Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a chemical that is made in the brain and also found in some foods. In the brain, GABA has anti-seizure and anti-anxiety effects.
GABA works by blocking brain signals (neurotransmissions). There is interest in using GABA as a dietary supplement. But when taken by mouth, GABA may not be able to cross the blood-brain barrier. Therefore it is unknown if GABA supplements have effects on the brain.
People use GABA for many different conditions, including stress, anxiety, depression, and high blood pressure, but there is no good scientific evidence to support its use.
Is It Effective?
There is interest in using GABA for a number of purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.
Is it Safe?
When taken by mouth: GABA is likely safe when taken in the amounts commonly found in foods. It is possibly safe when taken in larger amounts as medicine. Doses of up to 1.5 grams daily have been used for up to one month. There isn't enough reliable information to know if GABA supplements are safe when used for longer than one month.
When placed under the tongue: There isn't enough reliable information to know if GABA is safe or what the side effects might be.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if GABA is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)
Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
GABA might lower blood pressure. Taking GABA along with medications that lower blood pressure might cause blood pressure to go too low. Monitor your blood pressure closely.
Sedative medications (CNS depressants)
Interaction Rating=Minor Be watchful with this combination.
Some medications, called sedatives, can cause sleepiness and slowed breathing. There is some concern that GABA might also cause sleepiness and slowed breathing. But most research hasn't shown this effect. For now, use GABA with caution if you are taking sedative medications.
Herbs and supplements that might lower blood pressure: GABA might lower blood pressure. Taking it with other supplements that have the same effect might cause blood pressure to drop too much. Examples of supplements with this effect include andrographis, casein peptides, L-arginine, niacin, and stinging nettle.
There are no known interactions with foods.
There isn't enough reliable information to know what an appropriate dose of GABA might be. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult a healthcare professional before using.
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