Is there a place for using the amino acid GABA as a supplement to help with bladder pain/interstitial cystitis and urgency and also help with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) pain – at the same time as easing physical anxiety caused by low GABA levels?
I’d like to share some quotes from this commentary, GABAB receptors in the bladder and bowel: therapeutic potential for positive allosteric modulators?
The bladder pain syndrome (or interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome) is a spectrum of urological symptoms characterized by frequency, urgency and pain on bladder filling.
Bladder pain syndrome is often present in those who have IBS and abdominal pain and the authors mention the role of GABA in both:
Of further note is the co-morbidity between bladder pain syndrome and other functional pain syndromes, in particular, irritable bowel syndrome, a functional gastrointestinal disorder associated with visceral abdominal pain and altered bowel habit.
… it is tempting to speculate that GABAB receptor positive allosteric modulators may display efficacy in not only functional pain disorders of the bladder, but also of the bowel, through modulation of either central and peripheral GABAB receptors, or both
Positive allosteric modulators increase the activity of the receptor so in this case they are referring to increasing the activity of the GABAB receptor, reducing both bladder pain and gut pain.
This commentary and the original paper refer to ADX71441, which has been shown in animal studies to be “a novel positive allosteric modulator (PAM) of the GABAB receptor that has shown encouraging results in pre-clinical models of anxiety, pain, overactive bladder and alcohol addiction.”
We know GABA eases anxiety and pain and is extremely beneficial when it comes to alcohol and other addictions. In a recent blog post I shared how PharmaGABA eases physical anxiety in a young man who has recently given up Adderall, alcohol and nicotine.
And given that depression, anxiety and stress is higher in women with urinary incontinence it makes sense that an amino acid such as GABA may also help ease some of the symptoms of bladder pain syndrome when low GABA is a factor.
Depending on the root cause/s it’s likely addressing low serotonin, low endorphins and low vitamin D may play a role too. Of course, a full functional medicine and nutritional work up and review of diet is key too. Bladder dysfunction is seen in up to one third of celiac patients. This can cause leaky gut and nutritional deficiencies leading to low levels of neurotransmitters such a GABA and serotonin. Dietary oxalates can often be a factor with bladder issues and pain.
Considering all of this in conjunction with learning from/working with a pelvic floor physical therapist is key. I highly recommend someone like Isa Herrera, MSPT, CSCS who hosts online masterclass training sessions for those with pelvic health issues. Her next series airs online mid-February and you can learn more and register here.
Here are some related blog posts that you may find helpful:
- How GABA eases agonizing rectal pain and spasms in under 2 minutesProctalgia fugax is described as a condition that leads to rectal spasms and sharp fleeting pain in the lower rectum or anus….and GABA can ease the severe pain or prevent the spasms before they get severe
In case you’re new to GABA you can read more about it here: GABA for the physical-tension and stiff-and-tense-muscles type of anxiety.
The supplements blog lists GABA products I use with clients and recommend to those in my community.
I’m proposing that there is a place for doing a trial of the amino acid GABA (as a supplement) to help with bladder pain/interstitial cystitis and urgency, especially when there are symptoms of low GABA. If GABA helps to ease the visceral pain caused by IBS/SIBO, it may also help with bladder pain.
Have you observed less bladder pain when using GABA for easing physical symptoms of low GABA anxiety (stiff and tense muscles, overwhelm, lying awake tensely at night, anxious and using alcohol to self-medicate in order to calm down)?
Have you noticed any reduction in bladder urgency when using GABA for anxiety?
Do you also have IBS pain or SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) pain that is eased by GABA?
Have the following helped: going gluten-free, lowering oxalates and/or working with a pelvic floor physical therapist?
If you’re a practitioner have you made any of these observations?
Please do share in the comments below and let me know if you found this helpful, what else has helped you or if you have questions.