Hi, I have been looking at the supplement GABA. I would like to know more about it. I have a lot of trouble sleeping, and would like to find something to help me sleep besides prescription sleep aids, which I find very addictive. Do you have any information about these supplements? Also I would like to know if they are safe, and what some possible side effects might be.. Also, do you know what a good dosage to help insomnia would be? Thanks for your help!
Thank you for your nutrition question. Popularly referred to as the body's natural tranquilizer, GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is an amino acid produced in the brain. It acts as a neurotransmitter--a chemical that fosters communication between nerve cells--and helps to keep stress-related nerve impulses at bay.
Because various safety issues have recently surfaced concerning the use of the popular tranquilizing herb kava, nutritionally oriented physicians have begun recommending GABA more frequently. Basically, the clinical effect of both GABA and kava appears to be the same, namely they're both gentle and nonsedating tranquilizers. GABA is now available as a supplement in pill and powder form.
GABA supplements appear to promote relaxation and sleep. They may also have a role to play in preventing seizures and allaying chronic pain.
While GABA has been tested for improving exercise tolerance, decreasing body fat, and stabilizing blood pressure, research on the supplement's effectiveness and safety for these purposes has been mixed at best. GABA supplements have also been proposed for improving concentration in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and promoting prostate health, although it remains untested for these purposes.
Specifically, GABA supplements may help to:
Promote sound sleep. GABA participates in promoting relaxation, which explains why many well-known anxiety medications--Valium among them--target GABA receptors in the brain. But unlike many prescription tranquilizers, GABA is not habit-forming.
GABA itself does not cause drowsiness. Instead, by easing anxiety, it simply makes it easier to fall asleep. Some research indicates that the popular insomnia-fighting herb, valerian, boosts GABA levels too. When specifically treating sleep disorders, some people like to rotate GABA with valerian or melatonin, the popular hormone-based sleep supplement.
Hope this helps!
-George Rapitis Bsc. Nutritionist
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