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Excitotoxicity and Autism | Autism Treatment

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The Autism and Alzheimer communities, as well as other groups affected neurologically, have a theory about the over excitability in the brain from something called glutamate. Glutamate is found commonly in our diet and is an amino acid. The brain has a significant concentration of glutamate, that amino acid is the most abundant in the brain.

In certain sensitive individuals, their receptors can be sensitive to glutamate exposure. The surface of the brain has receptors and those receptors receive information from other chemicals. It works very similarly to a lock and a key. Glutamate triggers the NMDA receptor which unlocks electrical activity in the brain cells. That electrical activity causes the transmission of chemical impulses. That is the normal brain function process.

But, if this electrical activity is happening too much due to glutamate exposure, premature cellular damage or even premature cellular death can occur. In Alzheimer’s it is understood that increased glutamate activation of the NMDA receptor can predispose individuals to neurological damage and dementia. And now there are several things that are used to help this glutamate sensitivity.

There is a medication that blocks the NMDA receptor from being over stimulated from glutamate called Namenda. It has been used in Alzheimer’s and Autism and can be helpful for behaviors such as aggression, stimming and excitability.

There are also natural alternatives to help with glutamate sensitivity. First natural alternative to glutamate sensitivity is something I have talked about in a previous recording, nutritional lithium. Nutritional, or elemental, lithium is not the same as the drug lithium. It can regulate or block NMDA receptor activity. You can also help regulated NMDA response to glutamate through a supplement called Theanine - an extract of green tea that serves to decrease the over stimulation that can occur with glutamate exposure. So the glutamate activates the NMDA receptors which lead to over stimulation of the brain cells. Both nutritional lithium and theanine have been shown to reduce that over excitability.
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