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GABA—Supplement Benefits in Drug and Alcohol Detox
GABA—WHAT IT IS AND WHAT IT DOES…
…and the use of GABA to Provide a Safer, More Comfortable Detox.
THE USE OF GABA AT NOVUS
- 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.
- Since almost all of our patients are nutritionally deficient and dehydrated when they arrive at Novus, our Medical Director has implemented the addition of GABA to the IV therapy given to our patients.
- The purpose is to provide a more natural boost to the GABA in the brain and to allow the calming effect of GABA to make the detoxification process more comfortable.
- In addition, the extra GABA will help reduce the anxious feelings experienced by many of our patients who are concerned about how they will feel without drugs.
Novus Patients Say:
"You’re not on your own."
"They can help you get off drugs"
"Good medical care"
"Got my life back!"
"Don’t treat you like a drug addict"
"Extremely friendly and nice."
"Novus is the ‘Hilton’ or ‘Cadillac’ of detox centers."
DEFINING TERMS ASSOCIATED WITH GABA
To more easily understand how GABA operates, we need to define a few terms.
The first is neuron.
- A neuron is another name for a nerve cell.
- Nerve cells float in fluid.
- Each neuron has an axon — a thread-like part of the cell that sends signals from the cell body, and a dendrite—a part of the cell that receives signals from other neurons.
- The neurons are not touching and the space between the cells is called the synapse.
- Electrical signals are sent through the synapse to a receptor, a place on a cell that can produce a certain effect—like the production of adrenaline if someone is frightened.
The second term is central nervous system (“CNS”).
- The Central Nervous System is composed of the brain and the spinal cord.
- The CNS transmits signals to the rest of the body using chemical messengers called neurotransmitters.
- These neurotransmitters carry a message from a neuron to receptors on another neuron.
- The action of the neurotransmitters on the receptors has been likened to a key being inserted in a lock.
- When the key is turned the lock opens and the neurotransmitters activate the receptors, which in turn creates an effect in the body.
The following picture illustrates these actions.
Structural features of a typical nerve cell (i.e., neuron) and synapse. This schematic drawing depicts the major components of a typical neuron, including the cell body with the nucleus; the dendrites that receive signals from other neurons; and the axon, which relays nerve signals to other neurons at a specialized structure called a synapse (see inset). When the nerve signal reaches the synapse, it causes the release of chemical messengers (i.e., neurotransmitters) from storage vesicles. The neurotransmitters travel across a minute gap between the cells and then interact with protein molecules (i.e., receptors) located in the membrane surrounding the signal-receiving neuron. This interaction causes biochemical reactions that result in the generation, or prevention, of a new nerve signal, depending on the type of neuron, neurotransmitter, and/or receptor involved.
- Some neurotransmitters act like a brake on a car. They inhibit or slow down the actions of the neurons. These are called inhibitory neurotransmitters.
- GABA is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain.
- Other neurotransmitters act like an accelerator. They increase the speed of the actions of the neurons. These are called excitatory neurotransmitters.
- Excitatory neurotransmitters are vital to:
- Help us stay alert
- Maintain our normal memory functions
- Maintain our co-ordination
- Maintain normal emotional responses
- Maintain our heart rate
- Maintain our blood pressure
- Glutamate (a common amino acid) is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain.
WHAT DETERMINES WHICH NEUROTRANSMITTERS ARE RELEASED?
- If there is something that creates:
- A feeling of panic
- Other stress
- Excitatory neurotransmitters like glutamate are released and a person can feel:
- Higher than normal irritability
- Rapid heartbeats
- High blood pressure
- Even seizures.
GABA’S ROLE IN THE BRAIN
- Glutamate speeds things up and when they are going too fast, GABA slows them back down.
- If there is a problem with the GABA in our brains, the neurons fire more and more, increasing the speed of the processes in the brain.
HOW GABA WORKS
- When GABA binds to a nerve cell receptor 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.
- 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.
HOW BENZODIAZEPINES AND SEDATIVES/HYPNOTICS AFFECT GABA
- Work to increase the effectiveness of GABA.
- To the extent that they are successful, these drugs will produce a temporary calming effect.
- Of course, the brain tries to keep all the neurotransmitters in balance.
- When it senses that these drugs have increased the action of the GABA.
It reduces the number of the GABA receptors, and consequently, the action of the body’s natural GABA is lessened.
- This is called “down regulation” and explains why a dose of a drug may have a calming effect for a time and then apparently cease to work.
- This is also known as developing a tolerance to the drug.
- If the GABA neurotransmitters predominate, people can have difficulty concentrating, have memory loss, have no energy and have many other disorders.
- This is why people that are taking high doses of benzodiazepines, sedatives/hypnotics or other CNS depressants like alcohol often walk around in a “fog.”
NOTE: This information is provided for general educational purposes only and is not intended to constitute (i) medical advice or counseling, (ii) the practice of medicine, health care diagnosis or treatment, or (iii) the creation of a physician patient or clinical relationship. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or that this information may be useful to you or others, please consult with your health care provider before applying any information from our articles to your personal situation or to the personal situation of others.
FAIR USE NOTICE: This may contain copyrighted © material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. It is believed that this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C.
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