GABA is a calming amino acid, used as a supplement, to ease low GABA levels. With low GABA you’ll experience physical-tension and stiff-and-tense-muscles type of anxiety, panic attacks and insomnia. You may feel the need to self-medicate to calm down, often with alcohol but sometimes with carbs and sugary foods. GABA also helps with muscle spasms and provides pain relief when muscles are tight.
One of the most common questions I get from individuals who are excited to hear about the benefits of GABA but are totally new to using this amino acid is: “How much GABA should I use for my anxiety?” Even individuals who may be familiar with GABA and have even experimented with it themselves and are seeing some benefits may also have this question.
Most are not aware of the extremely large variations in dosing that may work for different individuals. Today I’ll share some examples to illustrate both the wonderful benefits and this range of dosing which can be as much as a 1000x to 2000x variation in some instances!
Syd gets sleep and body anxiety benefits with just 1.5 mg to 3 mg GABA
As you can see in this first example, Syd gets sleep and body anxiety benefits with just 1.5 mg to 3 mg GABA. She shared this on a recent blog post where I discussed how using too much GABA can cause a niacin-like flushing sensation
I think it’s useful to note that some, like me, start out with tiny doses and still get benefits with no side effects. I take around 1.5 mg to 3 mg GABA at a time and it works for me! Really helps me sleep at night.
I also take approximately 1.5mg if I feel body anxiety. I divide a melt-able 25mg tablet into 8ths or less. (Very approximate, of course. Sometimes it’s just crumbs!)
Right now, anything higher and I’m a wet noodle the next day, meaning I feel super depleted and can hardly stand up. But, no niacin flush-like symptoms.
I appreciate her sharing and I’m so glad she found her ideal dose. As you can see it’s really really low. We call folks like Syd “pixie dust” people because they do really well with tiny tiny doses. It also shows that some folks get flushed with too much GABA and some don’t. Syd just feels depleted.
In case you’re wondering which product Syd is using, it’s the Kal 25 mg GABA, which she breaks apart.
To give this perspective, a typical starting dose is 125mg GABA for adults and half that for children. I share more below on this and how to use the symptoms questionnaires and do a trial.
Christina’s agoraphobic client was able to leave the house with 3000 mg GABA
A colleague, Christina Veselak, MS, LMFT, CN shared this feedback about her client who had agoraphobia i.e. fear of outdoor spaces:
I once had a profoundly anxious, agoraphobic client who I sent home with instructions to trial GABA until she either got relief from her anxiety or an adverse reaction. She came back a few days later to say that she had arrived at 3000 mg of GABA in the morning as her ideal dose.
That dose allowed her not only to leave her bedroom but also leave her house, socialize and babysit her hyperactive grandsons!
Most of my other clients could not tolerate anything near to that dose without getting an adverse reaction but it was perfect for her.
This really adds perspective to the range of doses that folks may respond to. This dosage is 1000x higher than Syd’s maximum dose and 2000x higher than her lowest dose!
Let’s address this question: How much GABA should I use for my anxiety?
The answer is this – it depends on your unique needs and biochemistry. I know it’s not the answer you (and almost everyone else too) probably want to hear but there really is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to GABA and the other amino acids.
The best way to determine if you may have low GABA and may benefit from using GABA is to look at the low GABA symptoms, rate them on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being worst, do a trial of GABA and rate the symptoms again right afterwards (in the next 2 to 30 minutes).
Here are the symptoms.
From there you continue to adjust up (or down) over the next few weeks to find your ideal dose. If you go too high you may experience an uncomfortable tingling niacin-like flush.
I can share this: for GABA, 125mg is a typical starting dose for adults that I use with my clients. Half that or less is a good ballpark for starting a trial for children. As with all the amino acids, they are always best used sublingually and taken away from protein.
Below is an example from someone who figured out 1-3 of the 125 mg GABA Calm product was ideal for her own needs.
Melissa is much calmer, sleeps well and stopped craving sweets with 125 mg to 375 mg GABA Calm a day
Melissa started using Source Naturals GABA Calm in anticipation of holiday travel and holiday gatherings and shared how much she benefited:
I have been taking 1-3 per day for two weeks. I’m glad I bought it before traveling home for Christmas – I was cool as a cucumber at the airport and was much calmer when visiting family and friends compared to last year!
The true test of its efficacy will be in two weeks when the semester starts. For now, I notice a general calmness and am sleeping well.
An unexpected result was that I stopped craving sweets after about a week of taking it!
And how wonderful for her! And we have much appreciation for her sharing her success.
These results at this dosage are pretty typical for the majority of my clients. Of course there may need to be adjustments seasonally (possibly needing less after the holidays and closer to spring) or more around her period or more with added stresses in her life.
Resources if you are new to using GABA as a supplement
If you are new to using the the amino acid GABA as a supplement, here is the Amino Acids Mood Questionnaire from The Antianxiety Food Solution (you can see the low GABA and other low neurotransmitter symptoms)
If you suspect low levels of GABA or low serotonin and do not yet have my book, The Antianxiety Food Solution – How the Foods You Eat Can Help You Calm Your Anxious Mind, Improve Your Mood, and End Cravings, I highly recommend getting it and reading it before jumping in and using amino acids on your own so you are knowledgeable. And be sure to share it with the team you or your loved one is working with.
The book doesn’t include product names (per the publisher’s request) so this blog, The Antianxiety Food Solution Amino Acid and Pyroluria Supplements, lists the GABA products that I use with my individual clients and those in my group programs.
If you don’t feel comfortable reading my book, doing the low GABA symptoms questionnaire and doing trials of GABA on your own, you can get guidance from me in the GABA Quickstart Program.
If you are a practitioner, join us in The Balancing Neurotransmitters: the Fundamentals program. AS you’ve learned today, there are many nuances and best practices when using the amino acids. And it’s an opportunity to interact with me and other practitioners who are also using the amino acids.
What have you found to be your ideal dose of GABA? And how has it helped you?
What dose did you start with and did you go too high and then have to back down again to get to your ideal dose? (be sure to share which product worked for you too)
Are you surprised to learn about this huge variation in dosing GABA? And if yes do you feel inspired to experiment with your current dosing?
If you’re a practitioner have you seen these variations?
Feel free to ask your questions here too.