You probably haven’t heard of GABA before, but it’s an acronym that stands for Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid. It’s an amino acid produced naturally in your brain, and its purpose is to enable communication between the various parts of the brain.
Another primary function of GABA is to reduce the activity level of neurons located in the nervous system and in the brain. This is a role which can be particularly useful for individuals who are bothered by stress, high anxiety, or difficulty with sleeping.
GABA also occurs naturally in a number of plants, including whole grains, fava beans, lentils, nuts, sunflower seeds, some kinds of fish, and a number of fruits and vegetables. Because of the calming effect it can produce, GABA is also manufactured as a supplement, and is used by people who have any of the difficulties mentioned above.
How GABA works
In layman’s terms, GABA has the effect of lowering activity levels in the brain and central nervous system, thus placing the entire body in a lower gear. Because it is capable of reducing neural activity, it can actually promote better sleep and reduce the level of stress or anxiety a person feels.
GABA is a neurotransmitter and is the single most important inhibitory neurotransmitter in the entire body. That’s why it is targeted by a number of medications and supplements, most of which seek to increase the level of GABA in the body so as to increase its effectiveness at calming the body down.
Benefits of using GABA supplements
People who experience unusually high levels of stress, anxiety, or sleeplessness are obviously not producing enough GABA to effectively regulate bodily reactions to external stimuli.
GABA supplements can increase the natural level of this amino acid so they can be much more effective than they normally would be. Research has shown that there is potential for GABA to be useful in boosting the immune system and keeping the endocrine system healthy.
It also has an impact on the gastrointestinal system, so there could also be some usefulness there. However, for the purposes of this article, we’ll describe the benefits to those people bothered by stress and anxiety.
Reducing high blood pressure – GABA can be used as a natural way to control high blood pressure, since research has shown that it can reduce blood pressure levels.
High blood pressure inhibits sleep, so when a person consumes a GABA supplement, it can not only lower blood pressure, but it can cause the person to have a better night’s sleep.
When the body is in a more alert, aroused state (as it is with high blood pressure), it is much more difficult to fall asleep and to maintain good sleep throughout the night.
Managing stress and anxiety – noting that a primary function of GABA is to lower the activity level of neurons in the central nervous system and the brain, it makes sense that it would also reduce stress.
Science tells us that within one hour of taking a GABA supplement, lower activity levels of brain waves are detected. With the body trending toward a more relaxed, less active state, it can facilitate the reduction of stress and anxiety, which require a more active bodily state.
Better sleep at night – GABA works for most people to allow for a sound night’s sleep because of its ability to reduce activity levels in the body. Scientists have found that people troubled with insomnia or other sleeping disorders generally have lower levels of active GABA in the brain.
Many sleep medications actually target the body’s GABA and boost its presence, making it more effective at calming and relaxing the body. While more research is needed to fully understand its effects, it is known already that additional GABA can be quite effective at helping a person achieve a good night’s sleep.
From the information above, it can be understood that you can increase your GABA by artificial means, i.e. taking supplements that include this amino acid.
With more GABA in your system, you can look forward to a calmer state of being and a more stress-free lifestyle.