GABA Benefits: What Is Gaba and What Does It Do?
The brain is the body’s most complex organ. It operates through the transmission of electrochemical signals sent through specialized cells called neurons. Neurons change their behavior based on neurochemicals that can change or affect your mood, energy level, and cognition.
Naturally, dozens of crucial neurochemicals must remain in balance for your brain to function properly. Yet many people find that they constantly feel alert, on edge, or may suffer from anxious feelings.
In some cases, it’s because of low levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). Not sure what the effects of GABA are or how to correct the above issues? Let’s break down GABA, its benefits, and the effectiveness of GABA supplements so you know whether you should target this neurotransmitter in a healthy dietary supplement.
GABA or Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid is one of the brain’s most important neurotransmitters: chemical messengers your nervous system uses to send electrical and chemical brain signals to different receptors. It releases compounds that are sent to your brain cells and tissues. It may also help with muscles and the human growth hormone.
As a non-protein amino acid, GABA (the opposite of glutamate) is primarily used as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. This means that GABA reduces certain neurons’ likelihood to create action potentials. In simpler terms, GABA makes neurons less likely to excite other neurons nearby in the central nervous system. Therefore, your GABA levels are very important.
How does it work? The precise neurochemical process works like this:
- An action potential arrives at the “axon terminal” for a regular neuron.
- If the brain has released GABA, it reaches the synaptic cleft.
- Then the GABA binds to a target cell’s postsynaptic receptors. This causes the GABA receptors to open chloride ion channels.
- As a result, negatively charged chloride ions go into the receiving neuron and make the charge more negative inside the cellular membrane. In short, this makes it less likely to fire an action potential or “excite.”
Under normal circumstances, GABA is very valuable as an anti-anxiousness neurotransmitter. Whenever you experience stress, such as being surprised by a dog barking, your body's adrenal glands will produce hormones to trigger the fight or flight response. You'll get an adrenaline rush, and your heartbeat will speed up.
It would be damaging to your body in the long term if that fight or flight response never ceased. Your brain eventually creates GABA to counteract the fight or flight response and relax the mind and body.
While GABA is needed for regular brain function, it’s also associated with various psychiatric and neurological conditions. For example, low levels of GABA have been linked to a decrease in mental health.
Indeed, low levels of GABA can have numerous effects on your overall wellness and lifestyle. Because of this, many people seek out GABA supplements or try to increase their body’s production of GABA through alternative methods.
Do We Naturally Make GABA?
Yes, and it’s important to note that we don’t get GABA naturally from our diets. Instead, our brains create new GABA from the vitamins and molecules we consume from our food.
Additionally, certain foods can affect how effective GABA is in the brain or how much GABA your brain produces in general. Foods that contain flavonoids are most responsible for these effects and include fruits, teas, vegetables, and red wine. If you want to enrich your diet, try eating foods such as beans, spinach, beverages like oolong tea and green tea, tempeh, chocolate, kimchi (which is also great for your gut), certain herbs, and rice.
But new advances in neuroscience and chemistry have led to the creation of supplements that give the brain additional GABA to rebalance the level of this neurochemical. Many doctors and psychiatrists will recommend certain dosages, such as 50 MG of GABA supplements, for those dealing with symptoms of chronic fatigue, extreme psychological stress (high levels of cortisol), those who suffer from seizures, and similar cognitive disorders. They might also recommend additional medications. GABA dosage will depend on the assessment of stress and side effects specific to each individual.
The Potential Benefits of GABA Supplements
Not sure whether a GABA supplement for brain health and immune support is right for you? Let’s break down all the potential benefits that GABA supplements can provide and explore your options.
The biggest benefit to GABA supplementation overall is used to help manage anxious feelings. There are many studies that show GABA can be used to reduce anxious feelings depending on the balance of neurochemicals in the brain.
Still, many people may benefit from the decreased anxiousness they could feel from boosting GABA levels in their brains.
Lower the Risk of Obesity
There’s some evidence that GABA could help reduce body fat and triglyceride levels and boost the body’s lean muscle mass simultaneously. Certain studies have also noted that GABA could lower the likelihood of obesity developing in at-risk individuals, such as those with high blood pressure or poor diets.
Again, GABA supplements alone cannot stop you from gaining weight or help you lose weight. You’ll also need to change your diet and undertake an effective exercise regimen to do the latter. But GABA supplementation can boost or improve your efforts in these areas.
Decreased Blood Pressure
One of GABA’s other effects is blood pressure stabilization. Remember, the brain primarily creates and uses GABA in order to stop the fight or flight response and lower the effects of stress hormones throughout the bloodstream.
As a side effect, GABA lowers blood pressure if it is already too high. This is a good thing for many individuals, as high blood pressure can significantly increase the risk of heart failure, strokes, and heart attacks.
Certain studies have indicated that GABA can lower blood pressure in adults who are already diagnosed with hypertension.
General Stress Reduction
By far, the best possible use for nonprescription GABA supplements reduces stress and fatigue levels. Today's bustling and workaholic lifestyles make many of us feel constantly drained and stressed out from work, social media, and other factors.
Fortunately, GABA can help counteract these effects directly thanks to the way it binds to neurons. Certain studies have indicated that GABA supplementation can assist with relaxation and calmness and counteract the effects of long-term or chronic stress.
Stress is very damaging to the body if it isn’t handled relatively quickly. Anyone wanting to pursue long-term and holistic wellness might consider adding a GABA supplement to their dietary regimen for this benefit alone.
Lastly, some studies have shown that even small doses of GABA in capsule form can assist with sleep health. While GABA can’t correct for bad sleep habits or other sleep cycle interruptions, it may help calm down long enough to enter the first stage of sleep (REM or rapid eye movement sleep).
Long-term GABA supplementation may also lead to similar improvements in sleep quality and consistency. Alongside other helpful adjustments like regular exercise and minimizing screen time before bed, GABA supplements could help you set a sleep schedule your body will thank you for.
Bottom line: GABA is vital for proper brain neurochemical balance, but many people don’t have enough of this neurotransmitter for one reason or another. For these individuals and more, supplements like Hope Health’s Mind Capsules can be effective remedies for things like anxious feelings, high blood pressure, and even seizures.
Packed with effective ingredients like Ginkgo Biloba, this tasty and easy-to-absorb supplement has everything the brain needs to make GABA plus some extras to facilitate clear thinking. Try it today and check out the rest of Hope Health’s supplement collection!
Physiology, GABA - StatPearls | NCBI Bookshelf
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Neurotransmitters as food supplements: the effects of GABA on brain and behavior | NCBI
Effects of Oral Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) Administration on Stress and Sleep in Humans: A Systematic Review | NCBI
GABA-stimulated adipose-derived stem cells suppress subcutaneous adipose inflammation in obesity | PNAS.org
Effect of GABA on blood pressure and blood dynamics of anesthetic rats | NCBI