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The Important Role of GABA for Memory

22 December 2015
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What is GABA?

Gamma-Amino Butyric acid (GABA) plays an important role in a person’s behaviour, cognition and the body’s stress response. It is a neurotransmitter that communicates through the brain and the nervous system, it is highly involved in regulating chemical messages between brain cells and can help reduce the activity of the neurons in the brain.

Importance of GABA for Memory

When nerve cells are overly stimulated, GABA helps to control fear and anxiety of a person. It is taken by mouth to relieve anxiety related disorders, can improve mood, reduce premenstrual syndrome symptoms, treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and it is also used to promote lean muscle growth, normalise blood pressure, relieve pain and burn body fats.

GABA is formed in the brain cells from glutamate and functions as nerve impulse blocker. The glutamates role is to act as an excitatory neurotransmitter and when directed to adjacent cells it gives the “go” signal to fire and send a nerve impulse. On the other hand, GABA’s role is to do the opposite and that is to send a message to the adjoining cells not to fire or send an impulse.

The role of GABA in the brain

The absence of GABA causes nerve cells to fire easily and quickly and anxiety disorders such as panic attacks, seizure disorders and other conditions like recurrent headaches, Parkinson’s disease and impaired cognition can all be linked to low GABA activity. GABA has a calming or quieting effect that can hinder the transmission of nerve impulses from one neuron to another.

To understand better how GABA works, think of caffeine. What you feel during and after drinking or consuming caffeine is the exact effect of glutamate without enough GABA to the body. Caffeine blocks GABA release so the less GABA the more a nerve transmission could appear. The main reason why caffeine can do this effect is that other molecules can bind to the neuron near the GABA binding site and can influence GABA’s effect. Benzodiazepines and barbiturates can mimic the effect of GABA by also inhibiting nerve impulses.

Low levels of GABA may be linked to the following:

  • Mood Disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Chronic Pain

People take GABA as a supplement to help:

  • Improve Sleep
  • Reduce or relieve Anxiety
  • Elevate Mood
  • Relieve Premenstrual Syndrome
  • Treatment for ADHD
  • Burn Body Fats
  • Normalise Blood Pressure
  • Relieve Pain and Discomfort
  • Increase Strength especially during a Strenuous Activity
  • Increase Growth of Lean Muscle Mass

GABA Supplements

Yes, you’re right. GABA may be taken as supplement and here are a few things you need to know about it:

  • GABA supplements may be taken alone or in combination with other ingredients to treat anxiety disorders, depression and insomnia.
  • Research suggested that GABA supplements can be helpful in decreasing anxiety levels of a person and that it can also increase levels of chemicals such as endorphins (chemicals that make us happy) in the blood circulation. There is very little evidence to support these overall claims but on going research is being done to prove GABA supplements’ effectivity.

GABA in Foods

GABA can not be obtained naturally from foods but a number of foods contain substances like flavonoids that can influence how GABA works in the brain. Foods like:

  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Teas
  • Red Wine (Resveratrol)

Note: Be sure to consult your doctor before taking GABA supplements.

Disclaimer: the information in this article is intended purely as information and not health advice. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure and one should always seek expert advice from their trusted health practitioner


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