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Gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, controlling the action of epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine. Inhibitory neurotransmitters reduce excitability in the brain’s neurons. The brain must balance excitatory and inhibitory influences for optimal function. GABA terminates the signals from the excitatory neurotransmitters: glutamate, and its positive modulators epinephrine, norepinephrine, and PEA.
Under normal conditions, normal levels of GABA are sufficient to maintain control of the excitatory stimuli. However, if GABA function is impaired, then higher levels will be required. Studies suggest that increased GABA may calm anxiety, support immune health, promote relaxation, and regulate sleep cycles. GABA deficiency can be linked to anxiety disorders such as panic attacks, seizure disorders like epilepsy, and numerous other conditions including addiction, headaches, Parkinson’s Syndrome, and cognitive impairment.
GABA receptor function may be reduced because of a genetic polymorphism in the GABA receptor that reduces the efficiency of GABA neurotransmission, the presence of GABA receptor inhibitors, or low serotonin levels. Serotonin is a positive regulator of GABA-GABA receptor interaction. An inadequate GABA response may lead to an extended state of excitement and electrical stimulation in the brain.
GABA is a naturally occurring, non-essential amino acid formed from glutamic acid with the help of vitamin B6. Drugs do not add GABA to the system. Instead, they rely on a sufficient supply of endogenous GABA in order to function properly by altering the GABA receptors. In many cases, a healthy supply of GABA is not available, and supplementation may be necessary.
The GABA system may be enhanced by supplementing the GABA precursors and potentiators listed below.