Why You Shouldn’t Take L-Glutamine for Anxiety 

GABA is made from the amino acid called L-glutamine but supplementing glutamine will not always increase GABA levels and may instead increase the neurotransmitter glutamate which stimulates the brain and may make anxiety worse and actually have a toxic effect. 
The reason you should avoid supplementing L glutamine is it is not just used to make GABA it also makes glutamate which has the opposite effect to GABA and you can’t reliably predict whether supplementing glutamine is going to increase GABA or glutamate levels in an individual brain. The critical factor is the level of the enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase or gab which converts glutamate into GABA.
 
L glutamine is first converted into the glutamate, some of the glutamate is the brains primary stimulatory neurotransmitter, the more glutamate is released into the synapse the more likely it is to fire; some of the glutamate is converted into GABA and the more GABA is released into a synapse the less likely it is to fire. To convert glutamate to GABA we need the enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase or GAD and many people are deficient of this enzyme for various reasons. Absolutely do not take L glutamine supplements if you have any of the following issues and even after you have eradicated the following issues there are alternative ways to increase GABA levels that are safer and more effective.
 

Gluten antibodies can attack GAD

Is becoming increasingly recognised that besides coeliac disease people can have non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, the antibodies that gluten sensitivity produce can attack GAD and compromise GABA production so if you have anxiety try going gluten-free for at least 6 months; because you may well be doing other treatments during the same timeframe it may not be clear whether the gluten free diet was significant or not, you could always test this by reintroducing gluten and see what happens.
 
My personal anecdote is that when I would I eat wheat I developed slight pressure headaches, mild depression and irritability, I also develop increased inflammation and my blood-brain barrier become sufficiently permeable to allow GABA supplements to enter my brain which they shouldn’t be able to, see GABA Blood-Brain Barrier Test. Fortunately in my case I now only need to avoid wheat and wheat products, I no longer have to go completely gluten-free, I can tolerate other grains and even bread made with spelt, kamut and rye flour and sourdough yeast. The bacteria lactobacillus plantarum available as a probiotic is moving can be useful for moderating gluten intolerance, interestingly this is one of the main bacteria in sourdough cultures.
 

Autoimmunity can attack GAD

Another thing that can provoke antibodies that can attack GAD are autoimmune conditions, can be tricky but not impossible to overcome autoimmunity with extreme dietary change such as the ketogenic diet, the Wahls protocol or in extreme cases 100% meat diet; but you must be careful and should get professional help. Even though I am a nutritional therapist the ketogenic diet that I followed for some time that initially improved my brain health but then produced insulin resistance from a buildup of fat droplets inside my muscle cells (Intramyocardial lipid accumulation), thankfully I was able to cure the insulin resistance within a week by switching 180° to 100% plant-based or vegan diet and this
 

Infections can attack GAD

Frequent or serious infections notably streptococcus infection which can provoke PANDAS (sudden rapid onset OCD following streptococcus infections). In my practice I treat such situations by combating ongoing or recurring infections by improving immunity and also whether has been a history of numerous infections you should go onto a strong anti-inflammatory diet and supplement regime for several months to bring down lingering elevated inflammation in the brain.
 
There is a little scientific evidence that at least some people supplementing glutamine may cause a toxic buildup of glutamate in the glial cells; any years ago I used to take L glutamine myself and I now regret this as excessive toxic levels of glutamate are a feature of the bipolar disorder I have and I may well have made this worse and ended up killing some of my neurons!
 
Before jumping to the natural remedies you can use to increase GABA you should also consider two things:
  • What’s causes GABA deficiency in the 1st place?
  • Is GABA deficiency the main reason for your anxiety?
See also:
GABA Deficient Anxiety
Is an Overactive Default Mode Network Causing Your Anxiety?
Amygdala Based Anxiety
Cortex Based Anxiety
Why You Shouldn’t Take GABA Supplements
Benzo Withdrawal How to Speed up Recovery
Are Natural Remedies Safe Benzodiazepine Withdrawal?
How to taper off benzos the right and Wrong Way
Benzo Withdrawal Treatment with Natural Remedies 

I specialise in treating and coaching people with mental health problems how to obtain better mental health with natural remedies and self-help techniques. If you would like me to look into your individual case and develop a tailor-made programme of natural remedies, dietary advice and brain training exercises I’m available for private consultations at my London clinic and online for people that live too far away.
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I’m passionate about treating mental health and I’d be very happy to work with you.




 
 
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Hi my name is Peter Smith I specialise in treating and coaching people how to live well with mental health problems, digestive health problems/IBS, sleep problems and type II diabetes using natural therapies.
I used these techniques to overcome and live well with my own bipolar disorder and IBS. I've been in practice as a natural medicine practitioner since 1988.
 

What I Treat

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If you’d like treatment for any of the issues discussed in this article I specialise in treating and coaching people how to obtain better mental health with natural remedies and self-help techniques. If you would like me to look into your individual case and develop a tailor-made programme of natural remedies, dietary advice and brain training exercises I’m available for private consultations and I’m available for private consultations at my London clinic and online for people that live too far away.
I also run regular meditation classes in London and online.
I’m passionate about treating mental health and I’d be very happy to work with you.
Click on the
bookings tab to make an appointment.
To Book an Appointment
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