Neuropathic pain disorder is the umbrella term for a range of disorders characterized by pain originating in the body’s nervous system. The human nervous system consists of the central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system, which includes motor nerves, those which are used to control muscles. When the nervous system is damaged people may experience unusual feelings of pain. These are called neuropathic, or nerve, pain.
Neuropathic pain does not usually respond well to conventional painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Doctors often need to experiment with a range of medications originally intended for purposes other than pain relief, at various dosages, until something effective is found. It is not always possible to find an effective treatment this way.
What are some of the causes of neuropathic pain?
There are a range of conditions that can result in the on-going problem of neuropathic pain. These include –
- Chronic Liver Disease
- Alcohol abuse
These are some of the most common conditions that lead to neuropathic pain but are by no means exclusive. Any damage to the nervous system has the potential to result in neuropathic pain occurring.
What is GABA’s relationship with neuropathic pain?
GABA is a neurotransmitter which has an inhibitory role in human functioning. This means GABA is able to stop or lessen the action of other chemical agents which impact people’s state. One of the inhibitory roles that GABA plays occurs in the spinal column. The spinal column contains nerve cells which are responsible for releasing GABA. GABA acts as a ‘red light’ for the experience of pain in the body.
Damage to the nerves responsible for GABA can lead to the improper functioning of the body’s pain system as found in patients with neuropathic pain disorder. Professor Jin Mo Chung at the University of Texas Medical Branch has stated that the preservation of GABA is a promising possibility for treating neuropathic pain and noted that there are not many existing good treatment options for neuropathic pain.
How can GABA supplementation benefit neuropathic pain?
The scientific, chemical relationship between GABA and neuropathic pain relief is as follows. There are GABA receptors on the dorsal rim of the spinal cord and also located throughout parts of the brain such as the hypothalamus. When these properly functioning receptors are activated by the presence of GABA, such as that found in supplementation, they release inhibitory GABA that modulates the physical perception of pain experienced by a person.
As it is theorised that a depletion of GABA following nerve damage coupled with the malfunction of GABA receptors is the origin of neuropathic pain then supplementing the body’s natural supplies of GABA is a logical step to take. By enhancing both the levels of GABA present in the body and its ability to act as intended, a person may lessen their neuropathic pain.
Due to the highly individualized nature of neuropathic pain disorder a treatment that works for one patient may not work for another. This is the case with pharmaceutical medication prescribed to treat neuropathic pain disorder and is also the case for GABA. If an individual with neuropathic pain disorder wishes to trial GABA as a treatment it is vital they do so in a controlled fashion in order to determine if GABA benefits their particular neuropathic pain. If GABA is to be taken alongside pharmaceutical medication then a doctor’s approval should be sought.
Why should GABA be considered instead of prescribed pharmaceutical treatments?
One of the main benefits to considering GABA for Neuropathic Pain Disorder as a natural alternative treatment is due to the fact that it occurs organically in the body and is free from the side-effects of many prescription treatments for neuropathic pain. The following list explores some of the common prescription treatments for neuropathic pain and a selection of the side-effects associated with them –
Amitriptyline is a pharmaceutical antidepressant that is often offered as a frontline treatment for people experiencing neuropathic pain. Its side-effects can include the compulsion to commit suicide or self-harm, blurred vision and drowsiness.
Duloxetine is somewhat similar to amitriptyline. It was originally intended as a remedy for severe depression but is contemporarily offered as a neuropathic pain treatment. Its side-effects include a possible compulsion to commit suicide, nausea and constipation.
Tramadol is a powerful opiate similar to heroin and morphine. It is very addictive and is also associated with side-effects including nausea, vomiting, confusion and constipation.
Are there any cautions regarding using GABA for Neuropathic Pain Disorder?
Using GABA for Neuropathic Pain Disorder is free from many of the more severe side-effects associated with neuropathic pain treatments listed above many people mistakenly take it in a haphazard and carefree fashion. This is a mistake. The following three cautions must be respected when taking GABA to treat neuropathic pain disorder
1. Adhere to the correct dosage
The only time that problems generally occur with GABA supplementation is when the dosage exceeds that which is recommended. Each specific GABA supplement may contain a slightly different daily dosage due to the active ingredients it contains. It’s especially important to be clear regarding dosage when taking a new product for the first time.
2. Avoid interactions
If you are taking any prescription medication for your neuropathic pain disorder it is vital to consult with your doctor whether it is safe to combine it with a GABA supplement.
3. Monitor individual response
Everyone’s neuropathic pain disorder is unique and responds to treatment differently. GABA has helped many people but this does not automatically guarantee results. It is important to monitor your specific personal response to GABA supplementation to assess effectiveness.