What is GABA?

GABA is a neurotransmitter or a chemical in the brain, that helps sedate and calm you down. It is considered “depressive” because it reduces the rate at which neurons operate. GABA does not cause depression; it helps with anxiety disorders, headaches, Parkinson’s syndrome, and other conditions where neurons are too excited. It is naturally produced in humans and is strictly regulated by the body.

The use of GABA supplements may help with anxiety and ADHD, however, some studies suggest that it may have no effect because of the strict regulation the body maintains. However, the presence of GABA and the normal functioning of GABA receptors is important for everyday health.

1) GABA Benefits Sleep

In fruit flies, a GABA and 5-hydroxytryptophan combination regulates sleep activity better than each neurochemical on its own (R).

Snoring is associated with low GABA in male patients diagnosed with sleep apnea (R).

Black tea with high doses of GABA improved the quality of sleep in mice (R).

GABA from fermented rice germ improved the quality of sleep in caffeine-fed mice (R).

A GABA and 5-HTP mixture regulates sleep quality, duration, and latency by serotonin (a sleep hormone) signalling (R).

2) GABA Helps with Intelligence and Social Brain Function

High levels of GABA were associated with high levels of intelligence (IQ levels) and cognitive performance (R).

High GABA concentrations in the anterior insula region of the brain were correlated with empathy (R).

Schizophrenic patients with GABA/Creatine ratios were low in comparison to neurotypical patients (R).

GABA and total Creatine levels were low in children and adolescents with neurofibromatosis type 1, a neurodevelopmental disorder (R).

Normal functioning of GABA receptors is required for a conditioned learning response and brain plasticity (R).

3) GABA Influences the Gastrointestinal System

A GABA-producing bacteria found in the gut lowers abdominal pain levels (R).

GABA helps with digesting food through the stomach and intestines, and producing gastric acid (R).

GABA regulates gastrointestinal activity through movement and secretion (R).

The “gut wall” has many GABA receptors, indicating that GABA is important in the GI tract and helps with function (R).

Mice that fasted had increased GABA levels in the hypothalamus, indicating that GABA plays a large role in appetite regulation (R).

4) GABA Is Neuroprotective

GABA receptors may play a role in antidepressant effects from ascorbic acid and ketamine (R).

GABA receptors are associated with maternal separation-induced depression (R).

Lower GABA and calcium levels are correlated with the development of Parkinson’s disease (R).

GABA relieves fear and anxiety symptoms, acting as a “natural Valium” (R).

GABA receptors are significantly involved in fear memory and fear conditioning (R).

GABA receptors regulate a stress response hormone (corticotropin) when GABA receptors are excited (R).

The activation of GABA receptors helps reduce anxious behaviors in  rats with chronic cerebral hypoperfusion, by improving BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) signalling (R).

The combination of GABA and American ginseng protected against the effects of sleep deprivation, such as anxiety and neuroinflammation (R).

Methods to Increase GABA

  • Increasing taurine (an amino acid) levels (R)
  • Increasing magnesium intake (R)
  • Increasing L-Theanine (found in green tea) (R)
  • Ingesting kava (a plant-based medicine) tea (R)
  • Practicing yoga (R)
  • Eating more fermented foods with certain “good bacteria” (R)

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1 COMMENT

  • Don Paladin

    Does avoidance of glutamic acid found in food like casein and gluten, increase Gaba production?

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