Getting GABA through the Blood Brain Barrier

gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) is such a critical component to the function of the brain and the body that it’s hard to know where to start when describing the positive effects that a strong supply of it can have on your overall health. Fundamentally speaking, GABA is a neurotransmitter which regulates nerve impulses throughout the body. This means that it has an impact on everything from relieving stress to lowering blood sugar and regulating growth hormones.

Considering the fundamental role that GABA plays in a wide variety of bodily functions, it’s not surprising that it is naturally synthesized in the brain from an amino acid known as Glutamate. However, failures in the synthesis process are common and GABA deficiency is often thought to be at the root of numerous health concerns ranging from feelings of anxiety and depression to gastrointestinal complications.1 Thankfully, for those who may be deficient there are a number of solutions on the market; both for ingesting it directly and for improving the production of it from within the brain itself. If you’ve had complications with sleeping, anxiety levels, or even gut health you may very well find that increasing GABA levels will provide lasting support to your body and brain in their struggles against these difficulties.

Oral GABA Supplements and the Blood-Brain Barrier

The problem GABAwith directly ingesting GABA is that the molecules need to pass through the blood-brain barrier (BBB), a membrane which allows molecules to pass from the bloodstream into the brain, while filtering out potential neurotoxins.2 Critics of GABA supplements claim that the GABA they contain is always filtered out by the BBB. When ingested orally, it is broken down by the digestive system, where some of the potency is thought to be lost. The remaining amount is absorbed into the bloodstream, but it often doesn’t make it past the BBB and into the brain, thus failing to achieve its intended effects. While this is the case with many low-quality GABA supplements, the advent of liposomal encapsulation has provided a solution for oral intake, a solution which can work wonders for those who are GABA deficient.

But how does this new liposomal technology actually function? The liposomes are spherical membranes made of lipid bi-layer. They are manufactured to encapsulate nutrients and serve as a delivery system to carry those nutrients past the digestive system and directly into the bloodstream undiluted.3 After passing through the digestive system with their nutrients fully intact, the small liposomes have displayed impressive efficacy at working their way past the tight junctions in the capillary walls of the BBB and releasing their nutrients directly to the brain. This advanced technology has given consumers a strong edge in the fight to get orally administered GABA past the BBB, greatly improving their overall bioavailability and usefulness in the brain and the body. An example of a supplement which features this advanced new liposomal delivery system would be the PureAbsorb Liposomal GABA Natural Bliss.

Improving GABA Production with l-theanine

In addition to choosing a GABA supplement with liposomal technology, there is also the option to pair it with l-theanine. An amino acid commonly found in green tea, l-theanine has been shown to help improve the synthesis of GABA in the brain. The reason for this improvement is that l-theanine is a structural analog to glutamate, the main component of GABA synthesis.4 Another very favorable aspect of l-theanine is that it has no problem passing the BBB when ingested orally and absorbed through the small intestine. In addition to all this, l-theanine is thought to support the brain and body in coping with stress and anxiety outside of its ability to up-regulate the production of GABA.

For those who are severely GABA deficient and have struggled to increase their supply through oral intake, even with the help of liposomal delivery, increasing the rate of synthesis with l-theanine is a sure way to help balance out GABA levels. 

 

REFERENCES:

1. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/gaba-uses-and-risks
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4594160/
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2736150
4. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1053-theanine.aspx?activeingredientid=1053