What Is GABA and Why Should You Take It?

Beat stress with GABA
Beat Stress with GABA

If you've heard about some of the benefits of GABA such as improved memory, you may be asking yourself, "What is GABA, and where do I get it?"

What Is GABA and What Does It Do?

GABA is short for gamma-aminobutyric acid. It functions as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain that directly affects the personality and the capability to manage stress. If you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep, GABA can help you sleep better because it aids in the relaxation of the brain. When the brain becomes excited or overactive, GABA stimulates the anterior pituitary which brings about the release of Human Growth Hormone which in turn helps people sleep better. This is just one benefit of GABA. Here are the other benefits enjoyed by those who use this supplement:

  • Helps you to relax and improves sleep
  • Increases alertness
  • Increases growth hormone levels
  • Increases memory function
  • Promotes muscle recovery
  • Promotes feelings of well-being
  • Reduces stress
  • Reduces anxiety

How It Works

Dr. Ray Sahelian, author of the book Mind Boosters, explains that GABA controls the brain's rhythmic theta waves. This provides a feeling of physical and mental balance. He states, "GABA is the most important and widespread inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Too much excitation can lead to restlessness, irritability, insomnia, and even seizures. GABA is able to induce relaxation, analgesia, and sleep."

Symptoms of a GABA Deficiency

While everyone experiences anxiousness, irritability, stress and have trouble focusing at times, it's important to note that these may also be symptoms signaling a GABA deficiency. Symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Diminished sex drive
  • Headaches
  • Heart disorders
  • Hypertension
  • Irritability
  • Palpitations
  • Seizures

Where to Find GABA

GABA can be purchased as a supplement in pill, capsule and powder forms, but it can also be obtained through eating complex carbohydrates. Supplements can be purchased at most stores specializing in vitamin and supplement products or online.When choosing to introduce GABA through dietary means, eating complex carbohydrates will boost your level of glutamine which is an amino acid that works as a precursor to the production of GABA by the body. Complex carbs increase levels of glutamate which in turn creates glutamine, an important amino needed in the production of GABA. Amino acids such as glutamine are destroyed by cooking, so eating plant-based foods in their raw form is best. With this in mind, if you're eating complex carbs to boost your production of GABA it is important to avoid foods that contain large amounts simple sugars, refined white flours and wheat products. Foods to include in your diet include:

  • Almonds
  • Bananas
  • Beef Liver
  • Broccoli
  • Brown Rice
  • Halibut
  • Lentils
  • Oranges and other citrus fruits
  • Rice bran
  • Spinach
  • Walnuts
  • Whole grain oats
  • Whole wheat, whole grains.

GABA Side Effects

A number of studies have been conducted on GABA and its side effects. Results show that it promotes an increase in plasma growth hormone levels. As for negative side effects, they are few. Some people experience a mild tingling in the face and neck and others noticed a brief, mild change in the heart rate or breathing. However these side effects were short lived and not dangerous

GABA and Stress in Everyday Life

What is GABA's role in beating stress? GABA plays an important part in helping the brain to regulate the body's internal rhythm and provides people with the ability to manage stress with a better mental focus. Stress is part of everyday life and at times can lead to anxiety and an overactive mind. When this happens, it's hard to stay focused and easy to become frazzled. Too much stress can even lower your immune system and increase your risk of getting sick. GABA is a natural alternative to taking medications for anxiety and anti-depressants. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor and ask to have your neurotransmitter levels and hormone levels checked to see if you have an imbalance.

What Is GABA and Why Should You Take It?