By Acupuncturist Dr. Jeannette “Jett” Kerns, AP, DOM, L.Ac., St. Cloud, FL owner of East Lake Acupuncture
Those seeking natural treatment for their anxiety often ask me about neurotransmitter testing and supplements. Not surprisingly, the majority test positive for decreased GABA levels. What is GABA you ask? GABA is our “anti-anxiety” neurotransmitter and those whom suffer from anxiety, depression, insomnia or, who are easily overwhelmed often suffer from GABA deficiency. GABA levels can be affected by many things, including chronic stress.
GABA Deficiency Signs/Symptoms:
· Anxiety or panic attacks
· Feeling overwhelmed or stressed
· Low stress tolerance
· Unable to relax or loosen up
· Craving carbs, alcohol, or drugs for relaxation and calming
· Difficulty concentrating and memory problems
· Muscle pain and headaches
· Insomnia and other sleep problems
· Sweaty, clammy hands
· Butterflies in stomach
· The sensation of a lump in the throat
Factors which Reduce GABA Levels:
· Many medications interact with GABA and GABA receptors in the brain, altering their function
· Glutamine (precursor) deficiency
· Deficiency of B1, B6, zinc, manganese & iron
· Chronic stress
· Chronic pain
· Inadequate sleep
· Progesterone deficiency
· Mercury and lead exposure
· Alcohol withdrawal (adequate GABA levels can reduce withdrawal symptoms)
· Caffeine excess
· Excessive electromagnetic radiation
· Excessive loud noise exposure
Foods and Supplements That Raise GABA Levels
GABA is found naturally in varieties of green, black, and oolong tea, as well as in fermented foods including kefir, yogurt and tempeh. Amino acid L-theanine (found in green tea) and Glutamine can help increase GABA production and produce a calming effect, without the drowsiness of pharmaceuticals such as Valium or Xanax. L-theanine has been proven to promote relaxation, reduce the negative effects of caffeine, alleviate PMS symptoms, reduce stress and anxiety (in both humans and pets) and even improve one’s learning ability.
Calcium and magnesium can help improve sleep and reduce anxiety and can be taken before bed to improve sleep. Calcium should always be taken with magnesium. The magnesium will assist the body in the absorption of calcium. Other supplements include taurine and B-Vitamins. Avocados and bananas contain B6 and will help elevate GABA and serotonin levels.
Caution: Quality matters and inexpensive, over-the-counter supplements may not cross the blood-brain barrier or provide the desired results. Purchasing from online retailers has a high probability of inadvertently purchasing a counterfeit.
Learn if you’re among the 86% of Americans who have suboptimal neurotransmitter levels with an at-home test kit. There are several local healthcare providers, including the staff at East Lake Acupuncture, that can assist you in selecting a GABA supplement, arrange for lab testing for neurotransmitter levels and provide nutritional guidance to help keep GABA levels boosted. To learn more about neurotransmitter testing visit: https://myzrt.zrtlab.com/tools/FindProvider