What Does GABA Do?
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid and neurotransmitter that can either be produced naturally in the brain or taken as a supplement. One of the primary roles of this neurotransmitter is to improve mood, increase relaxation, and alleviate pain. Many natural supplements can affect GABA activity, helping to reduce symptoms of both depression and anxiety.
How does it work?
GABA is the primary neurotransmitter responsible for providing calming effects. Research has found that people who experience major depression often have lower levels of the chemical. GABA also plays a role in regulating the immune system, appetite, and metabolism. When a person has low neurotransmitter activity, the result can be anxiety, depression, insomnia, and chronic stress.
Treatment for anxiety
The primary role of GABA is to create a state of relaxation in the body. Taking GABA as a supplement can help people experience relief from anxiety and chronic stress. In one study, the supplement was shown to be just as effective as a relaxant and anxiety reliever. Other studies have shown that taking the supplement can help people to rebound more quickly from extreme stress.
Treatment for depression
The evidence of a link between GABA and depression continues to increase. Some studies have shown that GABA supplements can act just as quickly and effectively as some antidepressants. This may be counterintuitive, as GABA’s role is to calm the brain down. When a person is depressed, however, both GABA and glutamate are thrown out of balance, affecting neuron activity. Any interference with GABA may lead to depression or anxiety.
The link to insomnia
GABA activity is crucial for healthy sleep. The chemical helps to put a person to sleep, as well as to stay asleep throughout the night. Low activity levels of the neurotransmitter are linked with insomnia and sleep disruptions. Insomnia can have a worsening effect on both anxiety and depression. Though research is still ongoing, a mix of GABA and 5-HTP can have a significant impact on improving sleep quality and promoting a sense of calm.
Sources of GABA
Unlike many supplements, GABA cannot be found naturally in ordinary foods. However, certain foods, such as fruits, vegetables, teas, and red wine, can have an impact on GABA production. While research is ongoing, eating a healthier diet could help to give the neurotransmitter a boost.
Speak with a pharmacist
Patients should always speak with a healthcare provider before starting a new supplement. In some people, supplements containing GABA can help to boost mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. For more information, speak with a pharmacist.