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Deciphering role of pH in brain disorders

Deciphering role of pH in brain disorders

13 October | 0 Comments | By Rachael

For proper body functioning, balance between acidic and alkaline is essential. In an ideal body, potential of hydrogen (PH) tilts towards the alkaline. pH balance is achieved through a complex process known as homeostasis that occurs within the individual’s body, but one can help regulate it with healthy habits related to eating, sleeping and exercising. Increased acidity or lower PH is associated with various clinical conditions such as diabetes, respiratory distress and renal failure. It is also responsible for the heart functioning below its optimum capacity.

Acidic pH is bad for the brain as well. However, its role in abetting psychiatric disorders continues to be a puzzle. In the past, post-mortem reports of human brain tissues had revealed lower pH or higher acidity levels in patients with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. People living with panic disorders had higher levels of carbon dioxide and lactate than normal healthy individuals. Researchers believe that there is a temporary spike in acidity when the brain burns sugar to produce energy and releases carbon dioxide (CO2). These go unnoticed because the brain soon retains normalcy by expelling the additional CO2 through exhalation.

It has been difficult to associate increased acidity with psychiatric disorders because there are other factors such as antipsychotic drug use and agonal conditions (conditions just prior to death) that could lead to a boost in acidity levels.

Brain acidity key characteristic of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder

In a recent study, conducted by Dr. Tsuyoshi Miyakawa, a neuroscientist at the Fujita Health University in Japan, it was observed that patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder had considerably reduced brain pH levels than the participants in the control group. This was apparent even when extrinsic factors such as the age at the time of death, post-mortem interval and antipsychotic medication (secondary factors resulting in brain acidity) were taken into account.

Subsequent to the meta-analysis of the human brain, the researchers undertook a systematic investigation of psychiatric disorders and their relation with brain pH.  Miyakawa and his team studied rat models of five psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism spectrum disorders. The findings revealed that the brain pH in the rat models with psychiatric disorders was lower than that of the controls after taking into consideration agonal states, postmortem intervals and ages within each strain. In addition, it was also noticed that lactate levels were also higher in the brains of the model mice.

Though the researchers consider the study as one of the most corroborative testimonies linking brain pH and psychiatric disorders, John Wemmie, a neuroscientist at the University of Iowa pointed out, “it’s tissue after the animals or the humans have died, so it’s hard to know if that’s related to the pH changes [in the living brain].” So while, it is still to be understood whether brain acidity is a cause or a consequence of a brain disorder, Miyakawa states that the increased acidity in the brain could be a result of increased neuronal activity in the brains of people with these disorders. Another theory suggests that these psychiatric disorders could be due to impairments in mitochondria, which are the powerhouses of cells.

Road to recovery

Whether it is anxiety, depression, schizophrenia or any other mental illness, they have a significant impact on the lives of those suffering and their families. Most of the psychiatric conditions can be easily managed with therapy and medications. It is essential to consult a psychiatrist in time to avoid aggravating the condition. Neither one should self-medicate to get relief nor delay getting the treatment.

If you or your loved one is displaying the symptoms of any mental disorder, contact the Arizona Mental Health Helpline to gain information regarding the best mental health treatment centers in Arizona where qualified medical personnel are there to help one heal and recover gradually. Call our 24/7 helpline 866-606-7791 or chat with one of our representatives to know more about the finest mental health disorder treatment centers in Arizona.