What do Glutamate, GABA, and Glutamine have in common? The former two amino acid have antiseizure properties, but although L-glutamine is an amino acid, it is sometimes confused with glutamate. What is the difference and how do these relate to seizures?

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a non-essential amino acid used for aiding sleep and anti-anxiety or seizures.

Glutamate (glutamic acid) is a proteinogenic non-essential amino acid and is an important neurotransmitter and is connected to seizures. I will go into this more later.

Glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid and also the most abundantly fee amino acid. Glutamine is often used for treating trauma, burns, and for wound healing, but not necessarily for seizures.

Now that we know what glutamine is, we will move on to GABA and glutamate and how they have the role of being antiseizure agents.

GABA and glutamate for treating seizures

According to Dr. J., glutamic acid (glutamate) is the principal neurotransmitter, but that “MSG (monosodium glutamate), whose parent protein is glutamic acid, is used as a flavor enhancer due to it neurostimulating effect on the taste buds. When it reaches the brain, it induces migraines, seizures, the ‘MSG rush’, and lowers the pain threshold (e.g. people with fibromyalgia or other chronic pain syndromes).”

In cases of epilepsy, Dr. J. reports that one woman stopped seizing once on The GARD (Glutamate & Aspartate Restricted Diet) only after she stopped eating cashews, which are known to be a source of glutamate. He says, “It is ‘interesting’ that some of the new anticonvulsants work by blocking glutamate.”

GABA is well known as the amino acid with GABAergic and GABA receptor properties and is consistently correlated with reduced functional responses, which is why it is used to help induce sleep, relaxation, is anti-anxiety and antiseizure in its effects.

In a study called “Associations of regional GABA and glutamate with intrinsic and extrinsic neural activity in humans—A review of multimodal imaging studies” the researchers Niall W. Duncan, Christine Wiebking, and Georg Northoff studied the modalities for multiple imaging of the human brain.

The researchers admit that the neurotransmitters GABA and glutamate are particularly excellent amino acids for such studies because the transmitters exist throughout the brain’s cortex in the inhibition/excitation balance, but they say, “How these transmitters underly functional responses measured with techniques such as fMRI and EEG remains unclear.” Hence, the study.

They report that the literature available showed consistent negative correlations “between GABA concentrations and stimulus-induced activity” as well as “positive correlation between glutamate concentrations and inter-regional activity relationships, both during tasks and rest.”

The scientists concluded that both biochemical and functional imaging of human brains show a combining of information, which does “require a number of key methodological and interpretive issues be addressed before can meet its potential.”

Overall, both GABA and glutamate are correlated with suppression or elimination of seizures in epileptic and other patients, but more research is needed as to just how this works.