GABA is an extremely important neurotransmitter, due to its inhibitory effects on overly excited neurons. When your neurons are over-stimulated, it can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and even insomnia. GABA helps to restore balance, counteracting symptoms of anxiety and mood-related conditions. Not only does GABA help promote a more positive mood, but it also increases focus and relaxation.
While looking at GABA supplements in terms of nootropic benefits, there are some doubts. This is due to GABA’s inability to effectively cross the blood-brain barrier. With that being said, there is ample support when targeting symptoms of anxiety, depression, insomnia, ADHD, panic attacks, and even addiction.
How Does GABA Work?
GABA is a neurotransmitter, which works primarily as an inhibitor. This aids in calming down excitatory neurons. When they’re over-firing, this can increase feelings of anxiousness. Due to its effects on the brain, it is sometimes referred to as ‘nature’s valium.’
When your brain is functioning at an optimal level, there tends to be balance. If GABA levels are too low for instance, excitatory neurons may continue firing without any inhibition. Once levels are low and GABA is needed; it’s produced from Glutamate. GABA is then sent out in order to re-store balance.
Although GABA can do wonders for symptoms of anxiety while in the brain, supplements are often useless. This is due to the blood-brain barrier, as GABA supplements are unable to cross into one’s brain. This prevents circulating blood to reach the brain, acting as a protective barrier When you consume nutrients for instance, they need to cross this barrier in order to benefit your brain.
Since it does have so many positive effects on mood and anxiety, researchers have come up with supplements which help boost GABA concentrations in the brain. This can be done through GABA precursors, which provide the necessary components for GABA production. Others breakdown, resulting in excess GABA.
The Key Benefits of GABA
There have been many correlations regarding low levels of GABA and various mood, focus, and sleep-related issues. Sleeping is generally an area of concern, which directly affects one’s mood and well-being. Low levels of GABA are also associated with depression, inability to focus, panic attacks, anxiety disorders, and addiction. When low levels are corrected, users experience improved symptoms.
GABA also helps produce endorphins, which are chemicals that create feelings of positive well-being. These are the chemicals that are linked to positive mood after exercise. By taking a supplement which boosts GABA levels, you will experience a calming effect.
Not only does GABA have positive effects one one’s brain, but it has also been linked to weight-loss efforts. As a strong fat burner, GABA helps users lose weight, without taking any stimulants. While taking GABA enhancing supplements, you produce hormones that are used to build lean muscle mass. With a little training and assistance from GABA, you can increase your metabolism, while shedding a few pounds.
GABA is the second most abundant neurotransmitter in the brain, making it crucial for proper brain functioning. Since GABA is naturally-occurring and so vital for brain function, it is considered to be safe. The side-effects that have been reported are mild and are not generally a major concern. Some of these side-effects included tickling sensations, nausea, and rapid breathing. These are typically rare and mild; providing much higher benefits, in comparison to negative effects.
How Do I Enhance GABA?
As mentioned, GABA supplements are not the most effective. The blood-brain barrier does not allow for this neurotransmitter to reach the brain when ingested orally. If it cannot reach your brain, the supplement is fairly useless when attempting to boost mood.
For your body to naturally produce GABA, you need to have adequate levels of glutamine. This amino acid converts into glutamic acid, which is then converted into GABA. Although it sounds simple, it’s much more complex. In order for this process to run smoothly, you need various nutrients to help with these conversations; zinc, taurine, and vitamin B6 are all prime examples.
When focusing on diet, there are some foods that benefit this process. Foods that are high in GABA precursors include almonds, bananas, mackerel, liver, lentils, brown rice, spinach, and many more. When you provide your body with the materials it needs, you can maintain a more stable balance. Also, those that regularly practice yoga, have been shown to enhance their GABA levels.
There are also a number of other supplements that can help with this process. L-theanine, gingkgo biloba, and St. John’s Wort all help to increase GABA levels. Other options, such as valerian, maintain GABA levels, as they prevent breakdown.
There are also two GABA derivatives, known as Phenibut and Picamilon. Both of these options can effectively cross the blood-brain barrier. Although GABA itself is beneficial, it is all about supplements which help deliver these positive effects to your brain.
You can also take preventative measures to protect your GABA levels. Caffeine for instance tends to lower levels of GABA. This is why caffeine is often taken in a stack with L-theanine. That way, users experience all the benefits of caffeine, without the side-effects. Also, chronic alcohol addiction and abuse can reduce the number of available GABA receptors.
How GABA Affects Sleeping Patterns
Since GABA is associated with relaxation and a calming effect, its levels tend to be highest at night. Glutamate on the other hand, excites you, keeping you awake. During a good night’s sleep, your GABA levels should peak and your glutamate levels should diminish.
Those that struggle to sleep well, generally cannot ‘turn-off’ their mind. These individuals tend to experience the opposite; higher levels of glutamate and lower levels of GABA. Sleeping problems are often linked to feelings of stress, anxiety, or other mood-related conditions. The longer these sleep-related problems occur, the greater risk to your overall health (especially in terms of your emotions).
When taking GABA, you’re able to calm your mind. Anxious feelings tend to decrease, which is associated with racing thoughts throughout the night. If you’re struggling to sleep, speak with your doctor. There are also melatonin supplements that can help you obtain high quality sleep.