Disclaimer: This article is not meant to replace, mimic, or in any form perform the role of a doctor or trained medical professional. Anyone seeking treatment for medical conditions should speak with their licensed healthcare professional.
In our over-prescribed country where big-pharma is King, drugs are offered up as the solution to so many of our problems. Valium, Ambien, and Lunesta have become household names in the treatment of conditions such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia. These drugs mimic the role of GABA, a neurotransmitter who has a mouthful of a name: Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid. Now that you understand why it is so commonly referred to as GABA, let’s take a look at what it does.
Like all neurotransmitters, GABA sends messages between the brain and the nervous system. It has depressive properties which means that it tells your brain and body to relax and “chill-out.” Because of its natural tendency to have a calming effect, GABA has been recently explored in the treatment of the aforementioned conditions, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Many drugs pertaining to these conditions bind to the same receptors that GABA does, thus resulting in the coveted calming effect. This allows individuals to have peace of mind, relaxation, and even deep sleep. Considering the lifestyle choices, influx of technology, and many other factors contributing to the negative impact of our personal health, it is no wonder that drug companies have gone out on a manhunt for the best relaxation pill.
Luckily, the health pendulum is swinging back towards natural treatments and alternative methods with few side-effects. The general population is beginning to recognize that pharmaceutical drugs can have lasting negative impact on the body and many only provide a minor role in the relief of symptoms. Because of this, people are seeking out methods that will give comparable or better results, without the harm. This is why, in our opinion, why CBD oil has exploded onto the market.
GABA is available directly in the supplemental form. Instead of taking a drug that will bind to receptors, you can orally take GABA in supplement form. You are essentially cutting to the chase. As with many natural remedies, there does not seem to be much scientific literature that proves the effectiveness of GABA supplementation. A major reason being that research takes funding, and there is not a whole lot of money to be made from a natural supplement so the studies do not take place.
One claim in regards to GABA that is frequently made is that due to bodily regulations, “GABA cannot alter physiology to much of a degree.” This is an understandable argument in that if you have severe anxiety, depression, or insomnia, you may need deeper and more potent interventions than a GABA supplement. However, for people with minor to mild symptoms, GABA could potentially be effective. As much as the scientific community depends on results, trends, and consistencies, you as the individual depend on the concept that n=1 and only you will know what works for you.
I have tried GABA at different dosages and various point throughout the day. I have found that when taken first thing in the morning, often with a cup of bulletproof coffee, it has a calming and euphoric effect. I find that I have greater levels of motivation, am more inclined to have conversation, and am generally happier. I myself am sensitive to many supplements so taking half of one pill (one pill being 750 mg) is sufficient for me. I have taken full doses but would occasionally experience an odd sensation comparable to that pre-workout tingly feeling in my chest. I also experienced light-headedness a couple of times.
GABA’s effects in the evenings were completely different for me as well. Although I did get that same tingly feeling, I actually got more anxiety when taking GABA at night. I will not begin to speculate as of to why this is the case because it is outside the scope of this article, but I will simply tell you that it is not fun when you take something to calm down and it makes you more anxious. So, as with any supplement, exercise caution if you decide to try GABA and do it when you are in a controlled environment.
GABA is not limited to the world of Sapiens. There are a few relaxation products designed for our Canine friends that claim to take advantage of GABA’s calming effects. We have been unable to find a product that we like, trust, or are willing to try, especially considering the ones we did find had multiple supplements in one. We strongly prefer to supplement with individual ingredients so we know exactly how much we are giving.
For that reason, we have given our dog Maddie GABA on multiple occasions. Whereas other mood improving supplements, such as SAMe, take upwards of a month to see effects, GABA is similar to a cup of coffee in that it is nearly instant and short-lived. Maddie has some behavioral concerns that we are trying to get to the bottom of and GABA has been a useful tool when we know she is going to be in a high-stress situation.
Giving Maddie half a pill of GABA definitely helped her become less aggressive with strangers and generally happier. When we went to a friend’s house with a large group of people, many of whom we did not know, we regularly gave Maddie doses of GABA. She was social the entire time, open to new people, and playful. It was certainly not a miracle pill nor the cure, she certainly had some reservations and situations where we thought she may do something we were not in favor of, but it was quite obvious that she was in a better state mentally.
This was the same in regards to car rides as well. Maddie does not like the car. She pants and shakes (uncontrollably at times) whether we go on short drives or long trips. We noticed that the GABA makes her a little less anxious while in the car and there is usually a greater period of time before she starts to show symptoms of anxiety.
The effects that GABA has on Maddie directly ties into what was said earlier in regards to treating minor to mild cases of anxiety, depression, and insomnia. GABA does not perform miracles, but it certainly has positive effects that can help minimize negative symptoms.
As with any supplement, be sure to do your research, find a quality product, and speak with your licensed medical professional before use.
What was your experience with GABA like? We want to know! Leave a comment below!