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GABA Helps ADHD - Heres How:
GABA is used as a dietary supplement and has been recommended for children with ADHD.
by Leo Akin
GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) has demonstrated an amazing potential for treating ADHD. This is mainly a calming agent that helps to relax the brain, which is essential for ADHD.
Children and adults with ADHD tend to get impulsive and they overreact. Lack of attention and forgetfulness are the prime characteristics of ADHD.
GABA is a neurotransmitter that helps to send messages in the nervous system. It calms the nerves, and slows down the nervous system.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid is formed with the aid of a biochemical reaction between glutamic acid and the vitamin pyridoxal, along with decarboxylase or GAD. It is basically an amino acid produced in brain and largely known as a natural tranquilizer.
Benzodiazepine drugs make GABA more accessible in the brain by enhancing its receptor binding abilities that leads to reduced anxiety and relaxation.
GABA supplements cannot cross the blood-brain blockade or influence the CNS (central nervous system). They can benefit the peripheral nervous system and are beneficial in treating hypertension.
GABA has been nicknamed as anxiety amino acid because it utilizes vitamin B and Vitamin B3. Vitamin B3 combines with benzodiazepine receptors, which helps in handling stress. Lack of vitamin B3 or can impact the proper functioning of brain.
What is GABA?
Gamma Aminobutyric acid is the most important inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system.
Although it is technically an amino acid, it is rarely called one. There are two reasons for this. First, GABA is not an alpha amino acid. This means that unlike common amino acids such as lysine, its amino group is not attached to the carbon next to the carboxyl group.
The second reason GABA is not routinely called an amino acid is because it is not used as a building block of any protein.
The primary role of GABA in the central nervous system is the regulation of excitatory impulses. It counterbalances the effects of neurotransmitters which excite the neurons.
Another important function of GABA in the body is the maintenance of muscle tone.
GABA acts at the synapses found in the membrane receptors of neurons in the brain. When it binds to these receptors, it triggers the opening of ion channels which permits the inflow of chloride and the outflow of potassium from neuronal cells.
This binding of GABA to the receptors leads to a fall in the electric potential of the neuron membranes in a process referred to as hyperpolarization. By giving these membranes an overall negative charge, GABA calms their excitation and so reduces the noise signals firing through these neurons.
However, GABA actually starts out being an excitatory neurotransmitter in neonates. At this early stage of human development, it promotes the depolarization of neuron membranes by a net chloride flow out of the cells.
As we grow older and the brain development quickens, the role of GABA changes from a neurotransmitter responsible for causing hyperactivity to one that promotes calm.
Outside the brain, GABA and its receptors are found in various tissues and organs. They are present in organ-systems as diverse as testes and eye lens; and they contribute to various physiological outcomes from asthma to muscle tone.
GABA As A Supplement
GABA is synthesized in the brain from glutamate.
Glutamate itself is the most important excitatory neurotransmitter and its conversion into the most important inhibitory neurotransmitter might be the body’s attempt to control its action.
However, GABA does not cross the blood-brain barrier in extensive amounts. Therefore, its inclusion in supplements for treating ADHD is questionable.
A workaround to this problem is to increase the amount of GABA given to ADHD patients in hope that enough of it will cross into the brain. Positive results have been reported with doses between 1000-1500 mg/day.
If GABA cannot extensively cross into the brain then an oral formulation of the biochemical cannot produce significant effects in the brain.
It may, however, get into the parts of the brain such as periventricular nucleus in large amounts because the blood-brain barrier is not effective at those sites. However, since ADHD drugs do not target those parts of the brain, it is doubtful that GABA can produce any desirable effect there.
Orally administered GABA, however, has one confirmed positive effect. It increases the synthesis and release of Human Growth Hormone.
However, when GABA is directly injected into the brain, it might increase the level of this hormone or actually inhibit it.
While the brain’s GABA levels cannot be directly increased by ingesting GABA supplements, certain drugs do stimulate GABA release in the brain or even mimic the neurotransmitter.
Drugs that mimic the actions of GABA in the brain are usually structurally similar to the neurotransmitter and are referred to as GABA analogues.
These GABA analogues and GABA stimulators are used to reduce anxiety, convulsion and to produce a calming effect. However, their use in ADHD is not recommended since they also cause different forms of amnesia.
On the other hand, GABA can be reformulated to cross the blood-brain barrier. To do this scientists turn it into a prodrug capable of crossing the barrier before releasing the active ingredient, GABA in the brain.
Picamilon is an example of such over-the-counter medications. It can safely cross the blood-brain barrier. Once it gets inside the brain, the drug is broken down into GABA and Vitamin B3, niacin.
This formulation is especially desirous because GABA can help improve the symptoms of ADHD by inhibiting neuronal excitation which translates to a reduction in hyperactivity and longer attention span and mental focus.
On the other hand, niacin is a safe, water-soluble member of the B Vitamins known to contribute to the normal functioning of the central nervous system.
Does It Work?
GABA is helpful in relieving ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) symptoms in children and adults. This is one of the most common behavioral disorders in America that has affected millions of children in the country.
Though the actual causes of ADHD are still not known, people believe that it is hereditary. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can be characterized by the following symptoms:
These disorders are mainly triggered due to stress and they cannot be alleviated until the stressor is removed or the affected person is out of the taxing situation.
The major neurotransmitters are mainly composed of amino acids and proteins. Lack or deficiency of protein can hinder the proper formation of neurotransmitters. This leads to weariness, laziness, lack of concentration, and sleeplessness.
Studies Supporting Use of GABA
A study conducted in Japan at the Kyorin University Medical School indicates the potential use of GABA for ADHD. In this study, a natural form of GABA (PharmaGABA) was made using Lactobacillus hilgardii. Nearly 60 students were given either 100 mg of placebo or the GABA supplement, and then administered with a math test. It was found that the GABA group gave 20 percent more correct answers than the placebo group, thus suggesting that GABA improves mental performance.
While no studies have directly established a relationship between GABA and ADHD, Dr. Michael Murray suggests that these findings point towards the potential use of GABA for ADHD by enhancing mental focus and brain health.
GABA vs. Other ADHD Treatments
Unlike medicines that are basically anti-depressants or stimulants; amino acids help in restoring the balance and keeping the mind and body calm. GABA is now used as an effective replacement for ADHD drugs, as it is natural and safe to use.
You may also consider using ADHD supplements, such as Listol, that contain GABA - to alleviate attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults and children.
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Listol helps increase concentration and focus in kids and adults.