For those of you following one of the Adrenal Plans, you will know about the brilliant anti-anxiety, cortisol-lowering Allergy Research Group Zen product. It’s worked for most like a dream. But it has just been delisted in the UK – aargh!! I wish they would stop doing this. The reason is because we now not allowed to sell straight GABA, it seems; a bit like we can’t have pure DHEA in the UK – which is actually not a bad thing in my book, but that is a whole other story.
I do actually prefer encouraging the body to make its own substances like oestrogen, cortisol, DHEA and GABA etc where possible because that way the body can decide how much it needs. Doing otherwise is a sort of form of HRT – a replacement therapy – rather than a boost the production therapy, like using 7 keto-zyme as a precursor for DHEA rather than too-strong-in-many-cases straight DHEA itself, for example or giving oestrogen or progesterone for hormone difficulties instead of checking and boosting the adrenals. That said, sometimes needs must and that’s when I’ve used it.
OK, so up to now, we have used straight GABA in Zen to increase GABA levels in the nervous system and brain. GABA is the key inhibitory neurotransmitter and is therefore very calming; some people call it the body’s Valium. Essentially, we were using it in cases of acute stress adrenal profiles to lower the stress levels and decrease the need for the adrenals to pump out cortisol – simply put: in a nutshell it was to lower stress levels when cortisol was high.
So, now Zen has gone, we need to find other ways of doing that. Obviously, it goes without saying that this is in addition to the usual lowering stress techniques like meditation, yoga, breathwork, controlling your blood sugar, ensuring magnesium levels (known to increase GABA itself) and your B vits.
The other thing we need to say is that I always prefer you do a neurotransmitter test and work with a practitioner when using these sort of things, please. These are complex supplements, designed to support and change brain levels of some key elements. Always best to know what you need rather than just stick stuff in.
So, that said, here is a list of your possible alternatives and I will change the Adrenal Plans accordingly for you too. I offer a few ideas so that you can choose what might suit you best. As always, start low and build up, trial to see how you get on and follow all the manufacturer’s – and your practitioner’s – instructions.
A straight alternative for now to Zen would be Quicksilver GABA with L Theanine, exactly the same as Zen but half the strength. Four pumps equals one capsule of Zen. I assume that will go soon too. Not TGF. You can find a lot more info on it here.
Next best, and the one I will be using in the Adrenal Plans, is NeuroScience Kavinace which includes what GABA is made from in the body plus taurine, which is also a known precursor for GABA production. TGF safe – yay! Here’s a bit more info on this one for you:
Neuroscience Kavinace 120 caps combines two powerful ingredients that together effectively address symptoms of stress, anxiousness, and sleep issues. This formula contains the GABA derivative 4-amino-3-phenylbutyric acid, which easily crosses the blood-brain barrier and acts as a GABAB agonist.*1 Kavinace also contains taurine, which functions as a calming amino acid.* Taurine is a GABAA agonist and may increase GABA levels by increasing synthesis, preventing breakdown, and blocking reuptake of GABA.*2-4 Kavinace also includes vitamin B6, an important cofactor for the synthesis of GABA.
It’s a highly specialist product that one so not cheap. If you need a cheaper alternative, you could of course take Taurine or L-Theanine on their own.
Taurine is often used at 500mg twice a day on an empty tum to support GABA production. It’s the most often used supplement for GABA-calming. ARG do a 500mg version here. TGF.
Or, Higher Nature do L-Theanine 100mg. There was 100mg per capsule in Zen. TGF.
Interestingly, L-Theanine works partly by blocking glutamate receptors but can raise dopamine so if it makes you feel more anxious, I’d be testing your neurotransmitters to see if your dopamine is high – which it can be in CSS (central sensitivity syndrome) – ME/FM, chronic pain and sensitivity type patients, take note.
Finally, when I moaned at ARG, who are acutely aware of most of my TGF patient needs by now!, they reminded me that liver is a precursor food for GABA. So, munch more liver or take a liver product – I’ve actually got some of this to try myself for other reasons, but haven’t dared yet as I can’t stand the stuff ;).
Anyway, I have partly shared all this with you so you can make choices, but also to show you what exactly goes on in my day to day life of creating these plans and protocols for you! It’s not as easy as you might think – especially when the rules keep changing!
To finish: you might find this article useful if you are suffering anxiety as it gives a good overall rundown of what to do and consider:
And see my factsheet on Stress, Anxiety & Depression here.
Hope that helps; I’m off for a lie down! Meantime, here is the info on recommended suppliers if you need it – I just remembered that right at the end!