If you were to ask the universe which one emotion everyone felt immensely in 2020, the mutual answer would be anxiety. Australian bush fires, impeachment of Trump, possible war with Iran, Kobe Bryant's death, coronavirus world pandemic, George Floyd's death, BLM marches, murder hornets, and the continuation of covid-19 in the US, marches and Kanye West diving into politics during an election year, it’s all just exhausting to even read.
When we feel stress or anxiety, it can hit us hard in all aspects of our lives. Our body releases the stress hormone which can mentally cause headaches, lightheadedness, chronic overthinking, difficulty concentrating and even depression. Physically, we can find ourselves with heart palpitations, muscle tension, restlessness, feelings of fatigue and trouble sleeping. All in all, the impact it can have on our lives is significant and despite it not being easy, we need to seek ways to alleviate these negative feelings as soon as we can.
While there are over the counter medications available, as essentially an emotional illness, finding a possible natural solution is definitely doable and of course, better for us. Alongside this, we can always look at incorporating daily activities into our lives to aid in any negative feelings. These can include exercise, meditation, enjoying hobbies that you love and relax you, limiting alcohol and caffeine and taking time to rest. However, looking at natural herbs or supplements, that can benefit us in more ways than one, is a lot more beneficial for us than you may believe.
With wanting to gain a more overall positive feeling emotionally, mentally and physically, we are looking at two major players in the game. GABA and Ashwagandha.
GABA, known as Gamma-Aminobutyric acid, is a naturally produced amino acid in the brain. This specific neurotransmitter is able to encourage relaxation, calmness and slow the brain's overactive behaviours. This makes an increased level of GABA great for sleep, stress, anxiety as well as muscle tension and overall improved mood. We can take the interesting level up a notch by knowing there are GABA receptors in the gut which are able to influence your emotions by sending messages to your brain too.
GABA could potentially be a good addition to your daily routine if you are looking to essentially control many different aspects of your life. This may sound strange, but with neurotransmitters running basically everything in your body including your emotions, thoughts, breathing, senses and heartbeat, if done safely, it could help you.
In a more professional explanation, there are GABAA and GABAB receptors. While GABAB possesses a more subtle effect which supports mental relaxation, GABAA can be a little bit more intense because elements bind to them very easily. This strong binding quality is why consumers need to be extremely safe in how they consume GABA. For example, alcohol and anti-anxiety medication both bind very strongly to GABAA making them not cancel each other out, but doubling the effect, creating a dangerous combination.
Valium and Xanax are both addictive medications, so the much gentler GABA could be a more sensitive approach to intense emotions. However, both should not be taken together.
If you’ve never heard of Ayurvedic medicine, it is one of the world's oldest holistic healing systems based out of India. With more than 3,000 years of knowledge in balancing the body, mind and spirit, it’s a health and wellness system that is very much trusted. In saying this, Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic approved treatment which is seen as one of the most healing herbs on the planet.
Ashwagandha is a herb in the tomato family, a nightshade plant, and is able to support your immune system, as well as promote relaxation. Alongside aiding in a good night's sleep, it can also give you some much-needed energy throughout your day. Making it a whole body, all day beneficial herb.
When it comes to anxiety, studies have shown Ashwagandha has been able to create some promising results. In a 6 week study, results showed 88% of people showed signs of less anxiety compared to the placebo group which showed 50%.
Already popular in today's market, you will see Ashwagandha available in many different forms including capsules, powders and even added into teas.
GABA vs Ashwagandha
Both GABA and Ashwagandha show great results in combating the symptoms of anxiety and stress. This is because Ashwagandha can increase GABA levels, more specifically, it can mimic activities of GABAA and GABAB.
On the other hand, if you were to choose between the two, sticking with Ashwagandha is a more established option. If you consume too much GABA, you can be looking at negative effects like daytime sleepiness or hypersomnia. In saying this, many medications can interact with GABA and GABA receptors, therefore it should be taken with caution.
On a more positive note, both supplements have major benefits besides stress and anxiety.
- Promote muscle growth
- Aids in fat loss
- Stabilizes blood sugar
- Relieve pain
- Reduce PMS symptoms
- Can treat ADHD disorder
- Anti-Cancer properties
- Reduce blood sugar
- Lower cortisol levels
- Increases testosterone, muscle mass and strength in men.
- Ease symptoms of depression
- Boost brain function
Both GABA and Ashwagandha provide many great health benefits, specifically when it comes to anxiety and stress. Although both natural products, it is important to look at dosage and interactions with other medications. These supplements, along with exercise, meditation and increasing enjoyable daily activities which aid in relaxation and positive moods, can have significant effects on your health. If you wanted to start somewhere, start with Ashwagandha and see what differences come from such a powerful healing herb.
Writer: Kristina Innemee