Generalized Anxiety Disorder and GABA
The substance gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter, a chemical used by the human nervous system to send messages and modulate its own function. GABA acts in an inhibitory manner, tending to cause nerves to “calm down.”
Effect of GABA on Generalized Anxiety Disorder
GABA is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter that is used within the brain to reduce the activity of certain nerve systems, including those related to anxiety. For this reason, GABA supplements are sometimes recommended for treatment of anxiety-related conditions.
Research Evidence on GABA
However, there are no studies supporting the use of GABA supplements for anxiety. In fact, it appears that, when taken orally, GABA cannot pass the blood-brain barrier, and therefore does not even enter the brain.60
Side Effects and Warnings
No serious adverse effects have been associated with the use of GABA. Nonetheless, comprehensive safety studies have not been performed. Maximum safe doses in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with severe liver or kidney disease have not been established.
- Inoue K, Shirai T, Ochiai H, et al. Blood-pressure-lowering effect of a novel fermented milk containing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in mild hypertensives. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003;57:490-495.