What is Gaba?
GABA or Gamma-aminnobutryic acid is the main inhibitory neutotransmitter in your central nervous system. It is the central nervous system's way of telling you to CHILL out and relax. People who are deficient in GABA typically experience depression, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, physical aches and pains, IBS, and carbohydrate cravings.
GABA inhibits synapses in the brain and various peripheral tissues/organs (the intestine, stomach, pancreas, fallopian tubes, uterus, ovaries, testes, kidney, bladder, lung, and liver). What does this mean? The synthesis of GABA and the function of its receptors is key to maintain emotional, physical and psychological disorders.
To me this is a perfect example of how our emotions can directly affect our organs and physical health. In Chinese medicine, emotions contribute to disease just as trauma, external factors, and genetics do. The lung, are affected by grief. I have see many patients develop an unexplained cough, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest for months after losing a loved one.
SRESS is THE common factor in all disease. Glutamate is the most abundant excitatory neurotransmitter in the nervous system. Similar to stress, too much glutamate can lead to inflammation and disease. Inflammatory cytokines produced from stress and poor diet inhibit the clean up of excessive glutamate. This explains why the gut and other organs affected by stress attempt to evade inflammation by naturally synthesizing inhibitory GABA.
What can we do to naturally increase GABA to calm our emotions and internal organs?
Probiotics: In a recent study, mice on probiotics had had a lower level of corticosteroid release in response to stress. In addition, an increase in mRNA of GABA receptors in key parts of the brain was seen.
Yoga: A study recently compared GABA levels of those after practicing yoga for an hour versus those sitting quietly and reading a book. The yogi group had a 27% increase of GABA on their MRI.
Meditation: Trade out the minutes of the morning news while guzzling coffee for 5-10 minutes of meditation. Follow this with enjoying your coffee on the way to work. This will allow you to enter your day with a calm, but active brain.
Tea: Skip the second cup of coffee and try oolong tea. Oolong contains caffeine, but also contains GABA. This will allow you to avoid the headache and insomnia following that second cup of the day.
GABA Boosting Brain Food: Cherry tomatoes and hummus. Cherry tomatoes contain GABA and the fat from the olive oil in hummus helps balance the Omega-6 Omega-3 ratio. Kefir contains GABA and a dose of carbohydrates that will increase serotonin. Shrimp also contains a healthy dose of GABA.
You can also use GABA as a supplement. I like pairing it with of St. John's Wort and other essential vitamins. Try Source Naturals St. John's Positive Thoughts available on Amazon.
So go ahead and get your GABA on!