What does gamma-amino-butyric acid do?

Neurotransmitters are the messenger substances in the brain and are responsible for exchanging information between nerve cells. As a result, they have a major influence on numerous bodily processes and thus also on our behavior and state of mind. One of these neurotransmitters is gamma-amino-butyric acid ( GABA for short), which - unlike other neurotransmitters - has a rather inhibitory effect.

How does gamma-amino-butyric acid work?

GABA Wirkung

Gamma-amino-butyric acid belongs to the so-called inhibitory neurotransmitters. This means that GABA's effect is to inhibit certain nerve cells and thus processes or functions, instead of stimulating them. In this way, it has a relaxing and calming effect, and can reduce feelings of anxiety, worry and stress [1]. The relaxing effect of GABA has also been shown in studies in which an EEG was derived from the subjects. In these, the ingestion of GABA increased the so-called alpha waves in the EEG, which only occur in a very relaxed state [2]. Therefore, GABA is sometimes referred to as a natural anti-stress neurotransmitter and is recommended to reduce stress, inner turmoil, or feelings of tension.

GABA and cognitive performance

In addition, gamma-amino-butyric acid also has an effect on our ability to pay attention and concentrate [3]. Only when the body and mind are able to switch off in the meantime are they then able to perform at their best again with renewed energy and concentration. This applies not only to cognitive but also to athletic performance, because GABA appears to have a positive effect on certain hormones that are important for muscle development [4].

GABA and clinical significance

Gamma-Amino-Buttersäure Wirkung

Due to its important functions, gamma-amino-butyric acid has a great clinical significance, because if the signal transmission of the neurotransmitter is disturbed, this can lead to massive discomfort and promote neurological as well as psychiatric diseases [5]. Thus, a GABA deficiency can manifest itself, among other things, in increased anxiety up to panic attacks [6], headaches and sleep disorders [7]. The overactivation of nerve cells can also lead to epileptic seizures [8].

Incidentally, gamma-amino-butyric acid is not only found in the brain, but also in the pancreas. There it is secreted simultaneously with insulin and thus contributes to lowering blood glucose levels.

Conclusion on the effect of gamma-amino-butyric acid

GABA, as gamma-amino-butyric acid is abbreviated in English, is a neurotransmitter that inhibits the activity of nerve cells. It primarily has a calming and relaxing effect, reducing negative feelings such as stress, anxiety and worry.

Sources

[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22203366/
[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16971751/
[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25454585/
[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18091016/
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513311/
[6] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12662130/
[7] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11983310/
[8] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11520315/