Tag Archives: GABA

GABA, GABA, GABA, hey the ringing’s not so bad anymore

In this 2011 post I referred to a ScienceDaily report linking low GABA levels and tinnitus. Since then I’ve used GABA for nine months or so? in two different formulations, but for sleep issues, not specifically for ear ringing. In fact I kind of forgot about the tinnitus thing. But now I can share the following.

The first day I tried plain old GABA, in maybe a 1,000 mg dose — I don’t piddle around — the ringing cut out completely, with a sort of wwwwwOP! sensation, for about a minute. It does that every 18 months or so anyway, but still.

The straight GABA made me sleepy but, as I mentioned here, made it hard to breathe. (Now I’m wondering if this was because I wasn’t taking it with a truckload of P5P. Yet another experiment to revisit.) So I switched to GABA Calm and settled on three tablets a night. More than three and I was a zombie the next day. The ingredients in one tablet are magnesium 5 mg, gaba 125 mg, glycine 50 mg, N-acetyl L-tyrosine 25 mg, taurine 20 mg. On two occasions I’ve quit taking it for a week or so. Both times, after two or three days, I was startled again by worsening tinnitus. It was as if it suddenly got significantly worse. The tinnitus had not disappeared on this supplement, but it had stopped being a distraction and I stopped thinking about it.

This is yet another demonstration of the valuable lesson I learned from my orthomolecular self-experimenting parental unit (OSEPU): evaluate a supplement by how you feel when you’re on it AND on how you feel when you stop it.

Unfortunately the artificial sweetener in this supplement is now a problem and I need to find a new GABA formulation.

GABA as a painkiller

Last year I wrote about the abdominal pain that started in 2008 and was a mystery to a dozen doctors. I finally learned to stave off the worst of it by eating small meals, avoiding starches, and not eating after 6 p.m.

Eventually things improved and I was able to eat later and later in the evening and a little more at each meal, as long as no potatoes were involved. However, sometimes a girl needs to go out on the town like a normal person and have an all-American meal of hamburger, fries, and brandy sidecar. Which I did last week and which brought back the old discomfort.

That night I happened to take more GABA Calm* than usual — 4 tablets instead of 3, for a total of 500 mg GABA (an inhibitory neurotransmitter), 20 mg magnesium, 200 mg glycine, 100 mg N-acetyl L-tyrosine, and 80 mg taurine. In about 30 minutes I experienced a strange sensation that I finally identified as the absence of pain in my torso.

When I first started experimenting with GABA for insomnia relief I tried plain old GABA, as well as its amino acid precursor, L-theanine, and another version of that called Suntheanine. I know I noticed the pain-relieving effect with the plain GABA, but can’t remember if I did with the other supplements. I forgot about the matter since I couldn’t take large enough doses without eventually feeling spacey the next day. However, a few days in a row every once in a while seems to be okay.

A few commenters on another blog, referring to my earlier post about GABA, insisted that GABA supplements can’t work because GABA doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier. A ScienceDaily article implied the same. The Wikipedia entry for gamma-aminobutyric acid also suggests that the calm-inducing effect claimed by supplement manufacturers cannot be scientifically proven. For me, my brain slows down quite nicely with the supplement mentioned above. I’ve tried the three other substances it contains — glycine, L-tyrosine, and taurine — alone in supplement form and noticed nothing. GABA alone will make me sleepy and groggy, but it takes a lot more — 1000 mg or so — and it suppresses my breathing too much for comfort.

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* …the manufacturers of which had better buy me a car for mentioning it three times now on this blog, or I and my 20 subscribers will boycott their sorry #$@es. I might even be driven to suggest that I once found a dismembered body part, or perhaps a smallish thermonuclear device, in one of the bottles.

Conditions to consider if you’ve been mysteriously sub-par for a long time

Updated August 14, 2017.

Here’s a list of conditions I’ve investigated over the years as I tried to solve my health problems. You’ve no doubt heard of some of them but might think the symptoms don’t apply to you, or might have been given the wrong test or had your test results evaluated with the wrong lab ranges. All but two of the items listed (Lyme disease and mold / biotoxin poisoning) have the benefit of being easy (if not cheap) to test for or at least rule out.

You cannot trust your doctor to know the right lab ranges, so if you do have tests taken, make sure you arrange to have copies of the test results sent to you. I can’t be the only person who had a ferritin so low I couldn’t even sit up straight, and yet was told repeatedly over the years that my iron levels were fine.

B12 deficiency. This requires two or ideally three tests: the usual one, plus two you’ll have to specifically ask your doctor for and which your insurance company might not cover. If you are already taking B12 supplements, the tests will not be accurate, a fact your doctor might not be aware of. The book Could It Be B12 has up-to-date info, or if your brain fog isn’t too bad you can look at the intro docs at the Vitamin B12 Deficiency is Commonly Misdiagnosed forum.

Bromide poisoning. This substance is everywhere in our environment and food supply, and because of its link to breast cancer, sites about that topic have the most info. Here’s a short intro on the subject. This condition tends to go hand in hand with iodine deficiency (see below).

Food reactions. This seems really obvious, but it might be that you are reacting to a certain category of food but haven’t tried enough types of foods in that category to make the connection. If you’re lucky, it might be a category connected to a deficiency you can correct. For example, oxalates lower zinc levels, salicylates lower vitamin K, and goitrogens can lower iodine.

Histamine: the Low (histapenia), the High (histadelia), and the Intolerant. People think of histamine in terms of allergies, but your histamine can go awry for non-allergy related reasons and cause all sorts of wackiness, many involving your mental state. (“Histamine intolerance” refers to having a body that wanders into histadelia territory too easily.)

If I have this right, two main culprits are behind high histamine – wonky methylation and/or? low DAO enzyme levels. This article on histamine intolerance describes it in terms of low DAO. This article on the effect of brain histamine levels focuses on methylation. Ignore the fact that histamine is spelled wrong for a third of the article. Also be warned that the author is behind the times in her belief that folic acid and vitamin B12 should not be used for histadelia. There are now methylated versions of each on the market that are used to treat methylation issues.

Iodine deficiency. This deficiency is getting more and more common but misconceptions abound. For one thing, what doctors assume are hyperthyroid reactions to iodine are in fact usually bromide detox symptoms. Drs. Guy E. Abraham and David Brownstein have books on the subject. A primer is at Breast Cancer Choices. The Yahoo Iodine Group also has intro documents. (Be sure to read the bit about how they tracked down the source of the oft-repeated warning about iodine causing heart failure.)

Iron deficiency. This requires four lab tests to evaluate correctly. Stop the Thyroid Madness has a page on recommended tests and lab ranges and how to take iron supplements. If you’ve lost hair due to low iron, you’ve probably read in your internet research that your ferritin level has to be in the 70s for three months before your hair will grow back.

Long-term effects of prescription drugs or supplements. Some prescription drugs will affect your biochemistry for 15 years, but your doctor will tell you they are out of your system in a few months. Xanax, for example, can disastrously affect your levels of the neurotransmitter GABA, which is involved in sleep. Also see the books Drug Muggers by Suzy Cohen, Supplement Your Prescription by Hyla Kass, and The Nutritional Cost of Prescription Drugs by Ross Pelton and James LaValle. Blogger Monica Cassani at Beyond Meds also covers this subject a lot.

The same can be said of any supplement. If you ever took anything in large amounts for a long period of time, it might have affected levels of its cofactors. Vitamin D, for example, can lower vitamin K levels, among others. L-glutamine, often used in huge amounts by body builders, can deplete vitamin B6. Nitrous oxide, aka laughing gas — you know who you are — can deplete folate.

Lyme disease. This is significantly under-diagnosed. Mainstream doctors rely on an unreliable blood test for diagnosis and often won’t order the test if you don’t remember getting the stereotypical bullseye rash, which half of patients don’t get anyway. Unfortunately the far more accurate test (about 75%, said one alterna-doc) by the company Igenex is upwards of $750. The good new is you don’t need a prescription.

Mold or biotoxin poisoning. One of the first doctors to bring this to the public’s attention was Ritchie Shoemaker. His books are a good place to start. I also recommend the pdfs put out by a citizen science group made up of a group of his former followers, who are making many new discoveries about effective treatment and about mold behavior. Some of their findings about recovering from mold and other biotoxin poisoning, borne out of personal experience, differ significantly from Shoemaker’s opinions. For one thing, the group has found that mold remediation of a home rarely works when someone has reached a certain level of illness, because it cannot eliminate the toxins themselves, only the mold spores. A significant percentage of “moldies” have also been diagnosed with Lyme.

Pyroluria. In pyroluria, the body can’t process sufficient vitamin B6. You can be born with it, in which case your life probably sucks, or it can develop from a long-term deficiency. Convincing your doctor to test for it might not be easy, but you can arrange it yourself for about $129. I used The Bio-Center Laboratory in Wichita, Kansas. The test does not require a prescription or blood draw but it does require careful handling — refrigeration, close timing, etc. Here is a list of symptoms.

Thyroid wonkiness. Most doctors only test TSH and not the other hormones, and use the wrong lab ranges to evaluate results. Stop the Thyroid Madness has lists of recommended lab work and optimal lab values.

Please let me know if you have any other suggestions for this list.

Tinnitus: a product of low GABA?

Updated June 21, 2013

According to this ScienceDaily article on a new study about tinnitus, when a hair cell is damaged or dies, the neurons usually receiving input from it keep firing anyway, even though there’s no data coming in. They “become more excitable and fire spontaneously,” as if they have a quota to fill. Thus the constant ringing.

The study in question showed that “tinnitus is correlated with lower levels of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid).” GABA supplements are available over the counter, but this article implies that drugs to raise GABA in humans are not available, which is confusing. Anyway, I’ve put it on my list of things to try. Update: See my March 24, 2013 post for results of my experiments with this.

As to my own experience with tinnitus, I can only offer these observations:

  • I believe I first noticed it when I was getting off antidepressants. They $*&@ things up in all sorts of ways, so it’s not surprising. In fact, I bet they’re responsible for the Black Plague, cellulite, and the disappearance of D.B. Cooper.
  • I noticed a reduction in hearing after a three-day car drive across the country in a compact car with lousy sound insulation.
  • It waxes and wanes, but I haven’t found a pattern.
  • It is getting slowly but gradually worse.
  • Occasionally it cuts out entirely for a few seconds.
  • Iron definitely makes it worse.