Tag Archives: glutamic acid

Amino Acid: Glutamate in Stroke Treatment

Preventing brain damage after stroke is the primary goal for stroke treatment. Understanding the balance of brain chemicals—which include amino acids like glutamate (salt/ester of glutamic acid)—can help scientists develop new, successful treatments for stroke. 

Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide. This dangerous condition occurs when the supply of blood to the brain is disturbed. With ischemic strokes, blood supply is decreased (possibly by a blood clot), and rapidly leads to loss of brain function. Stroke can lead to permanent brain damage, when the neurons in the brain are destroyed.

Neurons are nerve cells which transmit information in our central nervous system, which includes our brain. Neuroprotection is the name for treatments which prevent, or slow, the progression of stroke by preventing the loss of neurons. It is also used to treat other central nervous system disorders, including neurodegenerative diseases, traumatic brain injury, and spinal cord injury.

Dr. Myron Ginsberg published an interesting review on ischemic stroke in Neuropharmacology. Dr. Ginsberg, from the Department of Neurology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, in Miami, Florida, covered many experimental neuroprotective treatments, including glutamate antagonism.

The role of glutamate role in treatment for stroke

The amino acid glutamate—sometimes known as or associated with glutamic acid—is one of our brain’s our main excitatory neurotransmitters. Glutamate is involved in cognitive functions such as learning and memory.  But with stroke, excess glutamate can accumulate in the brain. This allows calcium ions to enter the cells. This process is called excitotoxicity, and it causes neuron damage and brain cell death.

Glutamate and other excitatory amino acids interact with receptor-classes, such as N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA). Animal studies suggest that treatments which block NMDA receptors could be successful in preventing brain damage after stroke, but only with very early administration. Human trials have not yet been completed.

As further research continues into the role of neurotransmitting amino acids and stroke, it’s possible that a successful neuroprotective treatment using glutamate could be developed.



Glutamate and GABA and How They Relate to Seizures

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.





Does Broccoli Lower High Blood Pressure? Glutamic Acid and Hypertension

High blood pressure or hypertension affects one third of all adult Americans – approximately 70 million people. It increases the risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke which are leading causes of death in North America. Hypertension is being called a silent killer because it is often asymptomatic, and people do not realize they have it, until it is too late.

Could glutamic acid (amino acid) lower high blood pressure?  This is the question that a study among almost 5,000 participants in the U.S., U.K., China and Japan, tried to answer.  Results? Researchers reported that a 4.72% higher dietary intake of the amino acid glutamic acid – when derived from vegetables – did actually lower blood pressure. Glutamic acid can be found in high quantities in vegetables like broccoli, beans, whole grains, tofu and durum wheat.

Results Not Conclusive – Glutamic Acid May Not Lower Blood Pressure After All

Even though this specific study suggested that there was a correlation between the amino acid glutamic acid and lower blood pressure, the change was not that significant.  The systolic blood pressure fell by an average of 1.5-3.0 mm of Hg and the diastolic blood pressure fell by 1.0 to 1.6 mm Hg.  In other words, if your blood pressure was 150/100, you might have lowered it to 147/99.  Yes, it is a lower value but clearly doesn’t solve your blood pressure problem naturally.

There is some conflicting evidence as well.  The so called ‘Rotterdam Study’, conducted in the Netherlands, studied the impact various amino acids had on the older population. The researchers wanted to find out if there was a correlation between dietary protein (specific amino acids) and lower blood pressure.

Test subjects were given the amino acids glutamic acid, lysine, arginine, tyrosine and cysteine. Tyrosine reduced systolic blood pressure by 2.4 mm Hg, but not diastolic.  None of the other amino acids, such as glutamic acid, seemed to lower blood pressure at all.  Over a six-year period, none of the amino acids seemed to prevent the development of hypertension either.

While it makes sense to include green leafy vegetables in your diet, broccoli or glutamic acid dietary supplements clearly will not represent a natural cure for high blood pressure.




Amino Acid Supplement Improves Health: Study

An Australian study into amino acid depletion and sub-health has found promising results with a complex amino acid supplement.

Sub-health is an intermediate state between health and disease. Sub-health can be a chronic condition, usually indicated by low energy, loss of vitality, altered sleeping patterns, and increased incidence of viral infections. Sub-health can also lead to the debilitating medical conditions of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.

Many illnesses can result in amino acid depletion. Amino acid imbalance is often found in cancer-related fatigue, for example. Could amino acid imbalance also result from sub-health? If so, would correcting this imbalance improve health?

Some amino acids are synthesized in the body, but the essential amino acids are obtained through food.

If people are unable to ingest the correct quantities of essential amino acids in their diet, they are often given amino acid supplements to correct the imbalance. However, these supplements contain a complex formula of ingredients. In addition to perfecting the formula, developers must ensure the taste is palatable.

Amino acid supplement study

Researchers (R Dunstan, S Sparkes, et al) with the School of Environmental and Life Sciences, University of Newcastle, Australia, developed a study into the new, broad-spectrum amino acid dietary supplement, Fatigue Reviva (developed by TOP Nutrition Pty Ltd).

17 men reporting symptoms of sub-health took part in the 30 day trial. After the trial, 65% of the study group reported that their energy levels had significantly improved.

Urinary amino acid analysis revealed that the supplement increased the levels of valine, isoleucine and glutamic acid, and reduced levels of glutamine and ornithine.

However, some participants reported gastrointestinal symptoms. The researchers believed these symptoms were caused by the prebiotic fructooligosaccharide, an ingredient in the supplement. Further product development is needed for those patients susceptible to fructooligosaccharide.

The study concluded that this amino acid supplement could prevent fatigue, and increase wellbeing, for patients with symptoms of sub-health.



The Importance of GABA Amino Acid for the Central Nervous System

The human central nervous system is controlled by the brain. The brain’s neurotransmitters and receptor sites are affected either by how inhibited or excited the amino acids GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and glutamate (glutamic acid) are. Of all the neurotransmitters within the central nervous system, amino acids are considered some of the most plenteous.

Steven M Paul write about “GABA and Glycine” and their role in the central nervous system. Amino acids have been shown in studies, he says, to “support current dogma that the majority of neurons in the mammalian brain utilize either glutamate or g-aminobutyric acid (GABA) as their primary neurotransmitters. [And] … GABA and glutamate serve to regulate the excitability of virtually all neurons in brain and, not surprisingly, therefore have been implicated as important mediators of many critical physiological as well as pathophysiological events that underlie brain function and/or dysfunction.”

There are studies in pharmacology on utilizing drugs that either block or enhance what GABA or glutamate, which according to Steven M Paul, supports that these neurotransmitters “by virtue of their often opposing excitatory and inhibitory actions, control, to a large degree, the overall excitability” of the central nervous system.

What this means, is that drugs (such as for schizophrenia, neurological diseases, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) that inhibit what GABA does may decrease what glutamate may excite, or vice versa. This means there needs to be a balance between inhibition and excitation in the “drugs which are known to alter GABAergic or glutamatergic neurotransmission).”

GABA amino acid is important to the central nervous system and spinal column

In a study done by J Yowtak, J Wang, et al., at the Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology at the University of Texas, the neuropathic pain model in mice was studied regarding the antioxidant treatment on GABA neurons in the spinal column. The researchers suggested “that oxidative stress impaired some spinal GABA neuron activity in the neuropathic pain condition. Together the data suggest that neuropathic pain, at least partially, is attributed to oxidative stress which induces both a GABA neuron loss and dysfunction of surviving GABA neurons.”

Between the study above and the one spoken of by Steven M Paul, it is likely that all of the updated information on GABA, glutamate, or glycine will hopefully, as Paul states, “result in an even better understanding of their potential role(s) in various neuropsychiatric disorders and in the discovery even more of effective therapeutic agents.”

Certainly our central nervous system is dependent upon GABA and these other amino acids. It is no wonder that they are used in pharmaceutical drugs to enhance and inhibit certain neurotransmitters to help the body function properly.




Table of Amino Acid Abbreviations

Students and teachers come together with terms like “Amino acid abbreviations” – but scientists use these abbreviated forms to refer to the 20+ names of amino acids as well.

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and they can be gotten from food. Before we get into the amino acid abbreviations you may want to know that there are two main types of amino acids (with a few exceptions)…

Essential and Non-essential amino acids

Essential amino acids does not mean they are “essential” as in necessary… it simply means that they can only be gotten from the food you eat so must be included through diet or dietary supplementation. Protein foods like meats (beef, chicken, pork, etc.) and eggs, as well as fish, are excellent sources of amino acids. Many meat-eating Americans actually eat an overabundance of protein compared with what the human body requires, which can lead to acidity (which leads to disease), cardiovascular and other diseases.

Non-essential amino acids are those that your body can produce naturally. Occasionally, someone is born with a deficiency in their body’s ability to produce the amino acids necessary for proper functioning, leading to diseases or disorders where people have trouble breaking down certain amino acids. An example of the latter is Maple Syrup Urine Disorder (MSUD) which is what newborn babies are screened for soon after birth.

There are 22 different amino acids in all (some of them semi-essential), but about 20 of them are more common. Their names, 3-letter, and 1-letter amino acid abbreviations follow.

Table of amino acid abbreviations

Amino Acid












Aspartic acid






Glutamic acid













































Aspartic acid or Asparagine



Any amino acid



Termination codon


For more information on amino acid abbreviations or more detailed information on amino acids in general, please see other articles at the Amino Acid Information Center. There are also many excellent resources on the Internet or in encyclopedias.