GABA is the main calming neurotransmitter and the amino acid GABA is wonderful for boosting low levels of GABA and thereby eliminating physical anxiety, tension, panic attacks and overwhelm. It can also help reduce pain and insomnia. I get asked great questions about GABA on the blog all the time and here are some common questions that you may find helpful.
A question about GABA, tyrosine and other neurotransmitter imbalances
GABA Calm – who can take this as it has tyrosine? Can someone with low serotonin or high serotonin take this? Or is it best to take straight GABA for those who are not meant to take tyrosine. Can a person who has low GABA have other neurotransmission issues i.e. high dopamine or low serotonin?
Here is my response: The GABA Calm (by Source Naturals) has a very small amount of tyrosine so unless it’s contraindicated it’s the one I use with most of my clients. You would not use it if you have melanoma or Grave disease and would watch carefully if you have high blood pressure or migraines. You can read all the amino acid precautions here.
Many people with low GABA levels may also have signs of the other low neurotransmitters. The best way to figure this out is to do the amino acid questionnaire and do a trial of the relevant amino acid.
You mention high serotonin and high dopamine so I’m guessing you have had the urinary neurotransmitter test done. I’d like to share that I don’t place much value in urinary neurotransmitter testing and prefer to have my clients do a trial.
A question about GABA, getting a red flush and migraines
I’ve had lifelong migraines along with anxiety and depression that have waxed and waned. I’d like to try the aminos and curious if you have any special recommendations or contraindications for migraine with aura.
I’ve tried GABA in the past but ended up with a red flush like a niacin flush. Any ideas on why that might have happened? I suspect maybe the dose was too high. I wanted to try the GABA Calm since it has a low dose of GABA but I’m not sure if tyrosine is a potential migraine trigger.
Would love a little enlightenment on all the above so I’m not so gun shy and doing more harm than good.
Here is my response: Tyrosine is an issue with migraines and I avoid it with clients with a lifelong history of them especially if they are still having them (please see the precautions). If they choose to try a product with tyrosine they simply stop if a migraine is triggered.
Too much GABA can cause a flush and breathlessness. I find this to be case when 500mg or 750 mg and above is used to start. I have my clients start on the 125mg found in GABA Calm and slowly build up.
When Calm Calm can’t be taken opening a capsule of a GABA-only product is what we do. You can find the GABA/theanine product I use here. Some of my clients are pixie dust people and need 1/10th of capsule or 200mg GABA so starting low is important for everyone but even more so if you have had a reaction in the past.
Don’t forget that 1000mg of vitamin C can help to negate the effects of an amino acid. Hopefully this will give you more confidence to do a trial.
A question about SIBO/candida and GABA and 5-HTP
What do you do or recommend for people with SIBO/ yeast Overgrowth and can’t sleep well as a result (can’t stay asleep)? I have played with 5-HTP and GABA in the past, but they seemed to have the opposite effect (caused more insomnia). I have read that with overgrowth issues, these products can travel down the wrong metabolic pathway. Have you found this in your clients?
Here is my response: The amino acids will only help with sleep if neurotransmitters are low i.e. GABA will help if GABA is low, 5-HTP or tryptophan will help if serotonin is low. There is actually a great study that shows that a combination of GABA and 5-HTP may help insomnia.
If they are making sleep worse I’d wonder if doses are too high, and I’d look at quality and fillers. I’d also do a trial with tryptophan as 5-HTP can be an issue with high cortisol and this could impact sleep.
Tryptophan can convert to quinolinic acid without the correct co-factors, so taking zinc, curcumin and B vitamins etc. are important. Some people find the Lidtke Tryptophan Complete to be more helpful that the 500mg Tryptophan if they don’t have the co-factors as part of their current protocol.
It goes without saying that foods that make SIBO and candida symptoms worse should be avoided as they may cause bloating and would keep you awake.
With insomnia I’d also look at the following: low blood sugar, parasites, high cortisol, gluten, being on the computer, prior or current benzodiazepine prescriptions.
GABA, new found peace and a woman’s cycle
I have taken your recommendations I heard you speak about on your most recent Anxiety Summit about GABA – and have been experiencing some new found peace that I thought was forever lost to me. It has been truly wonderful! Thank you! I have a question – in your experience, have you found that different levels/amounts of GABA were needed at different times in a woman’s cycle? I would be interested to know if there is any research or observational data related to GABA receptors and how they are affected by the hormonal ups and downs – AND how to respond to that with supplementation and/or food and lifestyle adjustments.
Here is my response: I love this – new found peace! Thanks for stopping by and sharing. GABA is closely related to progesterone which we know fluctuates during our cycles so for some people mirroring this can help even more i.e. some of my clients find it’s beneficial to take extra GABA just before their period or when anxiety symptoms increase.
I have not seen any research on GABA supplementation in the 2nd half of the cycle (luteal phase) but recently blogged about how tryptophan helps PMS symptoms of anxiety, tension and irritability.
If you asked one of these questions on the blog – thank you! I get to learn and now we get to help others who may have similar questions.
I hope these have been helpful for you personally if you are taking GABA or trialing GABA or if you’ve had less than idea results or are wanting to fine-tune for even better results.
If you work with the amino acids with clients or patients, I hope these questions also help you and them.
If you have a question please go ahead and ask it in the comments.