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GABA Amino Acid Supplement

by
author image Robin Wood-Moen
Robin Wood-Moen began writing in 2000. She is an academic researcher in health psychology, psychoneuroimmunology, religion/spirituality, bereavement, death/dying, meaning-making processes and CAM therapies. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in forensic-social sciences from University of North Dakota, a Master of Science in psychology and is working on her Ph.D. in health psychology, both from Walden University.
GABA Amino Acid Supplement
GABA may reduce symptoms of ADHD in children. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images

GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid, is an amino acid that calms nervousness in the central nervous system. In the brain, GABA deficiency is believed to cause rapid firing of nerve cells leading to increases in agitation, anxiety, panic attacks, addictions, headaches, Parkinson's disease and thought disorders. GABA supplements are currently being studied with the hopes of reducing symptoms of anxiety and nervous conditions by enhancing your ability to think more clearly. As always, it is imperative to consult a health professional before attempting to self-medicate any condition.

Research on GABA

As of 2011, scientists still are concerned as to why certain individuals are more susceptible to deficiencies and whether supplements of GABA will produce results in neurological and central nervous system disorders. The simplest explanation is the mechanism of action, or ability of the supplement, to reach its destination by crossing what is referred to as the blood-brain barrier. According to Denver Naturopathic, if GABA is incapable of crossing the blood-brain barrier, supplementation will not be effective treatment. In large amounts, some GABA may benefit certain individuals. However, in depressed individuals, if the GABA supplement does penetrate the blood-brain barrier it would cause more low-mood episodes and exasperate tiredness. GABA, if tried at all, should be used among more hyperactive patients due to its tranquilizing effects.

Dosing Requirements

Dosing requirements differ depending on school of thought followed by the practitioner. For instance, expeerts at the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences posit that in terms of lowering high blood pressure, a recommended dose is about 10 mg for an adult weighing 150 pounds. Additionally, a holistic practitioner who recommends GABA for the treatment of anxiety or sleep disorders may suggest upwards of 1,000 mg per day with the idea that flooding the system with this amino acid will eventually cross over the blood-brain barrier and have a calming effect. Dose requirements for children and other sensitive populations are not known as of 2011.

Side Effects

GABA may induce sleep. "Acupuncture Today" states that GABA may cause gastrointestinal upset and nausea when taken in large doses. Drowsiness is a common side effect and some individuals have reported exasperation with symptoms from anxiety disorders and sleep disturbances. No other side effects are known.

Contraindications and Warnings

Individuals taking GABA supplements should exercise caution when combining it with prescriptions. GABA has the ability to depress the central nervous system and induce sleep. "Acupuncture Today" strongly recommends the avoidance of taking GABA with acetaminophen, baclofen, diazepam or oxycodone, which could cause excessive sleepiness. Individuals taking GABA should not operate heavy equipment or a motor vehicle until its effects are known.

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