Effective PEM Blocker


Well-Known Member
I stumbled across something that very effectively and reliably blocks PEM for me. Cumin--regular, not black--works for me. A level tsp of ground cumin will block PEM completely for about three days, and also reduces the baseline symptoms somewhat. I discovered this in November, and it's been working since then. I posted in Phoenix Rising, expecting other people to try it and report whether or not it worked for them too, but only one person has reported (positively). Since it's cheap, easy to obtain (if it's not already in your kitchen), and safe, I'm hoping others will give it a try and report whether or not it works for them. I decided not to start this as a resource, since I don't know that it isn't one of those 'works well for just one individual due to some quirk' thing.

PEM was a real problem for me when I needed to do physical tasks. Sawing even a few pieces firewood by handsaw would make the following day a total loss. I decided to fire up the chainsaw, buck enough wood for the winter, and suffer severe PEM for a day or more. I did that...and the expected PEM didn't show up. My diary showed that I had had cumin the day before that. Cumin had very effectively reduced my ME symptoms years before, but it had stopped working after a couple of weeks of daily use, and I took it a couple of times a year just to see if it would start working again. It's possible that it had been blocking PEM, but I just didn't realize it, since at the time I wasn't aware that I had ME and didn't know what PEM was (though I did know that I often felt worse the day after strenuous activity). It's difficult to notice things that don't happen. The expected major PEM that didn't happen did get my attention.

I've found that half a level tsp of cumin will block the PEM, but doesn't reliably reduce the baseline symptoms. More than a level tsp can last longer, but doesn't block PEM better or reduce baseline symptoms more (more experiments needed to verify that). Three heaping tsp only lengthened the period to six days, so I didn't consider it worthwhile. Since cumin stopped working that first time when I took it daily, I'm avoiding experimenting with daily doses, just in case. It's too marvelously effective to risk losing the benefits.

I've also found that the blocking effect seems to act quickly. I've taken it three hours before PEM expected from strenuous activity (fairly reliable 24 hr delay for me), and the PEM didn't occur. I haven't tried taking it after the PEM starts yet, to see if that works and how long it would take. It's interesting that it seems to be a threshold effect, rather than a dose-dependent effect. That should means something to the appropriate expert.

I can't guarantee that it will work for anyone but me. The one person who reported using it (as daily tea) thought it helped, but wasn't entirely sure. I'm hoping that some more people actually try it and report the effects. If it does work for others, I'll report it to one or more of the research groups.

Curry may not be an effective test. It does contain cumin, but it also contains turmeric and other spices, and those make my symptoms worse, so they might mask the effect of just the cumin. When cumin first helped me, I had done other experiments that eliminated some of its components, and pretty much narrowed it down to cuminaldehyde. If so, perilla should also be effective, but by the time I'd realized that, cumin had stopped working. I could try it now, but it's not something I can buy locally (small town) and haven't been motivated enough to order some online.

Cumin has really improved my life, and is allowing me to do physically strenuous activities again without suffering PEM. I hope that it will help others too.


Well-Known Member
I forgot to add: cumin doesn't seem to work on the increase in symptoms due to cerebrally strenuous triggers, such as driving or socializing. That increase seems PEM-like, but for me it occurs within hours, rather than after a 24 hr delay, so I'm not sure if it's really PEM, or just similar to PEM, or real PEM via a different pathway. I haven't yet found a physical trigger that isn't blocked by cumin.

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