GABA enables your brain to stop persistent worrying thoughts going around and around deficient GABA activity can cause anxiety
GABA & Serotonin Deficiency Anxiety © 2010 Updated 2014 #2

The Nature of GABA

GABA: The Brains Natural Valium

GABA is a calming inhibitory neurotransmitter, it’s like the brains natural endogenous Valium.  
GABA enables your brain to put an end to persistent worrying thoughts going around and around in your mind.  
We believe the neurotransmitters GABA and serotonin enable the brain to calm and control anxious thoughts, so when they are deficient it can make it almost impossible to stop worrying thoughts dominating and overwhelming our mind and turn into anxiety, even “normal” everyday worries or concerns can ruminate, escalate and cause terrible stress.  

Symptoms of lack of GABA/serotonin include:-
  • anxiety, feeling fearful, general (free floating) anxiety disorder or GAD, 
  • panic attacks, 
  • nervy/stressed disposition, 
  • persistent worrying thoughts going around and around in the mind, cannot switch of the mind,
  • inability to relax,
  • insomnia due to an anxious mind or cannot switch off the mind, 
  • physical aches and pains because the nerves keep firing, possibly causing/contributing to fibromyalgia,
  • headaches, 
  • IBS 
  • carbohydrate cravings.  
Adequate GABA and serotonin activity in the brain engenders a calm, stable feeling.  People with GABA dominant brains are often good organisers they can handle complex and stressful occupations.  A film producer for example has to manage multiple stressful situations and crises in a single day at a fast and demanding pace.  To cope with such a position requires healthy and robust GABA activity in the brain to stay calm and quickly put each stressful event/crisis behind them as soon as it’s resolved without dwelling on it and move on.  

Without adequate GABA and serotonin levels not only can worrying thoughts persist longer than they need to, but as they go around and around they can gain momentum, escalate and grow into enormous, disturbing levels of fear, stress and anxiety.  Persistent anxiety can ruin a person's life experience, it can debilitate their ability to function normally engaging in work, relationships and recreation.  

Below I’ll discuss the natural remedies that boost GABA and serotonin activity that you can use to stop your brain producing anxious thoughts, however to permanently overcome anxiety you should do a lot more than simply boosting GABA and serotonin levels in your synapses. 

Firstly you should improve the overall health of your brain to make your GABA and serotonin pathways healthier and more efficient.  This involves things like reducing sources of information in the brain such as food allergies, a leaky blood brain barrier,  leaky gut syndrome, poor diet, oxidative stress; also stabilising blood sugar levels to maintain a constant fuel supply to the brain for the smooth production of neurotransmitters;  it may also involve detoxifying the brain of heavy metal toxins such as mercury, cadmium and lead that can interfere with the production of neurotransmitters; correcting nutritional deficiencies involved in plotting brain function etc. etc.  

Secondly you should remodel the anatomy of your brain to change the way your brain processes and managers stressful thought processes, you may not be familiar with this but we now know that the brain changes its shape and internal connections according to how it's used, this is the new science of neuroplasticit. Brain scans have shown that with 3 months of brain training for just 20 minutes a day we can grow increased connections in the pre-frontal cortex part of the brain that gives us the ability to control and  ignore stressful signals coming from other parts of the brain and also diminish the size and density of connections in the amygdala part of the brain   involved in generating stressful thought processes. 

Using brain training to rewire the brain is genuinely a revolutionary new and powerful approach for the treatment of mental health problems, it's natural, drug/side-effect free and leads to permanent reductions in symptoms. I’ve never seen anyone completely cure themselves of anxiety or any other mental health problem with this technique alone, however I also never seen it fail to reduce symptoms; how would you like to permanently reduce your symptoms by 30 to 50% without drugs within three months? 

There are also nutritional remedies you can take to enhance your plastic changes in the brain while you perform the mental exercises.  

Thirdly you should also remodel your thinking processes or subconscious software that produce anxiety and install software that stops or prevents anxious thoughts with psychological techniques, I use cognitive hypnotherapy with NLP.  

This technique is especially useful for people with situational anxiety such as social anxiety, fear of public speaking, phobias etc.  What we believe happens is a region of the brain called the amygdala is constantly scanning the outside world and comparing what's going on around us to memories of previous stressful events, imagine for example meeting someone that was the spitting image of someone that used to bully you at school, immediately the amygdala would detect a match this person and the memories files of being bullied, it would then initiate the fight or flight response in our system completely automatically and beyond conscious control. Unfortunately this inbuilt warning system can malfunction and produce totally inappropriate stress responses or even panic attacks in ways and the things that may make no sense at all.  The good news is that thanks to neuroplasticity we can remodel the connection speed amygdala makes so for example it would no longer associate public speaking or flying with danger, we can also change or add new information to the traumatic or significant memory files that the amygdala accesses; this latter technique is what you would use in the case of say post-dramatic stress disorder where the amygdala is accessing genuinely traumatising memories. 

A common problem for people with anxiety can be that the anxiety may make them afraid to try hypnosis and psychological therapies. If this is the case a solution may be to increase GABA and serotonin levels with natural remedies first to calm down the anxiety sufficiently to enable you to engage in psychotherapies without becoming overwhelmed.  

Some psychotherapy techniques primarily involves the person connecting to and discussing their painful feeling/memories (what is called the associated technique) but even with the benefit of natural remedies boosting GABA and serotonin I don't recommend this type of therapy for anxiety disorders.   I'm a tremendous advocate of psychotherapy so it's with some considerable regret that I have to say I believe many psychotherapy techniques are in practice incapable of managing and treating many anxiety disorders.  What can happen is directly connecting to the anxious feelings can provoke  overwhelming feelings of anxiety, a so-called amygdala hijacking that is overwhelming and prevents any useful therapy being done.  Rather than remodelling the anxiety this type of therapy can end up reinforcing the problem. 

I suggest that any therapist reading this who feels I’m being unfair to there methods has never actually met someone with a real anxiety disorder phobias, or PTSD.  See later for more on this. 

Actually I also believe the same problem can occur with the way some meditation techniques are taught, mindfulness for example can be an effective way to remodel the brain however it has to be taught and practised in the way that a person with anxiety can do it without the anxiety  hijacking and over whelming them during meditation. 

The Anxiety Remedies Medicine Chest

GABA Metabolism 

GABA is an unusual neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger in the brain) because it's also a simple amino acid (a building block of protein) and you can buy it as a supplement. I used to recommend taking GABA  supplements but as I’ll explain this is not a good way to increase GABA activity in your brain. 

The amino acid GABA is to big to pass through the blood brain barrier BBB (the membrane that separates the brain from the blood) when this membrane is in a healthy condition and can only pass through the BBB when it’s leaky.  So the GABA which naturally occurs in the protein we eat as part of our diet stays outside the brain where it is used up by the body for normal protein metabolism. 

The GABA from supplements stay outside the brain and is simply incorporated into the general pool of amino acids in the body. It’s another amino acid called L-glutamine that easily passes through the BBB and is first converted into the neurotransmitter glutamate which is the brains primary stimulatory neurotransmitter; glutamate is then converted into GABA which is the brains primary inhibitory neurotransmitter. 

Some GABA is reabsorbed back into the original cell and used again, some of the GABA however is absorbed by neighbouring glial cells where it can be converted back into glutamate, then glutamine and finally back into GABA. 
GABA Anxiety
Now you may think you could just supplement the amino acid L glutamine to help your brain make more GABA and for some people this does seem to help to some extent with their anxiety; but  L glutamate also makes the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate and there is a little scientific evidence that in some people supplementing glutamine may cause glutamate to build up in the glial cells to potentially toxic levels.

Excess glutamate is believed to be a possible destructive force involved in the brain degenerate disease Alzheimer’s disease,  I'm currently writing a book on preventing brain degeneration, mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease in which I discuss  the toxic effects of excess glutamate. {Insert reference}

As always brain chemistry turns out to be complicated and what look like simple solutions to mental health problems often turn out to be not so simple after all :(

GABA Supplements: not Efficient at Boosting GABA in the Brain but Helpful in an Unexpected Way…

I used to recommend trying GABA supplements and would regularly receive emails from people saying they had read that GABA couldn’t work because it is too big to pass through the blood brain barrier. I replied that I was aware that in theory GABA is supposed to be too big to get through the blood brain barrier but in the real world in some of my patients it clearly was getting through to the brain and produced a tranquillising effect. Its effects however were unreliable and unpredictable, firstly it would only work in some people and in these people it’s effects were unpredictable, sometimes it would cause a very drowsy feeling and other times not. So my suggestion used to be buy some and try it, but only take it when it would not be a problem if it made you feel drowsy afterwards.  

The Leaky Brain GABA Challenge
to Test the Health of Your Blood Brain Barrier

So if the science was saying that GABA molecules are too big to get through the BBB and therefore GABA supplements could not have a calming or anti-anxiety effect why it was clearly observable that in some people it was getting through the BBB producing and antianxiety affect. The explanation for these discrepancies turned out to be both simple and unexpectedly useful.   

The science is right the physical size of the GABA molecule is too big to get through a healthy blood brain barrier, but it is only just slightly too big to get through and if the blood brain barrier is not healthy but is more permeable or leaky than it should be then some GABA can leak through.  

Not only will a leaky blood brain barrier allow GABA to enter the brain but it could also allow other substances that should not be allowed into the brain such as half-digested food molecules, gluten from wheat for example, to pass from the blood into the brain whereupon they will trigger the brain’s defensive immune system causing inflammation and disruption of healthy brain function.    I don't think it's particularly common but I have met people that virtually cured their anxiety by healing the integrity of their blood brain barrier, their gut wall and avoided eating foods they were allergic to.

Performing the Leaky Brain GABA Challenge Test:

Perform a pre-test the day before by taking 500 mg of GABA on an empty stomach in the evening several hours before bed and see if it produces a noticeable sedating effect, obviously use common sense and only do this when you’re not going to do anything demanding like driving.
You should also look for changes in your pulse rate and breathing. If your pulse speed up or your breathing feel laboured do not perform the main test with a higher dosage and unfortunately you probably shouldn’t use this technique to test the permeability of your blood brain barrier; I should make it clear however that I’ve only ever anecdotally heard of these effects and I’ve never observed them in my practice. I’m just being really cautious and sticking to the first rule of medicine i.e. first do no harm.
If you observe this low dose makes you feel drowsy you’ve already gotten your answer, however if it does nothing to you the following night take 1500-2000 mg and see if his therapeutic test dosage produces a calming drowsy feeling.
If it does then you have a leaky blood brain barrier and you need to heal it as part of your mental health recovery program. 

Healing a Leaky Blood Brain Barrier 
See healing a leaky brain UNDER CONSTRUCTION 2016 (combime acetyl L carnitine 3000-4000 mg and pantethene with low infammatory diet and high antioxidants, rutin et al)
As you work on healing your leaky blood brain barrier once a month or so you would repeat the leaky brain GABA challenge test to assess your progress.
It is considered a prescription medicine in the UK, but available for sale in the US (I use Now Foods GABA from 

GABA and Human Growth Hormone A Fat Loss Technique

GABA supplements before bed have been shown in numerous studies to increases human growth hormone levels in the blood by up to five and a half fold with in 90 minutes of ingestion. This impressive GABA boosting effect is stronger than any other natural remedies can achieve and rivals what can be achieved with pharmaceuticals. You can combine high dose GABA supplementation with weight/strength training to turbo charge your weight-loss regimen. 
The rate of muscle growth is influenced by growth hormone levels, which are at their highest while you sleep. By holding back on your calorie intake and supplementing GABA before going to bed on the same days you do some strength-training, is an effective way you can increase fat loss.
Just to be clear strength-training involves using heavy enough weights to pushed your muscles to the point of failure, rest for a minute or so than repeat two or three times. 
The muscles will try to grow bigger in response to being overwhelmed, and as they grow they burn lots of calories. The calories have to come form somewhere, and as long as you don’t add the extra calories to your diet the muscles will eat into your body fat to get the calories they need. 
To benefit from this effect look up your recommended sedentary daily calorie needs and eat that amount or less. Take 3000−5000 mg immediately before bed on days you do an intensive weight/strength-training workout. I will go into more detail of this technique in a subsequent book but the basic principal is say you wanted to loose 10 kilo’s (22 lbs.) you set out to grow 2 kilo’s (5 lbs.) of muscle. GABA can help you do it. 
Strength-training can injure you if you don’t know what you are doing, so get some tuition and you must build up to it slowly over months if you are a novice to build up the strength and density of your ligaments and tendons. 
These high doses on of GABA may

Today I primarily use nutritional medicine, cognitive hypnotherapy, NLP and Bicom therapy to treat metal, digestive and functional health problems like chronic fatigue and IBS. 
I have extensive experience (both professional and personal) and a forthcoming book (2013) in nutritional approaches to balancing brain chemistry and psychological approaches to treating depression, bipolar syndrome and anxiety. 
I practice at the Hale Clinic (central London) as a holistic medical practitioner and have been in practice since 1988.
Over the years I’ve trained in Nutritional /naturopathic medicine, Cognitive Hypnotherapy and NLP, body-centred psychotherapy, Chinese herbal medicine, Acupuncture, Bicom resonance therapy, meditation and Kundalini yoga.
Today combine the above techniques for a mind-body approach to health.  I work with mental health problems (depression, bipolar syndrome, anxiety, drug addiction), digestive health (IBS, bloating, candida, constipation), chronic fatigue. 
For a more information on my practice and a list of conditions I treat click here About My Practice 
For bookings call the Hale Clinic reception
020 7631 0156
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