GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter. Neurotransmitters facilitate communication between nerve cells. GABA, which is produced by the brain, suppresses nerve impulses related to stress and anxiety.
In a healthy, well-nourished person, the brain produces sufficient amounts of GABA and supplementation may not be needed. However, since many people abuse opiates and other drugs, eat poor diets and are over-exposed to environmental toxins, GABA levels can easily fall below optimum amounts. Low GABA levels are associated with a range of problems, including anxiety, depression, irritability and sleeplessness.
Herbalists recommend GABA for people who want a mild, natural tranquilizer and is also used to promote sleep. It does this, not by causing drowsiness but by helping the body to relax.
People with insomnia and other sleep disorders sometimes rotate GABA with other herbs, such as valerian (an herb used to ease anxiety) and melatonin (a natural hormone that is popular as a popular sleep aid).
In addition, GABA may have some value in helping to alleviate chronic pain. While not an analgesic, it can lessen the intensity of pain by easing the stress and anxiety that can contribute to it. These are just a few reasons why GABA is used for acute opioid withdrawal.
GABA is available in tablets, capsules and in powdered form. Capsules can be opened and mixed with liquid to make them easier to ingest. he dosage of GABA to be used depends on the reason for taking it. To promote sleep, 500 to 1000 mg taken about and hour before bed is recommended. In cases where insomnia is related to anxiety, GABA can be taken with other natural tranquilizers, such as valerian root.
For stress, 250 mg three times per day or a single dose of 750 mg is usually effective. GABA is best absorbed and more effective when taken between meals. It should be stored away from heat and moisture in a cool, dry place.
Because prescription medications for anxiety target GABA receptors in the brain, people who are taking such medications should not use GABA supplements without the advice of a medical professional. It is possible for GABA to produce significant drowsiness if it is taken with tranquilizers, including codeine and other narcotic pain relievers, so they should be taken together only with extreme caution.
Though GABA is reportedly safe at recommended doses, some mild stomach irritation or nausea are possible. Some people also report drowsiness as a side effect. At high doses, GABA can exacerbate the very symptoms of anxiety and insomnia that it is supposed to alleviate, underscoring the need to use it within recommended amounts. Numbness around the mouth and tingling in the extremities are other possible side effects of high doses of GABA. Women who are pregnant or breast feeding and people with liver or kidney disease should not take GABA, since it has not been studied for safety among people in those groups.