GABA

Last Updated: September 28 2022

GABA is the 'downer' neurotransmitter that counters glutamate (upper), as the two mediate brain activation in a Yin-Yang manner. Highly important in the brain, oral ingestion of GABA is complex due to its difficulty in crossing the blood brain barrier.

GABA is most often used for

What is GABA?

GABA is a neurotransmitter with a number of functions in the brain. It regulates many depressive and sedative actions and is critical for relaxation.

Ingested GABA does not appear to reach the brain in appreciable amounts, meaning oral supplementation can’t be assumed to replicate the effects of GABA as a neurotransmitter.

What are GABA’s main benefits?

As a neurotransmitter GABA has sedative and calming effects. In line with this, a number of medications and supplements activate the same receptors as GABA and these tend to promote sleep and/or reduce anxiety.

There is limited human research on oral GABA supplementation. A few small studies have found improvements in sleep quality following GABA supplementation, but the evidence is not strong.

What are GABA’s main drawbacks?

Oral GABA supplementation appears to be fairly safe and well-tolerated. Although not well-studied, GABA may lower blood pressure which could lead to hypotension (low blood pressure).

How does GABA work?

GABA exerts various effects by binding to GABA receptors. Aside from the brain, areas in the body with GABA receptors include the pancreas, certain immune cells (e.g., lymphocytes), and the gastrointestinal tract. The role of GABA in these cells and tissues is an area of ongoing study.

What else is GABA known as?
Note that GABA is also known as:
  • Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
Dosage information

Supplemental GABA has been used in humans (for the purpose of enhancing growth hormone metabolism) in the dosage range of 3,000-5,000mg GABA. It is unsure if this is the optimal dosage.

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      References
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