Questions about GABA.

HARRY R. ERWIN herwin at
Sun Oct 2 10:14:01 EST 1994

Gaumond Pierre (gaumondp at ERE.UMontreal.CA) wrote:

: I heard about a substance called GABA (gamma amino butyric acid). It is said
: that this substance is a natural transmitter inhibitor. It is also sold by some
: laboratories as an anti-anxiety drug.

Desiprimine and buspirone act on GABA receptors. Sale of GABA itself as an
anti-anxiety drug sounds just a small bit dubious, since the blood-brain
barrier probably prevents it from reaching the inhibitory pre-synaptic
terminals where it is needed. The amino acid glycine functions similarly, 
and I haven't seen attempts to sell it as an anti-anxiety drug.

: According to my informatins, it reduces electric activity in the brain.

This depends on the chloride gradient in the vicinity of the neuron. GABA
can be excitatory or even can switch from inhibitory to excitatory and
back (Dan Alkon's work). For the most part, it is an inhibitory
neurotransmitter, but it seems to be excitatory in the periglomerular
neurons of the OB, and I've seen reports that it changes in nature in some
portions of the brain during maturation. 

: I would like to know what may increase electric activity in the brain. Does
: anxiety increases it Does relaxation or sleep reduces it?
: and panic attack do it?

See a psychiatrist for a professional point of view on this.

: Are there specific foods or types of diets that will increase GABA synthesis?

Not really in a controllable fashion. Again the blood-brain barrier is 
the problem.

: Is it desirable that someone having anxiety takes GABA instead of anti-anxiety
: drugs (such as Xanax)?

Most anti-anxiety drugs act on GABA receptors to facilitate their action. 
Again, a psychiatrist can give you the best information.

: Thanks for any information.

Harry Erwin
Internet: herwin at 
Just a dumb graduate student working on Katchalsky network models....
(And if you believe that, I have a ranch in California to sell you.)

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