The Healthy Melissa's Blog

My journey into the world of Health,Wellness, and Functional Medicine

Category: Neurotransmitters

Leaky Brain: The GABA Challenge

“There are a lot of people who have no ‘neurological disease’ but they have functional impairment of the brain and neurodegeneration. This means that the degeneration is there, but they’re not far along enough to be diagnosed as having a disease.” – Dr. Datis Kharrazian, June 2017

We all hear about “Leaky Gut” or the scientific name Increased Intestinal Permeability. But did you know that you can also have Leaky Brain and Leaky Lung? Basically anywhere that you have barriers, such as the Blood Brain Barrier or the tissue in the gut (endothelial tissue) (which is identical to that of the lungs). Inflammation tends to happen simultaneously in both areas. So ‘leaky lung syndrome,’ ‘leaky brain,’ & ‘leaky gut syndrome‘ go hand in hand!

“Leaky Brain happens when the tight junctions and fragility of the blood-brain barrier become compromised and leaky.” -The International Journal of Molecular Science

What can cause a leaky blood brain barrier?

1. Inflammation. Brain on fire = Gut on fire. Leaky gut = Leaky Brain

Credit: Dr. Datis Kharrazian

2. Low antioxidants. Not having a diet high in fruits and vegetables, eating non-nourishing foods.

3. Low Glutathione levels. This is the most powerful antioxidant in your body. Glutathione has many roles in the body, such as participating in liver detoxification, helping to get rid of heavy metals in the body, protecting the blood brain barrier, anti-aging.

4. Eating wheat. Eating wheat/gluten literally destroys your brain tissue. Hundreds of documented studies have show the brain MRIs of white matter lesions in people eating wheat before and then after the healing of those lesions after being gluten free for 4-6 months.

5. Eating wheat!!!!!! *(I can’t stress this enough) Dr. Kharrazian conducted a study in 2013 showing that that the gluten in wheat LOOKS like cerebellar tissue and through “molecular mimicry” causes antibodies to a persons own cerebellum. The cerebellum controls coordination, balance and movement. There is no other food protein more devastating to the brain than gluten.

Quick test to show if you have weak/degenerating cerebellar function:

  1. Try to balance on one foot for a few seconds. First stand on your left foot only. Then stand on your right foot only. Are you easily able to balance? Do you fall to one side?
  2. Stand on each foot with your eyes closed and see if you are still able to balance.
  3. Walk heel to toe with out wavering or falling to one side. If you cannot take 3 steps then you have a cerebellar issue.
  4. Walk heel to toe with your eyes closed. If you cannot take 3 steps with out falling or wavering, you have a cerebellar issue.
  5. Try to coordinate the exact speed and timing of the right and left hands with repeated and alternating supination and pronation.

If you had any issue with doing those tests, you have degeneration of your cerebellum. You must stop eating wheat #1. And you need to strengthen the cerebellum by doing those exercises until you no longer fall over or are imbalanced.This creates neuroplasticity.

And if you still don’t think you should stop eating wheat:

You can try doing The Array 3 from Cyrex Labs, this tests the entire wheat proteome instead of just alpha gliadin (which is the most commonly tested part of wheat to determine if you have a wheat allergy. So if this comes back non reactive, you’re deemed “okay” totally neglecting all the other portions of wheat)

Transglutaminases are antibodies to your OWN tissues. The red circle is Transglutaminase 6, found in the cerebellar tissue. This is showing that every time this person eats wheat they are creating antibodies to their brain tissue. The blue circle is Gluteomorphins, which bind to the opioid receptors in the brain – actually causing you to become addicted to wheat and feel withdrawal symptoms when you stop eating it.

How to tell if you have a leaky blood brain barrier:

You can’t exactly tell if you have leaky brain, because you can’t FEEL it. There are no Nociceptors (pain fibers) in the brain. If you get a head ache, that is a vascular issue. We have to look at the whole picture of what is going on with the gut and also some questionnaires to determine what areas of the brain are degenerating.

One hypothesis that Dr. Datis Kharrazian touched on is the GABA Challenge.

Credit: Datis Kharrazian

GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter within the Central Nervous System (CNS) that reduces excitability in the CNS, and causes us to feel calm. It also plays a role in muscle tone.

  • (Side note: Ataxia is an “idiopathic” condition that is characterized by loss of muscle control, stiffness in muscles, unable to move. Studies have found that wheat can create confusion in the process that creates GABA, and cause antibodies to the enzyme responsible for the synthesis of GABA. ‘GAD 65 antibodies’.)

GABA is a relatively large molecule and should NOT pass through the blood brain barrier. So if you’ve ever taken GABA in pill form and it WORKED, you felt relaxed/sleepy….this means you have a leaky blood brain barrier. Not good!

The GABA Challenge is precisely this:

Credit: Datis Kharrazian

  1. On a night when you have nothing planned, take 1000mg of GABA
  2. Notice any unusual slowing down type feelings, tiredness, lethargy.
  3. Although rare, this response can happen too: feeling wired, excitation, agitation. This is still an indication of a compromised BBB.
  4. Any sort of change is an indication for damage to the BBB.

The protocol for repairing leaky brain is similar to that of repairing leaky gut.

1. Support the brain with nutrition. Absolute most important step is to remove inflammatory foods out of your diet.

2. Activate the vagus nerve with exercises such as singing, stimulating your gag reflex (do while brushing your teeth), and gargling water really violently for 5 minutes ’til you have tears coming out of your eyes and snot flowing!

3. Exercises to increase brain function

4. Take anti-inflammatory supplements and spices or eat them in food form. Resveratrol and Turmeric. These work to dampen inflammation in both gut and brain.

5. Aloe vera – Eating Aloe repairs mucosal lining (remember gut on fire = brain on fire)

6. Take probiotics (not cultured on dairy) – Think of the Gut – Brain axis. They are one.

7. EPA/DHA – DHA is a key part of BBB integrity. Consuming fish or a fish oil (or plant based source of DHA if you’re not into fish). 2-3 months of consuming hydrogenated fatty acids, your cell membranes become more rigid. Switching to high quality oils/fatty acids like EPA/DHA causing the cell membranes to be more fluid and carry nutrients more optimally. This impacts the BBB.

8. Doing brain exercises for memory and cognition:

– Matching card games, memory apps such as Brain Trainer, Vismory, Icue Memory, Memory Boost, Memory Pro, Memory Mice IQ Brain Teaser

 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24451306

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20456245

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24168411

http://nlnt.com.au/naturalhealthblog/tag/leaky-lung-syndrome/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27367682

The Role of Brain Chemistry and The Physiological Impact by Datis Kharrazian

Low Melatonin Is More Disease-Causing Than PCBs! 

“Low Melatonin is more carcinogenic than PCBs” Dr. Penny Kendall-Reed, ND

The American Cancer Society survey of over one million people in 1959 to 1960 found that 2% of the sample reported getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night. A number of later surveys in the 1960s and 1980s indicated significant increases in the number of adults reporting short sleep durations. By 2004 the National Health Interview Survey indicated that for adults between 30 and 64 years of age about 30% were getting 6 hours or less of sleep per night. Given what we know about the impact of sleep loss on health and the potential for accidents, such increases are indeed alarming.

 

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is the hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain that induces a deep state of sleep. More recently, science is showing that a substantial more amount of melatonin is actually being created in the gut than in the pineal gland. If you didn’t know, serotonin is also created in the gut.

 

Bad Gut, Bad Brain.

  1. When our gut production of melatonin becomes low, the gut becomes inflamed and that can signal  the start of more Gastrointestinal issues. Colonocytes, which are the cells that line the colon – are even effected when melatonin levels become low. The colonocytes become inflamed. (Inflammation in the colon leads to colon cancer).
  2. Studies show that melatonin actually improves the inflammation in the gray matter of the brain – this is especially important for people with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The brain is inflamed in this neurological disease.
  3. Studies also show that if you have a traumatic brain injury, concussion, hit your heads in a car accident – nearly always afterwards you will develop gut issues. The gut and brain are linked without a doubt.
  4. If you do not take probiotics, have leaky gut, have bacterial/parasitic infections in the gut – your brain is invariably affected as well.
  5. The “happy neurotransmitter” serotonin is produced in the gut – bad gut, bad brain function!

 

Who Is At Risk For Low Melatonin?

  • Shift workers, graveyard shift workers, those with Insomnia, or any occupation that cause you to be awake over night and sleep during the day, reversing your circadian rhythm.
  • Because of this melatonin disruption, melatonin is actually being converted into Serotonin on a needed basis. You will find that because of this melatonin steal, you will not sleep as well. You may also find more incidence of mood disorders and depression because of this constant pattern of melatonin converting to serotonin. 

  • When the body is imbalanced in 1 area, it will pull on other pathways to compensate. Your body wants to be balanced all the time.

 

The Different Stages of Sleep.

There are stage 1 – 4 and then REM sleep.

Our body & brain heals in Stage 4 sleep. We are so stage 4 deprevant because of our lifestyles. We are so stressed, distracted by our phones, T.V., working late hours, and not finding time to relax and be happy! (Have you ever heard of a couple trying to get pregnant and they cant. They go on vacation and then they miraculously get pregnant? STRESS, I tell you! STRESS!! It inhibits the body from flourishing.)

Stage 4 sleep is when the brain cleans out all the toxins and garbage – this is why sleep is so important.

What about those who have bad dreams when they take melatonin?

Rapid Eye Movement (REM). If you go into REM sleep with high cortisol/adrenal issues, all your dreams will be in fight flight. That is precisely why you will have weird dreams. Which you weren’t having before you started taking melatonin because you didn’t go into deep REM sleep!

What about those that take melatonin and wake up groggy?

Normally when everything is functioning on its own & perfectly balanced, you spend time equally in each of the stages of sleep (stages 1,2,3,4, REM.) But that doesn’t always happen, sometimes a person can go from stage 1, 2, 3, REM and back to 1 (totally skipping over the stage 4 of sleep).

When someone has been stage 4 sleep deprived and then starts taking melatonin, the brain will go into a “catch up mode.” The brain will spend a disproportionate amount of time in stage 4 of sleep. That’s what’s causing the grogginess. The solution: Take the melatonin 1-2 hours before bed and it can help with the grogginess.

 

How To Tell If You Have Lower Serotonin or Dopamine Production:

1. Low dopamine people are the ones that crave: chips, savory, cheese, nuts, salty, fatty foods, wine.

  • L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that is the precursor to dopamine, you may have a deficiency in this amino acid. L-Tyrsosine is also very important for proper thyroid function, and can improve appetite control.

2. Low serotonin people are the ones who crave: sweets, chocolate, dessert, sugar.

  • L-Glutamine is an amino acid that has shown significant improvement in eliminating cravings for sweets. It also helps to repair gut lining/leaky gut. *Caution: if you are fighting active cancer you should avoid L-Glutamine.

Both L-Tyrosine and L-Glutamine are naturally occuring in foods. But higher therapeutic doses may be needed if you are having these symptoms. As always, talk to your functional medicine practitioner about this, and they’ll know what to do!

Hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. : )

 

Resources: 

innerouterpeace.com

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sleepless-in-america/201001/are-we-really-getting-less-sleep-we-did-in-1975

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150105081757.htm

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/03/19/melatonin-benefits.aspx

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/22026660/#.WPxvrVKZM9d

https://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2007/pr180.html

https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article/doi/10.1093/jnci/djw169/2706931/Night-Shift-Work-and-Breast-Cancer-Incidence-Three

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