A possible cause of anxiety, insomnia and alcohol addiction – and a cure.

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The relevant part starts at about 30 seconds in and runs until about the 2 minute mark.  Dr Dan is talking about GABA, the neurotransmitter that makes us happy and relaxed and sleepy.  His first interesting point is that GABA is very important in embryonic brain development1 and if a pregnant woman is low on GABA due to pesticide intake or potentially from neurological drug therapy2,this can have a very adverse effect on her baby’s brain3. Essentially GABA drives the production of the neurons that will produce the neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. Never did it seem wiser to eat organic food.

His second point is dear to my heart and that is that inflammation of the brain leads to a decrease in GABA production – leading us to feeling more anxious,  sleeping poorly or drinking more than is good for us.  A prime cause of brain inflammation is gluten.  Gluten, found in wheat, rye and barley, is this molecule that is difficult to digest- after all these plants are developed from grasses.  It contains a substance called Zonulin that opens the junctions in the gut wall so molecules that are too big escape prematurely into the blood stream, trundle about there and some end up in the brain doing no good at all.  The only food sensitivity test that Charles Poliquin recommends4 is the MRT test, formerly known as the LEAP test and it costs about £700 to take.  For me the cheaper option is to cut out all gluten for 6 weeks, then eat it again.  If we have a problem with gluten, it will be quite apparent in the resulting feelings of bloating, sudden sleepiness, sneezing or possibly nausea.  To reduce inflammation anywhere in the body, it is good to take omega 3 oils and vitamin D3.  Of course, any food sensitivity could cause inflammation in the brain – and if not the brain, something else gets inflamed; it is part of the body’s reaction to the insult.

So as Dr Dan says, gluten will interfere with the conversion of glutamate to GABA and thus lead us to feeling over-anxious, desperate for a drink or unable to sleep at night.  Food for thought.

  1. GABA feeds the other developing neurons []
  2. Represa A, Ben-Ari Y. Trophic actions of GABA on neuronal development.  Trends in neuroscience Vol. 28 No 6. June 2005.  A review of studies on fetal brain development. Its conclusion is that there has not been enough done to study the adverse side effects of some neurological drugs on foetal brain development []
  3. Lauder JM, Liu J, Devaud L, Morrow AL.  GABA as a trophic factor for developing monoamine neurons,. Perspect. Dev Neurobiol.  1998; 5(2-3): 247-59 Abstract.  A very scary study showing the effect of pesticide exposure on the developing fetal brain, particularly in the first trimester []
  4. Poliquin regularly tests various laboratories using blood samples taken from the same person  and splits that sample up to send to the different laboratories to compare results.  He even splits the blood sample up and sends it to the same lab under 2 different names.  The results he gets are inconsistent and variable.  So it is after these field tests that he reaches the conclusion about the MRT test – and even this he says is not 100% accurate.  So the science of food sensitivity diagnosis has some way to go.  Incidentally most food sensitivity tests measure the immune response markers in the blood.  The MRT measures inflammation markers. []

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