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GABA: Does Oral Supplementations Work?

Dr. Anthony Close
April 30, 2023
Health Hub

Disturbance in the blood level of gamma-aminobutyric acid is a stem reason for various disorders among people. There is a potent need to keep a proper check on GABA levels in the body to reduce the risk factor for chronic diseases. The most important concern for patients suffering from GABA deficiency is oral supplementation. But are these oral supplements effective? Let’s find it out in detail.

What Is GABA?

Gamma amino butyric acid, or GABA, is the neurotransmitter produced within the brain. Neurotransmitter is the chemical that transfers chemicals from the body to the central nervous system. GABA is a neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in regulating the transmission of signals or messages from one neuron to another, thus controlling the coordination between bodily functions and CNS.

There are two main types of neurotransmitters. They can be either stimulatory or inhibitory. GABA is an inhibitory type of neurotransmitter. It works by blocking the transmission of signaling between neurons. GABA prevents CNS from receiving the signals through neural pathways and producing effects. Blockage or inhibition of nerves is required to maintain the body's normal metabolism during stressful conditions such as anxiety and stress.

GABA, by blocking the transmission of signals carrying information about anxiety, stress, depression, and related symptoms, helps manage emergency situations. Any disturbance in the level of GABA in the body can result in severe neurogenic and psychotic disorders, including Parkinson’s disease and insomnia.

What Are The Functions Of GABA In The Body?

Research has shown that 30% to 40% of neurons in the body contain gamma-aminobutyric acid.  When these neurons are stimulated, GABA is released in the synaptic space. In synaptic cleft, GABA produces inhibitory actions by attaching the specific receptors on the post-synaptic nerve and preventing the further transmission of signals.

The whole process helps prevent the signaling of messages containing information about anxiety and related symptoms to major portions of the CNS. This further produces a soothing effect in the brain and helps manage undesirable conditions in the body.

GABA has also effectively controlled hypertension among people with frequent high blood pressure. It is further linked with reduced chances of cardiovascular diseases such as heart stroke and heart failure.  Studies have shown that GABA can also b effective in reducing obesity among patients suffering from different health disorders.

What Does Happen When GABA Levels Fluctuate In The Body?

Disturbed level of GABA in the body is associated with several neurological, mental, and physical disorders. Some main of them are mentioned below.

Anxiety 

People suffering from GABA deficiency lose their ability to control stress. Reduction in GABA increases the risk of patients getting psychotic disorders, including depression, anxiety, and stress.

Parkinson’s Disease

Patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease are observed with fluctuated levels of GABA in their bodies. Either the blood level of GABA is found to be too low or too high, which affects the normal activities among patients. 

Schizophrenia

The malfunctioning of GABA exacerbates the symptoms among patients suffering from schizophrenia. GABA functions by reducing the activity of dopamine in the brain which can help control schizophrenia symptoms. When GABA is in inadequate amounts, dopamine activity increases, which worsens the condition by boosting hallucinations and impaired cognitive functions.

Epilepsy

The lack of the GABA level is also associated with exacerbated symptoms of epilepsy. The nervous transmission affected due to GABA deficiency can stimulate seizures among patients.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Researchers have yet to pinpoint the exact cause of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but abnormalities in GABA activity have been linked to ASD symptoms among patients. It appears that GABA plays a role in the lack of interest or difficulty interacting with people that people with autism exhibit. The GABA system does not work independently in autism. It may affect other neurotransmitters and receptors, worsening patients' conditions.

Major Depressive Disorder

Reduced GABA level is also associated with major depressive disorder (MDD).  Besides GABA, other neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, are also affected among patients, which increases the risk factor of MDD.

Does Oral GABA Work?

Patients suffering from GABA deficiency often think about oral supplementations of GABA. But the efficacy of oral GABA supplements is in doubt because of the inability of GABA supplements to reach the brain. The brain is protected by a unique barrier known as the blood-brain barrier, which blocks the passage of molecules into the brain. Only selective molecules which are highly lipophilic in nature can cross this barrier and enter the brain. Studies have shown that gamma-aminobutyric acid cannot cross this blood-brain barrier which prevents its accessibility to the brain, thus reducing its effectiveness.

However, some other researchers have found that oral supplementations of GABA can induce sleeping effects and reduce stress among patients. More studies and research are needed to determine the efficacy of GABA oral supplementations.

How To Measure The Level Of GABA In The Body?

There is a need for proper laboratory testing to detect GABA levels in the body. Patients may need help to book an appointment, go to a lab, give a sample, and then wait for the reports. To sort out this issue, several online platforms are now offering GABA testing at home. But finding an authentic site for testing can be a difficult task. Let’s sort out this issue as well.

at home testing

LabMe offers accurate blood and urine testing at home with verified results. If you are looking for GABA testing, LabMe offers At-Home Advanced Neurotransmitters​ Test. You have to collect your urine sample and then send it to LabMe, where an expert medical team will analyze your sample. Your reports will be delivered online on your dashboard. 

Conclusion

GABA fluctuations in the body can lead to severe malfunctioning. Symptoms of different neurological, mental and physical disorders can be exacerbated due to disturbed GABA blood levels. Therefore, it is necessary to check your blood level of gamma-aminobutyric acid properly. Oral GABA supplementations are very less likely to be effective in recovering the symptoms. Proper consultation with a doctor can help patients manage their mild to chronic symptoms.

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