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Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a non-essential amino acid that helps promote normal brain function by helping to block stress-related messages from reaching receptor sites in the central nervous system. GABA helps reduce feelings of anxiety and may be helpful for treatment of disorders linked to emotional stress such as reduced sex drive and hypertension.
GABA is manufactured in the body from another amino acid, glutamic acid. GABA essentially acts as a tranquilliser in the body and its effects are comparable to prescription drugs such as Valium and other tranquillisers. Because GABA helps to subdue the firing of nerve cells in the brain, it may be useful for treatment of disorders thought to be linked to over-stimulation of the brain's motor centres, such as epilepsy and attention deficit disorder. Research indicates that it may also help treat alcoholism by reducing alcohol cravings, which have been shown to respond to treatment with the precursor of GABA, glutamic acid.
Individuals with enlarged prostate gland may benefit from GABA supplementation, as this amino acid plays a key role in balancing and regulating levels of sex hormones in the body. Some studies indicate that GABA actually increases levels of human growth hormone (HGH) in the body, which can lead to an increase in muscle mass and decrease in overall body fat.
GABA is available in capsule and powder forms at health food shops and on-line. The usual dose is 3 to 5 grams and although some studies have used doses as high as 18 grams, you should proceed with caution when taking large doses of GABA. Too much GABA may actually increase feelings of anxiety and has been reported to cause numbness, tingling and shortness of breath. Abnormal levels of GABA may also induce seizure activity in some individuals.