GABA is considered a safe and natural supplement to reduce anxiety and help you relax and is also promoted as a sleep aid.
What is GABA?
GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) is an amino acid produced in the brain from glutamate and vitamin B6.
It’s main mechanism is thought to balance hormones and chemicals that may cause too much agitation in the nerve cells.
That may cause the inability to relax, anxiety, PTSD, depression and insomnia that is due to the over stimulation of certain hormones and chemicals.
GABA, is the second most important neurotransmitter (the chemicals that brain cells use to communicate) and is thought to create the happy endorphines that produce an anti-anxiety, relaxing and anti-convulsion effect.
It is also considered an anti-epileptic and a potential aid for symptoms of ADHD because it is thought to relax the muscles during rest periods, which is also very important for sleep and general relaxation.
People can have GABA deficiencies or naturally lower brain GABA levels. This is what causes anxiety, panic disorder, unusual levels of depression and even the tendency toward drug and alcohol abuse.
For the brain to produce GABA, you need to have adequate levels of glutamate. However, glutamate excites the cells while GABA balances them out. This mechanism as a whole, is thought to play an important role in controlling balance and excitability.
GABA is also thought to be crucial for normal brain function. It is found in plants and this amino acid is ample in tomatoes, bananas, liver, almonds and many others.
GABA Supplement Effects
In terms of Nootropics, research has shown that GABA taken orally, does not cross the blood-brain barrier however there are mixed findings on this.
Some studies have shown that it does, some that it doesn’t. It’s suspected that under certain circumstances such as a “leaky blood-brain barrier” GABA will cross the blood-brain barrier.
However in almost all cases, it cannot reach the brain on it’s own, making this Nootropic not as effective as other GABAergic supplements that can reach the brain. These include Picamilon and Phenibut which also work in reducing excitation.
In spite of this, GABA has shown to have positive effects on moods and anxiety and are included in many dietary supplements to promote relaxation, improve mood, restful sleep and lowered stress levels where other alternatives may not have worked.
GABA’s main function is to help the brain calm down and reduce feelings of irritability, restlessness and anxiety that are caused by too much activity in the frontal brain.
Using GABAergics is also thought to help the neurons and nerves communicate better. This may help with cognitive functions including enhanced focus, concentration and clear thinking.
GABA also has several other benefits. It has been linked to weight loss because it produces hormones that build lean muscle mass and decreases body fat. Bodybuilders have been using this for ages to improve their athletic performance.
It also has a potential links to several other benefits that include reducing symptoms of motion sickness including chills and cold sweats, lowering high blood pressure and reducing the regularity of epileptic episodes and pain when taken with other medications.
Finally, GABA is thought to increase the human growth hormone which increases muscle tissue.
Why Take GABA? It promotes;
- Reducing anxiety and anxiousness
- Relief from difficulty sleeping and/or relaxing
- Improving mood
- Builds lean muscle mass
Some common user reviews when taking GABA:
- It calms your nerves and helps you fall asleep
- You will sleep deeply
- No morning side effects, you wake up alert
- Relax in a gentle and subtle way
- Might experience some vivid dreams
Possible GABA Side Effects
GABA is not regulated by the FDA so there are no recommended guidelines. However, manufacturers will include dosing suggestions and in some cases, will list the side effects.
GABA is thought to be safe to use. The side effects that have been reported are considered very mild if any at all when taken in moderate doses, however some mild side effects reported have included:
- tickling sensation in the limbs
- rapid breathing
GABA is not recommended for:
- Bipolar or Unipolar disorders
- Pregnant women
- People with kidney or liver disease
The dosage seems to depend on what GABA supplement you’re taking and also in regards to your age, state of health and/or conditions.
It is recommended to always stay within the lowest dose available when starting on any new Nootropic supplement. This helps you gauge your body’s effect and find what works best for you.
If you are taking GABAergics alternatives such as Phenibut the standard dose is between 500-1500mg per day. These are general guidelines.
Please follow instructions on the product label.
If you have any concerns, please consult your doctor first.