What is GABA

GABA is short for gamma- aminobutyric acid, and it is the most important chemical found in the human brain. This neurotransmitter is inhibitory, which means it blocks impulses between cells in the brain.

Benefits of GABA

GABA has many benefits including1

  • To improve mood
  • To improve sleep
  • To help with premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • To treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • To relieve pain
  • To increase exercise tolerance
  • To reduce blood pressure
  • To burn fat
  • To encourage the growth of lean muscle mass, by increasing human growth hormone levels
  • To relieve anxiety2

Sources of GABA

GABA neurons

GABA is a metabolic product in plants and microorganisms3. It is not found in fresh food, but it can be found in foods which have been fermented. These include kimchi (a Korean dish which is fermented cabbage), kefir (a fermented milk drink), miso and yoghurt4.

A type of tea called Pu-Erh tea has also been found to contain high levels of GABA5. However fermented foods also commonly contain tyramine, which should not be taken if you are currently on a type of medication called a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI)4.

Although GABA itself is not found in fresh foods, the effect of GABA can be enhanced by eating foods rich in flavonoids. Flavonoids are found in many foods including fruits, vegetables and tea7. An alternative way to increase the amount of GABA in your body is by taking supplements.

GABA supplements dosage

GABA supplements are readily available, but there is not one set recommended dosage8. 2017]. The dosage depends on the reason you are taking it, but the minimum effective dosage is 250mg which can be taken 3 times per day9.

It is important to take into account the advice given on the label of the preparation you are taking. If you are unsure, it is best to see your doctor to check which dosage would suit you and to make sure the supplements will not interact with any other medications or health problems you currently have.

How best to take GABA supplements

GABA supplements are most effective when taken on an empty stomach with a glass of water. It is best to take GABA supplements in the evening before you go to bed, especially if you are taking GABA to help you sleep.

When starting a new supplement like GABA, it is also a good idea to start first with a low dose and build this up if you need more, to help your body adapt to it and to identify any side effects early before they become too severe.

GABA side effects

GABA has been known to have some side effects including sleepiness, tingling sensations and shortness of breath. However these are usually only mild and tend to only be a problem if you are taking higher doses. Additionally these side effects usually affect people who take GABA earlier in the day, so it is a good idea to take GABA in the evening10.


Other important considerations

Make sure you use GABA carefully if you are already taking medication for blood pressure (1). There is not enough evidence on the safety of GABA when breastfeeding or pregnant, therefore in these cases it is safer to avoid its use11.

Sources

 

  1. Web MD. GABA (Gamma- Aminobutyric Acid) 2017
  2.  Abdou AM, Higashiguchi S, Horie K, Kim M, Hatta H, Yokogoshi H. relaxation and immunity enhancement effects of ɣ- Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) administration in humans. BioFactors. 2006. 26(3): 201-208.
  3. Dhakal R, Bajpai VK, Baek KH. Production of gaba (ɣ- Aminobutyric Acid) by microorganisms: a review. Brazilian Journal of Microbiology. 2012. 43(4)
  4.  Livestrong.com – A List of Foods with the Highest GABA. 2017
  5.  Hou CW. Pu-Erh tea and GABA attenuates oxidative stress in kainic acid-induced status epilepticus. Journal of Biomedical Science. 2011. 18:75
  6.  Livestrong.com – A List of Foods with the Highest GABA. 2017
  7.  Hanrahan JR, Chebib M, Johnston GAR. Flavonoid modulation of GABAA receptors. British Journal of Pharmacology. 2011. 163(2): 234-245
  8.  Web MD. GABA (Gamma- Aminobutyric Acid) [Internet
  9.  Organic Newsroom. GABA supplement benefits & side effects. 2017
  10.  HESCA. Is GABA supplement good for you. 2017
  11. Rx List. Gaba (Gamma- Aminobutyric acid). 2017