Last month I shared Dee’s wonderful results with using GABA Calm for her panic attacks, heightened stress and anxiety. I posted the following on Facebook and it led to some really good questions so here they are with my feedback in case you have similar questions about using GABA, which is a calming amino acid. This is Dee’s feedback:
I have taken Xanax in the past for panic attacks. My functional medicine doctor suggested GABA Calm as I wanted a natural product. I was amazed how it works just like the Xanax did – instant calm feeling within 10 mins of taking 2 capsules. I use them as needed when I am having heightened stress and anxiety.
These are wonderful results for Dee and what a great functional medicine doctor she has. I get feedback like this all the time with my clients. In fact, I had this positive feedback on the Facebook post:
- “Yes absolutely treat the anxiety while finding root cause” – I agree with this but would add that low GABA is one of the root causes we are addressing right away
- I have GAD enzyme deficiency. B6, Magnesium, theanine, and GABA are a must
- GABA saved my life – my functional medicine doctor gave me the same thing!
(1) The first question I received was about which product and which form of GABA:
The Gaba Calm that is being mentioned by Dee says 2 capsules – would you please provide a link for that? I see the one you mention as a lozenge – which I’d like to try as well. Do they contain pharmaGaba or synthetic GABA? I read that the pharmaGaba is superior – your thoughts on this?
This is the GABA product Dee is referring to: Source Naturals GABA Calm and she used 2 sublingual lozenges.
As a recap (in case you’re new to the low GABA type of anxiety) when you have low GABA levels you will have physical anxiety with stiff and tense muscles as well as feelings of stress, overwhelm and may even have panic attacks.
The amino acid GABA helps to raise GABA levels and ease these symptoms very quickly. I find that all GABA products are most effective when taken sublingually or opened on to the tongue. This is why I recommend the Source Naturals GABA Calm™ product.
This is my most popular and most effective form of GABA I use with my clients. It is a pleasant-tasting sublingual product that you can buy at your local health-store and in my online supplement store.
I prefer to start with GABA with my clients but folks do better with pharmaGABA so it’s matter of doing a trial to figure it out.
(2) Someone also asked if you can you take it if you are on antidepressants?
There are no known issues that I am aware of and I use GABA calm with clients who are prescribed antidepressants.
(3) One woman had a concern about her prior use and how GABA made her feel worse:
2 capsules at what dosage? I tried one at 750 mg and made me feel more panicked. Maybe it’s the strength?
I always have my clients start LOW, typically at 125mg, which is the amount in one GABA Calm lozenge. We start even lower (like ¼ of a lozenge) if they are very sensitive to supplement or medications. Higher doses like 750mg (and even 500mg for some people) is way too much for most folks to start on and can make you feel worse and even cause a panic attack, make you feel flushed and light-headed and very sleepy.
(4) One woman said, “unfortunately GABA didn’t work for me” but lithium orotate (5-10 mg per day did help her – “Great mood stabilizer”
When GABA doesn’t help to ease anxiety, it could be for a number of reasons:
- the root cause of the anxiety wasn’t due to low GABA (perhaps it’s the low serotonin anxiety) or
- it wasn’t enough GABA (we titrate up from 125mg until we find the ideal amount for each person) or
- too much GABA was used (as above) or
- it wasn’t actually GABA that was used (some people say GABA when they used the medication gabapentin or used Phenibut) or
- the GABA was not used sublingually (this is the best way to use it for quickest results) or
- the person has thyroid issues (the amino acids are less effective in this instance)
I do like lithium orotate as a mood stabilizer and find that for some individuals this does make the amino acids more effective. The fact that lithium worked for her makes me think there is some GABA involvement in her anxiety because lithium seems to support increased levels of GABA. Dr. Peter Bongiorno writes about this in his book Put Anxiety Behind You.
(5) One person shared her success with exposure therapy and acceptance and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) instead of using GABA, and a concern about a lifetime need for GABA. I’m paraphrasing some of the discussion:
I have recovered from GAD, panic disorder, OCD and depression from exposure therapy and acceptance and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). It takes a lot of work and understanding but anxiety and panic can be recovered, and you don’t have use ANY external substances.
We can’t take GABA for a whole life time and it isn’t a permanent solution. Anxiety comes with a LOT more than uncomfortable feelings. Unfortunately for myself and many others GABA had no significant impact on anxiety. No external substance is going to correct a cognitive disorder.
GABA is not a life-time solution. The goal is to take GABA short-term and address other root causes that are leading to low GABA such as poor gut health, gluten issues, diet (not enough quality protein or health fats), stress/adrenals, sex hormone imbalances, heavy metals, Lyme disease and so on.
As I mention in #4 above there are reasons when the GABA doesn’t work or doesn’t seem to work.
I respectfully disagree that “No external substance is going to correct a cognitive disorder.” I’m all for CBT but many folks have to address their biochemistry too for lasting results. I also have many therapist colleagues who share that CBT and other therapy is often more effective when someone is nutritionally stable and with no deficiencies or biochemical imbalances. I say let’s use everything at our disposal to feel good again!
I’m really pleased she found results with acceptance and cognitive behavior therapy. I will admit that I’m not a big fan of exposure therapy as I’m concerned about the added stress for someone who is already anxious. I’ve also worked with a number of clients who have not seen long-term results with exposure therapy.
Here are three additional GABA success stories:
- GABA for children: ADHD, focus issues, irritability, anxiety and tantrums
- GABA helps with Lyme anxiety (while addressing the underlying disease)
- GABA for ending sugar cravings (and anxiety and insomnia)
In case this is relevant for you, the product mentioned in this blog can be found in my online store:
- Source Naturals GABA Calm (with additional information here)
If for some reason GABA Calm isn’t the best product for you, a low dose GABA-only product or combination GABA/theanine product can easily be opened onto the tongue in order to provide similar benefits to the lozenge. You can find some examples on my supplements blog here and purchased from my online store:
- Nutritional Fundamentals for Health GABA-T SAP: gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) 300 mg, l-theanine 150 mg. This is pleasant-tasting when opened on to the tongue and works very well when GABA Calm can’t be used. I find best results when it is used opened on to the tongue.
- Enzymatic Therapy GABA: gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) 250 mg. This is also pleasant-tasting when opened on to the tongue and works very well when GABA Calm can’t be used. As with all GABA products, I find best results when it is used opened on to the tongue.
- ProThera 500mg GABA: gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) 500 mg. You will likely need to open this up and start with less than a full capsule during the day. A full capsule may be fine at night for some individuals)
I’d love to hear if these questions and my feedback have been helpful for you as you navigate the low GABA type of anxiety? Do you have additional GABA questions for me? Or a GABA success story to share? Please post in the comments below.
Additional Anxiety Resources