Posted on by Paula Gallagher
Most people who know about GABA think of it as the “chill pill."
Because gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating the nervous system, and works by calming the brain to slow down nerve signals in the central nervous system, reducing feelings of anxiety.
But GABA also plays a role in the healthy functioning of the body’s immune and endocrine systems, as well as in the regulation of appetite and metabolism. There’s also emerging research about GABA’s role in gut health and gastrointestinal function, where it may work to support motility, control inflammation and support immune system function, and help regulate hormone activity.
Low GABA activity in the body can result in:
- Chronic stress
- Difficulty concentrating and memory problems
- Muscle pain and headaches
- Insomnia and other sleep problems
GABA for Weight Management
Teri Cochrane, an integrative practitioner who is also one of our guest bloggers, uses GABA in her practice as an aid for weight management. GABA is critically important for glucose metabolism. By managing our blood sugar, we can promote the healthy performance of insulin, the fat-storage hormone. Because of its support of glucose metabolism, GABA is actually considered to have anti-obesity effects, making it a useful tool in your fat-loss arsenal.
GABA also helps with the production of human growth hormone, linked to an increase in lean muscle mass. One study found that “taking a GABA supplement led to a 400% increase in HGH [human growth hormone] at rest and a 200% increase following exercise, and that GABA may also increase HGH levels by improving your sleep, since your nighttime growth hormone release is linked to sleep quality and depth.”
Other Benefits of GABA
GABA enables the body and mind to relax and fall asleep, and to sleep soundly throughout the night. Low GABA activity is linked to insomnia and disrupted sleep. In one study, GABA levels in people with insomnia were almost 30% lower than in people without insomnia.
Stress and anxiety
As a natural chemical the body produces, GABA’s primary role is to diminish the activity of neurons in the brain and central nervous system, which puts the body in a greater state of relaxation and alleviates stress and anxiety. Supplemental GABA may benefit sleep by aiding relaxation and providing relief from anxiety and stress.
GABA supplements are sometimes used by people as a natural way to lower blood pressure. There is evidence indicating that GABA may work to reduce high blood pressure.⠀
Humanized Health - NEW!
Learn about personalized health from top experts! Check out our fascinating new shows every week, available as videos, podcasts and transcripts.:
Paula is a highly qualified and experienced nutrition counselor on the staff at Village Green.
Margo's impressive knowledge base is the result of a unique blend of educational and professional experience.
Dr. Neal Barnard
Dr. Barnard leads programs advocating for preventive medicine, good nutrition, and higher ethical standards in research.
Dr. Joseph Pizzorno
Dr. Joseph Pizzorno, ND is a pioneer of integrative medicine and a leading authority on science-based natural medicine.
Debi is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition, a personal trainer, and whole health coach.
Teri is a is a Certified Coach Practitioner with extensive certifications and experience in holistic medicinal practices.
Dr. Rav Ivker
Dr. Rav Ivker is a holistic family physician, health educator, and best-selling author.
Susan writes about the connection between plant-based diets and a reduced risk of chronic diseases.
Dr. Rob Brown
Dr. Brown's blended perspective of healthcare includes a deeply rooted passion for wellness and spiritual exploration.