Gamma-aminobutyric acid, often called GABA , is an amino acid and neurotransmitter, a type of chemical responsible for transmitting signals from one nerve cell to another. Specifically, GABA slows down brain activity by providing a calming effect .
Produced naturally by the body, GABA is also widely available in supplement form. Manufacturers claim that GABA supplements can help increase GABA levels in the brain. GABA supplements are said to even treat:
Unlike many dietary supplements, GABA is not found in common foods. But it is argued that certain foods that contain antioxidants called flavonoids can increase the activity of GABA in your body. These products include:
However, scientists don't really know if certain foods can affect how GABA works in the brain .
In this article, we will look at how GABA can help people cope with stress and anxiety. He will talk about GABA supplements and the evidence for their purported benefits.
Do GABA supplements offer any benefits?
Research shows that GABA may play a key role in protecting against depression and anxiety. For example, a review article published in the journal Neuropharmacology in 2011 concluded that people with anxiety and depression are more likely to have low GABA levels .
However, there is not enough research on the health effects of GABA supplements to draw conclusions. Also, scientists have yet to find out if GABA taken as a supplement can reach the brain and cause beneficial changes .
Natural ways to increase GABA levels
But these approaches are only effective for a short period of time. They can also have unwanted side effects.
Various herbal supplements (including valerian ) can help raise GABA levels in the brain. A study shows that inhaling the scent of jasmine (a substance often used in aromatherapy ) can help enhance the effects of GABA .
Certain mind and body exercises can also help increase GABA levels in your brain. For example, a 2020 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that doing yoga can lead to higher GABA levels. As a result, you can improve your mood and worry less .
While alcohol and sleeping pills can increase GABA levels, they can also cause unpleasant side effects. Certain herbal supplements, such as valerian, can naturally increase GABA levels. Yoga practice can also help relax your body and increase GABA levels in your brain.
Possible side effects.
GABA supplements are considered safe when taken by mouth for up to 12 weeks. However, pregnant and lactating women should avoid using GABA because there is insufficient information to determine whether it is safe or effective for them.
Since there is not enough research to support its effectiveness, it is too early to recommend GABA supplements or other herbal supplements that are said to increase GABA levels in any condition.
If you plan to use GABA supplements to prevent or treat a specific health problem, talk to your doctor before starting the supplements.
Dosage and preparation
Because information on GABA supplements is limited, there are no recommendations on the correct dosage for any condition. If you decide to take a GABA supplement, follow the directions on the label.
What to look for
GABA supplements are sold in pill and capsule form. You can also see that the supplement is sold in powder form. If you decide to buy these products, it is important to check the label because a wide variety of ingredients can be included in the packaging.
Before purchasing any supplement, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that you look for an informational label on the supplement. This label provides important health information, including the amount of active ingredients per serving. It will also inform you about other added ingredients like fillers, binders, and flavors .
The NIH also encourages you to look for a product that is approved by third-party quality testing. These organizations include:
- NSF International
The seal of approval from one of these organizations does not guarantee the safety or effectiveness of a product. But this gives confidence that:
- The product has been manufactured correctly.
- The product contains the ingredients indicated on the label.
- The product does not contain harmful impurities.
GABA is an amino acid that can help improve your mood. Several studies show that increasing GABA levels in the brain can help reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. But more research is needed to determine if GABA supplements are effective for treating any conditions.
Look for supplements that contain a supplement label to find out what ingredients they contain. You should also choose a supplement that has been approved by a third-party quality testing organization.