GABA supplements are a more natural way of achieving the same health benefits – and even more -associated with pharmaceutical drugs minus their potential side effects.
This supplements contain one of the most important compounds found in the GABA neurotransmitter function in the brain and can be significantly beneficial for your central nervous system.
By acting upon the GABA receptors in your brain, they can produce an overall calming effect in your body. This is the reason why these supplements have the potential to treat a number of health conditions effectively. GABA supplements work wonders in treating any health issue occurring due to the over-excitement of the neural pathways, be it insomnia, depression, or anxiety. They can even be more effective than prescription drugs, posing a reduced risk of side effects that too at lower doses!
Many people have not even heard about GABA let alone have knowledge about it. So, before moving on to its benefits, let us shed light on what GABA actually is!
GABA (Gamma Amino butyric Acid) is an amino acid – all thanks to yet another amino acid called Glutamate and Vitamin B6 for its production and catalysis.
It plays the role of the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in your body. It is responsible for balancing the other neurotransmitters, chemicals, and hormones to make sure they do not get over-excited.
In essence, this brain chemical not only promotes efficient communication of the nerve impulses but also serves as an anti-epileptic agent. It is needless to say that your proper brain functioning depends on this neurotransmitter. Moreover, your body uses GABA to produce endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that relieve stress and anxiety.
It is important to note that the credit for keeping your bloodstream and brain tissue separate goes to a protective membrane that acts as a blood-brain barrier. This membrane serves as a filtration system to keep potentially dangerous and toxic compounds away from your brain. Thus, for GABA to be effective, it does GABA cross the blood-brain barrier or the neurons have to produce it.
- It improves anxiety and sleep
- Aids weight loss and improves the HGH levels
- It has anxiolytic effects that help in reduce stress
You must know that the nervous system is composed of individual nerve cells called neurons that serve as a wiring for the body. The nerve signals travel through the length of the neuron in the form of an electric impulse. Once the nerve impulse reaches the end of the neuron, it tends to jump over to the next neuron with the help of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters.
In the central nervous system, meaning the brain and the spinal cord, neurotransmitters transmit from neuron to neuron.
Each neuron stores the neurotransmitters at its end. When neurotransmitters reach the adjacent neurons, they click into specialized receptor sites just like a key fits into a lock. Once enough neurotransmitters attach to the receptors, the neuron fires and send an electric impulse down its length.
Glutamate produces GABA in the brain cells. GABA works as an inhibitory neurotransmitter and thus, blocks nerve impulses. While glutamate functions as an excitatory neurotransmitter and when attached to adjacent cells, tells them to fire and send a nerve impulse, GABA does the opposite and encourages the neighboring cells not to fire and not to send an impulse.
Given the beneficial effects of GABA on the human brain, it is no surprise that people take it as a supplement to treat various health conditions. The most common reasons people take GABA supplements include:
- Relieve anxiety
- Boost Mood
- Improve sleep
- Help with Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS)
- Treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Alleviate pain and discomfort related to, and heal injuries
- Decrease the level of blood pressure
- Burn Fat
- To promote the growth of lean muscle mass
- Increase stamina and tolerance to exercise
Following are the health benefits associated with the use of GABA supplements – and how these GABA benefits actually work.
1. How to Cure Anxiety
One of the main reasons behind anxiety, fear, and stress is the over-excitability of neural pathways. Hence, how to reduce anxiety for this nerve excitability, GABA relieves the mentioned unpleasant feelings and produces a calming effect. This explains why it is used as a natural treatment for anxiety. In fact, decreased levels of GABA might be the cause of different anxiety disorders.
A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry concluded that the GABA response was impaired in people with panic disorder.
Another study found that people who were suffering from panic disorder and had a family history of mood and anxiety disorders had lower concentrations of GABA in their brain.
2. Improves the Quality of Sleep
How to get quality sleep?
Did you know that 30 percent of the world adult population suffers from insomnia?
Insomnia is a condition when one finds it difficult to fall asleep. Since GABA has a soothing and sedative effect, it may help induce sleep naturally by reducing nerve excitability.
In addition to using GABA to sleep better, you might want to maintain a regular sleep schedule, limit your caffeine intake, and take magnesium to promote GABA function and sleep even better.
3. Reduces the Symptoms of Stress and Anxiety
GABA neurotransmitter also plays a key role in depression. Lower levels of GABA in the body may lead to depression. With the antidepressant effects of GABA, it serves as an alternative to the standard treatments of depression.
4. Helps with PMS
PMS is a group of symptoms, such as mood swings, food cravings, and tiredness. They occur because menstruation disrupts the concentration of GABA. Thus, taking GABA supplements may help in reducing the PMS symptoms. Since it is involved in the mechanism of cramps, it can act as a natural pain reliever.
Inflammation can be as normal as the one caused by an illness or injury, or as chronic as the one contributing to heart disease, cancer, and even arthritis.
Research says that It may help in reducing inflammation and thus help in the treatment of these chronic conditions. One study found that GABA could inhibit the activity of a pathway that triggers the inflammation of joints.
6. Enhances Focus in ADHD
It can also help individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder improve their focus and reduce the symptoms. According to research, lower levels of GABA result in increased impulsivity and decreased inhibition. Thus, taking a GABA supplement can aid in reducing the symptoms of ADHD and ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) naturally.
7. Increases the Levels of Growth Hormone
Human growth hormone deficiency may lead to slow growth and delayed puberty in addition to sexual dysfunction, depression, insulin resistance, and increased chances of heart disease.
Research provides evidence that GABA supplementation can increase the levels of growth hormone. A study concluded that participants experienced up to a 400 percent increase in their growth hormone level after taking a GABA supplement.
- When it comes to GABA effects and how it works in the human body, the primary mechanism of action is that it binds with some neurotransmitters and hormone receptors in the brain.
- The main function of GABA is to make sure that the receptors in the brain are not over-stimulated. This function itself helps in calming down the brain and showing an anxiolytic mode of action.
- Moreover, another mechanism of action of GABA is very similar to that of any other neurotransmitter. It helps in the communication of nerves and neurons.
- Both these modes of action when combined together perform several cognitive functions, including improved focus, enhanced concentration, and switching
As mentioned earlier, for GABA to be effective, it has to cross the blood-brain barrier. This barrier is actually a protective filtration system in the brain that stops circulating blood from reaching the brain tissue.
While there is debate over the effectiveness of GABA supplements and some researchers believe they cannot penetrate the blood brain barrier when taken orally, the users report otherwise. There is a wealth of evidence supporting the effectiveness of these supplements for anxiety, depression, and sleep problems.
One theory suggests that there may be individual differences in the permeability of the blood-brain barrier, which may allow the GABA supplement to enter the brains of some people. Additionally, some experts believe that a GABA supplement can interact with GABA receptors in other parts of the body, such as the enteric nervous system in the gastrointestinal tract and elicit a sedative response, if not cross the blood-brain barrier. Whatever the reality is, the bottom line is that GABA supplements do seem to work great for people with anxiety, depression, sleep issues, and even for those who want to build muscles.
While GABA dosage can vary depending on age, weight, and gender, it is crucial to consult a medical professional and find out about the right dosage for you. However, there are some typical dosage ranges for different health issues.
- If you aim to take a GABA supplement for general stress relief, the recommended daily dosage is around 750 mg to 800 mg. Divide these dose into three or four smaller ones throughout the day.
- For alleviating anxiety, the typical dosage is between 250 mg to 650 mg three times every day. This makes a total of 750 mg to 1950 mg for a day.
- If you are looking forward to reducing ADHD symptoms, consider taking 250 mg to 400 mg thrice a day, for a total of 1200 mg.
It is better, to begin with, a lower dosage and gradually increase it to ensure that your body is able to tolerate it well. Also, this would help you find the right dosage for you. In case you observe any negative side effects, it is best to decrease your dosage and talk to a doctor if they do not go away with time.
- It perhaps very safe and well tolerated. It does not have any interactions with drugs or other supplements.
- Nevertheless, there are certain side effects of GABA. On the bright side, they are only minor and temporary.
- One of the two side effects is that it can make you overly relaxed. While it may not seem like a very big deal, consider avoiding driving a vehicle or doing anything that requires active attention and alertness.
- It is also possible that you will notice changes in your heart rate and breathing patterns after this supplementation. However, these changes are not likely to last for long.
More often than not, you will come across positive reviews. Several users have found it beneficial for their anxiety, stress, depression, sleep problems, and other health conditions.
For sleep difficulties, one user shared:
“I had difficulty falling asleep on most nights. Gaba supplements have helped me calm my mind to the mind where I can sleep peacefully for 5 to 6 hours every night.”
A user suffering from depression reported:
“GABA supplement is fantastic, it puts me in a good mood every day. For about 5 minutes, it seems to make me feel euphoric, which can surprise you if you are not expecting it.”
Another user struggling with stress and anxiety shared:
“I have read that GABA would not be effective in crossing the blood-brain barrier but this has not been the case with me. I use it for stress and anxiety, and it always calms me down.”
It is evident from the GABA reviews that GABA supplements may be the magical treatment everyone deserves! From anxiety and sleep problems to depression and ADHD, GABA can serve as an alternative to the traditional medications. However, self-medication is strictly not recommended – always consult your doctor before using a GABA supplement.
- Acute increases in synaptic GABA detectable in the living human brain: a [¹¹C]Ro15-4513 PET study.
- Attenuation of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) transaminase activity contributes to GABA increase in the cerebral cortex of mice exposed to β-cypermethrin.
- GABA-to-ACh ratio in basal forebrain and cerebral cortex varies significantly during sleep.
- Permeability of the blood-brain barrier to 3H-GABA during alcoholic intoxication.
- Effect of acute and repeated administration of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) on growth hormone and prolactin secretion in man.
- GABA and glutamate in the human brain.
- GABA is an effective immunomodulatory molecule.
- The GABA excitatory/inhibitory shift in brain maturation and neurological disorders.
- GABA system dysfunction in autism and related disorders: from synapse to symptoms.
- GABA supplementation and growth hormone response.
- GABA(A) receptor modulation: potential to deliver novel pain medicines?
- GABA estimation in the brains of children on the autism spectrum: measurement precision and regional cortical variation.
- Therapeutic potential of GABA(B) receptor ligands in drug addiction, anxiety, depression and other CNS disorders.
- GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid), a non-protein amino acid counters the β-adrenergic cascade-activated oncogenic signaling in pancreatic cancer: a review of experimental evidence.
- The GABA system in anxiety and depression and its therapeutic potential.