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What a Paranoid Biker Taught Me About Biochemistry and Mood (and Helped My Career Move)

What a Paranoid Biker Taught Me About Biochemistry and Mood (and Helped My Career Move)

Ever read something for fun and have the story literally shift your mindset?

In this case, it was a Paranoid biker who taught me about biochemistry and mental health.

It happened in my late teens while working shifts, copying Morse Code signals for the Canadian Security Establishment.

The job title was Communications Research, with a Top Secret security clearance. Like real James Bond stuff, right?

Heck no. It was saturated with alcoholism, divorce and military releases.

Somewhere between working, running and getting drunk, I liked reading an underground magazine called The Survivor. The rag’s publisher, Kurt Saxon, was certain that our economy was going to crash in 1979 and the only hope for humanity was 1930-style survival skills. (Well, the economy did decline in 1980 and for those who remember, it was a wake up call.)

Anyway, in one article, Kurt is drinking beer with this dude, Paranoid George. George, who was a member of the Iron Cross motorcycle club, had a habit of beating up people he thought were out to get him. Of course, in this situation, it did not take long for a few beer to get Paranoid to live up to his name.

This is where a fast-talking Saxon gives George a crash course in mood and biochemistry. Lucky for Kurt, Paranoid takes Saxon’s advice and a high dose of niacin and spares Saxon a thorough beating.

Within minutes, George goes through what is called a “niacin flush.” This sends him into a state of panic then calmness.

Intrigued by this, I sought out the vitamin B3 and found a similar reaction. Namely, flushed, itchy skin for about 10 minutes, followed by a state of calmness.

So, I played around and self-experimented for a few weeks with the niacin and strong multi B tablets.

Then the weirdness started.

I woke up earlier and and ran or practiced yoga before my shift started. Regular drinking went from drinking four to eight beer at a time to one or two. My mental focus became better as I sought out ways to get out of the isolated station and this mind-numbing job.

With the B vitamins (which assist brain and nerve function), I added calcium and magnesium supplements (which are also essential for nerve health) and started eating a high protein diet. Later, I cut down on the dairy, sugar and wheat, especially bread and beer.

Of course doing this back in the late 70’s would get you plenty of criticism from your peers and labels like “Food Freak” and “Health Nut.”

But, who could argue with how clear-headed I began to feel? I researched what I could about exercise, nutrition and mental health and found that diet did make a difference in mood, attitude, strength and health. I mean, just look at the healthiest and smartest cultures on earth (like Japan or Sweden) and usually their food and exercise is superior to the less healthy cultures (like Ethiopia).

So, heck yeah, the nutrients made me feel much better. I started to actually build muscle on my scrawny frame and got a part-time job instead of getting drunk. Then I transferred out of that station and went onto do better things. Things that I never had the confidence to do like military parachuting, marathon races and earning a Bachelor’s degree. Success lead to more success.

And to think that it started from a biker name Paranoid George.

Thank you, Paranoid…I mean George.

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