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GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid)

General Description

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (abbreviated to GABA) is an inhibitory neurotransmitter found in the nervous systems of many species (including humans.)  It is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter that is found in the central nervous system of both vertebrates and invertebrates. High concentrations of it are also found in the retina of the human eye.

 

GABA is also the most abundant neurotransmitter in the human brain and it acts as a balancer of other chemical processes that take place to regulate our mood and other factors. This neurotransmitter helps to reduce anxiety and induces relaxation and sleep.

 

GABA has been used to treat both epilepsy and hypertension where it is thought to induce tranquility in individuals who have a high activity of manic behavior and acute agitation. GABA bears the distinction of being approved in the United States for the treatment of epileptic seizures and post-herpetic neuralgia.

 

It is also used to improve memory, mental performs and to alleviate the symptoms of cerebral palsy.

 

It is available in capsule or powder form. Some doctors may also inject it intravenously.

 

A deficiency of GABA has also been linked to depression. Some people with anxiety and panic disorders may not manufacture sufficient levels of GABA.

 

Sources of the Supplement

GABA is found naturally in the brain and it assists in the efficient function of the brainís synapses. It is a non-essential amino acid formed from glutamic acid with the help of vitamin B6.

 

GABA powders and supplements are produced in almost every European or North American country. They are also added to many anti-aging compounds and HGH bodybuilding formulas.

 

Common Uses

The main two uses of GABA are to reduce anxiety and to induce sleep. Research shows that at least 2 grams of GABA need to be taken daily in order to see any positive effects from therapeutic treatment and supplementation.

 

GABA has been used in the treatment of:

 

  • Depression
  • Manic-depressive (bipolar) disorder
  • Seizures
  • Premenstrual dysphoric (feeling depressed) disorder
  • Post partum depression

GABA works by serving as an inhibitory neurotransmitter to block the transmission of an impulse from one cell to another in the central nervous system. In its simplest form, it prevents the brainís synapses from over firing their messages and causing mental disturbances.

 

However aside from being an aid to insomnia and psychological problems, GABA is also thought to be one of the essential components that is needed in abundance by the pituitary gland to produce the Human Growth Hormone. The Human Growth hormone that is fueled by GABA supplementation has been shown to:

 

  • Slow the aging process
  • Remove abdominal fat
  • Build lean muscle mass
  • Reduce wrinkles
  • Improve stamina while exercising

 

Human growth hormone (HGH) is produced, stored and secreted by the pituitary gland located at the base of the brain and is supported by the production of GABA.  Supplementation with GABA is thought to stimulate the pituitary gland to produce more human growth hormone then it normally would.

 

In order to benefit from the anti-aging effects of GABA, life extension experts recommend taking anywhere from 5 to 18 grams of the supplement a day.  Most people take GABA before they go to bed because it does have a sedative effect. One very interesting side effect of the drug is that people do have more vivid dreams.

 

Studies

GABA, or "gamma aminobutyric acid," has been the subject of numerous studies on panic disorder as well as other psychiatric disorders and substance abuse conditions. Scientists believe that GABA, a brain chemical, works by limiting the nerve cell activity in areas of the brain associated with anxiety. It has been hypothesized that people with anxiety disorders have increased cell activity in the areas of the brain that lack GABA.

 

In a seminal study at the Yale University School of Medicine, researchers found evidence of a relationship between the brainís GABA levels and panic disorder. People with a panic disorder were found to have a 22% reduction in the amount of GABA in their total occipital cortex than people without panic disorder.  Supplementation was shown to alleviate this condition.

 

Prior to the very important Yale study, according to the researchers, there had been "no direct assessment" of GABA levels in people with panic disorder. The results showed that 12 of the 14 participants with panic disorder had lower GABA levels than the matched control subjects. Overall, the tests showed a 22% reduction in GABA levels in the participants with panic disorder compared with those without panic disorder.

 

According to material published online by researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University GABA has also been shown to be effective at combating obsessive-compulsive disorder especially when used in conjunction with other prescription medications.  Researchers found the same results when they supplemented the prescription medicines on individuals with schizophrenia and shizoaffective disorder with GABA.

 

Clinical trials and studies are also in progress to determine if supplementation with large amounts of GABA can help allay the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Patients seem to benefit from doses of 4-12 milligrams, but it is still undetermined as to whether GABA will ever be a replacement for such drugs as lithium or carbamazepine.





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