Archive for The Restless Legs Diet

How To Overcome Restless Leg Syndrome Naturally (By Healing The Gut) by Jordan Reasoner, SCDLifestyle

scdlifestyle

Sleep is important (we all know this) … but just how important is it?

Poor sleep is associated with increased depression, anxiety, systemic inflammation and decreased immune function.

For those with Restless Leg Syndrome, a lack of sleep is likely a nightly occurrence. It’s also the most dangerous side effect of this frustrating condition.

Worse yet, many suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome and don’t know it.

RLS can often be misdiagnosed as another sleep disorder, depression, poor circulation, arthritis, back problems and even growing pains in children.

If you have extreme fatigue, trouble falling or staying asleep, depression or anxiety, take the time to keep reading.

WHAT IS RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME?choice

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a neurological condition characterized by an uncomfortable feeling in the legs (most commonly). The unpleasant feeling causes an intense urge to move the lower extremity in order to find relief. The sensation is more prominent at night and is often described as “bugs crawling up the legs.”

The side effects of RLS are more concerning than the condition itself, and include:

Insomnia
Extreme daytime fatigue
Increased use of sleeping medications or alcohol to sleep
Increased use of stimulants in order to function
Increased stress (likely due to lack of sleep) and anxiety

Restless Leg Syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease or WED, is most common in middle to older-age women, although anyone can experience it. The National Sleep Foundation estimates up to 10% of adults suffer from RLS.

confused-doctorHOW IS RLS DIAGNOSED?

The International Restless Leg Syndrome Study Group requires the following clinical features to be present in order to confirm a diagnosis of RLS:

Strong urge to move the legs due to uncomfortable sensations in the leg(s)
Symptoms become worse during periods of rest or inactivity
Symptoms are partially or totally relieved by movement
Symptoms become worse in the evening or nighttime
Symptoms are not solely accounted for by another condition (i.e leg cramps, positional discomfort)

Perhaps the most important tool, though not always performed, is a test to determine your iron levels. The most accurate way to determine if iron deficiency plays a role in RLS is to measure ferritin. Ferritin is an iron binding protein in which low values (less than 50 ng/ml) indicate low iron storage in the brain (more on iron below).

IS RLS A GENETIC CONDITION?

First degree relatives are 3 to 6 times more likely to suffer from the condition and over 50 percent of affected individuals report having at least one immediate relative with the condition.

Studies suggest when children experience RLS (early onset) it is more likely due to genetics as opposed to onset later in life (after the age of 45). Several gene variations have been studied as possible contributors to RLS, including the following genomic regions: BTBD9, MAP2K5, MEIS1, PTPRD, SKOR1 and TOX3.

Risk allele BTBD9 is associated with RLS and decreased peripheral iron stores – a well-defined environmental factor in which the risk of RLS is about 9 times greater than the general populations.

A change in the BTBD9 gene is present in about 75% of patients who have RLS but also present in about 65% of patients who don’t have RLS…

The difference? Environmental factors.

It’s the environmental triggers in combination with the right genes that trigger Restless Leg Syndrome.

Genetics alone rarely tell the whole story (and that holds true for each of the autoimmune conditions we’ve covered).

TRIGGERS FOR RESTLESS LEG SYNDROMEtriggers-01

Caffeine – Caffeine, most commonly found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and soda may aggravate the symptoms of RLS. For many, caffeine activates excitatory neurotransmitters and has an arousal effect on the central nervous system. Ultimately, it’s effects promotes motor activity and inhibits proper control of fine motor movements, worsening the symptoms of RLS.

Iron Deficiency – The most consistent finding and the strongest environmental risk factor associated with RLS is iron insufficiency. Studies suggest that restless leg syndrome is related to a deficiency of iron in certain parts of the brain despite normal levels in the blood. (See information on testing iron in the diagnosis section.)

Vitamin D Deficiency – One of the most common theories about the cause of RLS is impaired dopamine signaling, and vitamin D is now being researched for its role in this process. Several studies support the hypothesis that a deficiency of Vitamin D correlates with more frequent and more severe symptoms of RLS.

Diet – Vitamin B12 is a critical part of a healthy nervous system, helping to maintain and protect the myelin sheath around the nerves. Researchers are led to believe it could play a role in the onset and treatment of RLS, due to its central role in our nervous system and brain.

A study published in the Journal of Postgraduate Medicine found both iron and vitamin B12 deficiencies to be common and treatable cause of RLS.

The best dietary sources of Vitamin B12 come from beef liver, grass-fed beef and eggs. But in order to absorb Vitamin B12, we must have adequate stomach acid levels and a healthy gut.

Stress – Chronic stress can alter cortisol production and lead to nighttime cortisol release, which researchers have found to be correlated with RLS. Stress levels can also decrease dopamine in the brain – a neurotransmitter necessary for smooth muscle activity and movement. When dopamine is decreased in the brain, it may cause movement problems seen in Parkinson’s disease and RLS.

Pregnancy – The prevalence of RLS during pregnancy is two to three times higher than in the normal population. Hormonal changes and iron status are the two main factors that may contribute to RLS during pregnancy.

Researchers have discovered another piece to the puzzle in the onset of RLS – systemic inflammation.

sysesdefaultSYSTEMIC INFLAMMATION – THE CAUSE OF RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME?

What if the cause of those frustrating leg twitches is something you can’t see or touch… and is rarely a diagnosis you’d receive at the doctor’s office?

We’re talking about systemic inflammation (inflammation relating to the whole body).

54 diseases, syndromes and conditions have been reported to cause and/or exacerbate RLS – all interconnected by inflammation.

The fact that 89% of RLS-associated conditions are associated with inflammation and/or immune changes have led researchers to develop 2 possible theories in the RLS – Inflammation connection:

Systemic inflammation can contribute to an iron deficiency in the brain:

Inflammation can lead to the production of IL-6, an inflammatory cytokine which can stimulate hepcidin production.

Hepcidin is the main hormone involved in the regulation of iron and increased levels can lead to decreased serum iron levels. The result? Decreased availability of iron to the brain.

Systemic inflammation can trigger autoimmune disorders associated with RLS.

RLS is associated with Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjögrens syndrome, Scleroderma, Celiac disease and Crohn’s disease – all autoimmune diseases plagued by systemic inflammation.

RLS is present in up to one third of MS cases and is also common in those with Crohn’s disease – a disease associated with iron deficiency, inflammation, and bacterial overgrowth. One study of 272 Crohn’s disease patients found 30% were affected by RLS.

The bottom line is this – we have to address the factors in our life that cause inflammation and the best place to start is a damaged gut.

A LEAKY GUT – THE MISSING LINK IN RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME?leakystory

You might wonder what the gut has to do with that uncomfortable feeling in your legs.

A damaged or leaky gut is a breeding ground for inflammation – the very inflammation that can lead to RLS.

A leaky gut allows conditions like SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth), and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to wreak havoc on the body and contribute to things like RLS.

One study found 69% of RLS patients had SIBO while 28% also suffered from IBS symptoms (i. e. gas, cramping, bloating, and changes in bowel habits).

SIBO can lead to systemic inflammation and autoimmune changes (which can result in the nerves being attacked in RLS) and SIBO induced inflammation can increase hepcidin (the main hormone responsible for regulating iron).

No matter which way we look at it, inflammation is the common denominator.

So, how do we stop the inflammation that can lead to Restless Leg Syndrome?

Considering the overwhelming amount of research on the topic of systemic inflammation and a leaky gut, your gut is too important to be ignored.

However, a large majority of the medical community has yet to accept the role of the gut in the fight against RLS.

Dopamine-Agonist-300x169THE MEDICAL APPROACH TO TREATING RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME

Dopaminergic agents are often the first line of treatment in RLS. These drugs work to increase dopamine in the brain and include Requip, levodopa, and Neupro to name a few.

Known for their short-term effectiveness, they come with a long-term effects.

Augmentation is the most common side effect of dopaminergic drugs and occurs when the symptoms of RLS become more severe, happen earlier in the day, and spread to other parts of the body (i.e arms).

It’s estimated that over 80% of patients receiving levodopa for RLS develop augmentation.

With augmentation, the brain sees the extra dopamine (via medication) as a signal to decrease its natural production. The result? Patients become increasingly dependent on the drugs for relief.

Compulsive behavior is also a common side effect.

A study including 100 people with RLS (all were treated with dopaminergic agents) revealed well over 50% engaged in some type of compulsive behavior (ie. pathological gambling and compulsive eating habits).

After reading this, you may be wondering if there is a better way to treat RLS than the use of these dangerous medications.

THE LEAKY GUT – AUTOIMMUNE CONNECTIONleaky-gut-connection

If you’ve been keeping up with the latest information in natural health, you already know it’s nearly impossible to ignore a leaky gut as part of the cause and solution to autoimmune conditions like RLS.

Alessio Fasano, M.D. has been on the forefront of recent autoimmune disease research and published a paper titled “Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Diseases.”

His findings present the idea that in order for an autoimmune disease to develop, 3 conditions must all exist together:

1. A genetic predisposition to autoimmunity (i.e. BTBD9 gene in RLS)
2. An exposure to the environmental trigger (i.e. Iron Deficiency)
3. Increased intestinal permeability (a.k.a. Leaky Gut Syndrome)

For those with Restless Leg Syndrome, healing the gut means getting to the root cause so you can stop chasing your symptoms.

Healing a leaky gut is one factor that’s in our control and it can be done step-by-step with the right plan.

HOW TO TURN OFF AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE

Overcoming Restless Leg Syndrome requires a multifaceted approach to heal the gut and decrease inflammation – and that is exactly what we’re here to help you do.

Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician, stated “all disease begins in the gut,” and some 2,000 years later Fasano and many other leading experts agree.

Ancient and current wisdom both suggest that powerful healing must begin in the gut.

jordanJordan Reasoner is a health engineer and author. He was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007 and almost gave up hope when a gluten-free diet didn’t work. Since then, he transformed his health using the SCD Diet and started SCDLifestyle.com to help others naturally heal stomach problems.

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Nature Will Heal Your Restless Legs …. be Patient!

doctor-handing-omega-3-fish-oil-prescription-720x340Unlike drugs, nutrients do not have rapid effects. There’s NO QUICK fix!

The business of nutrition is to BUILD a better body. That has to wait on Nature to turn over body cells. A blood cell lasts 60 to 120 days. In 3 to 4 months your whole blood supply is completely replaced. In 6 months almost all the proteins in your bones die and are replaced … even the DNA OF YOUR GENES. In a year all your bones and even the enamel of your teeth is replaced.

This time curve is well illustrated by the course of deficiency diseases. If I remove the Vitamin C from your diet, within 4 weeks your blood Vitamin C will drop to zero. But, you will see no symptoms of disease at 4 weeks. You have to WAIT until enough of the HEALTHY cells have been REPLACED by unhealthy cells. It is ANOTHER 12 weeks before the symptoms of scurvy start to ravage your body.Be-rational_c

Think of it this way, If you take a neglected house plant and start feeding and watering it, the leaves may PERK UP a BIT from the improved nutrition. But you have to wait for the OLD leaves to die off and NEW leaves to grow before you get a really HEALTHY plant. It is the SAME with the human body. When you start feeding it better, you have to wait on your body to grow NEW improved cells.

To understand the difference between drugs and herbs, let’s focus on how they work. Pharmaceutical drugs are highly purified, potently concentrated chemicals which act by blocking processes of the body. This often gets rid of the symptoms but may create undesired side effects. Anti-congestants will clear your nose, but cause drowsiness. Prolonged use of non-steroids temporarily ease your arthritis pain, but may adversely affect your liver.

14519312_sWhen we drink a tea or take a tincture of an herb, we are taking in the whole plant, with thousands of compounds. Although plants contain unique ingredients which give them specific effects, it is the COMBINATION of all these compounds that accounts for a plant’s effectiveness and safety. The concept that a plant is more than the sum total of all its parts is known as synergy. Synergy means compounds work TOGETHER to boost the power of plants and offset actions of unsafe constituents.

In their wholeness, plants work by effecting favorable changes in our physiology, allowing the body to return to a balanced state. In the holistic tradition, the body knows how to heal itself and will do so given proper assistance. Herbs are our allies in this process.101

In order to get results from herbal treatments it is often necessary to be on a course for several months, especially for serious and/or long-standing problems. Herbs work slowly restoring the body back to balance. There is no magic quick fix with natural medicine because it has to work at such deep levels within the body systems.

medication-and-restless-legs
SOURCES:
Alternative Medicine for Pets – Nerve damage by Silva Mirovics All Experts en.allexperts.com
How long does it take to heal? by Dr. M. Colgan http://www.diseaseeducation.com
The Whole Herb: Natural Drugs to Help the Body Heal Itself by Mary Jo Ruggieri http://www.columbuspolarity.com

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2009 Study Shows that Valerian Improves RLS Symptoms

ImageA 2009 study performed at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing witnessed highly positive results when giving their RLS subjects valerian.

ALL of the subjects participating in the study showed a MARKED improvement with their RLS over an 8 week period.

Valerian is a powerful anti-inflammatory that also helps to soften anxiety, insomnia and stress.

You can find out more about the benefits of valerian here:
www.rlcure.com/daily-intake-for-an-absolute-cure-for-restless-legs-syndrome.html

STUDY:

“Does valerian improve sleepiness and symptom severity in people with restless legs syndrome?”

Cuellar NG1, Ratcliffe SJ. University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia, PA Altern Ther Health Med. 2009 Mar-Apr;15(2):22-8.

OBJECTIVE:

To compare the effects of 800 mg of valerian with a placebo on sleep quality and symptom severity in people with restless legs syndrome (RLS).

METHODS:

A prospective, triple-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel design was used to compare the efficacy of valerian with placebo on sleep quality and symptom severity in patients with RLS. Thirty-seven participants were randomly assigned to receive 800 mg of valerian or placebo for 8 weeks. The primary outcome of sleep was sleep quality with secondary outcomes including sleepiness and RLS symptom severity.

ImageRESULTS:

Data were collected at baseline and 8 weeks comparing use of valerian and placebo on sleep disturbances (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and Epworth Sleepiness Scale) and severity of RLS symptoms (International RLS Symptom Severity Scale) from 37 participants aged 36 to 65 years. Both groups reported improvement in RLS symptom severity and sleep. In a nested analysis comparing sleepy vs nonsleepy participants who received 800 mg ofvalerian (n=17), significant differences before and after treatment were found in sleepiness (P=.01) and RLS symptoms (P=.02). A strong positive association between changes in sleepiness and RLS symptom severity was found (P=.006).

CONCLUSIONS:

The results of this study suggest that the use of 800 mg of valerian for 8 weeks improves symptoms of RLS and decreases daytime sleepiness in patients that report an Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) score of 10 or greater. Valerian may be an alternative treatment for the symptom management of RLS with positive health outcomes and improved quality of life.

This study can be viewed on PubMed at:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19284179

 

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ARTICLE: RLS and Inflammation

ImageARTICLE: YOU WON’T BELIEVE THE CAUSE OF RESTLESS LEGS SYNDROME
by Brad Chase, Natural News, March 4, 2014

Do you suffer from restless legs syndrome? Researchers have puzzled over the cause of this curious condition for decades with little explanation for why some people simply can’t keep still at night.

According to past studies, possible causes for RLS include:

• Inability to process dopamine properly
• Genetics
• Other chronic diseases
• Medications
• Pregnancy
• Iron deficiencies

New studies, however, have looked a little more closely at the possible causes for RLS. Since RLS is often associated with other chronic conditions, like chronic fatigue, diabetes, and peripheral neuropathy, researchers from Washington University School of Medicine decided to examine the link between these other conditions and RLS in 2011. What they found out about the possible cause of restless legs syndrome was rather surprising.

The researchers theorized that because some of these other diseases and conditions are related to immune disorders caused by inflammation, that inflammation could also be a trigger for restless leg syndrome. When the researchers dug deeper, they found 38 diseases and conditions highly-related to RLS. Ninety-five percent of these were related to excessive inflammation in the body. Due to this high level of connection, the researchers summarized that inflammation may play a larger role in RLS than was thought previously. The researchers stated that inflammation could play a role in RLS in three ways:

• Inflammation could trigger iron deficiencies that lead to RLS
• Immune responses to imbalanced bacteria levels in the intestines could trigger inflammation that lead to RLS
• Altered genetic host defense mechanisms may lead to excessive inflammation which could trigger RLS

Curing inflammation and RLS
Based on this theory, individuals with RLS can eliminate RLS episodes by controlling inflammation. This can be done in three separate ways.

1. Eliminate inflammation. Eliminating sources of inflammation from food and medications (when possible). Inflammatory foods include:

• Omega-6 fats
• Processed foods
• Refined carbohydrates
• Sugar
• Trans fats

2. Take anti-inflammatory supplements. This step will help calm any existing inflammation as well as reduce the inflammatory effect of newly consumed foods. The best supplements for reducing inflammation and stopping RLS include:

• Calcium and magnesium
• Curcumin
• Valerian
• Iron
• Omega-3s
• B vitamins (12, 9, and 6)
• Ginger
• Vitamin A
• Vitamin E

Image3. Eat anti-inflammatory foods. The last step is to eat anti-inflammatory foods and ensure you have a wide variety of sources of inflammation-fighters in your diet. These foods will help control inflammation and eliminate RLS symptoms, if the theory from the University of Washington researchers is correct. The following foods are well-known inflammation-fighters:

• Cherries
• Peppers
• Walnuts
• Fatty fish
• Berries
• Beets
• Tomatoes
• Leafy greens

Control RLS with anti-inflammatory agents
Although more research about the role of inflammation in RLS is necessary, there is evidence to support that this may be a large contributing factor to RLS symptoms. If the University of Washington researchers are correct, this could open up a whole new way to treat RLS without dangerous sedatives or other medications. You can control your RLS without the use of harsh medications.

If you suffer from restless leg syndrome, give the anti-inflammatory cure a try.

ImageAbout the author:
Brad Chase is the President of ProgressiveHealth.com. His website provides articles and natural remedies to help people solve their health concerns.

This article was originally published on the Natural News website
http://www.naturalnews.com/044154_restless_leg_syndrome_inflammation_healthy_immune_system.html

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An Anti-Inflammatory Diet OFTEN Relieves Symptoms for People Still Taking their RLS Medication(s)

ImageI was certain when I first started promoting “An ABSOLUTE Cure for RLS” that it wasn’t going to work for people who were still taking RLS or sleep medication(s). This includes all the usual suspects including Requip, Mirapex, Sifrol and of course Ambien.

The RLS medications are powerful and often unpredictable. I didn’t think that they would allow the healing process to begin unhindered.

It turns out that I was quite wrong. I’m not a doctor (as is pointed out to me daily) and was assuming that these heavy medications would not allow nature to work its wonders – to allow the inflammation to begin healing.

From the feedback I’ve been getting over the last few years, it’s clear that the anti-inflammatory diet DOES work for MANY people still taking their RLS meds.

ImageI can’t say it will work for every one of course, I’m sure there are some exceptions. These medications are often quite erratic in the way they act. You only have to go on a RLS discussion board to find out how various drugs and dosages affect different people in different ways.

For our purpose, the key is that IT’S VERY LIKELY that a strict anti-inflammatory diet (avoiding all the main RLS triggers) will work for you and bring you some relief … even if you continue on with your medication(s).

When it comes to antidepressants, anti-anxiety or ANY other type of medication, I have absolutely no idea whether the anti-inflammatory method will work for you. You’ll have to research that on your own.

ImageHere are a few testimonials from people that have had great success with the anti-inflammatory diet while still taking meds (I’ve already posted a couple of these testimonials, but they are worth taking a second look at).

“You said I should let you know how I do with my pretest. Well, after about 2 1/2 weeks, I am down to about half my normal Miripex dose!! I take a slow-release dose of 0.375 mg around 2pm, and previously would need one to three doses of 0.125 mg of quick release to get through the evening, if you can call falling asleep from the sedative effects of the drug by 8pm an evening! Now I have had pretty quiet legs and can stay awake till a normal time. What can I say? I will continue, and add more of the supplements. It is obviously working.

I have an appointment with my neurologist soon, and I’m thinking what a hoot it might be to report this to him. Of course, the best response would be for him to drop his jaw and demand to hear all about it, but more likely it will be one of those “Oh, I see, so you probably imagined your illness and are enjoying a nice placebo effect from this method.” kind of reaction. Anyway, I am not expecting perfect, smooth sailing every day, but I do have a very real, wonderful hope for relief that wasn’t there before, and no matter how far this goes, whether or not I end up cured or not, I thank you SO MUCH for all your work and devotion to this cause. I am a strong Christian, and consider you part of God’s answer to my prayers for help with this miserable ailment.” – Nadine A. Waukesha, WI

“You’re the best! David, I’m the happiest I have ever been. I have faith again…and feel I am doing something for the first time that is actually good for me. No quick fix. A real lifestyle change. My husband sees the difference in me and is happy he seems to be getting his wife back. I had begun to be very negative, irritable and joyless all the time. I am so grateful for all I have learned from you (I know you probably are modest and won’t take all the credit…but you should…because you shared something freely…that is beginning to change my life.) I’m excited for the future. Thanks for the encouragement too…it really helps!” – Lisa Wilson, Simi Valley, CA

Image“Dave, I just had to let you know that you’ve changed my life. My words can’t express how I feel. I can’t thank you enough! It’s only been about 3 weeks and my legs are in amazing shape. I stopped taking Requip after about 8 days. I’m telling everyone I know about it. My wife has fibromyalgia and she’s going to try out your remedy as well. The drugs she’s using now are so powerful she can only go on them for a short while. I’ll keep you posted! Thanks again!” – Marty Krais, Brooklyn, NY

“David, “Thank you very very much for sharing your knowledge with all of us RLS sufferers around the world. The carrot juice cure really works! I still take 0,18 mg of Sifrol per evening, but I am now symptom free. Before the carrots juice I had to go every evening through a one or two hour leg itching suffering, even with the Sifrol. You substantially improved my live! Thank you!” – Guy Koekelbergh, Belgium

Image“I recently gave up coffee and all sugar (one month ago) and it has helped my RLS a lot. I have reduced my Levodopa by 50%. One week ago I started having serious green juices twice a day (8 ounces of spinach, carrot, ginger, celery, dandelion greens, etc) and I think that is helping also. The work you have done, the research and the website – not to mention the insight that RLS is caused by inflammation – my hat is off to you. Really incredible!”
– James Carouba, Costa Rica

Amazing things are happening. It’s a very exciting time!

You can view more testimonials here:
http://www.rlcure.com/tes.html

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The “Remedies Page” for Restless Legs Syndrome Has Been Updated

ImageI’ve been working all week updating the “REMEDIES” page of my website.

http://www.rlcure.com/daily.html

There are a couple of reasons for this.

1. The most common issue people have had with the remedy is the high cost of the supplements. Some of them can be very expensive.  To put a couple hundred dollars a month towards supplements is just not realistic for most people.

With that in mind I have created a “BASIC GROUP” of supplements that should be affordable for almost everyone.

After the BASIC GROUP, you’ll see a list called the “ADDITIONAL SUPPORT GROUP.” These are supplements, vitamins, minerals and herbs that I highly recommend you include … only if you can afford them.

2. The second reason for the update was to include supplements that will help lessen the glutamate and histamine levels that, during various studies, have found to be higher in Restless Legs subjects.

ImageI have also updated the PRETEST page. The PRETEST supplements are a very small group of vitamins, herbs and minerals that I suggest people try out if their skepticism won’t allow them to dive right in.

http://www.rlcure.com/pretest.html

The PRETEST includes supplements that will not only provide anti-inflammatory support, but will address the high levels of histamine and glutamate, as well as. It will hopefully bring a better sleep to your recovery, sooner.

 

In case you’re reading this and thinking that I’m trying to sell you these supplements, that’s not the case. You have to purchase them on your own at your local Health Food Store.

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Glutamate, Inflammation, Restless Legs and Insomnia: PART 2 of 2

ImageHOW TO LOWER YOUR GLUTAMATE LEVEL (FOR A BETTER SLEEP)

from Nancy Mullan MD
“If you keep the total amount of glutamate in your body under control, you can prevent neurologic symptoms. One way you can do this is by eliminating gluten and casein from your diet. You also want to eliminate glutamate and anything that sounds like that, and aspartate and anything that sounds like that, from your supplements.

Glutamine is a frequently recommended supplement, but glutamate and glutamine change back and forth into each other. This means that the administration of glutamine, say for gastro intestinal support, actually increases the level of glutamate.

There is a neurotransmitter, which opposes glutamate, which has a calming effect. This is GABA, gamma amino butyric acid. It is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Glutamate should be able to convert into GABA.

Glutamate is acted on by the enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), but several factors may interfere with this conversion, and you get stuck at glutamate.

GABA is the neurotransmitter involved with this function. GABA is very prominently involved with the neuronal connections of language. It actually puts the gaps between words. Decreased GABA leads to increased anxiety, increased aggressive behavior, decreased social behavior, decreased eye contact, and decreased bowel function. GABA is necessary to stimulate bowel contraction.

Decreased GABA also causes eye-focusing problems, like both eyes focused in toward the nose or vertical or horizontal eye wavering.

Calcium is another factor in the glutamate GABA story. If glutamate is like a gun, then calcium is the bullet. Glutamate creates the scenario for excitotoxicity to happen, but the agent that actually destroys the nerve cell is the influx of calcium. The combination of excessive glutamate from any source and too much calcium is major.

Evaluate calcium levels using a urine essential elements test. Vitamin D and Vitamin K are fat-soluble vitamins and are important for re-establishing calcium balance. Your body can store Vitamin D, but Vitamin K may need to be supplemented on a daily basis unless you are eating dark leafy green organic vegetables.

Supplementing calcium may be done by using chamomile and/or nettle rather than by taking calcium directly. Increasing magnesium relative to calcium, using zinc to limit glutamate damage, and monitoring lithium, iodine and boron levels will all aid in reducing glutamate levels and reversing the flow of calcium into the neurons and back to the bones and teeth.

A common issue is taking too many supplements too soon. The more sick you are, the more carefully you need to add supplements. You should add them one at a time, starting with really tiny amounts.”

Image

WHAT IS GABA?

from Novus Medical Detox Center
and thebrain.mcgill.ca
“GABA is a chemical messenger that is widely distributed in the brain. GABA’s natural function is to reduce the activity of the neurons to which it binds. Some researchers believe that one of the purposes that GABA serves is to control the fear or anxiety experienced when neurons are overexcited.

GABA receptors are probably the most common kind in the mammalian nervous system. It is estimated that close to 40% of the synapses in the human brain work with GABA and therefore have GABA receptors.

GABA receptors are channel receptors. This means that when GABA binds to them, they change shape slightly to allow ions to pass through their central channel. This channel mainly allows negatively charged chloride ions to enter the neuron, thus reducing its excitability.

Because of this property of the GABA channel receptor, GABA is classified as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, as opposed to excitatory neurotransmitters, such as glutamate, which augment the nerve impulses in the neuron.

When GABA binds to a nerve cell receptor, it opens the nerve cell so that chloride ions which are present in the brain are allowed to move into the nerve cell and slow the activity of the cell, and the person normally experiences a calming feeling.

For example, if our brain produces more excitatory neurotransmitters like norepinephrine or epinephrine (adrenaline) than normal, we can become anxious or have more stress than normal.

If our brain is working normally, it will produce more GABA and this will slow down the actions in the brain and thus have a calming and relaxing effect on us.

Because of our unique DNA and the way that each of us metabolize drugs, each of us may have different amounts of GABA in the brain but we are still considered to be operating “normally.” Unfortunately, there are no accepted medical tests to determine if we have too much or too little GABA activity.

In addition, it appears that people who are nutritionally deficit and dehydrated often have problems with the operation of GABA in their brains.

It is widely believed that caffeine produces its stimulant effects by inhibiting the release of GABA and thereby allowing the increase of excitatory neurotransmitters.

Research is indicating that a major factor in people who suffer from anxiety disorders or panic attacks and in people who have become addicted or dependent to street drugs, prescription drugs and alcohol is that they are likely to be suffering from low GABA activity.”

 

ImageTHE GLUTAMATE-GLUTAMINE CYCLE

During all the research I’ve done over the last few years, researching EVERY area of RLS, from the scientific to the emotional, to the outrageous … I’ve never been as confused and overwhelmed as I have been in trying to decipher all the information that’s available on how to naturally boost your GABA level.

One thing that is unanimous, is that the “supplement” GABA is essentially useless. So that option is eliminated.

The really confusing area (the part that hurt my brain) is whether or not to take L-Glutamine to help boost your GABA level.

To understand the relationship between GABA, glutamine and glutamate, you have to understand a bit about the intimate cycle they are involved with. This cycle determines whether more GABA or more glutamate is produced.

Here are a couple of explanations.

from Wikipedia, Glutamate-glutamine cycle
“In biochemistry, the glutamate-glutamine cycle is a sequence of events by which an adequate supply of the neurotransmitter glutamate is maintained in the central nervous system. Neurons are not able to perform new synthesis of the neurotransmitter glutamate and y-aminobutyric acid (GABA) from glucose. Discoveries of glutamine and glutamate pools within intercellular compartments led to suggestions of the glutamate-glutamine cycle working between neurons and astrocytes. The glutamate/GABA-glutamine cycle is a metabolic pathway that describes the release of glutamate or GABA from neurons and then taken up into astrocytes (star shaped glial cells). In return, astrocytes release glutamine to be taken up into neurons for use as a precursor to the synthesis of glutamate or GABA.”

from Natural Stresscare
“Think of glutamic acid (GA), glutamine (GAM) and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) as three members of a close-knit family with three very different personalities. Glutamic acid is a non-essential amino acid (the body can manufacture it when things are working right) that’s also an excitatory neurotransmitter.

Its cousin GABA has an opposite personality – it calms our nerves and relaxes us. Glutamine is the source for both of them – the body can make either glutamic acid or GABA from glutamine. This is a special family … the members can change into each other from time to time.”

As I understand it, the glutamine in your body is used to either build your GABA level, in turn lowering your glutamate level … or vice versa – depending on which way they are out of balance at that time.

Glutamine is essentially a manager, determining what needs to be produced in order to keep the GABA and glutamate levels in balance.

For restless legs sufferers, that have some inflammation going on, and in most cases, a racing mind at night … it’s seems logical that the l-glutamine that you intake is going to be used to raise your GABA level, which will in turn lower your glutamate level, and help calm down that racing mind of yours.

But, there’s a catch. Because you have a higher than normal amount of inflammation in your body, this can affect the transport and monitoring that are part of the Glutamate-glutamine cycle.

As you may have read in some of the scientific studies posted on my website regarding inflammation and glutamate, inflammation can affect how the cycle behaves … which is often badly.

ImageIt’s kind of like how your keyboard behaves after you spill a cup of coffee on it. It will probably still work, but with a few quirks.

I sent an e-mail to Dr. Mullan asking her to clarify this confusing area for me. Here is her response.

“Be careful when you read studies. You never know what the author’s motive may be or who may be backing the study. Dr Amy Yasko does not recommend l-glutamine because it can turn into glutamate, especially if the GAD gene or enzyme is affected in any way.

And certainly be aware of any dietary influences, especially MSG (it goes without saying). Peas, mushrooms and Parmesan cheese are also on the high glutamate avoid list.”

After taking everything I’ve learned into consideration, my recommendation is to take neither the supplement GABA or L-Glutamine.

Because of the inflammation in your body, their behavior in the delicate Glutamate-glutamine cycle is unpredictable. My suggestion is to take L-Theanine or Taurine and to also consider some of the other natural GABA boosters you’ll read about below.

NATURAL REMEDIES TO INCREASE GABA AND LOWER GLUTAMATE LEVELS

ImageL-THEANINE

from The Wellspring School for Healing Arts
“L-Theanine is a free (non-protein) amino acid found primarily in tea leaves, (Camilla Sinensis).

L-Theanine, otherwise know as gamma-ethylamino-L-glutamic acid, is thought to be the key to tea’s subtle but calming effects despite the caffeine content in tea. L-Theanine is thought to counter the stimulating effects of caffeine by increasing the production of alpha brain waves. Alpha waves are associated with a state of deep relaxation while being mentally alert. In studies, subjects on L-Theanine exhibited alpha brain wave patterns similar to the state achieved by those during meditation.

Additionally, L-Theanine easily crosses the blood brain barrier, and is thought to play a role in increasing and regulating several neurotransmitters, most notably GABA (gamma amino butyric acid), which is an important inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. GABA promotes a pleasant calm without the drowsiness. L-Theanine is thought to interact with dopamine and serotonin as well, resulting in increased focus, improved memory and learning ability.”

from Natural Stresscare
“Rather than GABA or l-glutamine, one can take the amino acid l-theanine instead. L-theanine is converted to several useful calming and mood-elevating substances in the brain, including GABA.3,4 So one can use theanine as a kind of “bank shot” to get around the blood brain barrier issue with respect to GABA.”

“Theanine and glutamate transporter inhibitors enhance the antitumor efficacy of chemotherapeutic agents.”
Sugiyama T, Sadzuka Y. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2003 Dec 5;1653(2):47-59. School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Shizuoka, 52-1 Yada, 422-8526 Shizuoka, Japan.

“The combined effects of theanine, a specific amino acid in green tea, and glutamate transporter inhibitors on the antitumor activity of doxorubicin (DOX), were investigated and we clarified the biochemical mechanisms of action of these modulators.

We revealed the novel mechanism of enhancement of antitumor efficacy of DOX via the inhibition of glutamate transporters. Similarly, theanine enhanced the antitumor activities of other anthracyclines, cisplatin and irinotecan. Consequently, the modulating effect of theanine on the efficacy of antitumor agents is expected to be applicable in clinical cancer chemotherapy.”

ImageTAURINE

from Integrative Psychiatry
“Taurine is an amino acid that is present at significant levels in the CNS and is positive modulator of GABA that does not have any adverse side-effects. Taurine also potentiates glycine – the inhibitory neurotransmitter in the spinal cord.

The role of taurine as an inhibitory amino acid has been confirmed in many studies. Not surprisingly, brain tissue and cardiac tissue, which are susceptible to high levels of neurotransmitter stimulation, maintain high levels of taurine. Taurine has been shown to prevent the neuronal damage that can occur when there is an exposure to increased levels of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. Over stimulation by excitatory neurotransmitters is the primary cause of neuron death in ischemic stroke. Taurine has been found to significantly reduce neuron death caused by over stimulation.

The calming effects of taurine have been well studied. Other studies of taurine have found that it can reduce epileptic seizures and that low taurine levels are associated with anxiety.”

from Charles Poliquin on Poliquin Inc.
“I call taurine the amino acid of anxiety control and stress management because it will lower cortisol and helps people be less anxious. The benefits of taurine don’t stop there. It also improves athletic performance and reaction time, supports insulin health, can prevent diabetes, elevates energy production, is a potent brain nutrient, increases work capacity and time to exhaustion from intense exercise, lowers blood pressure, protects the heart, helps with detoxification, and fights inflammation.

It’s best to lay the building blocks for success before you start taking taurine because this amino acid is an excellent addition to a protein-rich diet and supplement plan that ensures you aren’t deficient in any of the essential nutrients. For example, be sure you are getting a nice therapeutic dose of omega-3 fats, and have your fat intake balanced because this will help taurine work its magic.

Taurine is an amino acid that calms the nervous system by facilitating the production of the neurotransmitter GABA, which stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid. By helping to raise GABA levels, taurine will allow your body to manage anxiety so that your thoughts don’t go spiraling out of control and you don’t get the associated cortisol and adrenaline spikes that go with anxiety and stress.

Research shows that taurine supplementation can lower anxiety in stress-producing situations, thereby allowing for greater work output and performance. One study in Advances in Experimental Medicines and Biology found that giving rats a taurine treatment prior to an anxiety-inducing exercise maze resulted in less anxious behavior and better speed through the maze a rat group that were given a placebo.

Take taurine for better sleep, but make sure you are getting a magnesium supplement that your body can absorb as well. Together these nutrients are the answer to abolish stress, calm the nervous system, and help you sleep better. You’ll also have a better overall mood. People who are deficient in either magnesium or taurine are at greater risk for depression and poor motivation.

Magnesium is well known to calm the nervous system, while countering fatigue. Similarly, taurine raises GABA levels, calming the nervous system and lowering anxiety and stress hormones that hinder rest. I suggest magnesium taurate, a form of taurine that is bound to magnesium for best results.”

“Taurine prevents the neurotoxicity of beta-amyloid and glutamate receptor agonists: activation of GABA receptors and possible implications for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders.”
Louzada PR, Paula Lima AC, Mendonca-Silva DL, Noël F, De Mello FG, Ferreira ST. Departamento de Bioquímica Medica, Instituto de Ciencias Biomedicas, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ 21941-590, Brasil. FASEB J. 2004 Mar;18(3):511-8.

“Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and several other neurological disorders have been linked to the overactivation of glutamatergic transmission and excitotoxicity as a common pathway of neuronal injury. The beta-amyloid peptide (Abeta) is centrally related to the pathogenesis of AD, and previous reports have demonstrated that the blockade of glutamate receptors prevents Abeta-induced neuronal death. We show that taurine, a beta-amino acid found at high concentrations in the brain, protects chick retinal neurons in culture against the neurotoxicity of Abeta and glutamate receptor agonists. The protective effect of taurine is not mediated by interaction with glutamate receptors, as demonstrated by binding studies using radiolabeled glutamate receptor ligands. The neuroprotective action of taurine is blocked by picrotoxin, an antagonist of GABA(A) receptors. GABA and the GABA(A) receptor agonists phenobarbital and melatonin also protect neurons against Abeta-induced neurotoxicity. These results suggest that activation of GABA receptors decreases neuronal vulnerability to excitotoxic damage and that pharmacological manipulation of the excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitter tonus may protect neurons against a variety of insults. GABAergic transmission may represent a promising target for the treatment of AD and other neurological disorders in which excitotoxicity plays a relevant role.”

ImageVALERIAN

from Wikipedia – Valerian (herb)
“Valerian has been used as a medicinal herb since at least the time of ancient Greece and Rome. Hippocrates described its properties, and Galen later prescribed it as a remedy for insomnia. Valerian root has sedative and anxiolytic effects. These effects are suspected to be mediated through the GABA receptor. The amino acid valine is named after this plant.”

from LIVESTRONG.COM
“The University of Maryland Medical Center says valerian root might increase the concentration of GABA within your brain. Because of this action, valerian is often prescribed as a natural remedy for anxiety and those affected by insomnia. It might take up to three weeks of consistent use for its effects to be felt.”

“Synaptosomal GABA release as influenced by valerian root extract–involvement of the GABA carrier.”
Santos MS, Ferreira F, Cunha AP, Carvalho AP, Ribeiro CF, Macedo T. Department of Zoology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, Portugal. Arch Int Pharmacodyn Ther. 1994 Mar-Apr;327(2):220-31.

“The effect of an aqueous extract obtained from the roots of Valeriana officinalis was investigated on the uptake and release of GABA in synaptosomes. It is concluded that valerian extract releases [3H]GABA by reversal of the GABA carrier, which is Na(+)-dependent and Ca(2+)-independent.”

OTHER NATURAL REMEDIES

by Dr. Mike Dow, The Dr. OZ Show

“You know that feeling you get in the middle of a frantic workday with 3 deadlines approaching while your kids keep texting you about dinner? If we were to take a look inside your brain, the chemicals that act like your car’s accelerator pedal – dopamine, adrenaline, norepinephrine – are surging. And GABA, the chemical that acts like your car’s brakes, is in short supply.

While there are several drugs that help to boost GABA, there are also some natural ways to get the peace and calm your brain needs. Finding natural solutions have a few benefits. First, they’re not addictive like many of the prescription medications. Also, they won’t leave you feeling groggy, so you’ll still be able to be productive at work and at home.

Here are 4 ways to get the GABA your brain is craving:

Swap your afternoon coffee for a cup of oolong tea.
When we feel overworked and worn out, coffee is a natural go-to. But its high levels of caffeine send the activating brain chemical dopamine soaring. The tradeoff for short-term productivity is a jittery feeling and insomnia hours later. Try oolong tea instead. It contains GABA, and sipping it may provide you with the break your brain and body needs. The break you’ll get may provide you with the stamina to get everything done without feeling worn out.

Swap the candy bar for cherry tomatoes and hummus.
The high levels of fat in that candy bar are not only bad for your waistline, it’s bad for your brain! High levels of unhealthy fat also increase dopamine levels. But cherry tomatoes are rich in GABA, and the olive oil in hummus helps to balance your omega-3 versus omega-6 ratio. This ratio can help balance all of your brain chemicals over the long-term which will leave you feeling peaceful and happy.

Swap the soda for a glass of kefir, a probiotic drink.
Soda is not only associated with obesity; a new study showed an association with soda (and diet soda) and depression. Kefir contains GABA, and the carbohydrates boost serotonin – your other main feel-good, peaceful brain chemical. Talk about a double whammy!

Swap orange chicken and fried rice for grilled shrimp and brown rice. The high fat in orange chicken and fried rice flood your brain with dopamine which can even set you up for food addiction. But the shrimp contains a healthy dose of GABA, and the high-fiber brown rice gives you nice, healthy release of serotonin.”

ImageYOGA

from Science Daily “Yoga May Elevate Brain GABA Levels, Suggesting Possible Treatment For Depression”

“Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and McLean Hospital have found that practicing yoga may elevate brain gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels, the brain’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter. The findings, which appear in the May issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, suggest that the practice of yoga be explored as a possible treatment for depression and anxiety, disorders associated with low GABA levels.

Using magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging, the researchers compared the GABA levels of eight subjects prior to and after one hour of yoga, with 11 subjects who did no yoga but instead read for one hour. The researchers found a twenty-seven percent increase in GABA levels in the yoga practitioner group after their session, but no change in the comparison subject group after their reading session. The acquisition of the GABA levels was done using a magnetic resonance spectroscopy technique developed by J. Eric Jensen, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an associate physicist at McLean Hospital.

According to the researchers, yoga has shown promise in improving symptoms associated with depression, anxiety and epilepsy. “Our findings clearly demonstrate that in experienced yoga practitioners, brain GABA levels increase after a session of yoga,” said lead author Chris Streeter, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and neurology at BUSM and a research associate at McLean Hospital.

“This study contributes to the understanding of how the GABA system is affected by both pharmacologic and behavioral interventions and will help to guide the development of new treatments for low GABA states,” said co-author Domenic Ciraulo, MD, professor and chairman of the department of psychiatry at BUSM.

“The development of an inexpensive, widely available intervention such as yoga that has no side effects but is effective in alleviating the symptoms of disorders associated with low GABA levels has clear public health advantage,” added senior author Perry Renshaw, MD, PhD, director of the Brain Imaging Center at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital.”

KAVA KAVA

from LIVESTRONG.COM
“Consume 150 to 300 mg of kava kava standardized extract one to three times per day. Make sure the extract contains 30 to 70 percent kavalactones, which are this herb’s primary active compound. It is suggested that this herb increases the number of attachment sites for GABA in the brain. By creating more attachment sites, it is believed the effects of GABA might be more profound, which results in a mild sedated state. Use extreme caution when supplementing with kava kava, as this herb might have detrimental effects on the liver if consumed in excess. Thus, discuss the use of kava kava with your physician to ensure its safety.”

B-COMPLEX
from Paleo for Women
“Foods rich in B-complex vitamins, particularly inositol, prompt GABA production. In fact, B-vitamins are necessary for the functioning of nearly all brain processes and chemicals. Foods containing B-vitamins comprise a rich and varied list. They include: fruits such as bananas, figs, cantaloupe oranges and figs, and vegetables, particularly cruciferous vegetables, such as beets, broccoli, kale, and spinach, and nuts, and seafood, and beef and beef liver, chicken liver, all organ meats, and all game/ruminant meats.”

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