GABA and Serotonin are the two main inhibitory neurotransmitters.
Inhibitory sounds like a bad thing, but we need a balance between excitatory and inhibitory aspects of all functions in the body. Just as there’s light and dark, and fast and slow, we need to have both to be in balance.
If we were to run on hot or fast all the time, like most of us do in modern times, we’d get burnt out. Sick… Tired…
And often oddly wired at the same time.
“Tired and wired”. That was me when my health fell apart in 2005 (for the third time). What I learned from my unique neurologist, Dr. Eric Braverman, changed my life and my clinical practice!
An extensive series of brain tests showed only 25% of normal Serotonin function and 15% of normal GABA function. I set out to learn these two neurotransmitters, what the lack of them was doing to my body, and how to help bring these levels up in the best way for ME…. Some of us may need prescriptions for this, and some don’t.
“The Edge Effect” is Dr. Braverman’s highly readable book on neurotransmitters and health. It’s hands down the best $12.95 I ever spent, and has quizzes, charts and neuroscience made so simple anyone can follow it and get excited about it. It’s fun to “diagnose” yourself and a relief to see that so many symptoms can be due to one cause!
Note: I don’t recommend his Diet suggestions, but the supplements he lists are useful.
Here’s some of the things GABA controls in your body. If this sounds like you, start on some Passion Flower today (here it is in glycerite or alcohol tincture). It works far better than taking straight GABA itself.
Symptoms of GABA deficiency:
• Physical – Carbohydrate craving, skin flushing, butterflies in stomach, ringing in ear, muscle tension (especially in neck and back), numbness or tingling in fingers, hyperventilation (not the emergency kind, but the everyday breathing too fast and too shallow), blurred vision, allergies, night sweats, tachycardia, reflux, pain – especially in nerves but elsewhere too
• Psychological – Restlessness, dread, emotional immaturity, short temper, phobias, anxiety or panic, obsessive thinking, rapid pulse
• Attention Issues – Impulsivity, disorganization, ADD
Conditions/diseases of GABA deficiency: Tinnitus, anxiety, hypertension, chronic pain, irritable bowel, reflux, PMS, seizures, bipolar disorder, insomnia (and therefore fatigue), addiction
Symptoms of Serotonin Deficiency:
• Psychological – Impulsiveness, hypervigilance, lack of common sense, rage
• Attention Issues – Slow reactions, restlessness, lack of concentration
• Conditions/diseases of serotonin deficiency – PMS, phobias, insomnia, depression, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
• Physical – Salt cravings, backache, headache, cold or clammy hands, shortness of breath, drug reactions, sleep disturbances
Here’s a short, basic Brain Quiz for GABA and for Serotonin deficiency. IIf you answer true to most of these questions, you might be using up GABA or Serotonin too quickly. What can you do to make your life quieter and easier?
The GABA True/False Quiz:
1. I feel shaky. T / F
2. I have frequent back, neck and/or headaches. T / F
3. I can be very irritable at the least cause. T / F
4. I tend to have heart palpitations. T / F
5. I tend to have cold hands. T / F
6. I sometimes sweat too much. T / F
7. I am sometimes dizzy. T / F
8. I am often nervous. T / F
9. I often feel fatigued even when I have had a good night’s sleep. T / F
10. I overeat. T / F
The Serotonin True/False Quiz:
1) I have night sweats. T / F
2) I always awake early in the morning. T / F
3) I can’t relax. T / F
4) I wake up at least two times per night. T / F
5) It is difficult for me to fall back asleep when I am awakened. T / F
6) I crave salt. T / F
7) I have less energy to exercise. T/F
8) I am sad. T/F
9) I tend to sleep in many different positions in order to feel comfortable. T / F
10) I have insomnia. T / F
Is there a way to fix this without medications?
The best way to FIX the deficiency and prevent further decline is to stop-look-and-listen to what your life is telling you. For me, I was clearly overworking, struggling with the deaths of my parents and my godchild, in menopause and more.
Since GABA and Serotonin act as the “brakes” in our over-active bodies, people deficient in GABA and Serotonin need plenty of sleep, fats, and protein to keep in balance. Sugars, starches, dieting, and lack of sleep or down time can cause the physical and emotional dominoes listed above to fall like clockwork.
The Edge Effect has suggestions for medications, herbs, minerals and more. Highly recommended! I personally love our Passion Flower and take it frequently. I have other herbs in my online store as well.