Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid (GABA) – A Natural Relaxant
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is both an amino acid and a mood enhancing neurotransmitter. It is formed by glutamic acid in the body with the help of vitamin B6, and prevents nerve cells from firing too much, thus having a claming effect. This results with a relaxed or sedative effect which makes it ideal to calm the mind and body in much the same way as tranquilizer drugs like valium and serepax. These drugs act by inducing the same change in brain chemistry that GABA can perform. The only difference is GABA is entirely safe, is not addictive, will not knock you out and cause many other side effects associated with these drugs. It may be taken right before going to sleep as many people report an improvement in the quality of their sleep and a feeling of well-being upon arising in the morning. Lucid or colorful dreams are also frequently reported. In addition, because of its calming and soothing effects, GABA also lowers blood pressure, helps control hypoglycemia and prevents anxiety.
In addition, GABA has some startling effects on promoting fat loss. GABA stimulates the production of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) which has been found in studies to facilitate the metabolism of fats in the body. Several clinical studies have shown that ingestion of GABA releases growth hormone, especially after exercise, with remarkable effectiveness. Release of growth hormone increases lean body mass. Consequently, it is an invaluable nutritional supplement for body builders, powerlifters, runners, martial artists, and other athletes of all shades.
GABA is best taken before going to sleep on a relatively empty stomach. Empty stomach means approximately 45 minutes after the ingestion of the day’s last meal. Intake of GABA at bed time makes it work with the body’s natural rhythms for increased growth hormone production, which happens roughly 90 minutes after the onset of sleep. The evening intake of GABA correlates with GABA’s effect to induce restful and refreshing sleep.
Even though the effect of GABA varies from individual to individual, the beneficial effects may be discernible within two weeks, but its full impact may be noticed after six to eight weeks.
Dose – 700mg to 1.4g at night on an empty stomach.
Some people have reported tingling on the surface of the skin for a few minutes after the intake of GABA. This may be likened to the well- known “niacin flush.” GABA may also induce a slight shortness of breath, which is also transient and is experienced by a small percentage of people.
Rather rarely, both these sensations may be experienced by a small percentage of people, but they are temporary, and resolve of their own accord. It should be noted that GABA has a slight sedative effect and may cause some drowsiness. If this is the case it should be taken right before retiring for the day.
For more information refer to the Brain Chemistry page on this website.
- Satterfield, Neuroscience: Exploring the Brain. Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore
- Hertz, L. 1983. In L. Hertz, Glutamine, Glutamate, and GABA in the CNS. Liss, New York.
- Steardo et al., “Evidence for a GABAergic Control of the Exercise-Induced Rise in GH in Man,” Eur. J. Pharmacol.: 28, 607, 1985.
- Spencer et al., “Neuroendocrine Regulation of Growth Hormone Secretion in Sheep: Effects of GABA,” J. Regul. Peptides: 52, 181, 1994.
- Mergl et al., “Growth Hormone Secretion and Activation of cyclic AMP by Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone and Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid in the Neonatal Rat Pituitary,” Life Sci.: 56, 579, 1995.
Copyright 2001 Michael Serafin, Ph.D.