Gamma aminobutyric acid, or GABA for short, is a naturally occurring amino acid. This component acts as a neurotransmitter in your brain, and neurotransmitters also work as chemical messengers. Gamma aminobutyric acid is also an inhibitory neurotransmitter, and can work to inhibit or block specific brain signals.
GABA decreases your brain activity. When this acid attaches to a protein (GABA receptor) in your nervous system, the process produces a calming effect in your brain. For this reason, many doctors recommend GABA to people suffering from stress, anxiety, and fear.
It can also help to prevent seizures. Due to these properties, GABA has become one of the most popular supplements in the past few years.
GABA supplements are so popular, because GABA is not readily available in most food sources. In other words, you cannot naturally source GABA, and therefore you will need to take a GABA supplement.
The only GABA rich foods are the fermented ones. These include tempeh, miso, and kimchi. Read on to learn more about the science behind Gamma aminobutyric acid.
Table of Contents
What is GABA?
GABA is an amino acid that is naturally present in your brain. This component functions as a neurotransmitter in your brain, and encourages communication among the brain cells.
The main role of Gamma-Aminobutyric acid is to reduce the activity of neurons in the central nervous system or brain. As a result, the process causes a wide range of positive effects on your mind and body. These include reduced stress, alleviation of pain, increased relaxation, better sleep, and calmness.
When it comes to GABA drug interactions, many medications can interact with GABA receptors and GABA in your nervous system. The function of GABA, and its receptors, provide many positive effects, including; improving sleep, lowering blood pressure, relieving pain, and reducing the anxiety levels.
This might surprise you, but anti-depressants, anesthetics, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and certain anti-seizure medications, are some of the most common medications that target Gamma-Aminobutyric acid. You may wonder if you can take GABA with antidepressants, if so, make sure to consult with your doctor in advance. Your medical practitioner will examine your health condition, and prescribe the amount you should take accordingly.
In addition, a large number of natural supplements affect the GABA receptors’ activity in your brain. This, in turn, helps with stress relief, anxiety reduction, balanced mood, and sleep issues.
For instance, magnesium and L-theanine are some of the components that have a positive effect on the GABA activity in your nervous system. Also, some well-known natural supplements may affect the GABA activity of the brain.
When it comes to natural sources, many medical practitioners claim the component is not present in natural foods. However, some scientific researchers’ claim that GABA is naturally found in some varieties of oolong, green, and black tea. Science has also revealed that GABA is commonly found in fermented foods, including tempeh, yogurt, and kefir.
There are certain foods that can help increase the production levels of GABA. These include soy, fava, whole grains, lentils, and other beans. In addition to that, some nuts also contain properties that help boost the production of GABA into the body; these nuts include sunflower seeds, almonds, and walnuts. In addition, cocoa, potatoes, broccoli, spinach, berries, tomatoes, citrus, shrimp, fish, and halibut may also help boost the levels of GABA receptors into your brain.
You can also enhance your GABA receptors from supplements that are readily available in the market. Many doctors prescribe these supplements to people with stress, anxiety, stress, and sleep issues. Athletes often use GABA supplements to stimulate natural growth hormones in the body.
How Does GABA Work?
Medical researchers sometimes refer to GABA as the brakes of the brain. GABA is one of the most important inhibitory neurotransmitters in your body. It helps to lower the activity of your brain cells in the nervous system, which in turn moves your brain, and the body, into a lower gear.
In other words, this component inhibits the neural activity, while facilitating sleep, reducing physical and mental stress, lowering anxiety levels, and creating a calming mood. In addition, it plays a crucial part in toning and regulating your muscles.
When combined with glutamate, GABA works as the most vital excitatory neurotransmitter in the body. The GABA neurotransmitter is one of the most important contributors to your body’s physical, and mental homeostasis.
Gamma-Aminobutyric acid, or GABA, also plays a crucial role in the healthy functioning of endocrine, and immune systems of your body. It serves as the most important component in the body that helps regulate metabolism, and appetite. Since Gamma-Aminobutyric acid has become one of the most popular supplements in the world, you will find numerous medical research available on the topic.
Among them, emerging research on GABA’s effect on gastrointestinal function, and gut health, examines whether it functions to control inflammation, help regulate hormone activity and help support immune system function.
When it comes to GABA deficiency, lower levels can result in a wide range of symptoms, leading to drastic medical conditions. These include anxiety, chronic stress, and difficulty in concentration, depression, memory problems, insomnia, muscle pain, sleep problems, and headaches. In addition, substance abuse disorders can cause lower GABA activity in the brain.
Medical researchers have been investigating and debating about the effects, and functions, of GABA supplements in the body. Some scientific researchers are also studying the mechanisms of supplements in detail, to find out if it differs from naturally occurring GABA.
Nevertheless, medical practitioners have not reached a consensus about the above-mentioned assumptions. They have not yet found out if GABA supplements cross the blood-brain barrier, and how well GABA supplements move from your bloodstream into the nervous system. Therefore, there is a need for additional research, to find out the effects of GABA supplements, including how it can affect the brain system, through the gut.
Benefits of GABA
Helps Improve Sleep
GABA plays an important role in balancing sleeping patterns, and therefore its activity is essential for better sleep. This amino acid allows your body, and mind, to relax, enabling you to sleep soundly throughout the night. Low GABA activity leads to disrupted sleep, and insomnia. Medical research has revealed that people with insomnia have 30% lower GABA levels than in people not suffering from any sleep disorder.
The low levels of GABA receptors in your brain also corresponded with restless sleep. There are some medications available on the market that help combat sleeping disorders by boosting the levels of GABA naturally present in your nervous system. However, the medical study revealed a negative side effect of taking sleep medications that boost the GABA levels: hallucinations.
Some researchers believe that it occurred from the alterations of these medications to GABA activity. However, there is also limited research that discusses the benefits of GABA supplements for sleep. Other research suggests that Gamma-Aminobutyric acid, or GABA, which is produced in fermented food can help increase sleep time while reducing wakefulness.
Another medical research study reveals that a combination of 5HTP and GABA may help improve sleep patterns, and increase sleep time. Still, there is more research needed to find the effects of GBA supplements on sleep.
Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Your body produces GABA naturally. The major role of the component is to disrupt the activity of the neurons in your brain and central nervous system. The process, in return puts your mind and body at a higher state of relaxation, while alleviating anxiety and stress. GABA supplements may have potential effects on sleep, since it may help provide relaxation to your mind, which aids in relief from stress and anxiety.
There is, however, an on-going debate on the role of GABA supplements on boosting the activity of naturally occurring GABA in the mind. This is because there is limited research on the GABA supplement’s ability to enter the brain from the bloodstream. Nevertheless, it is important to mention that GABA supplements may have other ways of providing your mind, and body with relaxation, while relieving anxiety and stress through encouraging the GABA activity through your gut microbiome.
Although the scientific debate goes on, some medical studies have shown GABA to be effective in lowering the anxiety levels in your body, while boosting relaxation. A small study conducted on a group of thirteen adults revealed that the GABA neurotransmitter works as an effective relaxant and anxiety reliever.
This amino acid worked by slowing the brain waves seen by the researchers. This brain wave pattern occurred within an hour of taking a GABA supplement. This research further revealed that GABA boosts the immune system, and suggested GABA supplements might help enhance the immunity among the people who are suffering from mental stress, and anxiety.
Another study investigated the effects of GABA (100 grams) on a group of people who had undergone mental stress tasks. Researchers measured the slow down of mental waves in the people who took the GABA supplement, which showed that the supplement works for alleviating the mental stress they were going through. However, one study discussed the effects of the GABA amino acid in people who were going to take stressful math test. People who took GABA-infused chocolates, rebounded quickly from the stress.
High Blood Pressure
Doctors often prescribe people with high blood pressure to take GABA supplements, since it may help in lowering their blood pressure. There is also medical evidence that mentions GABA may work in lowering high blood pressure. In one study, people received GABA supplements for twelve weeks, and the results showed that it lowered their blood pressure significantly. In addition, GABA supplements may help maintain healthy blood pressure. As a result, this will further help in increasing your sleep time.
GABA Serving Size
When it comes to GABA serving size, most medical practitioners recommend that people suffering from anxiety and stress, take 100-200 mg, or higher. For improved sleep, doctors often recommend the same dosage. Generally, most medical experts recommend that users to start taking the lowest recommended serving size, and then increase it gradually, as needed. Doctors usually recommend the people suffering from high blood pressure to take 10-20 mg of GABA powder. These mentioned serving sizes are the amounts suggested in medical studies. Each individual should consult their medical doctor for the appropriate serving size, before initiating any nutritional supplement.
Negative Effects of GABA
Healthy adults can tolerate the possible side effects of GABA supplements. However, some people may experience the following negative effects:
- Muscle weakness
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- Burning throat
- Lowered appetite
- Gastric distress
- Shortness of breath
The Bottom Line
While GABA supplements may improve some medical ailments, it is always better to consult your doctor, before you start taking a GABA supplement. Moreover, make sure to talk to your healthcare expert before making any changes to your current medications.
As mentioned earlier, GABA is naturally present in your body, but a GABA deficiency may lead you to take a GABA supplement. You cannot source it from natural foods, as there is no natural ingredient that contains traces of GABA. However, foods that increase GABA include the fermented ones, such as kimchi and tempeh.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products discussed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.