Why I Took a Break From Rapamycin – and Why I’m Taking It Again

  • by Nils Osmar. April 5, 2024
  • This post is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice. 
  • See full Medical Disclaimer

I took rapamycin for a year (from Feb. 2023 to Feb. 2024), then took a break from it.

I stopped it because I had noticed a steady increase in my blood glucose and A1C as time went by. I was also curious to see how stopping it would affect my cholesterol levels.

The main thing I noticed when I stopped rapamycin was a dip in my mood, i.e., I started to feel a bit more down and deflated. The effect was subtle but noticeable, and occurred within a couple of weeks of stopping.

Blood glucose and A1C

During my year on rapamycin, my blood glucose rose from 92 to 104. My A1C rose from 5.4 to 6.0. An increase in blood sugar and increased possible risk of diabetes are known possible side effects rapaymcin, so were concerning. (They’re more likely to occur at high doses, but do occur, on occasion, when the dose is low.) (See study)

I tried berberine

I tried taking berberine (which lowers blood glucose reliably), but my glucose kept rising. So I decided to stop rapamycin to see if it would go down.

My blood sugar did start dropping after I stopped. My A1C dropped from 6.0 (the highest it’s ever been) to 5.7. My glucose dropped from 104 to 99. (I know these levels are still high.) The improvement may be because I had stopped the rapamycin, or may be because I increased the dose of berberine from 500 mg to 1 gram a day. (I’ve since increased it to 2 grams a day, and added milk thistle, which makes it more absorbable.)

Cholesterol levels

I’m not deeply concerned about cholesterol; I don’t regard shifts in our levels as something to get panicky about. We need reasonably high cholesterol to make sex hormones, to maintain brain health, and for hundreds of important functions in the human body. But I do keep an eye on it, paying attention to LDL and Apolipoprotein B.

My cholesterol and LDL went up…

  • Before starting rapamycin, my total cholesterol was 180. During my first year on rapamycin, it rose to 212.
  • My LDL rose too, from 120 (which was already higher than my doctor liked) to 159. .
  • Some people find that their LDL and apoB levels rise and fall together; this is not true for me. My apoB tends to run high regardless of what I do (around 101-105). It stays in this range even when my LDL moves up or down by 40 or 50 points.

… but my triglycerides went down

  • Curiously, my triglycerides dropped from a high of 120 to 79, even as my total cholesterol was increasing.
  • I found this interesting because some studies suggest that when TG are low and LDL is high, it can actually be a good sign. See the Healthline article I’ve excerpted below.
  • My HDL, which tends to run low, actually rose a little from 37 to 43. (Low HDL is sometimes a consequence of donating a lot of blood, which I was doing a lot of in 2022 and 2023.)
  • In the fall 2023, I started taking berberine and niacin. I was actually taking them because they improve my sleep. (I was still still taking rapamycin.) Both are expected to lower total cholesterol. They were probably a factor in my total cholesterol dropping from 212 to 180, and my TG dropping to 70.
  • When I stopped taking rapamycin (while still taking niacin and berberine), my total cholesterol sank to 180. My TG went down to 71. My HDL sank to 37, then rose to 40. My LDL lowered to 130

Why high LDL in combination with low TG may actually be a good sign

From the Healthline article (emphases mine):

We know that an unhealthy diet can cause high triglycerides, while a healthy diet generally leads to low triglycerides.

One interesting note is that sometimes low triglyceride levels can occur with high LDL levels (which often indicate a higher heart disease risk). If low triglyceride levels lower heart disease risk, but high LDL levels increase it, what can cause this inconsistency?

There are two types of LDL particles that should be taken into account when calculating heart disease risk:

  • LDL-A particles are larger, less dense, and lower your risk.
  • LDL-B particles are smaller, denser, and increase your risk.

When you have low triglyceride levels but high LDL levels, it could indicateTrusted Source that you have a diet filled with healthy fats.

Healthy fats will not only cause an increase in good cholesterol (HDL) but can also change the type of the LDL particles in the blood. Therefore, those high LDL levels may not actually be a bad thing.

Restarting rapamycin

  • After two months off, I started taking rapamycin again a few days ago.
  • The only thing I’ve noticed so far (which happened within a day of taking it), was a slight but distinct improvement in my mood.
  • I’m taking it because (1) my break from it was intended to be temporary (there are studies suggesting that it still works well even when fairly long breaks are taken from using it), and (2) I feel confident that I’ll be able to keep lowering my blood sugar by increasing my dose of berberine (though I will still be keeping a close eye on it), and (3) most of the research to date suggests that rapamycin is still the most promising compound out there for life extension.

Not medical advice

This article is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice. I’m not advising that people eat any particular diet or take any particular supplement(s), just reporting on what I’m doing. Supplements, like medications and other interventions, can have side effects; I would encourage people to research both possible benefits and side effects before starting on any supplementation regimen, and consult with a medical professional about any issues which might have a medical component.  See full Medical Disclaimer

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