Vitamin C- Vitamin C is intertwined with glutamate signaling and glutamate release. It has the ability to neutralize free radicals, reduce oxidative stress, improve mitochondrial function and offer protection during glutamate release. The use of whole food sources such as rose hips, guava, kiwi, strawberry, cherry, blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, beet, carrot, spinach, broccoli, kale, cabbage, parsley, brussel sprouts, ginger, cauliflower, cranberries, asparagus, etc. are much preferred over supplementation in my opinion (glutamate risk and may contribute to oxalate issues).

  • “Vitamin C also has antioxidant properties that may prove to be helpful in treating HD. Inside the body, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) changes form to become the negatively charged ascorbate. Ascorbate can then directly neutralize very reactive free radicals by donating its own electrons to them. In this way ascorbate can protect other cell components from oxidation by free radicals. Oxidation can cause cell components to lose their ability to function normally, and excessive oxidative damage may eventually lead to nerve cell death. It has even been found that ascorbate prevents free radicals from oxidizing its fellow vitamin, vitamin E! The release of ascorbate from nerve cells is actually linked to the uptake of another molecule into the nerve cells. This molecule is glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter that can be toxic to nerve cells. It can exert toxic effects either when it is present in large amounts or when the nerve cells are overly sensitive to it, as are nerve cells in many people with HD. Because glutamate is excitatory, it is often released by nerve cells during times of motor activity. When it is released by one nerve cell, it travels to the next nerve cell to stimulate it. When glutamate has done its job as messenger, it can either be broken down or taken back up by the nerve cells that released it.
    Researchers found that when glutamate is taken back up by the nerve cells, these cells simultaneously release ascorbate. Because glutamate release is tied to increased production of free radicals, this ascorbate release mechanism might have evolved in order to protect nerve cells. The more glutamate that is released by the nerve cell, the more is taken back up later. Because glutamate is “exchanged” with ascorbate when it goes back into the nerve cell, the cell can regulate how much ascorbate it releases based on how much glutamate was originally released. This mechanism allows the cell to release appropriate amounts of ascorbate because it can measure how much free radical production may have been stimulated by the glutamate release. But glutamate is not the only factor responsible for increasing free-radical formation during this time. When a cell is more active, it has to carry out more metabolic processes, and at a faster rate, which also increases the natural production of free radicals. Therefore, the levels of extracellular ascorbate should be highest during times of motor activity: this is a time when the cells are most likely producing increased levels of free radicals themselves and may need extra protection from glutamate toxicity.” http://web.stanford.edu/group/hopes/cgi-bin/hopes_test/vitamin-c/

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.