Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, or better known as GABA, is a neurotransmitter created and produced in the brain. In chemical terms, GABA would be considered an amino acid which helps to inhibit nerve transmissions. This amino acid can also be found and obtained through supplementation, and is already taken by many for its benefits both for health and athletic performance.
What is GABA’s role in the human body?
GABA is involved in many depressive and suppressive activities in the nervous system. It works to inhibit nerve transmissions, which calms down nervous system activity. The direct synthesis of GABA comes primarily from glutamate by glutamate decarboxylase (GAD) but other alternative pathways are used under certain circumstances.1
What other benefits does GABA provide?
Anxiety and Relaxation
One study, conducted by the Department of Research and Development at Pharma Foods International, on the effects of GABA on stress and relaxation found that “…GABA significantly increases alpha waves and decreases beta waves compared to water or L-Theanine. These findings denote that GABA not only induces relaxation but also reduces anxiety.” This study along with another found that GABA can be used as a natural relaxer.2
GABA and the Human Growth Hormone
One reason that many choose to supplement with GABA is due to its relationship with the human growth hormone. In one study, 5g of gamma-aminobutyric acid was given to 19 subjects and a placebo was administered to another 18. Blood samples were obtained showing that GABA caused a “significant elevation of plasma growth hormone levels.”3
Weight loss is a common problem among so many today. The weight gain itself is problematic, but the conditions that being overweight can cause are even more serious: high blood pressure, heart attack and diabetes to name just a few. Due to the ability of GABA to aid in relaxation and the increase of human growth hormone it is believed to also aid in weight loss.
Hypertension/High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is caused by a slowing of blood flow due to restricted or clogged arteries. A study conducted in 2004 found that GABA enriched products decreased blood pressure after 2 to 4 weeks and continued to stay reduced for all 12 weeks throughout the study. 4 As a common problem among many today, GABA could potentially provide alternative options for treatment.
GABA works in two ways in your body to help promote sleep: it regulates muscle tone and it works to calm the “excited” impulses of other neurotransmitters in your brain. When our brains become overstimulated, it makes it difficult for us to not only fall asleep but to stay asleep. The relaxation benefits of GABA on the body can help you to have a more restful night’s sleep.
While GABA is naturally produced in the body, supplementation and the use of products that contain this amino acid can have some great benefits for your health and athletic performance.