Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

An Unfortunate and Lengthy Adventure in Misdiagnosis

GABA, and DIY for bipolar disorder

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This post started out as a letter to a close relative who is on the verge of being diagnosed with cyclothymia, a mild form of bipolar disorder. The relative has been left out in the cold waiting for a referral to a psychiatrist. This person reminds me too much of myself five years ago, and I have been very worried.

Rather than reference this post with various science articles, I’m simply going to get it out there for now.

The most forward-thinking theory of bipolar disorder is that it is caused by a deficiency of GABA. GABA is a ‘calming’ and ‘regulating’ neurotransmitter. If you imagine GABA as the conductor of an orchestra, if you don’t have enough, all of the other neurotransmitters can get out of hand and start playing their own tunes, and they can swing in whatever direction they want. I believe that the most important thing you can do to control bipolar disorder is to raise your GABA levels.

One important neurotransmitter that is affected by GABA is glutamate. Glutamate is an ‘intelligence’ and ‘wakeful’ neurotransmitter. It’s almost like a volume knob. The more glutamate you have, the faster your brain goes and the louder all the neurotransmitters get. Too much glutamate can actually kill your brain cells. Manic highs are thought to be characterised by high levels of glutamate, characterised by racing thoughts and insomnia, while depressive lows are thought to be caused by low levels of glutamate. When we talk about depression in bipolar disorder, we are not necessarily talking about ‘sadness’, we are talking about a much wider range of symptoms that include grogginess and an increased need for sleep. Low glutamate levels are thought to be associated with some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. People with unchecked bipolar disorder often describe having to sleep for several extra hours a day, sometimes not being able to get out of bed at all, and feeling hungover and being unable to wake up properly in the morning – very similar to fibromyalgia symptoms.

This isn’t the complete story of what is going on in the brain because bipolar disorder also affects dopamine levels – the ‘attention span’ and ‘pleasure/reward’ neurotransmitter. If you are unable to concentrate and are distracted easily (ADHD), and are unable to get any enjoyment out of the things you are doing, it is a sign that your dopamine levels are too low. Dopamine tends to rise when you are manic and fall when you are depressive.

High dopamine levels are an independent risk factor for bipolar disorder. This is because when dopamine levels become very high, thought becomes delusional and people experience hallucinations – very high dopamine and glutamate levels are thought to characterise schizophrenia. People who have naturally high dopamine levels are more likely to be at risk of delusional/manic episodes as their dopamine is more likely to go too high. A version of a gene called COMT, which causes high dopamine and low adrenaline levels, is associated with bipolar disorder.

However, if you have ADHD, you are to some extent protected from becoming delusional, as your dopamine levels are naturally low. I believe that people with ADHD can experience bipolar disorder quite differently to those who have naturally high dopamine. I believe that they can still have manic highs (insomnia, thoughts racing) caused by high glutamate in which they do not become delusional/hallucinatory, they just get carried away without crossing over into the ‘nuts’ category, as their low dopamine levels protect them from delusions. I believe attention deficit disorder may be characterised by low glutamate levels with low dopamine levels, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may be characterised by high glutamate levels with low dopamine levels.

There is a version of mania called ‘irritable mania’. Dopamine can convert quite easily to noradrenaline and adrenaline, which can trigger anger and aggression responses. I believe if you have the version of the COMT gene which causes low dopamine levels and high adrenaline levels, you will more likely experience irritable mania rather than regular delusional mania, in other words, rather than hallucinating or losing your ability to think logically, you will instead get really irritable and angry and lash out at the world. This kind of behaviour is frequently misunderstood as depression.

I believe there are people out there who have ADHD, whose low dopamine levels are protecting them from full-blown bipolar manic episodes. They therefore remain undiagnosed, even though they have the ‘seed’ of bipolar disorder within them, in that their GABA levels are too low and they are experiencing glutamate highs and lows. They will likely be diagnosed with unipolar depression or aggression disorders rather than bipolar disorder or cyclothymia, as they are less likely to recognise that something is wrong during their manic episodes – they simply feel too happy (or too angry), but don’t become delusional. As a result they are treated with drugs – SSRIs – that are totally wrong for their condition, or their aggressive behaviour gets them into trouble with the law, and rather than being diagnosed with a biochemical problem, they are regarded as criminals.

Though serotonin is thought of as the ‘happiness’ neurotransmitter, there’s a lot of evidence that dopamine is more important to happiness in bipolar than serotonin. Low serotonin levels tend to cause OCD and may be involved in aggression. SSRIs can trigger manic episodes in people with bipolar disorder, however. This may actually be because they cross react somewhat with dopamine receptors. Serotonin has multiple different purposes in the brain, and seems to be more of a regulator than a happy/sad neurotransmitter. We have recently observed in the media, the revelation that SSRI’s don’t actually help depression in most people. McManamy makes a very good argument as to why it is dopamine, not serotonin, that we need to worry about in bipolar disorder. Perhaps we need to re-examine our fixation with serotonin.

Raising GABA levels

Ultimately, the way to fix bipolar disorder is to raise GABA levels.

Firstly, a ketogenic diet or low carbohydrate diet can do this. This creates ketones, and the ketones increase several calming neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly GABA levels. This is why a ketogenic diet can help people with epilepsy, which is also caused by too much glutamate/too little GABA.

You can induce some of the effects of a ketogenic diet without having to be on one by taking vinegar. Believe it or not, the main ketone produced on a low carb diet is acetic acid, i.e. vinegar. A tablespoon or two of vinegar before every meal actually produces similar effects to low carbing, and will raise your GABA levels. Unfortunately vinegar is digested and destroyed very quickly, so the effect doesn’t last very long.

Valproate (valproic acid) works on bipolar disorder because it is very, very similar in structure to vinegar and ketones. It’s rather more potent because it takes the body longer to break it down than ketones or vinegar.

Alcohol is similar in structure to acetic acid and has a similar action on the body in that it raises GABA levels. It usually contains lots of impurities that can also make things worse, however, and its effect is very short-lived, and the alcohol withdrawal can actually make you feel worse. If you drink, you need to be very careful about how much you drink, what you drink, and you need to drink regularly, for example, one measure every evening, and be very self-controlled. I would stick to whisky, vodka or gin as they don’t contain the harmful impurities that are problematic for failsafers. Wine and beer contain amines, glutamates, salicylates and SLAs.

A natural alternative to valproate that you can buy in the shops, is the herb valerian, which contains valeric acid. All herbs come with some risk and side effects, but valerian is known to increase GABA in the same way as vinegar and valproate, again, having a very similar structure. A popular over the counter remedy you can get from most pharmacies is ‘Kalms’, and this contains valerian. Take the Kalms Stress version, and avoid the Kalms Sleep version, unless you want to, uh, fall asleep and get a hangover. If you take valerian, you must not under any circumstances get pregnant, as it is similar in structure to valproate, which can cause deformaties and some types of autism in foetuses.

You can actually obtain GABA itself online, though you have to order it from America because it’s illegal to sell in the UK. I have tried taking GABA, though not recently. I found it gave me very vivid dreams.

Another alternative is glutamine, an amino acid that opposes glutamate. The brain makes GABA from glutamate, glucose, and glutamine. You don’t always want to oppose glutamate, but I find it very helpful if I am grumpy or sugar-craving after meals. Theanine is another amino acid with a similar effect. It is found in tea, which is why tea makes you feel calm (however, tea also contains salicylates which will have longer lasting adverse effects).

A secondary regulatory neurotransmitter that interacts with GABA and that might help is taurine.

Two other herbal remedies that raise GABA by rather complicated drug-like actions are kava kava, and scullcap/skullcap.

There is a strong possibility that herbal remedies will make you feel hungover. I would test them all one at a time and see how they make you feel. Don’t take ten things at once!

Calcium is also thought to raise GABA levels through ion channel signalling mechanisms, though it will also raise glutamate levels and dopamine levels. Magnesium opposes the effects of calcium on glutamate. I tend to take calcium when I want to stay awake, use my brain, and extend my attention span, and magnesium when I need to sleep. Do not underestimate the usefulness of calcium! It can make a big difference to your mental state.

Allegedly, if you have the patience for it, relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation can also raise GABA levels. This is probably why perennially moody stars like Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow witter on about yoga so much. I find that going and sitting somewhere dark and quiet and reciting a mantra/some lyrics/some poetry in my head can help calm me down sometimes.

Lowering glutamate levels

Mania and hypomania aren’t just characterised by happiness, they are also characterised by irritation and anger. As I mentioned, this is because high dopamine levels can convert easily to the closely related neurotransmitter, adrenaline. When you are feeling angry and stressed, this is as much a sign of mania as happiness is. Mania symptoms also include having a racing brain, feeling as though your thoughts are very intelligent and well-crafted, having insomnia, having nightmares and poor sleep, waking too early feeling fantastic, and buzzing about the place feeling really hyperactive.

Vitamin K actually protects against high glutamate levels and helps the body to use up excess glutamate by converting it into the bone-building/clotting protein GLA. I find it very useful for calming me down, helping me sleep, and stopping me from feeling angry. The type of vitamin K you need is a version called K2. I use a Vitamin Research Products brand, which is ideal as you can open the capsule and portion out smaller doses. You can buy it online in the UK from nutricentre. It might make you quite sleepy if you overdo it, but it is very valuable to have around as it works quite quickly. Don’t take it for an extended period though (i.e. every day for a week), as you may give yourself a cold or unbalance your mood in other ways by inducing vitamin A and vitamin D deficiency, which are used up by the same bone-building processes.

Theoretically, B6 should help you to lower glutamate by converting it into GABA. Unfortunately I find it gives me brain fog – perhaps because it lowers glutamate too much.

Raising glutamate levels

You should only ever try to raise glutamate levels when you have brain fog, hangover symptoms, and you can’t wake up in the mornings, otherwise there will be trouble!

I find the best thing is a dose of B12. I use a Metabolics brand ‘adenosylcobalamin’ product, also available from nutricentre. It will make you feel much better, but you should never take a whole capsule as it can trigger mania, anger, and insomnia. I also get strange trapped nerve sensations in my shoulders and neck if I take too much. I take the tiniest sprinkle I can, and even that can make my heart pound sometimes.

Some people find that folic acid is also useful. It depends on your genes. I would only take very small doses (50-100mcg, a quarter to half a tablet) to trial it, as it triggers hypomania and dependence in me very easily. I find I tend to need increasing doses each day to stay free of brain fog and then have an awful comedown if I stop taking it. It might be useful in a very, very small dose.

It is easy to overdo these supplements, so remember that you can calm down high glutamate levels with vitamin K. You might end up falling asleep at your desk though! It’s always best to err on the side of caution with these supplements.

Raising dopamine levels

This would be useful if you are having concentration problems or feel like you don’t care about doing anything. Calcium supplements are supposed to increase dopamine levels. I do find that a glass of goat’s milk helps me to concentrate on my writing.

Avoiding neurotransmitters in foods

There came a point in my late 20′s when a low carbohydrate diet just wasn’t having a strong enough effect on me anymore, and I started going downhill again until I found the failsafe diet. It IS very important to avoid neurotransmitters in foods, be they amines or glutamates. Salicylates mess with dopamine levels, trigger a type of glutamate receptor called an NMDA receptor that is thought to be involved in depression, and inhibit GABA production by blocking calcium ion channels. Salicylates tend to cause brief happy-high feelings just after you eat them, then cause depression, ADHD and brainfog the next day. While ever your GABA levels are too low, neurotransmitters in foods will just send you whatever which way they can, so you will always be up/down/angry/confused.

The worst offending foods are chocolate, cheese, pork, tomato, citrus fruits, grapes, other tropical fruits, broccoli and dark leafy greens. You must avoid all the listed additives, especially colourings and flavourings and (obviously) MSG and flavour enhancers because they will give you ADHD and contribute to depression. Check the food labels of everything before you buy it, including vitamins. They are sneaky and get everywhere. Better still, don’t buy food that’s in packages, it’s always got some crap in it.

It’s also rather important to avoid caffeine. Caffeine is a weak substitute for dopamine and adrenaline. It affects me in the same way as folic acid, and I need increasing amounts to stay free of brain fog and feel like I can wake up in the mornings. The adrenaline it creates will contribute to you feeling angry and stressed.

Ultimately, if you have bipolar disorder, the drugs you will be prescribed are lithium, valproate, or lamotrigine. They do help. Sometimes there is no natural solution. If you do not have the self control to manage your problems with the methods I describe above, you NEED to be on prescription drugs for your own safety.

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Written by alienrobotgirl

29 October, 2008 at 8:47 pm

Posted in Neurotransmitters

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13 Responses

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  1. Hi!

    Whilst I need a while to process some of the neurochemistry in response to my own personality, this is very interesting and useful.

    I still have mild bi-polar – I can’t get up in the morning, nightmares, night sweats, 4am mind racing, hyperactivity, getting upset easily, being overly social, being aspie and grumpy, feeling like I am on a different level to other people, panicing, OCD/perfectionism, excessive confidence, delusional thoughts, abnormal behaviour, extreme confusion, wanting to be violent, shyness, sleeping excessively, apathy, wanting to just give up on everything, hopelessness.

    I’ve always been pretty thankful for it to be honest. I enjoy experiencing every side of life. I don’t enjoy the schizophrenic like episodes but these are generally rare now.

    Interesting about the supplements. I don’t get any effect from K2 and magnesium just gives me insonmia. B6 is helpful in desperate times of extreme panic and as we know B12 has awful side effects, mostly intense headaches for me. The other vitamins i’m extremely sensitive to are vitamin D and E.

    Hope you are enjoying the winter (sigh).
    elena

    piratehyde

    30 October, 2008 at 1:25 pm

  2. OMG It’s like we both came to the same conclusions about bipolar disorder independently.

    I do think the seed of bipolar disorder is in how GABA manifests in the brain. This would explain the very high rate of alcoholism in bipolar people and bipolar families (alcoholism is at root a deficiency of GABA).

    I do think the COMT gene plays a major role in modulating how bipolar disorder manifests. I think COMT plays a big role in forms of atypical bipolar disorder which are very rapid cycling.

    Let’s assume for a moment that someone has a very slight problem with GABA and glutamate. In a person with the normal COMT gene, no mood instability might be observed by this slight imbalance of GABA and glutamate. However, if someone has a COMT that does not clear out dopamine well, then even a small transient imbalance of GABA/glutamate might create a big, albeit short change in mood. The common COMT variant (low activity) allows for catecholamines to accumulate in the brain, but it is temporary because there are other regulating systems in place (GABA/glutamate for instance). So, if the GABA problem is slight, the COMT determines whether or not there are symptoms… but all mood states are short until the other regulating systems kick into gear again. If the GABA problem is big, then classic bipolar disorder will exist no matter what COMT variant one has.

    In people with moods like mine – prone to short albeit extreme episodes, very vulnerable to fluxing moods in a short period, I would expect a slight “GABA problem” superimposed over a low activity COMT gene trait. If even a slight bit of extra neurotransmitter is produced, I very easily become insane because my COMT doesn’t work. However, extreme craziness doesn’t last long… and the whole episode of abnormal mood will last hours to a few days maximum until I start to switch to normal or depressive.

    I’ve come to predict bursts of dopamine by counting my blinking. Blink rate correlates with insanity for me. When my eyes are fluttering, then posters start to look like windows with swirling clouds inside of them, I feel VAST and god-like, I am overcome with inspiration (last night I wanted to cover my walls with my drawings, and I started pasting the ones I had made all over), I feel like I am close to understanding “the secret of everything”, etc etc etc. I have delusions and visual hallucinations. This sort of nuttery only lasts a few hours max… but when it hits, it’s like I’m another person, on drugs or something. I also contort my face a lot when I am crazy. I realize this makes me look crazier but I can’t stop it. I’m always furrowing brows or making gestures with my mouth etc.

    On the other hand, when depressed I literally don’t blink at all and my face just does not move.

    Granted I don’t know much about ADD/ADHD but I always thought of ADHD being related to high norepi and low dopamine… and carb eating in general. I believe carb eating has a way of lowering dopamine and raising norepi, possibly through insulin’s ability to abnormally increase serotonin. That’s why all forms of ADHD are known to do better on low carb diet, because low carb diet lowers serotonin and raises dopamine. Glucose itself will lower dopamine through the hypocretin system int he brain. When glucose is high in the brain hypocretin tells the brain to turn of its natural stimulation so dopamine drops. High glucose in the brain is like turning the light switch off. ADHD is probably related to high serotonin from high insulin whereas ADD is more just a high glucose thing (norepi would create the hyperactivity by always activating the brain’s awareness of irrelevant stimuli, as well as providing energy by creating adrenaline… if it is a complete deficiency of dopamine, norepi and adrenaline then classic inattentive ADD would exist).

    Another big piece in the bipolar puzzle is receptor types and locations in the brain. Even though we consider “the brain” a single organ it is more appropriate to view the brain as consisting of many different organs… dopamine receptors in the limbic system do different things than dopamine receptors in the frontal lobes just like dopamine receptors on the pancreas do different things again. Dopamine receptors in the limbic system create the heightened emotional responses, especially paranoia/fear that is really common in bipolar disorder and people using drugs that raise dopamine (like meth). Dopamine receptors in the frontal lobes are responsible for art / music inspiration (right brain) or the flight of words and pressured, rhyming speech (left brain) or the lack of appetite/weight loss in mania (pancreas is told to not make insulin and glucose output is suppressed as well).
    There’s also types of dopamine receptors… the D2 receptor is most commonly associated with psychosis, or abnormal fears and phobias. If someone has a high activity D2 receptor, they are much more likely to become psychotic than someone without a high activity d2 receptor. If someone does not have enough d2 receptors they are inclined to suffer from social phobia, agoraphobia, or other fears and phobias.

    Of course, in a global deficiency of dopamine fears and phobias will exist (which is why bipolar depression is so strongly associated with the development of phobias and intolerance of people/places/things)… just like in global excess of dopamine psychosis will almost always exist (which is why in bipolar mania we become psychotic)… but other than these gross excesses/deficiencies the nitty gritty receptor subtypes play a huge role in determining how we respond to deficiencies or excesses of dopamine.

    Other neurotransmitters also influence how dopamine works in the brain. When serotonin AND dopamine are high, dopamine is more active int he frontal lobes – this produces grandiose / euphoric mania. When serotonin is low and dopamine is high, paranoia, OCD, and obviously psychotic thoughts are more likely because the frontal lobes are not as active and the limbic system is running the show… you’re now animal like and cannot think clearly, very emotionally reactive/moody and prone to irrational aggressive behaviors and persecutory delusions (dysphoric mania). Serotonin actually controls blood flow to the frontal lobes, it controls which dopamine receptors on which parts of the brain work.

    RAMBLING!

    I did not know that about calcium! This makes so much sense to me. I am much more likely to be insane if I am eating a lot of calcium foods/supplements. I instinctively have learned to consume a great deal of nuts, I find it balancing and calming over all… I think it is the magnesium.

    Your suggestions are excellent. I am not happy that all of my favorite foods are on the “do not eat” list though.

    I’ve come to think that the most important thing for bipolar disorder is sleeeeeep and food, stress in general. If I don’t sleep I’m insane, bottom line, insane. If I don’t eat I’m even MORE insane. If you add psychogenic or physical stress, I am yet more insane. It seems to be that all of these things – sleep loss, glucose restriction, stress – all raise dopamine… so basically you want to avoid excessive dopamine. Sleep is the most important part though. Eating/not eating and stress just seem to influence how insane I become, whereas sleep truly controls insanity. I only started getting hypomania when I developed insomnia during school. Prior to that I had never had obvious hypomanic symptoms.

    itsthewooo

    1 November, 2008 at 6:34 am

  3. Hi there,

    This is an amazing post b/c it is as if you are writing about me. I am officially diagnosed bipolar and am on Lamictal as well as Bupropion. A few months ago, I completely accidentally figured out that I have, at least, a mild form of Aspberger’s.

    I tend to eat paleo/hyperlipid, which has helped tremendously (my sleep patterns have normalized for the first time since my teenage years), I am probably self-medicating with coffee as I consume ridiculous amounts of it (I also love the taste of espresso).

    But I need to get a grip on the all too frequent brain fog — it drives my poor wife nuts as my short-term memory is sometime totally kaput and I can’t get anything done at work.

    Reading your article, I think I will supplement with vinegar before meals, does it matter what sort of vinegar?

    I will start experimenting with the failsafe diet to avoid amines, glutamates, and salicylates.

    Aside from these worst offending foods: chocolate, cheese, pork, tomato, citrus fruits, grapes, other tropical fruits, broccoli and dark leafy greens — what else do you recommend I immediately cut out?

    Also where does heavy cream fit in?

    How do you suggest that I tackle this? Both short and long term? Any and all advice is much appreciated. Your site looks to be a Godsend to me as it is describes so many of my symptoms it is eery.

    Thanks in advance.

    egyebkent

    7 November, 2008 at 1:45 am

  4. Hi Elena

    Winter has not been great for me. In fact, I’ve not been right since late August. I totally withdrew into myself and went underground. Couldn’t communicate (hence, I still owe you emails, don’t I?). The relative with cyclothymia really brought things home for me and I’ve spent most of my energy thinking about her. Bipolar tends to be progressive, and I got very very depressed about the idea of getting even worse. At one point I actually considered going and getting myself diagnosed in case I have a really bad day and do a Sylvia Plath. LOL. What a conversation with the doctor that would be: “I have self-diagnosed Asperger’s syndrome with complicating cyclothymia and attention deficit disorder…” Somehow I think not, I’ll probably get diagnosed with Munchausen’s instead!

    But I’m back to normal now. I’m not taking medication or official diagnosis off the agenda, but it’s on hold. To be honest, I think I’ve progressed to the maximum level of “how bad can this get” and levelled out. I don’t think I will ever be able to eat a normal diet again, but if I can carry on indefinitely without medication, that’s a plus. But it’s horrible watching someone you know go through what you went through at exactly the same age, but failing to make the self-preservation decisions you yourself made at the time. Good news is she’s giving ketogenic/failsafe a go and has evened out a lot – for how long, I don’t know, as she doesn’t have the same iron discipline as me.

    I think the K2 might have made my introversion worse (low calcium?). It could also be the totally depressing weather and absence of sunlight this year. I’ve started drinking a LOT of goat’s milk, using a UVB light, and spend most of my time sat in front of a halogen (infrared) heater, which has made a hell of a difference to my ability to cope/socialise. I recommend a cheap halogen heater! £15 from B&Q, and you feel like you’re sat in the sun all day. I’m sure it’s helping my neurotransmitters and keeping SAD at bay, and I think the effect is BETTER than the sad light we have, which usually overstimulates me.

    I wonder why magnesium gives you insomnia? What happens when you take calcium? I don’t get on with magnesium at all (feeling weird, zombie, breathing problems), but I have to use it as an antidote when I’ve drunk a lot of milk and can’t sleep because of the calcium. I hate being so sensitive that vitamins actually affect my neurotransmitters. LOL.

    What do you get with vitamin D and E? I can predict, but I’m interested to hear first.

    The symptoms you describe sound a lot like both glutamate and dopamine fluctuations. If I can give you a direction to go in, it would be to work on raising your GABA levels. Hard when celiac has damaged your ability to digest fat, I know!

    I wonder more and more whether celiac might tie in with your problems. There seem to be a number of papers in pubmed studying possible connections between celiac and bipolar/schizophrenia. I wonder if the autoimmune condition destroys more than just gut mucosa.

    alienrobotgirl

    7 November, 2008 at 11:00 pm

  5. Hi woo,

    Have you considered MAO in this? I think it might fit better than COMT to explain the rapid-cycling. However, you could well have the low COMT version because of your ability to experience delusions.

    In my eyes, low activity COMT would cause high dopamine (delusional highs), and low adrenaline (lack of aggression), whereas high activity COMT would cause lower dopamine (lack of delusion), and higher adrenaline (anger/aggression).

    Short/rapid cycling of moods makes me suspect you may have very efficient well-functioning MAO, that is able to get rid of excess dopamine, adrenaline and serotonin, but not able to prevent the moods in the first place, as GABA would.

    ADD/ADHD… low dopamine certainly, and there are many, many different polymorphisms implicated that produce the same effect – transporters/receptors/production and destruction enzymes, probably including high COMT. I probably have high COMT myself, as the closest I get to delusions is feeling smug about myself! I have also been slightly paranoid my whole life, which predates the cyclothymic progression of the last few years as my GABA levels have fallen.

    I’m not sure dopamine is affected hugely by carb eating or lack of it, as I was low carb for years without being failsafe, and I still had awful ADD, though my mood levelled out a lot and I did feel happier. Only on failsafe was I finally able to focus my brain, however I still have huge problems getting my dopamine up, though calcium does seem to help. ADD/ADHD sufferers have a tendency to self-medicate with cocaine and caffeine. Glad I didn’t go that route! I thank my lucky stars I have ADD combined with cyclothymia, as I would hate to lose a grip on reality.

    Very interesting the interaction you describe between serotonin and dopamine. I suspect I do have low serotonin levels, as they’re also implicated in asperger’s syndrome and fit well with my paranoia/OCD symptoms.

    Me: low serotonin, low dopamine, high(er) adrenaline, low GABA, massive fluctuations of glutamate.

    You: ? serotonin, high dopamine, ? adrenaline, low GABA, massive fluctuations of glutamate.

    I’m not surprised I get on with calcium and you get on with magnesium.

    My cyclothymic relative also believes in the importance of sleep to keep her highs in check, though as she is ADHD, she never gets delusional when she’s high, just a bit rash. Low carbing has always suited her well, as it suits me. In our case, the glutamate is waaay more important than the dopamine, and I’m pretty sure the glutamate controls the dopamine.

    alienrobotgirl

    7 November, 2008 at 11:39 pm

  6. Hi egyebkent,

    I know all about people self-medicating with coffee. It’s probably a good idea to wean yourself off it. I get massive rebound brainfog from consuming caffeine, so I can get easily addicted to coffee to clear my head every morning.

    Folate/B12 have a similar effect on the brain to caffeine. You may need them, or you may need to avoid them! It depends on your genetics.

    Vinegar is not really failsafe as it’s supposed to contain amines and/or salicylates depending on what it’s made from. If you can get either malt vinegar or distilled spirit vinegar made from barley malt it is the safest. Often vinegars are made from grapes, and are a bad idea.

    I personally would recommed failsafe above vinegar, as the effect of vinegar is so short lived (though I’ve managed to take off a few amine-induced headaches with it).

    Heavy cream is totally failsafe and won’t do you any harm (unless you turn out to be incredibly sensitive to cow’s casein). One big improvement you can make to your diet is to avoid deli meats, game, and find a good meat supplier who doesn’t hang their meat for more than a couple of weeks. Try to buy fresh meat rather than vac-packed meat, and don’t store it in the fridge, freeze it as soon as you get home from the shop, and defrost in warm water right before eating.

    When you find someone who is food chemical sensitive, it really is eerie to see their symptoms matching your own, isn’t it? It’s amazing how all the pieces will start to fit together.

    alienrobotgirl

    7 November, 2008 at 11:52 pm

  7. [...] the last post I speculated that ADHD and ADD were related in some way to GABA deficiency. I believe attention [...]

  8. Some day when I’m not studying other subjects, I should write out all my theories too. They are there but I never write them down!

    Anyway.

    I have to agree this winter has been harsh. I have the light on from dawn until dusk. I think my degree really helps me to keep going. If I remained at home all the time I would become depressed very quickly – I suffer really badly from withdrawal after exam periods. Don’t worry about the emails! : D

    Goat milk used to help me clear my head in the past when I was on eggs but now it doesn’t seem to make much difference. Dropping the eggs has really made a huge difference to my health and especially to the aspie side of me so that I tolerate people pretty well.

    Vit K actually makes me cramp quite badly. I broke my SAD lamp the other day but to be honest that kind of clear light is really unappealing and overstimulating!

    The last time I took calcium, I had such a bad migraine, I never took it again. I get bad effects off magnesium too but not as badly as I used to. I don’t really have the sensitivity anymore (what happened? lol – I guess eating nothing but rice, chicken and goat milk has really helped). Vit D – euphoria to be honest, I know its dopamine, gives me backache too slightly. Vit E – just like MeB12 – overstimulated, ADD like action but clears brainfog.

    Actually I just remembered that choline gives me a distinctly uplifiting feeling to my mood compared to b12 or folate. I can’t take too much or I get brainfog. I should try some PC/PS some day (expensive…)

    I’m finding theanine very useful in helping me sleep. Although i’m still a crazy dream suffer. If I sleep the whole night, I seem quite groggy the next day. Ahh the balance at hand!

    I’ll have to investigate more into coeliac over christmas. My mum (the coeliac) is very dopaminic but my dad has the glutamate/bi-polar issues.

    piratehyde

    10 November, 2008 at 10:04 pm

  9. Oh! I recommend binaural beats if you have really bad ADD.

    piratehyde

    10 November, 2008 at 10:10 pm

  10. Re- Magnesium: I think it might be dopamine. Surely if you’re lowering glutamate levels and raising GABA, your dopamine will proportionally increase?

    I am going through a high dopamine phase at the moment (not excessive) but I feel “powerful” and very antisocial. At the same time I sleep extremely well for me and i’m almost groggy in the morning. I think its high GABA, high dopamine. Makes you feel a bit flat though but I tend to ramble a lot more to my partner. Glutamate really makes it hard to talk!

    I’m sure it will all change around again in a week or so, lol.

    piratehyde

    12 November, 2008 at 11:09 am

  11. “too much dopamine causes delusions” is actually a bit simplistic, it all depends on where in your brain the dopamine acts. Dopamine in the prefrontal cortex is “good” for attention, while dopamine in other areas (can’t remember which!) is more associated with delusional thinking.

    Interestingly, low levels of glutamate seems to increase dopamine in the “wrong” places, while high levels of glutamate increases levels of dopamine in the profrontal cortex.

    Kynurenic Acid binds to the Alpha 7 nicotinic and NMDA-receptors, which decreases the effect of glutamate and possibly causes the negative AND positive symptoms of schizophrenia…

    Uhn, I’m too groggy to write right now actually, perhaps too low levels of glutamate? ;)
    I’ve written more about it here! http://subtlepangs.blogspot.com/2009/02/schizophrenia-kynurenic-acid-stress-and.html

    offwhitest

    13 February, 2009 at 3:38 pm

  12. Well, just i’m not sure to understand.
    If we should raise gaba, and knowing that gaba is synthetised by our body from Pyridoxal-phosphate ( vitamin B6) and glutamate.

    Why should we avoid to raise glutamate ?

    I’m bipolar and agoraphobic (panic attack) a great package ;)

    By the way, did you guys looked on gluten sensitivity?
    A lot of people with bipolar got celiac disease even if they don’t have clinical symptoms, because there are also the silent type too hard to diagnosed.
    Basically, the gluten inhibit the absorption of nutrients to function properly.
    So even the vitamins you get in your food or suplement are not well absorbed.
    In the end the synthesis of gaba is alterated and inhibited.
    You got the symptoms we all know.

    Thanks for your post, very instructive.

    antoniovargas

    23 March, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    • Glutamate is very excitatory and seems to push mood strongly in different directions.

      I’ve seen a few preliminary studies re: celiac disease that suggest it isn’t nutrient absorption that causes bipolar/epilepsy/schizophrenia in celiacs, it’s because of autoimmune attack on brain proteins that are similar to the proteins in the gut lining.

      alienrobotgirl

      22 May, 2009 at 8:35 pm


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