Magnesium- In our experience, magnesium has made the biggest impact in reducing our symptoms within a flare. Magnesium protects against glutamate damage, sits on the NMDA glutamate receptor, calms cells, helps to raise GABA, improves motility, and can help to resolve many various health issues. It is also my understanding that one will quickly burn through magnesium due to neuron firing when in an excitotoxic state (or a flare). Low magnesium is also associated with oxidative stress and a significant fall in cellular glutathione, low vitamin D, and a dramatic increase in free radical generation.

Some Foods/Herbs Highest in

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Squash seeds (especially pumpkin)
  • Nuts (especially cashews)
  • Whole grains
  • Celery seed
  • Sage
  • Fennel
  • Basil
  • Yucca leaf

When we started our journey, we slowly introduced Epsom salt (aka magnesium sulfate) baths by adding about 1/4 cup of pure (unscented, etc) Epsom salts to his bathtub (water filled just above his belly button…no need to rinse after). (Side note: some may see increased hyperactivity from magnesium sulfate baths. This could be a number of things but is commonly a PST deficiency causing issues with the sulfur. If this is the case, you could try magnesium chloride flakes instead.)This small change of implementing an Epsom salt bath a few nights a week, not only improved his autism symptoms, but it improved detoxification, sleep, and his bowel motility.   It wasn’t until later that I realized the benefits were due to the increase of magnesium. Once we realized this, we struggled to get these whole food sources of magnesium in, this is when I developed the magnesium muffin recipe, the glutamate lowering salt soak, and ate plenty of roasted squash seeds.  We have also used homemade magnesium lotion and ionic magnesium, ReMag when he was in “crisis mode” or really struggling. This was not supported by REID but I felt as though it was something we had to do. In this case, we would give 1/4 of the adult dose (roughly 1/2 a cap full) and mix it in with savory food, due to the salty flavor of the supplement.   Supplementing with sources of magnesium like magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate, magnesium glutamate, and magnesium aspartate will all contain sources of free glutamate.

  • “Magnesium will help regulate calcium levels. Magnesium is also able to bind to and activate GABA receptors.” “Extracellular magnesium (Mg2+) and zinc (Zn2+) ions can bind to specific sites on the receptor (NMDA glutamate receptor), blocking the passage of other cations through the open ion channel.”  http://www.holistichelp.net/blog/how-to-increase-gaba-and-balance-glutamate/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NMDA_receptor
  • “Improvements in neurological function not only are limited to sensory or motor function but also involve behavior and cognition.” “One of the vital functions for CNS magnesium is modulation of the NMDA glutamate receptor. Low levels of magnesium significantly enhance excitotoxic sensitivity and may be one of the mechanisms by which magnesium depletion precipitates seizures in otherwise healthy individuals. Furthermore, magnesium deficiency has been demonstrated in neurodegenerative disorders, such as AD, where it was correlated with cognitive scores. Patients with lowest magnesium levels had the lowest Global Deterioration Scale scores and Clinical Dementia Ratings. A review of studies found that magnesium may be useful in improving cognitive function and other symptoms in AD patients.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3307240/#ref61 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3765911/

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.