Saturday, January 29, 2011

Why people with Colitis and Crohn's Disease Experience Anxiety

After years of having ulcerative colitis I became afflicted with an overwhelming anxiety. Now I know that this was part of an underlying imbalance created by the disease process. At the time however, I didn't know what was going on and it was a real struggle for me from that point on to be a functional human being.

After my years of practice I now have a better understanding of how chronic inflammation can create anxiety and other forms of emotional illness. Because of this, I continue to find ways to have a less judgmental attitude of myself and what I have considered to be my own weaknesses. If you have suffered from a chronic disease or are suffering from one you know what I mean by that.

One interesting fact that I just ran across was the role of glutamine in our intestines and its relationship to anxiety. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in our blood.[2] The greatest consumer of glutamine in the body is the intestine. [2] Studies have shown that when the body is using its own tissue for emergency healing (injuries, etc) then supplementations with glutamine is helpful or essential for healing. [8] The inflammatory bowel diseases mimic an emergency injury state by both depriving the body of amino acids through lack of absorption and by requiring repair themselves.

Glutamine in the blood is converted to L-Glutamate and then in the presence of vitamin B-6 it is converted to GABA. It is deficient GABA that is linked to anxiety. There are GABA-A and GABA-B receptors on our nerve cells. It is easiest to think of GABA as the brakes on the brain. It is GABA that helps us prevent the racing brain syndrome that we experience as anxiety.

Through chronic inflammatory disease we not only lower our blood glutamine levels, we end up reducing our GABA levels and creating the chronic anxiety picture associated with chronic disease.