This Journal writing explores the role of the calming neurotransmitter, GABA, and its role in our chemistry.
Below is a recent writing which illustrates the difficulties which shadow fear can present in one of its various forms of feeling states; in this case, the feeling state of anxiety. Please bear in mind that the word “anxiety” is a synonym terminology for shadow fear. There are some 40+ synonymous feeling states which indicate the presence of shadow fear. All of these shadow fear feeling states are imploring us to access the intelligence presented to our awareness; an intelligence which is inherent in the shadow feeling itself.
The following editorial about the journey of a noted author, describes how this author has lived with anxiety and been heavily medicated for it, but seemingly was never offered any natural help in the form of natural anxiolytic biochemistry, or correctly oriented cognitive therapies which offer a viable way out of the anxiety process.
Please read on…
How Would You Like to Be Crippled by Anxiety, Suffer Frequent Panic Attacks, Write a Book about It—And Never Be Told about a Single Natural Supplement that Could Solve the Problem?
By The Alliance for Natural Health-USA, January 14, 2014
“How can mainstream medicine do this to people?
Scott Stossel is a highly intelligent, highly successful person. He’s a respected writer with a mile-long resume, as well as the current editor of The Atlantic. Just this week, Mr. Stossel published My Age of Anxiety, an acclaimed autobiography in which he discusses his lifelong, debilitating anxiety disorder.
Mr. Stossel has had the ‘best-of-the-best’ treatment in conventional medicine; both talk therapies and drugs, but has been unable to control his severe anxiety. Although he admits to dabbling in some holistic approaches to anxiety—including yoga, acupuncture, and St. John’s Wort (which is actually more useful in managing depression)—his book recounts taking one dangerous anti-anxiety medication after another, including:
Alas, as Mr. Stossel writes, ‘Here’s what’s worked: nothing.’
It’s not surprising. Many of the medications listed above were not even developed for anxiety. They were developed for depression and pressed into duty for anxiety because of a lack of other alternatives that were not highly addictive or toxic. Klonopin, which Mr. Stossel found of some use, significantly impairs mental function. Antipsychotics, which again were not meant for anxiety but are sometimes used for it, are particularly dangerous.
It’s heartbreaking that Mr. Stossel, like most of the 40 million American adults suffering from anxiety disorders, has apparently never been told that GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) can be taken as a supplement. GABA is what our own body produces to control anxiety. It is a naturally produced neurotransmitter that regulates neuron firing and calms brain activity. GABA deficiency can cause, among other things, insomnia, ADHD, and anxiety.
Of course, the natural solution is simply to give your body some help by supplementing with GABA. Because GABA supplements are safe, effective, nontoxic, and not habit-forming, this is perhaps the best way to combat mild to severe anxiety. It’s also relatively cheap, although you will need the best GABA, and should not try to use cheap substitutes.
Anti-anxiety drug sales currently top out at several billion—that’s per drug, per year! Big Pharma isn’t in the business of non-addictive, cost-effective anxiety solutions. Instead, they offer such chemical solutions as benzodiazepines, a class of tremendously addictive anti-anxiety and sleep drugs that include Xanax and Ambien. These drugs work to stretch out the effects of the GABA that your body already produces.
Even in low doses, these ‘benzos’ can cause confusion, depression, and impaired memory and thinking. Long-term use can cause confusion, lack of coordination, slurred speech, weakness, tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal. In his book, Mr. Stossel, citing a 1984 study showing that long-term benzo-use can actually shrink your brain, expresses his own fears about his long-term benzo use: ‘Does this explain why, at the age of forty-four…I feel stupider than I used to?’
Sadly, Mr. Stossel’s book discusses GABA’s role in the brain without even considering supplementation. Does the author even know that supplements exist?—probably not. The book also directly addresses the failures of conventional medicine (‘Dr. Harvard…seemed to see me as a type—an anxiety patient—to be treated with a one-size-fits-all approach: drugs’). Despite this insight, Mr. Stossel does not seem to understand that simply replacing what the body lacks—the very definition of supplementation—can help manage even the most debilitating conditions.”
Crestone and Beyond
The article goes on to question and editorialize about how Stossel could possibly find himself in the position of not hearing about the use of GABA as an anxiolytic supplement, and cites 4 contributing factors:
- “the mainstream media’s extreme bias against integrative doctors and treatments, possibly connected with huge advertising revenue from Big Pharma;
- large, corrupt medical associations, also supported by Big Pharma, manipulating prescription guidelines ;
- overzealous health claim regulations by the FDA
- FDA protection of drug companies’ mutually lucrative drug monopoly. This protection blocks vital information on natural solutions from ever reaching consumers.”
The rest of this Journal will touch on some important biochemistry. Subsequent Journals on Shadow Fear will consider the energetic from a psycho-emotional perspective.
There are a number of major neurotransmitter chemicals utilized by our central nervous system:
- Dopamine…gives power and voltage
- Norepinephrine…allows for a “fight-flight” response
- Epinephrine…made from norepinephrine and allows for the “fight-flight” response
- Acetylcholine…gives speed, youthfulness and memory
- GABA…gives calm and assists sleep
- Glutamate…excitatory and is the precursor to GABA
- Serotonin…gives balance, sleep, and playfulness
- Histamine…modulates degrees of expression of the other 4
What is GABA?
GABA is a naturally occurring amino acid complex in the brain and is a major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system (CNS). Being an inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA blocks nerve impulses, slowing down the activity of nerve cells and preventing them from over-firing. Frequent over-firing of brain cells leads to premature cell death, which means that ongoing stress can actually kill brain cells. Keeping GABA levels optimal can help prevent this. Thus, GABA serves as a critical calming agent for the body, helping to combat stress and anxiety.
The brain synthesizes GABA from glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter. These two neurotransmitters work together in an orchestrated system of checks and balances. Neurotransmitters are the brain’s basic components of communication, and when there is a breakdown in this communication system, brain function becomes affected. In stressful situations, GABA levels in the body can decrease, and this delicate system goes out of balance. In a study on humans, prefrontal brain GABA levels decreased by 18% after acute psychological stress (Hasler, G, et al, Am J Psychiatry, 2010).
Glutamate is transformed into GABA by the action of the enzyme glutamate decarboxylase (GAD). If the genes coding for this enzyme are mutated at various gene sites, then the GAD enzyme will not function well, and GABA will be naturally deficient. Genomics studies, such as are offered by www.23andMe.com, frequently show GAD enzyme mutations.
Gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) is also made in the body from branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), and those who are biochemically deficient in this neurotransmitter may crave protein in order to acquire the 3 BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine and valine. These 3 amino acids are also in the group of 9 essential amino acids which we must consume from some food source as we cannot produce them via our own biochemistry conversion processes.
The drive, desire, or craving for protein may not occur in those who are GABA deficient if they are doing something else to placate the GABA deficiency, such as pharmaceuticals, street drugs, alcohol, and behavioral activities (see below). If one has a GABA deficiency and is not assisting its natural biochemical production because of other activities, then the anxiety conditions only become compounded.
Many of the 27 pharmaceuticals which Strossel was prescribed are GABA agonists; i.e., they serve to mimic or enhance GABA action; notwithstanding their numerous negative side effects. These drugs do nothing to assist the body in the manufacture of more GABA in one who is in a GABA deficient state.
I’ll have a few comments below about 2 of the drugs which were Rx’ed for Strossel: Levoxyl and Inderal.
GABA, taken orally is very effective in calming a person’s consciousness, and this will allow for such calm that the situation at hand can be more effectively encountered and dealt with. One can also proceed to support GABA production through consumption of protein, as well as other chemicals which assist GABA production and function at receptor sites.
Some of these accessory GABA facilitating chemicals are: inositol, B Vitamins, taurine, and Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). In the links provided you can learn about the biochemistry and function of these substances.
GABA deficiency, as well as deficiencies of the other neurotransmitters can be assessed with some subjective accuracy using neurotransmitter questionnaires. It is best to measure the levels directly with blood or urine studies. Obviously Strossel’s prescribing physicians did not perform any kind of biochemical assessments. They were not educated to do so. They simply experimented with individual cocktails of druggery. This kind of errant medical practice is a fault of the current system of education of medical doctors, as well as the smothering influence of Big Pharma, as noted in the editorial above.
While GABA usage is of great help in reducing ongoing daily anxiety states, I stress that creative cognitive therapy must also be undertaken in order to transform the patient’s underlying belief filters and one’s traumatically informed perceptions of how shadow fear registers in their body.
I’ll be covering how I inventory shadow feeling states related to apathy, grief, fear, desire, anger, and pride in future writings. I’ll also present my understanding of what it is that the shadow feeling state is trying to inform us about so that a more positive and healthy emotional recalibration and transformation can occur.
In the meantime, I recommend several GABA supplements which are offered by Designs for Health.
These GABA related supplements are:
- Stress Arrest…Stress Arrest is in the form of a powdered capsule with 300 mg. of GABA and some of the synergistic B Vitamins. The usual dosing I recommend is 2-4 capsules several times daily as needed for high anxiety states.
- PharmaGABA…PharmaGABA contains 100 mg. of GABA, and this pleasant tasting tablet can be placed in the mouth where it allows for immediate oral transmucosal absorption of the GABA and a more immediate effect. The Stress Arrest capsule can also be taken apart, dissolved in water and taken orally for a faster effect.
- Insomnitol Capsules…This product contains, per 2 capsules, a synergistic blending of herbs noted to promote sleep: valerian, passion flower, lemon balm, and German chamomile; as well as 3 mg. melatonin, 100 mg. theanine, 100 mg. GABA, and 100 mg. 5-HTP. Theanine is a calming neurotransmitter which is extracted from green tea for supplemental dosing effects. 5-HTP is 5 -hydroxytryptophan, the natural precursor to serotonin. Insomnitol is an excellent sleep aid supplement.
- Insomnitol Chewables…Lemon-flavored tablets formulated to support quality sleep and the promotion of calming brain activity. They feature melatonin, a multifunctional hormone whose main role lies in its involvement in the circadian rhythms, and 5-HTP, a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. These tablets also contain vitamin B6, inositol and l-theanine in order to further help promote the natural ability to fall asleep and stay asleep
- NeuroCalm…This effective formulation contains PharmaGABA, 5-HTP, theanine, inositol, phosphatidyl serine, German chamomile, taurine, B Vitamins, and magnesium.
- NeuroLink…This supplement contains tyrosine, the precursor amino acid to dopamine production, GABA, and 5-HTP, inositol, taurine, and glutamine. It is a good supplement for those who are deficient in dopamine, GABA, and serotonin, a common issue.
- CatecholaCalm…This product does not contain GABA, but it is an excellent formulation of herbs, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals to help burned-out anxious patients suffering from a common combination of low cortisol and elevated catecholamines (epinephrine and norepinephrine).
GABA is non toxic and very safe. No drowsy drug hangover effect will be noticed; just more calm, and the ability to allow the other neurotransmitters to be expressed and utilized more evenly in the system. Inside of the GABA assisted calm we can begin to explore what it is that our fear is all about, and how it may be transformed into the calling of what it is that we must do.
Those who are GABA deficient often will take up the habits of using other chemicals which mimic GABA’s effects, such as alcohol, marijuana, and narcotics. These chemical simply hijack the GABA receptors. Most of the drugs mentioned above which Strossel tried have a heavy effect on the natural GABA receptors.
A brief diversion is necessary here to clarify some of the foolishness of Stossel’s druggery.
One of the drugs he tried is Levoxyl, which is levothyroxine, or, thyroxine. Thyroxine is also known as T4. T4 is produced in the thyroid gland and is thyroglobulin with 4 molecules of attached iodine. This compound, known commonly as “thyroid hormone” is biologically inactive.
The use of T4 by the medical industry is the industry standard, and is totally without merit because it usually does not work efficiently for the hypothyroid conditions for which it is most often prescribed.
T4 must be converted to T3, triiodothyronine, by deiodinase enzyme removal of one of the molecules of iodine. T3 is biologically active and produces thyroid hormone’s metabolic effects in our body, which are critical for health. The average medical practitioner ignores this fact, and just treats patient’s lab values of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), and sometimes the T4 levels. T3 levels are rarely studied. This fact should alarm anyone who has been prescribed a T4 compound; the most common form of which is Synthroid.
The deiodinase enzyme family of types I, II, and III are active in peripheral tissues such as brain, liver, kidneys, muscle, and skin. These enzymes require various hormone, mineral, and vitamin co-factors for their function. These co-factors are usually missing in adequate supply in most people who are on T4 compounds; especially in the “over the hill” group of 40 years, and older.
The take home here is to understand your thyroid status from an accurate biochemical and functional perspective. If you cannot convert T4 to T3 you will become metabolically slow, and this condition favors the process of all major disease conditions.
I think Strossel was given the T4 by an unknowing physician who thought that it might perk up Strossel’s brain workings via thyroid hormone’s dopaminergic effects. On the other hand, dopamine is itself a beta agonist for the fight or flight sympathetic nervous system activity. Usage of Levoxyl may actually stimulate too much sympathetic toning and hypervigilance, and so this Rx is haphazardly counterproductive.
This is very misguided biochemical thinking and physicianship, and reports like this seem to be all too common. It is pure tinkering, and probably served to shut off his inherent production of TSH, and thus shut down his thyroid process. He should be evaluated at this point for a healthy thyroid status; another subject for another writing.
Regarding the Inderal Rx he tried, please know that Inderal (Propanolol) is a sympatholytic non-selective beta blocker. It is sometimes indicated in anxiety states because it blocks (hijacks) the beta receptors of the sympathetic division of one’s Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). This dulls the fight-flight response covered above, and suppresses our ability to assimilate a perception of real or imagined threats.
Instead of using Inderal, one should perceive their fear, and their threats, and figure out how to respond to the particular personal dynamic which on is engaged with.
Behavioral activities which enhance GABA pathways and activity are aerobic exercise, sex, and sleep. Often, those who are GABA deficient may placate their deficiency state by overindulging in these activities.
Meditation is also a very helpful practice for enhancing GABA activity, and is one of our best medicines for healing our prefrontal cortex and out of balance reward centers. Meditation outranks the 3 activities mentioned above for restoring a longer term healing to deranged GABA chemistry. Improving GABA will actually help one’s meditation practice; one of our best practices for life and spiritual growth.
GABA deficiency is easy to assess for with urine studies, which can also be used to assess the other neurotransmitters. The oral usage of GABA supplements is very safe and can be used by anyone who is GABA deficient and is experiencing signs of anxiety conditions.
Thank you for reading.
Signing off from Crestone and Beyond
- GABA: An Emerging Treatment for Type 1 Diabetes…the biochemistry of how GABA can be used to treat type 1 diabetes mellitus, posted here on November 22, 2017.
- What Patients Think And Don’t Say About Occasional Anxiety…some helpful information for patients and their physicians.