One other way to get an idea of BBB integrity is the GABA test. The brain prefers to make its own GABA, which is GABA taken in a supplement form doesn’t readily cross the BBB as it is a fairly large molecule and isn’t actively transported across the tight endothelial junction. The only exception seems to be the pituitary gland. GABA seems to be taken up by the pituitary, mostly for its own purposes but can also send some of this to the brain circulation too.
Less obvious, but critical to the health of the brain, is the gut barrier. We can now understand the health of the brain’s barrier integrity by knowing something about the gut barrier. If you are dealing with food allergies, food sensitivities, irritable bowel issues, inflammatory joint disease, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic dermatologic conditions, and many autoimmune conditions and chronic inflammation, you are probably dealing with gut barrier problems that are contributing factors and therefore have a higher probability of BBB problems too.
People who have had repeated or extended courses of antibiotics or have been exposed to repeated or extended use of pesticides or herbicides are also at high risk for gut barrier and therefore BBB problems. Herbicides are an issue because even though they might not adversely affect human cells directly, we rely so heavily on our microbiome or bacteria and yeasts and other microorganisms for our health that are susceptible to damage from herbicides as a plant would be. Genova Diagnostics has a self-collection (urine) test for evaluating the gut barrier. We can order this test for you if you live in California or Nevada. In other states you will have to ask around for someone to order this for you.
Next time we will talk about gut barrier and BBB management. You will notice I didn’t use the work repair. Repair is a word often tossed around in this context but unless this is a very recent and minor gut or BBB problem, repair isn’t likely. We can make improvements and manage the health of the gut and brain. We just need to work to make whatever improvements we can and continue to manage barrier health throughout our lives with lifestyle, diet and supplements.
To get a rough idea of your BBB integrity at home you can try the BBB assessment as described in the blog and video found here.