GABA is a neurotransmitter that blocks impulses between nerve cells in the brain. Low levels of GABA may be linked to:
- Anxiety or mood disorders
- Chronic pain
Researchers suspect that GABA may boost mood or have a calming, relaxing effect on the nervous system.
Why do people take GABA?
People take GABA as a supplement to try to:
- Improve mood
- Relieve anxiety
- Improve sleep
- Help with premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
They may also take GABA to try to:
- Relieve pain or discomfort from injuries
- Increase tolerance to exercise
- Lower blood pressure
- Burn fat
- Increase the growth of lean muscle mass
Limited studies have shown a possible link between GABA and lowered blood pressure. But research on GABA supplements is lacking. Researchers haven't confirmed whether or not it works for the many reasons people take it.
It is not clear whether GABA taken as a supplement reaches the brain in large enough quantities to have an effect. There isn't a set dosage for GABA at this time.
Can you get GABA naturally from foods?
You can get GABA naturally from foods. Some of the best food sources include:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Fermented foods including tempeh and Kimchi
What are the risks of taking GABA?
Side effects. There has not been enough research to uncover the side effects of GABA supplements.
Risks. Overall, there isn't enough information to be sure about the safety of GABA. For this reason, it's best to play it safe and not use GABA if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Interactions. Not enough is known about how GABA may interact with drugs, foods, or other herbs and supplements, but use with caution if taking with blood pressure medications.
Be sure to tell your doctor about any supplements you're taking, even if they're natural. That way, your doctor can check on any potential side effects or interactions with medications, foods, or other herbs and supplements. They can let you know if the supplement might raise your risks.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does regulate dietary supplements; however, it treats them like foods rather than medications. Unlike drug manufacturers, the makers of supplements don’t have to show their products are safe or effective before selling them on the market.