All About GABA

by Melissa Chichester

Do you ever stop and think about the messages your body sends every day? 

Messages like: 

  • Feeling a raindrop hit your arm 
  • A sore muscle after a long run 
  • Itchy skin after a mosquito bite 

You feel all of these things because your cells are working hard to constantly send signals throughout the body. Neurotransmitters like Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid – or GABA – are part of this fast-acting process, and they are essential for your well-being. 

What are neurotransmitters?

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in your body that deliver messages between cells. This is what your body uses to respond to the information it receives internally and externally. 

For example, when you touch something that is too hot and reflexively pull back, you know to do so because of neurotransmission. 

According to the Cleveland Clinic, three of the most common neurotransmitters are: 

Glutamate – The most abundant in the brain

GABA – An amino acid naturally produced by the body that functions as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system*

Glycine – The most common neurotransmitter in the spinal cord

The benefits of GABA

So what makes GABA so special?  Let’s start with stress.

GABA can help calm occasional feelings of stress and it is available in supplement form.* 

Other GABA benefits include:

  • Supports mental relaxation*
  • Relaxes the mind*
  • Quickly restores mental calmness*
  • Calms occasional feelings of stress*

Of course, it’s important to note that stress reduction starts with healthy lifestyle habits, such as stepping back from work when necessary, getting adequate sleep, exercising, and spending time outdoors.

Who discovered GABA?

American neuroscientist Eugene Roberts and colleague Sam Frankel discovered GABA in 1950. Today, this discovery is considered a significant breakthrough in understanding the mysterious human brain. 

Foods that contain GABA

Your body makes GABA on its own; however, it is present in some foods, especially fermented foods such as:

  • Tempeh
  • Kimchi
  • Miso
  • Pickles

GABA supplements may be a good fit for your wellness routine combined with a nutritious diet and exercise program.  

Always speak to your physician before using any nutritional supplements.