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How GABA Function Works to Combat Stress and Anxiety

Approximately 26.3 per cent of Australians (that's nearly five million people) have struggled with an anxiety disorder (1). Seventy-five per cent of Australians have said that stress has a negative impact on their physical health, and 64 per cent said it impacted their mental health (2).

Do you struggle with anxiety on a regular basis? Do you feel as though you're always stressed and can't find relief? If this is the case for you, you may want to consider GABA (short for gamma-Aminobutyric acid) supplementation to promote relaxation.

What is GABA, you ask? Read on to learn more about GABA function and how it can help to relieve stress and anxiety.

How Does GABA Function in the Body?

GABA is an amino acid that occurs naturally in the body. It works in the brain as a neurotransmitter, which is a type of chemical messenger.

The GABA neurotransmitter is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. This means that it inhibits, or blocks, specific brain signals while also decreasing nervous system activity. GABA attaches to the GABA receptors in the brain and produces a calm and relaxed feeling. 

Reasons to Boost GABA Production

Low levels of GABA are linked to an increase in feelings of stress and anxiety. This condition may also trigger insomnia and cause issues like headaches and muscle pain. These symptoms may be the result of chronic muscle tension, which can be brought on by anxiety and stress.

There are many benefits that come with increasing GABA levels in the body, including the following:

Reduced Anxiety

One of the primary reasons why people seek to increase GABA is to help minimize their feelings of anxiety. There is some research that suggests this can be helpful.

For example, one study of 13 adults examined the brain waves of those who received a GABA supplement compared to those who consumed only water or only L-theanine (3). Alpha brain waves help to promote calmness, while beta brain waves promote alertness and are more present during periods of anxiety.

Within 60 minutes of receiving GABA, the participants experienced more significant increases in alpha brain waves and decreases in beta brain waves than those who had water or L-theanine. This suggests that GABA can help to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety at the same time.

Improved Sleep

Increased GABA can lead to better sleep quality, too. Poor sleep is a common complaint among those dealing with chronic stress or anxiety. 

A 2018 study of 40 people showed that those who consumed 300 milligrams of GABA one hour before bedtime fell asleep faster than those who took a placebo (4). The participants who took GABA also experienced better sleep quality during the four weeks (the length of the study) after the treatment began. 

Reduced Stress and Fatigue

Chronic stress can contribute to chronic fatigue for many people. Raising levels of GABA can help to combat this.

For example, a 2011 study of 30 people gave the participants a beverage that contained either 25 milligrams of GABA of 50 milligrams of GABA (5). The results of the study showed that those who consumed the larger dose of GABA experienced fewer signs of mental and physical fatigue while they performed a stressful problem-solving task.

How to Increase GABA

As the research shows, you can take a GABA supplement to help increase GABA levels. You can also utilize other supplements to help naturally boost GABA and increase its effectiveness, though. Some experts believe that these supplements may also do a better job of boosting GABA than taking GABA directly.

The following are some of the most effective supplements you may want to consider using:

Magnesium Bisglycinate Chelate

If you have a deficiency in magnesium, you may be more prone to low levels of GABA. By supplementing with magnesium bisglycinate chelate, you can boost GABA production while also enhancing its effects.

The magnesium in the supplement, specifically, will help to promote GABA's effects and assist with sleep quality and quantity. At the same time, the glycine will act as an inhibitory neurotransmitter (similar to GABA). This can lead to more significant feelings of relaxation, especially during periods of high stress.

Glutamine

The amino acid glutamine can help with GABA production as well. This is because glutamine is a precursor to GABA. Without sufficient levels of glutamine, your body will have a harder time being able to produce the GABA needed to help you calm down when you're feeling anxious or stressed out. 

L-Theanine 

L-Theanine, which is found in green tea, can help to boost cognitive performance while also increasing one's levels of GABA. It can also improve one's mood and help to mitigate the negative effects that arise when you're dealing with low GABA levels.

Vitamin B6

The body needs vitamin B6 to synthesize both GABA and serotonin. Without sufficient levels of B6, it will be very difficult for you to manage stress and maintain a healthy, positive mood.

Start Using a GABA Supplement Today

As you can see, proper GABA function is crucial if you want to feel relaxed and able to manage your stress in a healthy way. Keep the information on GABA that's outlined above in mind and you'll find that you can handle your stress much better than you could before.

If you're ready to relax and feel your best, check out our MgOptima Relax supplement today.

This supplement is made with an absorbable and bioavailable form of magnesium bisglycinate. It can help to promote the effects of GABA and ensure you feel relaxed even during stressful times. It also contains other beneficial ingredients like theanine and vitamin B6 for additional relaxation and stress-relieving benefits.

Give it a try today to see how it works for you! 

If you would like any more information regarding the contents of this article or have any questions you can head to our Virtual Clinic to book a free 20 minute consultation with one of our experienced Naturopaths.

References

1. Way Ahead Mental Health Association. Stress and Australians. (2016). Viewed at 10/02/20 at https://wayahead.org.au/stress-and-australians/

2. ABS National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007. 27 (2008). Viewed at 10/02/20 at https://www.beyondblue.org.au/media/statistics

3. Abdou A., Higashiguchi S., Horie K., Kim M., Hatta H., Yokogoshi H. Relaxation and immunity enhancement effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) administration in humans. BioFacotrs. 26 (3), 201-8 (2006).

4. Byun, J. I., Shin, Y. Y., Chung, S. E., & Shin, W. C. Safety and Efficacy of Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid from Fermented Rice Germ in Patients with Insomnia Symptoms: A Randomized, Double-Blind Trial. Journal of clinical neurology (Seoul, Korea), 14(3), 291–295 (2018)

5. Tsutomu K., Yoshiko N., Kenji N., Kenji H., Noriko H., Kaori F., Yusuke S., Hidehiko Y. Relieving Occupational Fatigue by Consumption of a Beverage Containing γ-Amino Butyric Acid. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, 57(1), 9-15 (2011)

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