Publisher’s Words (July-August 2023)

GABA is a neurotransmitter primarily found in the nervous system, but also in other organs. Most research on GABA to date has focused on its neuro-inhibitory effects, and little is known about its function in other organs. Did you know that pancreatic beta-cells also produce GABA besides insulin? Apparently, researchers have known for years that hepatic GABA production and transport plays a role in glucoregulation, insulin resistance and obesity. And now researchers are looking into using GABA transaminase inhibitors to reverse insulin resistance and obesity1. Within the next 5 years or so, we’ll likely have another “Ozempic” on the market to help people lose weight. No doubt, insulin resistance and obesity consume a great amount of health care resources, and they should be addressed aggressively. However, “quick fixes” should ideally be accompanied by a comprehensive diet and lifestyle modifications, so patients do not become chronically dependent on them – that is when potential side-effects tend to show up. 

When our body gets injured, neutrophil activation and inflammation are the body’s response in order to initiate the healing process. What happens when you suppress that process? Past research has shown that the use of NSAIDs may delay soft tissue healing. In a paper published in 2022, researchers from McGill University found that early use of NSAIDS or steroids may increase the risk of turning acute pains into chronic pains2. Is there a way to help patients manage pain without hampering the inherent healing process at the same time?  Would natural anti-inflammatories be better in achieving that goal?  What about combining NSAIDS and natural anti-inflammatories? The answers likely lie partly in future research and partly in the art of medical practice

Dr. Martin Kwok, ND, Dr. TCM


1 Geisler CE, et al. A critical role of hepatic GABA in the metabolic dysfunction and hyperphagia of obesity. Cell Rep. 2021 Jun 29;35(13):109301. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109301.

2 Parisien M, et al. Acute inflammatory response via neutrophil activation protects against the development of chronic pain. Sci Transl Med. 2022 May 11;14(644):eabj9954. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abj9954. Epub 2022 May 11.