GABA and tryptophan are both calming amino acids with GABA helping more with physical anxiety, tension-in-the-body type of anxiety and tryptophan with anxiety-in-the-head, worrying and ruminations. Many of my clients do really well with both but I like to have them use one at a time to really make sure they are seeing all the benefits before adding the next one.
I recently received this excellent question on one of the blogs about serotonin support: she’s doing better on the GABA and now wants to add tryptophan:
I have started with Source Naturals Gaba Calm 125 mg, 2 on awakening and two in mid afternoon, and 2 Gaba Relaxer at bedtime. It has taken some anxiety edge away from me, but I still feel some anxiety on and off, not so severe as before. I used to feel very anxious on awakening. I want to improve more. to-day, I ordered Lidtke L-trytophan 500mg and am expecting to receive it in a week. I plan to take 2 Gaba Calm on awakening and 2 in mid afternoon, then add one 500mg trytophan mid afternoon and one 500 mg trytophan at bed time. Is this a good plan? or shall I have 2 Gaba Calm on awakening, 2 trytophan mid afternoon and 2 trytophan bedtime?
I love getting questions on the blog and make sure each one gets answered. However I can’t ever offer specific advice via the blog – you have to be a client for me to be able to do that. But because this is an excellent question I’d like to share some of what I shared with her in the hope it will help you (or your patients/clients) too.
First off I am so pleased to hear the Source Naturals GABA Calm and Country Life GABA Relaxer (a very nice combination of GABA, glycine, taurine, inositol, niacinamide and vitamin B6) has taken some of the anxiety edge away for her!
Here is my answer for her – about what I’d do next if I was working with her one-on-one:
There is also no specific formula to be followed because each person is different and when I’m working with someone we’re figuring out what is working and why and adjusting accordingly. If something is working we continue with that until no more benefits are seen.
I would say this – ask yourself what low GABA anxiety symptoms (this is the physical anxiety) have improved with the GABA and how much (rate each one before – out of 10; and what are they now – out of 10). From your question it sounds like they could improve more – so if we were working together I’d continue to increase GABA before adding something new.
Then once that has been done and we have the ideal amount I’d then check what low serotonin symptoms my client has (these are the busy mind, ruminations type or worry anxiety). If she does have some of these symptoms, pick or two and do a trial with 1 x 500mg tryptophan opened on to the tongue (or less if she’s super sensitive). She rates the symptoms out of 10 before the tryptophan trial and then after the trial. Depending on how she responds on the trial, we’ll decide if she needs 1 or 2 each time. The bedtime dose also depends on how bad the insomnia is. We continue to increase as needed based on symptoms.
All the while we are starting to make other changes – like diet, eating for blood sugar balance, no caffeine, no sugar, looking for high cortisol, no gluten, looking at gut health and for other nutritional deficiencies.
I hope this helps you and makes sense. In summary these are the guidelines I use:
- It’s best to do one amino acid at a time when starting out
- Make sure you’ve increased an amino acid so you can experience it’s full benefits before adding another one
- Start all amino acids based on your unique needs – the best way to determine this is to do a trial first
- Adjust accordingly while keeping a log of symptoms (with before and after ratings) and supplement amounts
Here are some links to additional resources related to the above:
- The amino acid questionnaire to help you figure out which anxiety type you have: low GABA or low serotonin
- How to do an amino acid trial
- Targeted individual amino acids: what do we really mean?
- Anxiety and the amino acids: an overview
- In this blog I make the following recommendation: if you do not have my book The Antianxiety Food Solution, I highly recommend getting it and reading it before jumping in to taking amino acids
- Here are the supplements I use with my clients
I’d love to hear your feedback on your low GABA and/or low serotonin symptoms and the before rating (from 1 to 10) and the after rating (from 1 to 10) once you’re taking the related amino acid.
And please let me know if it’s helpful to read a real life question and my response.