Your Migraine Brain on Ketones
WHAT'S ALL THE EXCITEMENT?
What does it mean to have a ketogenic brain? Let's examine neurotransmitters and brain energy more closely. Specifically, glutamate and GABA. GABA is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian nervous system. Turns out, GABA is made from glutamate, which just happens to be the major excitatory neurotransmitter. You need them both, but we seem to get into trouble when have too much glutamate. Too much excitement in the brain means neurotoxicity, the extreme manifestation of which is seizures. But neurological diseases as varied as depression, bipolar disorder, migraines, ALS, and dementia have all been linked in some way to neurotoxicity.
Glutamate has several fates, rather like our old buddy tryptophan. It can become GABA (inhibitory), or aspartate (excitatory and, in excess, neurotoxic). Ketogenic diets seem to favor glutamate becoming GABA rather than aspartate. No one knows exactly why, but part of the reason has to do with how ketones are metabolized, and how ketosis favors using acetate (acetoacetate is one of the ketone bodies, after all) for fuel. Acetate becomes glutamine, an essential precursor for GABA". Full article here by Emily Deans, M.D. in Psychology Today.