GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid)

GABA is an amino acid and neurotransmitter (chemical molecules that allow brain and nerve cells to communicate), which assists in the management of depression and anxiety.

What are its health benefits?

GABA is described as the brain’s natural calming agent. It works by inhibiting the over-stimulation of the brain, assisting in the promotion of relaxation and mood.

People with low levels of GABA are reportedly more likely to suffer from major depression.

Other benefits of GABA supplements may include:

  • Assisting in the symptomatic relief of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Assisting in the management of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Assisting in the metabolising of fat
  • Assisting in the management of blood pressure
  • Assisting in the management of pain relief
  • Assisting in the management of stress
  • It’s used in bodybuilding and by athletes for muscle recovery, decreasing body fat and increasing lean body weight.

Do you have a deficiency?

A GABA deficiency is linked to various neurological and psychiatric problems, including:

Occasional panic attacks are also associated with GABA deficiency symptoms, but this is not a definite indicator.

Possible reasons for deficiency include:

  • Genetics
  • Diet (GABA is formed by the amino acid glutamine which is often present in meat)
  • Stress

Find it in these foods

GABA-rich foods include:

  • Bananas
  • Broccoli
  • Brown rice
  • Citrus fruit
  • Herbal teas
  • Lentils
  • Molasses
  • Nuts
  • Oatmeal
  • Organ meats
  • Spinach
  • Wheat germ
  • Whole grains

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

A dosage of 800mg a day is reportedly effective in combating insomnia and anxiety. Some physicians prescribe GABA in doses of up to 200mg, four times a day, for a maximum daily dose of 800mg.

If you are considering taking GABA, first talk to your doctor or Clicks pharmacist about whether you should be taking it and the correct dosage if so. 

Possible side effects

GABA is reportedly safe when taken for short periods of time, up to 12 weeks, and adverse effects are rare.

Drowsiness may occur when GABA supplements are taken with other medicines that have a tranquilising property, such as sedatives, antidepressants and muscle relaxants.

Not enough is known about the use of GABA during pregnancy and breast-feeding, so rather avoid use.

Ensure you discuss dietary supplementation with your Clicks pharmacist to avoid the potential for side effects and adverse interactions with medications.

This medicine has not been evaluated by the Medicines Control Council. This medicine is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in September 2015