is there no perfect solution/combo?
    Yes/No. You just keep going. Duh!
    Keep trying…working out your work, eh?
    Good Luck With That.
    Thanks for sharing.

  20. Vivacious G Says:

    Oddly enough, B vitamins contribute to moodiness for me, but then my body processes (or rather does NOT process) a lot of nutrients very abnormally. I know this is a supplement thread, but my heart goes out to anemics, so I just have to say that raw spinach and broccoli work very well for that (though you may already know that). Also, if you’re not a vegetarian, red beef once or twice a week is best at giving your body the full scale vitamin/minerals it needs especially for iron deficiency. I was a vegetarian for 6 years before and my physiological make-up just can’t handle that kind of diet. Please note: I’m not a professional, just a person who experiments a LOT with how food and supplements affect my body.

  21. Tequila Says:

    Having been reading through this the last few days…learned quite a bit and will give some a test run.

    If I die…I’m haunting the lot of you.

    I’m in dire need of an energy boost.

  22. LadyMeerkat Says:

    My Dr recommended Vit B to help me with depression due to my cycle. Magnesium can also be good for helping with mood, and as I recall taking it with B helps? Evening Primrose oil capsules help me with menstrual cramps. I take iron during my period which also seems to help.

  23. Meems Says:

    I’ve been taking valerian tea for about four years. I started taking it to help with anxiety attacks, but now I’m pretty much just hooked on the stuff. It really does work, too, although I’ve never really noticed the transition between “normal” and “calmed down”.

    January, thanks for the comment about valerian and pregnancy. I didn’t know that, and though I’m not pregnant right now it’s always worth knowing this stuff.