Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers, which communicate messages to the brain by sending specific signals. Gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, is one such neurotransmitter that occurs naturally in the brain. GABA is an ‘inhibitory neurotransmitter’, which works to block signals which create activity in the nervous system. When the GABA neurotransmitter attaches to the GABA receptor in the brain, it helps to reduce stress and anxiety and leaves you feeling calmer.
In this quick guide, we’ll be covering how GABA can be used to improve health and wellness, plus sharing everything you need to know to determine whether GABA might be right for you.
What are GABA Receptors?
So, what are GABA receptors, and what do GABA receptors do?
GABA receptors receive the GABA neurotransmitter and use it as a message to reduce nerve impulses. Basically, GABA receptors get the message from the GABA to ease pain, stress, and anxiety. GABA receptors not only help to calm the physical nervous system but also help with mental stress and emotional behavior.
Consequences of Low GABA?
GABA is naturally produced by the body, but not everyone produces this important neurotransmitter in abundance. Since GABA helps to regulate the nervous system, a lack of GABA is associated with some conditions like anxiety and depression, chronic nerve pain, seizure disorders like epilepsy, and even degenerative movement disorders like Parkinson’s.
One of the most common consequences of low GABA production is insomnia. Sleep is heavily affected by the nervous system, which must be able to calm down in order for you to have adequate rest. Without enough GABA neurotransmitters, the nervous system can go into overdrive, increasing heart rate, blood pressure, anxiety, and other factors that may impact sleep quality.
Benefits of Taking GABA Supplements
Since the body doesn’t always produce enough GABA on its own, some people choose to take GABA supplements. In addition to general nervous system regulation, taking GABA can have several physical and mental benefits.
Clearer & Faster Thinking
Taking GABA supplements regularly can help enhance mental clarity, improving focus, decision making, and speed. Whether this is a direct result of GABA or a side effect of reduced stress and anxiety is unclear, but anecdotal reports and some clinical trial records point to promising results.
Lower Stress & Anxiety
One of the best-known benefits of GABA is reduced emotional stress and anxiety. Some individuals with depression, anxiety, and panic disorders have used GABA to mitigate their symptoms and improve everyday wellness and productivity.
Though still being studied, some evidence points to GABA playing a key role in physical recovery. Post-workout or injury stress can be long-lasting, but GABA supplements may help to reduce pain, inflammation, and oxidative stress to enhance recovery.
If you struggle with insomnia or restless sleep, GABA supplements may help. While GABA amino acids alone can help to give you more restful sleep, many people like to combine GABA and L-theanine. This powerful combo is thought to work synergistically, giving you more benefits together than they would apart.
How To Increase GABA Amino Acids
There are two simple ways to increase GABA amino acids, but one is slightly simpler than the other. Here are your options:
Eating Foods High in GABA
There are a few foods that are high enough in GABA to help you increase your levels. Some of these include:
Soy (tofu, soymilk, etc)
While you may be able to increase levels of GABA neurotransmitters with GABA-rich foods, this isn’t the most efficient method. You would need to be eating large amounts of these foods daily to achieve the appropriate levels, which is why the second option is more popular.
Taking GABA Supplements
GABA supplements are the easiest, most efficient, and least expensive method of increasing GABA neurotransmitter activity. A simple daily supplement can be added to your vitamin routine in the morning or evening, though we recommend the evening for sleep.
As always, be sure to consult a doctor before making changes to your wellness routine or adding supplements that may interact with other medications.
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