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4 Benefits and Side Effects of GABA (5 Contraindications To Be Noted)

GABA is one of the main neurotransmitters present in the cerebral cortex (a type of amino acid, converted from glutamate), acting like brakes, can inhibit brain nerve activity, bring relaxation and calming effects

At present, many sedative and sleeping drugs (such as Xanax and Valium) are effective by acting on brain-related receptors and increasing the level of GABA.

Does GABA really work?

GABA is regarded as a health or food ingredient in Europe and the United States, and is generally believed to have the effect of relaxing emotions and reducing psychological stress, but interestingly, most studies so far believe that GABA cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, and even if there is a trace amount.

Therefore, one cannot help but wonder if these effects are only a placebo effect. After combining most studies, it is believed that GABA may be able to produce effects through other non-central nervous system pathways, such as the enteric nervous system, but more empirical confirmation is needed. Note 6

What are the recommended benefits of GABA?

1. GABA is beneficial for postherpetic neuralgia

Herpes zoster, caused by the activation of the latent varicella zoster virus in cranious-spinal sensory neurons, is characterized by a painful erythematous rash on the affected skin site (which occurs in about 20 to 30 percent of people in their lifetime)

The most common chronic complication is postherpetic neuralgia, a persistent neuropathic pain that occurs after acute infection with a burning, painful, throbbing, tingling sensation that can last for months to years, severely affecting the patient’s physical, social, and psychological state

A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (3 randomized controlled trials, 297 patients with shingles) showed that GABA derivatives (eg, Gabapentin, pregabalin) significantly reduced the incidence of acute shingles pain events compared with placebo. Note 1

*Conclusion: GABA derivatives can reduce the incidence of acute postherpetic neuralgia

2. GABA is beneficial for blood pressure regulation

High blood pressure is the number one causative agent of almost all cardiovascular diseases, but high blood pressure itself is not terrible, the danger lies in the long-term complications.

Because blood vessels and blood are all over the body, problems (blockage or rupture of blood vessels) can cause damage to the heart, kidneys, brain, eyes and other organs.

One double-blind controlled study (8 weeks, 39 patients with mild hypertension) found that consumption of GABA-rich rice (11.2 mg GABA/100 g) improved morning hypertension compared with placebo (but there was no significant difference in other measurements). Note 1

3. GABA is good for mood, stress and concentration

The seven emotions and six desires generally refer to the seven emotions of joy, anger, worry, thought, sadness, fear and shock, which belong to the normal emotional manifestations of human beings.

When the state or intensity exceeds expectations, long-term mood dysregulation is significantly associated with heart disease, high blood pressure, ulcers, depression, immune decline, and other diseases (about 75% of illnesses are related to emotional stress).

One small study suggested that oral GABA supplementation helped reduce stress, anxiety states, and improved concentration (as measured by electroencephalogram). Note 2

In particular, when the subject is under stress, the use of GABA can increase the level of immunoglobulin A/Immunoglobulin A in saliva, which means that it can improve immune function.

*Immunoglobulin A in saliva is considered a physiological indicator of relaxation, stress, and immune response.

4. GABA benefits sleep disorders (insomnia)

Sleep occupies about one-third of a human life and has a decisive impact on maintaining normal physiological functioning, and studies have shown that both insufficient or prolonged sleep may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality.

One of the possible causes of insomnia or poor sleep quality is that GABA levels in the brain are too low, and studies have shown that GABA levels in insomnia are 30% lower than in the general population. Note 4

A small randomized controlled study showed that oral GABA supplementation helped reduce the time required to fall asleep, non-REM sleep time (deep sleep, which allows for a better rest, body, body, or body) and sleep efficiency compared with placebo. Note 5

The report also pointed out that although oral GABA is generally believed to be unable to act on the central nervous system by crossing the blood-brain barrier, the related sleep improvement effect may be related to parasympathetic activation, lowering the body’s core temperature, and enteric nervous system (Enteric Nervous System), which needs to be further confirmed by more large-scale experiments.

Are there any side effects of GABA?

Short-term, low-dose GABA is considered to be highly safe at generally recommended doses, but possible side effects include drowsiness, skin tingling, shortness of breath, nausea, headache, and vomiting (often associated with overdose/single dose exceeding 3000 mg or mixed with other ingredients)

Safety precautions (5 contraindications to use)

1. Do not use by pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children (due to unknown safety)

2. Do not use for abnormal liver and kidney function (due to unknown related safety)

3. Do not drive, operate machinery or engage in hazardous work after use

4. Do not use with sedative sleeping drugs and alcohol (may trigger interactive reactions)

5. Do not use for people with bipolar disorder or depression


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