What is Gamma-aminobutyric Acid (GABA)?
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter, a chemical messenger in your brain. It slows down your brain by blocking specific signals in your central nervous system (your brain and spinal cord).
GABA is known for producing a calming effect. It’s thought to play a major role in controlling nerve cell hyperactivity associated with anxiety, stress, and fear.
Scientists also call GABA a non-protein amino acid neurotransmitter.
How Does GABA Reduce Neuronal Excitability by Inhibiting Nerve Transmission?
Humans have a highly selective membrane that keeps our blood and cerebrospinal fluid separate: the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Some molecules, like water, pass through it easily, other things, like bacteria don’t. This membrane also contains special channels to diffuse important molecules one way or the other, like glucose.
It’s an important border, as drugs that cannot cross into the brain, or do so poorly, have much less of an effect than ones that do. For example, morphine can’t cross the BBB very well, but its close relative heroin can! Upon entry to the brain, heroin is converted into morphine, which is why heroin is so much more potent than morphine. [Read more…]