GABA is a neurotransmitter, a chemical used by the brain to communicate the internal messages that allow us to think, feel, remember, process, and carry on with essentially every other task that makes us who we are. Within the brain, there are two types of neurotransmitters. Those that “excite”, giving us energy, motivation, etc, and those that “inhibit”, calming us down, helping us sleep, maintaining an even keel. GABA falls into the “inhibitory” category. In fact, it is the most inhibitory neurotransmitter of them all!
Brain science has linked various emotional and physical symptoms, such as anxioussness, nervousness and sleeplessness, to inadequate GABA signalling within the brain. These discoveries have led to the development of powerful medications that work to enhance GABA signaling, restoring proper communication in the brain, and thereby resolving symptoms. In fact, the vast majority of medications used to treat anxiousness, nervousness, and sleeplessness work by enhancing GABA signaling.
For those not comfortable using medications to address these symptoms, the natural health industry has developed many of their own ways to support the GABA system. The keen observer may suggest: “if GABA is so important, why not just take supplemental GABA?” A number of manufacturers do indeed offer GABA in a pill, and many promote its sleep-enhancing, anti-anxiousness, anti-nervousness properties. However, do not be fooled by marketing hype, as the science behind that concept is not that simple.
The brain is a precious organ, a finely tuned system that must operate under a veil of protection from the many external influences that could potentially disrupt its role as “mission control”. For this reason, our brains are protected from the bloodstream by a filter, known as the “blood-brain barrier”. The BBB, as its known, prevents certain unwanted molecules from getting into the brain, only allowing in the essential nutrients it needs to carry on its important operations. Here’s an important fact: GABA is NOT one of the molecules that freely enters the brain! All our of brain’s GABA is made INSIDE the brain!
Therefore, based on the principles of science, GABA supplements should not work. This Science forces us to become more critical and creative in our search for effective nutrients that can enhance the GABA system and thereby provide a calming effect. That said, a product by the name of Kavinace from NeuroScience, Inc. contains a modified GABA molecule that DOES cross the blood-brain barrier, enhancing the effects of the GABA system.
If you are experiencing anxiousness, nervousness, and/or sleeplessness, request a neurotransmitter test to determine if your GABA system is out of balance. If it is, consider the more scientific approach described above to naturally enhance your GABA system, and don’t be fooled by the marketing hype!