Neurotransmitter[ edit ] GABA metabolism, involvement of glial cells In vertebrates , GABA acts at inhibitory synapses in the brain by binding to specific transmembrane receptors in the plasma membrane of both pre- and postsynaptic neuronal processes. This binding causes the opening of ion channels to allow the flow of either negatively charged chloride ions into the cell or positively charged potassium ions out of the cell. This action results in a negative change in the transmembrane potential , usually causing hyperpolarization. Certain classes of drugs inhibit this binding, which may result in psychosis or seizures. These include common antibiotics such as Neomycin and Polymyxin B. Medium spiny cells are a typical example of inhibitory central nervous system GABAergic cells.
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Anxiety According to a 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. The article also notes that the relaxing effects were felt within an hour of taking the supplement. High blood pressure Some small, older studies have evaluated the use of GABA-containing products for lowering blood pressure. In one study from , daily consumption of a fermented milk product that contained GABA reduced blood pressure in people with slighted elevated blood pressure after two to four weeks.
This was compared with a placebo. A study found that taking a GABA-containing Chlorella supplement twice a day reduced blood pressure in those with borderline hypertension. Insomnia milligrams mg of GABA an hour before going to bed feel asleep faster than those taking a placebo. They also reported improved sleep quality four weeks after starting treatment.
Like many other studies looking at the effects of GABA supplements in humans, this study was very small, with only 40 participants.
Stress and fatigue A study in Japan examined the effects of a beverage containing either 25 mg or 50 mg of GABA on 30 participants. Both beverages were linked to reduced measures of mental and physical fatigue while doing a problem-solving task. But the beverage containing 50 mg appeared to be slightly more effective. Another study from found that eating chocolate containing 28 mg of GABA reduced stress in participants performing a problem-solving task.
In another study, taking capsules containing mg of GABA reduced measures of stress in people completing an experimental mental task. The results of all of these studies sound promising. But most of these studies were very small and many are out of date. Larger, more long-term studies are needed to fully understand the benefits of GABA supplements. If you want to try GABA, consider talking to a doctor first.
Make sure to tell them about any prescription or over-the-counter medications you take, including herbs and other supplements. They can give you a better idea of potential interactions to watch for while taking GABA. The bottom line GABA has an important role in our bodies as a chemical messenger.
But when used as a supplement, its role is less clear. Some research shows that it may be an option to help reduce stress, fatigue, anxiety, and insomnia. But many of these studies are small, outdated, or both. More evidence is needed to better understand the potential benefits of taking GABA.
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