GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid)
What is GABA?
Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a naturally occurring amino acid that works as a neurotransmitter in your brain. Neurotransmitters function as chemical messengers. GABA is considered an inhibitory neurotransmitter because it blocks, or inhibits, certain brain signals and decreases activity in your nervous system.
When GABA attaches to a protein in your brain known as a GABA receptor, it produces a calming effect. This can help with feelings of anxiety, stress, and fear. It may also help to prevent seizures.
GABA’s natural calming effect on the brain has led to countless claims about the use of GABA supplements to reduce stress. Too much stress is linked to poor sleep, a weaker immune system, and a higher risk of depression, among other things.
According to a 2006 article, two very small studies found that participants who took a GABA supplement had increased feelings of relaxation during a stressful event than those who took a placebo or L-theanine, another popular supplement.
High blood pressure
Some small, older studies have evaluated the use of GABA-containing products for lowering blood pressure.
In one study from 2003, daily consumption of a fermented milk product that contained GABA reduced blood pressure in people with slightly elevated blood pressure after two to four weeks. This was compared with a placebo.
In a small 2018 study, participants who took 300 milligrams (mg)Trusted Source of GABA an hour before going to bed fell asleep faster than those taking a placebo. They also reported improved sleep quality four weeks after starting treatment.
Stress and fatigue
A study from 2009 found that eating chocolate containing 28 mg of GABA reduced stress in participants performing a problem-solving task. In another study, taking capsules containing 100 mg of GABA reduced measures of stress in people completing an experimental mental task.
Note: This does not constitute medical advice, always consult your GP if you are concerned about your health.