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How do I Use GABA for Anxiety?

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  • Written By: Susan Grindstaff
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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If you are considering using GABA for anxiety treatment, you should first check with your doctor to be sure it will be safe. As with any medications or supplements, drug interaction can be a concern. In addition, it is probably a good idea to find out if your anxiety could be caused by an underlying health condition before beginning any type of self-prescribed treatment. Some people successfully use GABA to help alleviate anxiety, but the amount they take seems to vary. The recommended dosage is usually about 700 mg per day, however, there seems to be no universally recognized dosage requirements.

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GABA is a type of amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter in the nervous system. Within the central nervous system, there are receptors that receive signals to transmit anxiety to the brain, and in normally functioning nervous systems, GABA can occupy those receptors and block slight anxiety signals from ever reaching the brain. If the central nervous system does not have the proper amount of GABA, it is believed that ordinary feelings of unease can become magnified because anxiety signals are being received by the brain that would normally be blocked. What is still unclear is whether GABA supplements can replace GABA that is naturally produced by the human body. Studies conducted at Harvard University seem to indicate that there may be a connection between insufficient levels of GABA and anxiety, but most experts agree that more clinical trials are needed to help determine the safety and efficacy of the supplement.

In the human body, GABA is thought to be manufactured within the central nervous system, and does not appear to use the bloodstream in any way. When taking dietary supplements of GABA for anxiety treatment, the bloodstream is the only way to transport GABA throughout the body. One of the problems associated with using GABA for anxiety treatment is that GABA introduced through the bloodstream may not be absorbed into the brain at all. If it does not reach the brain, it cannot function as a neurotransmitter. The same problem of transportation would be evident in creams or salves containing GABA.

In spite of the problems associated with the transportation of GABA within the bloodstream, some experts claim that using GABA for anxiety treatment may be a viable option. Some studies have shown that in some patients, GABA therapy has sometimes resulted in increased relaxation, however, in scientific terms, these studies are not universally recognized. In addition, using dietary GABA for anxiety may have some adverse side effects. These side effects can include sleepiness, numbness, and tingling in the extremities. GABA as a dietary supplement has been banned in some countries.

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