Gamma Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)

Gamma Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)

Clostridium botulinum is a very dangerous microbe. It produces a toxin that if ingested acts as the most acute lethal poison known to mankind. Almost all of us are all aware of the results of botulism, however this microbe is also responsible for the creation of the famous Botox injections that are used to delay the effects of aging.

The wrinkles actually do not develop because the toxin temporarily paralyzes the muscles of the face. However, the skin may look younger and firmer but the facial expressions are also gone as a result of the paralysis of the muscles. This is a rather permanent solution so the researchers tried to find a substance that can relax the facial muscles without the permanent effects of the injections.

This substance is gamma aminobutyric acid, more commonly known as GABA. It is actually a neurotransmitter responsible for the muscle tone. Originally it was developed for people with various disorders like anxiety, premenstrual syndrome, ADHD and other disorders that need muscle relaxers before any research was done on its effects on the skin.

What Does Gaba do?

First of all GABA is an immune system booster. Of course the immune system covers the skin along with every other organ of the body. Applied topically aminobutyric acid has been found to assist greatly in the recovery of the skin from damage. Considering that the danger from the exposure to the elements of nature is constant, it follows logically that after a certain age this damage cannot be repaired without increasing the responses of the immune system.

How is that of any help to the fight of the signs of aging? On its own GABA does nothing. However, if it is combined with other chemical substances it adds its calming and repairing effects to the mixture and the skin gets firmer and tighter. More or less it performs the same function as another similar substance called argireline which has raised some debate in the scientific community.

There are many reasons why GABA has found such success in a short span of time and is considered the future of anti aging products.  

Human Growth Hormone

Every now and then the cosmetic industry makes a discovery that promises to radically change things and finally defeat the relentless effects of time. Some of these discoveries have become the standards used by everyone. Some others have been patented by certain companies and used only as they see fit. Many others have been proved actually worthless or not delivering the results that they initially promised. And a number of these discoveries are proving to be more trouble than they are worth.

A game changing discovery is the human growth hormone which is now being tested at the research labs and is thought as the next miracle performing chemical in the cosmetic industry. The reason that GABA is replacing argireline is because it stimulates the anterior pituitary resulting in greater levels of the human growth hormone.

Scientific controversies

GABA cannot be considered as a harmless substance. The effects on the human body are not a matter to be discussed in this article. However, some issues that have been risen in reference to the effects on the skin are.

The first issue for debate risen is the manner by which gamma aminobutyric acid will reach the anterior pituitary so that more HGH can be produced if administered externally to the skin. Dermatologists seriously doubt that this will ever be possible. The second issue for debate is the need for an ingredient whose only use is to provide relaxation to the facial muscles. Ingredients in the cosmetic industry get there because of properties that have immediate and clear effect on the skin. Is there really a need for a botox in a jar ingredient?

The third and probably more serious issue is that all the observations about the effects of GABA on the skin have not been confirmed by replicating and verifying the studies by independent and unbiased organizations. There is only one such study conducted in 2007 which stipulated only that GABA seemed to assist in the faster healing of wounds.


The cosmetic industry takes advantage of the relentless need for a more youthful looking skin and a more beautiful appearance that has risen to the levels of obsession. Whenever a new chemical promises results in the lab or in clinical studies conducted in house, they jump to the opportunity to include it in their products and go on an excessive marketing campaign about the miracle properties of the new substance.

While some of these discoveries may deliver on their promises and be safe to use (i.e. no health problems may occur) some of them are not. A substance that directly effects the immune system can under no circumstances be considered as a substance that is safe to use without long term observation and careful study. Unfortunately such studies are time consuming and very costly and no company intends to let the opportunity for fast profit to slip through their fingers.

Even without the results of such a study, GABA seems not to promise too many things other than relaxing the facial muscles and assisting in the production of the human growth hormone. These properties seem too unimportant when other compounds may provide the same or even better results without the need for cumulative effects through coordination and combination with other chemicals. Which brings the question why is it included as a key ingredient to more and more compounds. And this question may have to wait for quite some time before it gets a satisfactory response.

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