Recently, I received an email from a client’s wife about baclofen and how it’s being used to treat PTSD. She sent links with the results of a study examining the efficacy of baclofen in PTSD treatment. While the research is compelling it made me think, “How can get we get these results without the drug?”
So I did a little sleuthing….
Why GABA Should Be Important To You
Technically, baclofen is a muscle relaxer and antispastic agent used to treat muscle symptoms caused by multiple sclerosis, including spasms, pain, stiffness, etc. What researcher’s believe is that baclofen may actually increase your brain’s levels of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid).
The role of GABA is to inhibit nerve transmission in the brain thereby calming nervous activity. That would be a big plus in PTSD, wouldn’t it?
The full role of GABA is explained very perfectly in this article by Laura Owens,
As one of the primary neurotransmitters in the brain, GABA is an inhibitory (vs. excitatory) chemical responsible for creating the calming, rhythmic electrical impulses in the brain. It elevates the production of alpha waves associated with feeling relaxed (without drowsiness) and boosts mental alertness. GABA lowers beta waves, impulses that contribute to a state of nervousness, racing thoughts and hyperactivity.
While a balanced brain receives regular, smooth electrical impulses, a GABA deficient one receives them in spurts. As a result, the brain experiences arrhythmia, or dysrhythmia which directly affects overall emotional well-being.
Here’s where things get interesting: researchers believe GABA levels can be low in PTSD survivors, which means there is less nerve transmission inhibition leading to increased levels of anxiety. In a recent study of fourteen PTSD survivors taking baclofen in the eleven who completed the 8-week study every single one experienced a reduced rating on the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale.
While too little is yet known about the absolute efficacy or even the long-term side effects of baclofen in PTSD treatment there’s something much more important, less risky and easy to implement that we can learn from this news: GABA is a neurotransmitter made in your brain, which means there are holistic methods of increasing it. Whether you need baclofen or not, any PTSD brain could use a little boost of the juice.
Safe Ways to Increase GABA In Your Brain
Natural anti-anxiety nutrition includes GABA producing foods you can easily incorporate into your daily diet. For example: almonds, tree nuts, bananas, beef liver, broccoli, brown rice, halibut, lentils, oats, whole grain, oranges/citrus fruits, rice bran, spinach, walnuts, whole grains (including wheat and oats).
Other ways to improve production and functioning of your neurotransmitters outside of diet include:
Avoid: smoking, drinking or drugs, sugar, caffeine, white flour, junk food.
Implement: a high protein diet – preferably meat protein, adjust diet by identifying food allergies/sensitivities, exercise regularly, practice mindfulness, breathwork, meditation, plus activities that access a spiritual a sense (yoga, prayer, daily walking, art, music, writing), practice habits of stress management.
There are so many things out of your control in the PTSD experience. Taking steps to offer your brain nutritional support that can help stimulate the production of GABA, your brain’s very own calm inducing element, is an easy, economical and healthy way to do something that really takes good care of you. So the question is, how will you use this information, and when?