GABA mixed in water and swished in the mouth of an adult male, before a meal, prevents his esophageal spasms, and stops his frequent choking and vomiting, and allows him to swallow his food. A colleague shared her husband’s swallowing issues after she read my blog post about using GABA powder inside the check for laryngospasms.
This is what she shared:
That [blog] made me think that [GABA] might be useful for my husband‘s esophageal spasms. He frequently can’t get food down during a meal because of them.
So he started mixing 500 mg GABA in a little water and swishing it around his mouth and then swallowing it at the beginning of each meal. Since he started doing that he has not had one spasm, or vomiting episode.
It’s wonderful to hear about her husband’s success with GABA and this unique application of swishing around GABA powder (mixed in water) in his mouth before a meal (I’ll share more on this aspect below).
I asked if they know what the causes of his esophageal spasms are but they don’t yet know:
We can’t figure it out. It appears to be all food. I would expect there to be a trigger-food, but we can’t find it.
The GABA has completely stopped it. Last night we went out to dinner and he forgot to bring GABA with him and immediately started choking. So he went to the nearest vitamin store, (of which there is only one)! Fortunately it was open. As soon as he got back to the restaurant and took his GABA, he was fine.
GABA does work so well for him and offers him some relief while they continue to search for other underlying root cause/s. Until these are found, GABA is supporting overall low GABA levels, associated with physical tension-type anxiety, intrusive thoughts, stiff and tense muscles in other areas of the body and also stress-eating and self-medicating with alcohol in order to relax. More on low GABA symptoms here.
My input on his dosing and swishing
Regarding the dosing and swishing method I have this input:
- 500 mg GABA is the ideal dose for his needs but this is considered a high dose to start. For low GABA tension-type anxiety, I have clients start with a trial of 125 mg GABA and go up from there. I’d recommend the same approach for someone with issues like this gentleman experiences.
- GABA is most effective when used sublingually or by opening a capsule on to the tongue or by using GABA powder on the inside of a cheek, rather than swallowing a GABA capsule. For this reason, his method of swishing GABA mixed in water is excellent for achieving the spasm-reducing and relaxing benefits quickly. For some folks doing this 30 minutes before a meal may be more effective than doing it right before eating.
The diagnosis can vary from person to person
The diagnosis can vary from person to person. But as long as there are spasms that are affecting swallowing, doing a trial of GABA is worthwhile in order to determine if it will help.
One example is eosinophilic esophagitis where
Clinical manifestations in infants and toddlers generally include vomiting, food refusal, choking with meals and, less commonly, failure to thrive. Predominant symptoms in school-aged children and adolescents include dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), food impactions, and choking/gagging with meals, particularly when comprised of foods with coarse textures. Other symptoms in this patient population include abdominal/chest pain, vomiting, and regurgitation.
The predominant symptom in adults is dysphagia [difficulty swallowing]; however, intractable heartburn and food avoidance may also be present.
One paper, Esophageal microbiome in active eosinophilic esophagitis and changes induced by different therapies discusses the role of the microbiome and how “an increase in levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) …is known to exert a role in esophageal motor function.”
Finding the other root causes (other than low GABA)
Regarding finding the root causes, other than low GABA, this is an important aspect that does need to be pursued. Here are some of the many factors worth considering:
- Finding food triggers. This can be challenging but an obvious one is gluten which can play a role in eosinophilic esophagitis. Dairy and environmental irritants can be issues too.
- GERD/reflux needs to be ruled out or addressed. Food sensitivities are often a factor here too.
- Vagus nerve issues can play a role in digestive issues like this. GABA and vagus nerve exercises helped my cough and voice issues. I recorded all my exercises on video and you can find these here. Fortunately I didn’t have any swallowing or choking episodes at that time but have had a choking episode more recently (GABA did help) so I know how scary this can be.
- Pyroluria, a social anxiety condition needs to be ruled out or addressed too. This is because nausea, gagging and choking are common symptoms for some individuals.
- I’d also consider a tongue tie. I just finished reading Tongue Tied: How a Tiny String Under the Tongue Impacts Nursing, Speech, Feeding, and More (my Amazon link) by Richard Baxter, DMD, MS. The focus on babies and children but adults can also benefit from addressing tongue tie issues later in life.
- Addressing gut health and the microbiome may be one of the keys, as outlined in the paper above.
This is not a comprehensive list and a full functional workup will help to identify all possible root causes.
Related blogs: young boy with choking episodes, lump-in-the throat sensation, anxiety and globus pharyngeus
Here are some related blogs that you may find useful
- Paroxysmal laryngospasm with low GABA physical-tension-type-anxiety: Is GABA powder rubbed on the inside of the cheek a solution? (this is the blog that inspired my colleague to have her husband do the GABA mouth swishing)
- GABA helps a stressed young boy with episodes of “choking” or tightening in his throat
- GABA is the answer after 40 years of a lump-in-the-throat sensation, nervousness and muscle tension at work
- Anxiety and globus pharyngeus (lump in the throat): GABA to the rescue?
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 (online/virtual).
If you are a practitioner, join us in The Balancing Neurotransmitters: the Fundamentals program. It’s an opportunity to interact with me and other practitioners who are also using the amino acids.
Have you experienced throat or esophageal spasms and difficulty swallowing with choking and/or vomiting.
And do you have the low GABA physical-tension-type-anxiety symptoms? What else is a trigger for you and do you have a diagnosis?
If you’ve already been using GABA with success for easing your anxiety, have you noticed a reduction in your swallowing issues?
Have you ever used GABA in this way to help your swallowing issues?
If you’re a practitioner please share what you have seen?
Feel free to ask your questions here too.