UPDATE 8/29: So it's been around a month and a half since I posted this. Haven't had caffeine since this post, and due to the more stable energy levels that brings I feel a little better, though my energy levels still don't feel normal. My temperature is averaging 97.7, which is better than it's been though still well below my normal 98.6. My current COA is stay away from caffeine and go gluten/sugar-free and see where that leaves me in a couple months.
Let me just say first of all that I don't eat Paleo (although I'll give it a shot at some point). I'm asking this question here because after lurking a bit and being impressed by the community's enthusiasm for and knowledge of health, it seems I might find a reasonable answer here or at least get pointed in the right direction (already tried three doctors so far with no luck).
My problems started about a year ago (I'm now a 24-year-old male FWIW). I started having fairly severe (to me) pain and discomfort from my forearms down, especially in my hands (including carpal bossing in my right hand). The only major lifestyle change I could pinpoint was that I had started drinking coffee six months prior and had gotten up to a three cup/day habit; I also noticed that the numbness was worse depending on my coffee intake. After trying to quit a few times I tried switching to tea, but the problems persisted (just less severe because of less caffeine). Anyway, I didn't consume any caffeine at all for all of May and fell into a brain fog the whole month with no light in sight. I did notice, peculiarly, that I felt like my normal pre-coffee self for about the first fifteen to forty-five minutes after waking up each day, but went downhill after that. Cortisol?
So, with grad school looming, I caved and tried tea again for a week, then went a week or two off, then these past two weeks coffee and tea. What I've noticed is that even though I feel more awake and my cognition is in some sense improved, I feel more disoriented too now when I have either (esp. tea). To my medically-uneducated self it feels like the caffeine's stimulant properties are being overpowered by whatever negative effect it's having on my health. To top it all off I've noticed lately that my body temp. is pretty low (yesterday it was down to 96) and I've always been a solid 98.6er. I don't check my temp. frequently so it may have been like this for a few months, I dunno, but either way it's bizarre for me.
Any help? Guidance? Things I should ask a doctor about? The two things I keep coming across are hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue, but RE the former I am quite the ectomorph (5'11", 120 lbs.), my TSH was normal at a recent check-up, and most of the physical symptoms don't seem to fit.
Now that I have an honest-to-God symptom (low body temp.) instead of vague I'm-tired/I-can't-focus complaints I'm pretty intent on cutting out the caffeine, because at the very least it doesn't seem to be helping.
TL;DR: 24-y/o thin guy; brain fog, but fairly alert first thing in the morning; low body temp.; maybe caffeine-related.
Your symptoms do seem thyroid related at first glance. Never take TSH "normal" at its face value. There was a switch in what is considered normal ranges not too long ago and many labs have yet to update their forms with the new ranges. Ask for the actual number, and if it is 3.0 or over (used to be 6.0 or over), you are hypothyroid. Personally, I have to keep my TSH below 2.5 or I become symptomatic.
Another thought with your low body weight, low temp., and tingling/carpel tunnel issues in the forearms would be celiac disease and a resultant B-12 deficiency. Even though you eat meat, you might not be able to get the nutrients out of it because of damage to the villi in the small intestine. You could try some sub-lingual B-12 for a few weeks to see if your forearms feel better. And for a longer experiment drop the wheat and see if that makes a difference
Magnesium deficiency could also be at work here, especially if it gets worse with stress and caffeine consumption. Perhaps try some supplements like Natural Calm or Epsom Salt baths. Check out Dr. Carolyn Dean's work if you want more info on that (although, I have to warn you, even though I think she has many good ideas, she thinks just about EVERYTHING is caused by magnesium deficiency).
Last thought about a possible relationship to the caffeine, dehydration? The spinal column is mostly water and if you aren't well hydrated it gets shorter and the bones in your spine are more likely to rest on each other, rather than floating ever so slightly apart, and that can pinch the nerves that go down your arms.
JMHO, The numbness/pain in your arms in worrisome. It could be anything from a cervical problem to a heart problem, and I would see a doctor.
Your symptoms are really too general to pinpoint. You need to have some kind of diagnostic tests done in order to point you in the right direction.
Of course eating a healthful diet always helps and cannot hurt. Even if it just baby steps, like cutting out sugar or refined foods.
Best of luck to you.
I think the 23andMe SNP testing isn't too popular, probably due to the expense and the low likelihood of finding anything really useful, but I had similar symptoms (low temp, brain fog, fatigue, difficulty recovering from exercise, intolerance to caffeine, etc), and I found answers in my SNP analysis. For a set of general problems that could be caused by any number of things, I recommend doing a SNP analysis: even if it rules out some things (like methylation problems) that's helpful to know in the case of fatigue and brain fog. And it has been a lot more effective at uncovering my health problems than my set of specialist doctors (though I do recommend having a doctor on board to help order tests and such).
Through a SNP analysis I found out I have a problem with some genetic mutations in my methylation and oxidation pathways. I found a website detailing Amy Yasko's recommendations for treatment based on genetic mutations and it has made a huge difference. This was after a year of eating paleo to fix my gut.
Do you have any autoimmune disorders, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, or autism spectrum in your family? You might check out some chronic fatigue / methylation boards, such as phoenixrising.me and mthfr.net, to see if any of that jives with you.
My health went downhill a few months into grad school, and I'm just starting to turn it around now, a few years later. I was close to having to drop out. So it's great that you're tackling this now, rather than trying to ignore the problems, like I did at first.
Oh, and some thoughts about thyroid and caffeine. Everyone thought my problems were thyroid, but I've had a handful of bloodwork tests for thyroid and I come back totally fine. Same with cortisol. The caffeine thing could be that you're a slow metabolizer, SNP rs762551.
Check my post about it: http://paleohacks.com/questions/145928/paleo-for-1-year-left-with-a-health-puzzle For me, the problem of energy went away as soon as I started eating lots of carbs. I was stuck in hibernation for months.