Ginseng inhibits inflammation caused by microglial/immune activation and therefore lower glutamate and cytokine levels (microglia are activated as a first step in immune response and they signal additional glutamate/cytokines/etc).

  • “Ginseng extracts also inhibit immunoexcitotoxic activation of microglia, an important factor in preventing the destructive process of Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, components in American ginseng, Korean red ginseng, and Panax ginseng all inhibit inflammation caused by microglial activation. Regulation of microglial activity is critically important in brain protection because these specialized immune cells can either be beneficial or quite harmful, depending on what state they are in. The protective activation mode stimulates the microglia to act as cells that clean up dangerous debris collected in the brain, such as dead or dying brain cell components and especially beta amyloid, the substance seen in Alzheimer’s disease.””Korean red ginseng contains a gensinoside that stimulates the microglia to assume this beneficial type of immune function — that is, it stimulates phagocytosis. Think of phagocytosis like the video game Pacman, which scurries around gobbling up dangerous brain debris.” “Korean red ginseng appears to be especially potent in reducing excitotoxicity, protecting brain cells from apoptosis (programmed death), stimulating brain repair, reducing brain inflammation, and reducing brain amyloid plaque and hyperphosphorylated tau, two products that accumulate in brains affected by Alzheimer’s disease.” “American ginseng has also shown great promise in preventing many of the processes that lead to Alzheimer’s dementia. For example, it has been shown to stimulate the growth of neurites, which are connections that allow brain cells to communicate.
  • “The protective effects of ginseng on neurological disorders are discussed in this review. Ginseng species and ginsenosides, and their intestinal metabolism and bioavailability are briefly introduced. This is followed by molecular mechanisms of effects of ginseng on the brain, including glutamatergic transmission, monoamine transmission, estrogen signaling, nitric oxide (NO) production, the Keap1/Nrf2 adaptive cellular stress pathway, neuronal survival, apoptosis, neural stem cells and neuroregeneration, microglia, astrocytes, oligodendrocytes and cerebral microvessels.”

Why Is This Important?

Glutamate is also the most abundant neurotransmitter, responsible for regulating over 50% of the nervous system. It is classified as an excitatory neurotransmitter, which means it excites or stimulates nerve cells located throughout the nervous system. Glutamate also has the ability to regulate other neurotransmitters, dopamine, serotonin and GABA are great examples. When glutamate is in excess it is extremely toxic to the brain and nervous system. It can become so excitatory, it is considered a excitotoxin, which means that it overstimulates brain cells to the point of killing them or damaging them enough to cause severe mitochondrial dysfunction (associated with low muscle tone) and neurological inflammation. Excess glutamate is believed to be involved in a variety of neurological and neurodegenerative disorders including autism, obsessive compulsive disorders, hyperactivity disorders, complex motor stereotypes, tics, insomnia, anxiety disorders, seizures, sensory processing disorder, addiction, depression, chronic fatigue, PANS, PANDAS, Alzheimers, and so on. Excess glutamate also impairs methylation and depletes glutathione levels, which are vital for detoxification, controlling inflammation and gut health.  Working to lower glutamate/inflammation and balance GABA, is key to improving overall health.

Obviously diet (REID) is one of the most important, if not, the most important step in lowering glutamate. However, this natural option may prove beneficial in helping when experiencing a peak of symptoms related to high glutamate and neurological inflammation, i.e. following consumption of a high glutamate food, trauma or a “flare” from PANS (pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder) or PANDAS (pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections).  Additionally, working to lower inflammation/glutamate by treating underlying sources inflammation (metals, microbial imbalances, parasites, microglial activation, poor detoxification pathways, various toxins, etc.) will also be hugely beneficial.  We’ve personally found homeopathy to be great for this.

I do not have personal experience with all options mentioned in the “Lowering Glutamate” page, nor would I recommend all of them (especially the pharmaceutical options). You will want to read the comments as some of the items used to temporarily lower glutamate, can actual work to increase glutamate/glutamate sensitivity over time.

The information shared within this blog has been gathered by a mother, not a physician, and should not act as medical advice. Under no circumstances shall I, or any contributors and affiliates of the blog, be responsible for damages arising from use of the blog.