GABA side effects when used as a supplement, Will it help you relax and ease tension? Does this neurotransmitter pill work for natural anxiety relief?

March 28 2014

Side effects, allergy, adverse reactions
Allergy symptoms have not been reported to us at this time.

Does GABA have any side effects, risk, danger?
As of 2014, no significant side effects have been reported with the use of GABA supplements.

I have read that high doses of GABA can cause seizures?
   We have not seen any research that indicates taking GABA supplements induces seizures or increases the risk for epilepsy. Unexpected reactions can occur when extremely high doses of various supplements are taken.

GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid, discovered in 1950, is the most important and widespread inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Excitation in the brain must be balanced with inhibition. Too much excitation can lead to restlessness, irritability, insomnia, and even seizures. GABA is able to induce relaxation, analgesia, and sleep. Barbiturates and benzodiazepines are known to stimulate GABA receptors, and hence induce relaxation. Several neurological disorders, such as epilepsy, sleep disorders, and Parkinson’s disease are affected by this neurotransmitter. The drug Valium and other benzodiazepines work by influencing GABA receptors on brain cells.

Supplements that benefit anxiety or help reduce tension and stress
5-HTP  works by increasing levels of serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that helps induce calmness.
Kava from the South Pacific islands helps one relax within an hour of intake.
Valerian is able to reduce anxiety in some people. For better sleep, try Good Night Rx an hour or two before bed.
Theanine may be helpful in some people at a dosage of 100 or 200 mg.

GABA supplement, 250 mg, 60 Capsules - Enzymatic Therapy

 

Recommendations: One, two, or three GABA capsules once or twice daily.
Supplement Facts:
Gamma-aminobutyric acid 250 mg

 

Buy GABA supplement

GABA is made in the brain from the amino acid glutamate with the aid of vitamin B6. This natural amino acid is available as a supplement in vitamin stores, but taking it in pill form is not always an effective way to raise brain levels of this neurotransmitter because it cannot easily cross the blood-brain barrier. Companies are searching for ways to place GABA in an oil base in order to ease its entry across this barrier. Having said this, we have had feedback from a few people who feel that it helps reduce their anxiety. One user takes capsules in the morning and says it takes the edge off his anxiety, and the effects are noticed a few hours later.

Absorption and crossing the blood brain barrier
I have been reading about an oral GABA supplement and I was wondering what studies there are regarding how much of what I ingest is actually absorbed.
   Not enough studies have been done with GABA supplements to know for sure. Plus, the absorption rate of GABA supplements from different manufacturers may be different.

GABA anxiety research
There is little research regarding the use of GABA supplements in humans. We don't have a strong opinion regarding the effectiveness of GABA supplements for anxiety remedy at this time although the early research looks promising.

Relaxation and immunity enhancement effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid administration in humans.
Biofactors. 2006.
The effect of orally administrated gamma-aminobutyric acid on relaxation and immunity during stress has been investigated in humans. Two studies were conducted. The first evaluated the effect of GABA intake by 13 subjects on their brain waves. Electroencephalograms EEG were obtained after 3 tests on each volunteer as follows: intake only water, GABA, or L-theanine. After 60 minutes of administration, GABA significantly increases alpha waves and decreases beta waves compared to water or L-theanine. These findings denote that GABA not only induces relaxation but also reduces anxiety. The second study was conducted to see the role of relaxant and anxiolytic effects on immunity in stressed volunteers. Eight acrophobic subjects were divided into 2 groups (placebo and GABA). All subjects were crossing a suspended bridge as a stressful stimulus. Immunoglobulin A (IgA) levels in their saliva were monitored during bridge crossing. Placebo group showed marked decrease of their IgA levels, while GABA group showed significantly higher levels. Therefore, our results indicate that GABA could work effectively as a natural relaxant and its effects could be seen within 1 hour of its administration to induce relaxation and diminish anxiety.

I get anxiety when I take a high dose of tongkat ali herb, would gaba supplement use reduce or prevent the anxiety?
    We doubt GABA pills would help since the aphrodisiac herb is very potent.

Use in body building as growth hormone releaser
I am a little concerned with some conflicting reports I have seen on GABA since I have started taking it. On the one hand a at first glance it sounded like a miracle supplement but the claims of increases in growth hormone I was slightly suspicious off, most adverts steal results and quotes from clinical drugs trials report "Increase HGH levels by 550%" etc When I read the more independent research on it, the doctors say, that GABA as a sport supplement, in powder form cannot transgress easily the brain/blood barrier so in reality, the GABA in your head, is the stuff your body produces naturally and nothing else. Certainly amongst the guys I know taking it nobody taking it seemed to be turning into the hulk over night.
   We do not believe this product is effective for bodybuilding or as HGH releaser.

I have found a significant amount of literature on the net saying that taking GABA between 2-5 grams per day leads to significant increases in HGH in the blood stream. I was wondering if this is true, and if so what the risks would be in taking it at such high levels.
   Long term risks of high dose gaba intake are unknown, and even if supplements raise hgh levels, we don't know for certain that raising hgh levels is beneficial or harmful in the long run. We have not seen much evidence yet that there is a significant or lasting effect on human growth hormone release.

For sleep and insomnia
Are there any reasons to be cautious about using GABA as a sleep aid? Because it is an essential amino acid, I wonder if there are any potential negative effects of taking GABA supplements (I've seen them from 100-750mg).
   Our experience does not indicate this nutrient to have much of an effect on sleep since it doesn't seem that it crosses the blood brain barrier well enough to have a material effect.

I had a trouble with getting enough deep sleep. I have sleep apnea and until I took measures to prevent myself from sleeping on my back, I kept my wife awake and I slept poorly. I found a mechanical means to prevent myself from sleeping on my back, but I still did not get restful sleep. I started taking GABA (500mg tablets, 4 per dose) and a B-complex plus 1000mg Vitamin C, Super Stress formula) immediately before I went to sleep. I observed over the course of a month that my sleep improved significantly. i usually go to sleep around 10PM (I wake up at 5:30AM) and wake to micturate between 1AM-3AM when cortisol production is high and i am in light sleep. Before GABA, i would wake twice and sleep fitfully until the alarm rang, and then stumble through my day. now, i wake in the 1-3 window and fall back asleep and wake rested at 5AM. on the weekends, i get 8-9 hours of sleep and feel renewed. Your website is a good source of information for herbal and vitamin supplements. i have found you to be reliable and current.

Tremors
Might GABA supplementation be useful to those with essential tremor?
   We have not seen any studies testing it for essential tremor control, so we don't know.

For weight loss
I recently read an article on body building that claimed using Gaba in the amount of 5 grams daily will act to reduce body fat. It was praised as the ultimate fat burner. During your research have you discovered it to have any body fat reducing capabilities?
   We have not come across such research and do not think it has much of an influence on weight loss or fat burning.

Interaction with alcohol
I recently purchased a bottle of GABA because, upon doing some research, found information that led me to believe that it sometimes is helpful to a person who might be going from a social drinker to an every night, chronic drinker. I am hoping for some help to not feel anxious, or a need to have a glass of wine every nite. I'm hoping it will just nudge me into a better state of mind...as I work on breaking the habit. Some of what I've read is confusing as I'm not a scientist, so, in layman's terms, are my assumptions that GABA supplement use helps relieve alcohol craving fairly correct?
   We have not seen any human studies that indicate the use of a GABA supplement reduces alcohol drinking and we also have not had any feedback from users that it has been helpful in this condition.

Interactions with dietary supplements
I stopped taking Prozac about a year ago. After experiencing symptoms of depression along with anxiety and sleeplessness I have started taking Sam-e with favorable results. So far I have not had an increase in anxiety but because of the warnings on your website will possibly lower my dosage if this occurs. Can I take a sleep aid containing GABA along with the Sam-e? Do these contradict one another?
   SAM-e may cause insomnia in high doses and it is preferable to take less SAM-e than to have to counteract it with a sleep aid.

I am currently taking a GABA supplement for relaxation. Will taking Mind-Power Rx have a stimulating effect and would it counter-act the effects of GABA?
   Yes Mind Power causes alertness and increased mental stimulation.

Interactions with prescription medications
Is it safe to take both Gaba and Gabapentin?
   GABA supplements are usually safe and have a very low incidence of side effects. The safety of a supplement or medication, or the combinations has mostly to do with dosage. The lower the dosages, the less likely side effects will occur. We have not seen studies regarding the combination use of Gabapentin and GABA supplement so we don't know for certain what interactions would occur if both are taken together. One approach is to learn how each one works for you separately and then when combining, initially using a portion of a tablet or capsule. Have approval by your doctor.

Production, manufacturing, how is it made?
How is GABA supplements (powder or capsule or both if different) produced? I know organic chemistry principles are used to perhaps synthesize it, as a graduate student on the ask a biologist. I want to know the ingredients. Nobody really has the answer online. Yahoo answers is highly unreliable. Do they extract ingredients out of animal brains or animal bodies or plants? What is/are the main root source(s)? I also would like to know the same information for choline bitartrate, piracetam, 5-HTP, and serotonin.
    We don't know the exact chemical processes that are involved in producing this neurotransmitter but we are certain that they are not from animal sources. Serotonin pills are not available. 5-HTP is derived from Griffonia seeds.

Tolerance, feedback inhibition
Does taking GABA supplements make it so that the brain does not make its own because it already has enough then works so that it doesn't make any even after stopping, but you'd have to wait or is it? Or does it work so that it adds more to the brains production of GABA and natural brain production stays constant as long as your sleep pattern and lighting pattern remains the same?
    There is no current indication that GABA brain or body production is stopped or reduced with supplementation.

Gaba products from different manufacturers
GABA is an important amino acid neurotransmitter in the brain and is manufactured by several companies including Enzymatic Therapy. They make GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) 250 mg per pill. There are dozens or hundreds of GABA products on the market sold by various supplement sellers.

Have you heard of this product called PharmaGABA? I always thought it can not cross the blood barrier except when bonded to niacin (phenibut).
    According the a website, "PharmaGABA a naturally produced form of the important brain compound gamma-aminobutyric acid. Clinical studies have shown PharmaGABA helps to increase the production of alpha brain waves to create a profound sense of physical relaxation while maintaining mental focus in a tasty fruit flavored chewable tablet. Clinical studies have shown PharmaGABA helps to increase the production of alpha brain waves to create a profound sense of physical relaxation while maintaining mental focus in a tasty fruit flavored chewable tablet.Click here to read about PharmaGABA." We have not tried this product so we don't know how effective it is.

I subscribe to many health newsletters, one of them discussed GABA research, "Studies with synthetic GABA have shown that it does not cross the blood-brain barrier very well. That led to the assumption that virtually all of it found in the brain is manufactured there and that supplemental GABA would not increase levels  in the brain. That appears to be the case with synthetic GABA, but not with natural GABA in the form of PharmaGABA - a special form naturally manufactured from Lactobacillus hilgardii the bacteria used to ferment vegetables in the preparation of the traditional Korean dish known as kimchi. Unlike chemically produced, synthetic GABA, natural PharmaGABA appears to be able to cross the blood brain barrier to produce relaxation. PharmaGABA is approved for use in Japan as an aid to conquer stress and promote relaxation. It is a very is a popular ingredient in function foods and beverages as well as dietary supplements designed to produce mental and physical relaxation, without inducing drowsiness. "
   A. We do not have clinical experience PharmaGABA, and a search on Medline did not reveal any mention of this product. The company that sponsored this study is Pharma Foods, and it makes sense that a product would be called PharmaGABA.

email questions and answers
I agree that Kava Kava or 5-HTP are probably better for anxiety for most people but can you tell me whether at higher doses and/or more frequent dosing GABA could penetrate the blood-brain barrier and increase intracellular GABA levels significantly?
   A. Higher doses may lead to GABA crossing the blood brain barrier, but I have not personally tested this on myself or with patients.

Q. How long does it take for gaba to start working in you blood stream?
   A. GABA is readily and quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, but it has difficulty in crossing the blood-brain barrier and hence, at its present form sold over the counter, is not a reliable way to relieve anxiety.

Q. Have you looked into Picamilon and it's mood altering properties?
   A. Picamilon appears to be a combination of GABA and nicotinic acid. We have not evaluated this medicine.

Q. I greatly appreciate the information you've posted on your website. In the interest of assisting, I'd like to offer come comments on jujube, which is discussed briefly on your site. I take supplements for health, focus, stress and assistance sleeping. To clarify the 'focus' issue, I periodically have trouble getting out of repeating 'thought' cycles. Sometimes the repeating thought is a song I heard on the radio, other times the repeating thought is something like 'gosh, this is a big problem'. Even though I consciously wish the repeating thought to go silent, it doesn't go away upon command. I describe this as 'getting into a thought rut' or 'my mental jukebox'. I've found GABA an effective way to exit the rut, but I am looking for other supplements so that I can take GABA holidays.

I ran across your website while trying to research effects of GABA pills that I am experiencing. My ND put me on GABA 500 mg. capsules in Sept. 2008 I could not really pinpoint any definite effects, although I felt physically better overall. I was taking it with breakfast, not knowing it could help with sleep. From the things I read about the effect of GABA on sleep, relaxation, anxiety, seizures etc, I decided to get serious and try a higher dosage, so I purchased pure GABA powder - 1 serving is 1000 mg. I began with 1 serving just before bedtime. Sometimes I have taken around 250 mg. 5:00 a.m., when I just could not fall back asleep. It has only been 2 weeks at 1000 to 1, 250 mg., but I am shocked at the following effects GABA had on me from the first dose: Fall asleep rapidly and stay asleep - very rare for me. I usually wake and turn over every hour due to pain. I am now waking up around 5 a.m. finding that I have not turned over once. I go to bed at around 11 p.m. Typical partial-onset provoked seizure activity, constant muscle jerking, and RLS symptoms are calmer - both night and day. The urge to move my feet constantly is probably at 50% during the day. At this point I can't tell if the effect on my bladder is positive or negative. There is some pain, but a lack of the usual 24/7 "bladder awareness". Prior to beginning the GABA I was in a pretty dark place - severe PTSD symptoms coming and going throughout the day/night - anxiety, obsessive thinking, depression, paranoia, some suicidal ideation - this has been going on for more than 6 months (nothing new). 2 weeks later I feel very differently - positive, hopeful, upbeat, clearer thinking, etc. Fatigue and muscle/trigger point / nerve pain -- this has been the most obvious change. Rather than slogging around like a 48-yr-old person in an 80-yr-old body, I feel more my age, especially when out shopping, walking around, etc... a marked difference in physical stamina. I am standing taller. I have actually made plans to begin exercising again - a shocking result, to say the least! I am withstanding my normal exertions w/o extra fatigue and longer recovery time. I have been sweating quite a bit on exertion over the past 2 weeks, which I rarely did before. The PHN postherpetic neuralgia I usually suffer from on most of my left side has lessened. Yesterday I could not feel it at all. My arms and legs are warmer more often. It will take more than 2 weeks to know if any of these things are actually GABA-related, a temporary placebo-effect, or just coincidences. I have begun no other meds or supplements lately. Last month I successfully stopped 4 migraines using Taurine powder / flexaril / caffiene. Here are my current diagnoses: Post-MONO Epstein-Barr (for want of a better explanation for the fatigue / fibro symptoms), partial seizures, migraine, Hashimoto's - hypothyroid, Wilson's chronic low body temp, chronic active shingles / HSV - post-herpetic neuralgia and some muscle-wasting, PTSD, Interstitial Cystitis, Mast-cell Asthma, sleep disorder, RLS, mild Reynaud's. One negative effect that occurred -- wide-spread muscle aching in my legs for the first 3 nights on GABA, but I observed that the pain might mean something good was happening.
I am going to continue observing and keep careful notes. I am using the Nutrabio brand of GABA powder.

Testimonials
GABA pills are actually the best sleep treatment available for me. There is a trick to it though. It does not like ANYTHING else to be in your stomach at the same time. You MUST take on empty stomach 20 minutes before you close your eyes.