GABA – Dosage, Benefits & Side-effects

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Summary

GABA is an amino acid that is naturally produced by your brain cells. It can also be consumed externally as a supplement.

The primary benefit of this nootropic comes from its ability to reduce the effect of anxiety and stress on your body. It is an inhibitory chemical messenger that prevents excess excitation of your nerve and brain cells due to stress.

It also improves brain waves that relax and calms your body. GABA thus promotes sound sleep and prevents sleep disorders.

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In addition, it increases the level of growth hormone to enhance muscle building. GABA is also seen to release endorphins that make you feel good.

Overall, GABA is a nootropic that supports both nerve and brain health. It does so while calming and relaxing your mind. Moreover, GABA is readily available and a common ingredient of multiple nootropic supplements.

The benefits of Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) for the brain came into the picture in 1950. Eugene Roberts was the brain behind this discovery, after which its use was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. (1)

Since then, various clinical studies have been carried out to understand its benefits for health. This nootropic was found to have multiple positive effects on the functioning of the brain.

No wonder why GABA is commonly used in nootropic stacks and medications.

What is GABA?

Gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a naturally occurring amino acid produced by your brain. It is also one of the commonest chemical messengers found in your mind.

GABA is an inhibitory chemical messenger, which means it binds with your nerve cells and reduces their activity. It does so by blocking or inhibiting specific brain signals and decreases the activity of your nervous system.  (2)
Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid

When GABA attaches to a GABA receptor (a protein in your brain), it prevents anxiety and stress signals from exciting the nerve cells, resulting in a calming effect. This can help with the feeling of stress, anxiety, and fear. It can also prevent convulsions.

Because of its calming effect, GABA is used in supplements as well as medications – including benzodiazepines – to reduce seizures and anxiety. GABA is also seen to enhance sleep and boost growth hormone levels. (3)

It also helps to produce endorphins – the feel-good hormone – that makes you feel good after sex or workout. 

Moreover, as GABA is present only in fermented foods, such as miso and kimchi, it is becoming increasingly popular as a supplement.

Benefits of GABA

To begin with, GABA activity in your body is essential for sound sleep throughout the night. If you have lower-than-normal GABA levels, you may have a restless and wakeful sleep. Studies have shown that:

  • GABA promotes sedation and enhances sleep.
  • It also improves sleep time and reduces the time taken to fall asleep, improving the quality of sleep. (4)

It can also help with blood pressure. High blood pressure may be due to a state of physical alertness. Sleep disorders or inadequate sleep can contribute to high blood pressure. Various Clinical studies it is seen that:

  • It can naturally lower blood pressure. (5)
  • By improving sleep and relaxing your mind, GABA maintains healthy blood pressure.

GABA inhibits the activity of nerve cells in your brain and central nervous system. It thus puts your body in a higher state of relaxation, reducing anxiety and stress. Studies have proven that:

  • It helps to fight stress and anxiety.
  • GABA also enhances sleep and the immune system during stress. (6)
  • Your brain waves calm down and allow you to recover from stress after taking GABA. (7)

Some other benefits of GABA include:

  • Manages headaches.
  • Relaxes muscle and reduces muscle pain.
  • It improves memory and concentration.
  • Increases human growth hormone and thus helps to build and repair muscles.

How Does GABA Affect the Human Brain?

GABA is a chemical messenger that regulates the transfer of messages from the brain and nervous system. Among the various benefits of GABA for your mind, two of them are very important.  They are:

  • 1. It reduces the effect of stress and anxiety (8)

You can consider GABA as the brakes of your brain. Its main action is to inhibit the response of nerve cells to specific triggers, thus putting your body and mind into a lower gear.

It prevents the transfer of signals associated with anxiety through nerve cells. GABA also binds to the protein of nerve cells (receptors) and prevents the triggering of nerve cells. All this helps in reducing anxiety-related symptoms.

  • 2. Promotes brain waves that relax you (9)

There are two main types of brain waves – Alpha and Beta brain waves. Beta waves promote alertness, attention, memory, and concentration. However, higher levels, especially during stress, can result in depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders.

In an alert state, both Alpha and Beta brain waves can be stimulated. The type of alertness determines which brain wave will be produced. 

Alertness due to stress results in a beta wave, while alertness with the Alpha wave is associated with a calm and relaxed state. Furthermore, excess of Beta waves results in stress and anxiety.

GABA improves the release of Alpha brain waves and decreases Beta waves.

How to Take GABA & Dosage?

GABA can be taken at night before you go to bed. Alternatively, you take GABA 10-20 before your evening meal.

Ideal dosage:

Studies have shown that a total dose between 500–1000 mg, in single or three divided doses of 200 mg, is safe for consumption.

What Are The Potential Side-effects of GABA?

GABA is seen to be safe and well-tolerated. No toxic side-effects were observed in the studies, even in higher doses.

Milder side-effects noticed were sleepiness, headache, and muscle weakness. It may also cause indigestion.

You can start with a minimum dose and monitor its effect. Gradually you can adjust the dose and timing that suits you the best.

How Should You Stack GABA?

GABA works well with most nootropics. Its effect is enhanced by nootropics that improve its ability to cross blood-brain-barrier, such as L-citrulline.

It also stacks well with rosmarinic extract that prevents GABA from breaking down.

Final Words!

GABA is an amino acid that is naturally produced by your brain. It is a chemical messenger that blocks impulses between your brain and nerve cells.

During stress and anxiety, more signals are exchanged between the nerve cells and the brain. Soon the messages become too frequent, and your mind gets overwhelmed with the information. 

GABA prevents this transfer of excess messages and thus calms and relaxes your mind. It also helps in getting a sound sleep and improving concentration.

Besides, it is affordable and readily available. It is also among very few ingredients that are in medications for anxiety and seizures.

All in all, if you are in search of a natural supplement to improve your sleep and reduce the effect of stress and anxiety, GABA could be an excellent option for you.

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