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GABA
(GAMMA-AMINOBUTYRIC ACID)
 
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An Amino Acid

Troubled with anxiety, irritability, tension, stress and the pressures of a busy life, where there is never enough time and never enough rest?  Perhaps it’s time for the soothing effects of GABA, a natural amino acid that helps to calm the central nervous system and prevent anxiety and stress-related messages from reaching the motor centers of the brain - without the addictive side effects of synthetic tranquilizers.  Bodybuilders are also drawn to GABA, because they believe its balancing effects stimulate the anterior pituitary gland, leading to higher levels of Human Growth Hormone (for muscle building).

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

History:
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid that is naturally formed in the brain and acts as a neurotransmitter (chemical that fosters communication between nerve cells) in the central nervous system and helps to keep stress-related nerve impulses at bay.  GABA’s function is to decrease neuron activity and inhibit nerve cells from over-firing.  It is essential for brain metabolism, aiding in proper brain function and is sometimes called “The Body's Natural Tranquilizer.”  GABA is a natural compound that is present in virtually all living organisms and is derived from L-glutamic acid, one of the major natural amino acids in plants and animals that is responsible for many physiologic functions; and humans readily metabolize it, so that concentrations in the body remain constant.  Gamma-aminobutyric acid was first synthesized in 1883, and was first known only as a plant and microbe metabolic product.  In 1950, GABA was discovered to be an integral part of the mammalian central nervous system.  Gamma-aminobutyric acid is produced in the brain and is also found in some extra-neural tissue, including kidney and pancreatic islet cells.   Created in the body from the most common “excitatory” neurotransmitter in the brain (glutamic acid), GABA is the major “inhibitory” neurotransmitter in the brain, and it is interesting to note that this involves the conversion of this excitatory neurotransmitter into the principal inhibitory one to be effective.  Along with niacinamide and inositol, GABA prevents anxiety and stress-related messages from reaching the motor centers of the brain by occupying their receptor sites, and normally, the brain provides all the GABA the body needs for proper function.  However, due to our daily exposure to environmental toxins, inadequate nutrition and other factors, GABA levels may become depleted, and too little of this amino acid leads to imbalance in the brain’s message delivery system and may cause anxiety, stress, irritability and insomnia.  GABA deficiency has also been linked to depression and in extreme cases, epileptic seizures and autism.

Beneficial Uses:
GABA supplements are often taken as non-sedating tranquilizers to calm the body, ease tension and stress and promote relaxation, but without the fear of addiction.  According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies it as GRAS (generally recognized as safe for human consumption).

With regard to insomnia, supplemental GABA is currently undergoing much research and thought to be helpful as a non-addictive tranquilizer and relaxant that can be useful in cases of sleep disorders, improving sleep cycles and leading to more restful sleep with interesting, vivid dreams.  Taken about an hour before bedtime, GABA is believed to have a calming effect that can help you fall asleep.  If hormonal mood swings are causing insomnia, try taking GABA for a week to ten days before, and during, your monthly menstrual cycle.

GABA holds promise in cases of hypertension, as studies have indicated powerful stabilizing effects on blood pressure because of its gentle relaxant effects. 

Formed in the body from another amino acid, glutamic acid (nature’s brain food), GABA is vital for brain metabolism and is needed to sustain proper brain function and mental activity.  Vital for cerebral function, GABA may play an important role in the areas of epilepsy, as it appears to inhibit nerve cells in the brain from firing and setting off seizures (this must always be done in consultation with a physician).  Interestingly, some of the newer synthetic epileptic medications are specifically designed to increase the level of inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain, especially gamma-aminobutyric acid. GABA is also thought to be useful in cases of schizophrenia, Attention Deficit Disorder and learning disabilities (it helps to relax).

Bodybuilders are drawn to GABA, because they believe its balancing effects stimulate the anterior pituitary gland, leading to higher levels of Human Growth Hormone (for muscle building).  Furthermore, it is said that people who take GABA have a tendency to lose excess body fat.  Some research has indicated that higher levels of circulating Human Growth Hormone (HGH) are associated with less body fat and a far better lean tissue-to-stored fat ratio, but thus far no definitive conclusions have been drawn. 

Research has demonstrated GABA to be a very effective analgesic, eliminating pain from chronic conditions, such as arthritis and lower back pain. 

With regard to enlarged prostate, GABA is thought to be beneficial, because it may participate in the mechanism regulating the release of sex hormones.  Further, its relaxant qualities show potential for improving depressed sex drive, but thus far, no scientific conclusions have been drawn.

GABA is thought to be helpful in controlling cravings for alcohol and sugar.

Numerous medical studies claim that GABA possesses many important positive effects on the body following supplementation.  GABA may have many powerful anti-ageing properties, and it is said that people who take GABA feel rejuvenated; in other words, they generally feel more youthful and energetic and many have reported improvements to their skin, while many older individuals report a return to darker hair. 

Contraindications:
Do not take GABA Amino Acid Supplement if you are pregnant or nursing.  Don't drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how this product affects you because of its sedative effects.  Avoid GABA Nutritional Supplement if you are being treated for a serious medical condition, such as kidney disease or liver disorders.  Avoid GABA if you are being treated for epilepsy, as abnormal levels of GABA may unbalance the brain’s message-delivery system, possibly causing seizures.  In research studies, some mild gastric upset and nausea were reported.  Overuse (many times the recommended dosage) may cause shortness of breath, numbness around the mouth, irregular breathing patterns and tingling in the extremities, but these effects are thought to be temporary.

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