GABA: Benefits, Dosing, Where To Buy, And More!

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Key Information

GABA regulates relaxation, sleep, and mood:

GABA is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, responsible for counteracting excitatory neurotransmitters and reducing anxiety and depression.

GABA may improve memory, learning, and neuroprotection:

GABA plays a role in neural plasticity, motor-skill learning, and memory recovery. It also protects against inflammation and cell damage in the brain.

GABA may lower blood pressure, blood sugar, and cancer risk:

GABA has physical benefits as well, such as decreasing blood pressure, enhancing insulin sensitivity, and inhibiting cancer cell proliferation.

GABA supplements may not cross the blood-brain barrier:

GABA supplements may not be effective for boosting GABA levels in the brain, as the molecule may be too large to enter. Synthetic derivatives or herbal alternatives may be more potent.

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Few neurotransmitters are as promising in holistic cognitive enhancement as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). As the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, GABA plays a pivotal role in regulating neuronal excitability, promoting calm, and supporting overall mental well-being.

At, we’re dedicated to exploring the intricate interplay between mind and body, and GABA stands at the forefront of our evidence-based, nutrition-first approach to optimizing cognitive function.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the science behind GABA, its physiological functions, and how maintaining optimal levels can significantly impact mental health and cognitive performance. As always, we aim to provide you with the knowledge and tools to make informed decisions about your well-being.

Let’s unravel the mysteries of this fascinating neurotransmitter together.

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What is GABA?

Gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, is a non-protein amino acid that is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Its primary function is to reduce neuronal excitability by binding to GABA receptors, effectively putting the brakes on overactive nerve cells.

This inhibitory action is crucial for maintaining balance in the brain, as it counteracts the effects of excitatory neurotransmitters like glutamate.

GABA’s Physiological Functions

GABA’s influence extends far beyond its role as a neural modulator. It plays a significant part in various physiological processes, including:

  • Regulating sleep-wake cycles and promoting deep, restorative sleep
  • Modulating anxiety, fear response, and stress reactivity
  • Influencing mood, memory, learning, and overall brain health
  • Regulating muscle tone and pain perception

Maintaining optimal GABA levels promotes calm focus, emotional resilience, and cognitive clarity—the foundation of peak mental performance.

GABA Deficiency: Symptoms & Causes

When GABA levels fall out of balance, the consequences can be far-reaching. Insufficient GABA activity has been linked to a range of mental health concerns and cognitive difficulties, including:

  • Anxiety, panic attacks, and restlessness
  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances
  • Depression and mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating and memory issues

Several factors can contribute to GABA deficiency, such as chronic stress, genetic predispositions, nutritional deficiencies, and certain medications. By identifying and addressing these underlying causes, you can take proactive steps to restore balance and optimize your brain function.

Learn More: How Your Gut Health Affects Your Mental Health

Benefits of Optimizing GABA Levels

By prioritizing GABA balance through lifestyle interventions, dietary strategies, and targeted supplementation, you can unlock a wealth of cognitive and emotional benefits:

  • Reduced anxiety and enhanced relaxation
  • Improved sleep quality and duration
  • Elevated mood and emotional well-being
  • Sharper focus, memory, and mental clarity

Moreover, optimizing GABA function may offer therapeutic potential for a range of neurological and psychiatric conditions, such as anxiety disorders, insomnia, depression, ADHD, and epilepsy.

While more research is needed to elucidate GABA’s clinical applications fully, the existing evidence paints a promising picture for those seeking natural ways to support mental health and cognitive performance.

How to Increase GABA Levels Naturally

At, we believe in empowering you with the knowledge and strategies to optimize your brain health through natural means. Here are some proven ways to boost GABA levels and harness its neuroprotective potential:

Lifestyle Modifications

  • Practice stress-reduction techniques like meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises
  • Engage in regular physical exercise to promote GABA synthesis and release
  • Prioritize sleep hygiene and aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night

Dietary Strategies

  • Incorporate GABA-rich foods into your diet, such as fermented vegetables, tea, and whole grains
  • Ensure adequate intake of GABA precursors and cofactors, including glutamine, vitamin B6, and magnesium

Natural Supplements

SupplementMechanism of ActionSuggested Dosage
L-TheanineIncreases GABA levels and alpha brain waves100-400 mg/day
MagnesiumActivates GABA receptors and supports synthesis200-400 mg/day
Valerian RootEnhances GABA receptor sensitivity300-600 mg/day
PassionflowerIncreases GABA levels in the brain500-1000 mg/day
TaurineModulates GABA receptor function500-2000 mg/day

Learn More: 10 Proven Benefits of Adaptogens

GABA Supplements: Benefits & Risks

While lifestyle and dietary interventions form the foundation of our approach at, we also recognize the potential of targeted supplementation. GABA supplements, available in powder and capsule form, have gained popularity for their fast-acting anxiolytic effects, sleep-promoting properties, and potential to enhance growth hormone secretion and muscle recovery.

However, it’s essential to approach GABA supplementation with caution and a critical eye. The scientific community is still debating the extent to which oral GABA can cross the blood-brain barrier and directly influence brain function.

Moreover, GABA supplements may cause side effects such as tingling sensations, shortness of breath, and interactions with medications like benzodiazepines and gabapentinoids.

Learn More: Best Natural Mood Enhancing Supplements and Biohacks

Where to Buy GABA Supplements

When considering GABA supplementation, sourcing high-quality products from reputable brands and retailers is crucial. Look for supplements that have undergone third-party testing for purity and potency. Be mindful of additional ingredients or fillers that may interact with GABA or cause unwanted side effects.

Some recommended GABA supplements include:

GABA Brain Food #1

GABA Brain Food

Reduce anxiety and improve sleep
GABA Supplement by Thorne Research #2

GABA Supplement by Thorne Research

Rest Easy with Thorne GABA
Learn MoreUse code holisticnootropics10 for 10% off entire order
GABA Calming Support by BrainMD #3

GABA Calming Support by BrainMD

Destress with Natural GABA
Learn MoreUse code holisticnootropics10 for 10% off entire order

As with any new supplement, start with the lowest effective dose and monitor your individual response. If you experience adverse effects or have pre-existing medical conditions, consult with a healthcare professional before starting GABA supplementation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About GABA

GABA Discussions on Reddit

The Reddit community is a valuable resource for gaining insights into real-world experiences with GABA supplementation. By exploring these discussions, we can better understand GABA use’s potential benefits, challenges, and individual variability.

User Experiences with GABA Supplementation

I take GABA for sleep close to bed pretty regularly because I have POTS and growth hormone levels are lower among people with this condition. It is incredibly effective for making me sleepy and fatigued if I am wired near bed.

u/lionsmanefein in discussion ‘How dangerous is GABA?’

This user’s experience highlights the potential of GABA supplementation for promoting sleep and addressing specific health conditions associated with reduced growth hormone levels. However, it’s essential to recognize that individual responses may vary, and what works for one person may not necessarily translate to others.

Debates on GABA’s Ability to Cross the Blood-Brain Barrier

Oral GABA is snake oil. It cannot penetrate the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Moreover, no reasonably healthy brain lacks GABA. It is a byproduct of the Krebs cycle which provides the brain’s fuel supply. The brain makes so much of it that the BBB has billions, maybe trillions of molecular pumps to remove the excess.

u/None in discussion ‘GABA supplements?’

The debate surrounding GABA’s ability to cross the blood-brain barrier is contentious, with some users adamantly claiming that oral GABA supplementation is ineffective due to limited BBB permeability.

While this perspective is grounded in scientific understanding, it’s important to consider that GABA may exert effects through alternative mechanisms, such as influencing the enteric nervous system or modulating peripheral GABA receptors.

Combining GABA with Other Supplements for Synergistic Effects

I take a supplement with Magnesium, Gaba, and Melatonin and it seems to give me vivid dreams, especially when compared to taking just melatonin.

u/event_horizon777 in discussion ‘Is gaba a good supplement for lucid dreaming and dreaming in general?’

This user’s experience sheds light on the potential synergistic effects of combining GABA with other sleep-promoting supplements like magnesium and melatonin. By targeting multiple pathways simultaneously, such combinations may enhance the overall efficacy and subjective experience of GABA supplementation.

However, to minimize the risk of adverse interactions, it’s crucial to approach such experimentation cautiously and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

The Bottom Line on GABA

GABA is a fascinating and complex neurotransmitter vital in regulating brain function and promoting mental well-being. By understanding its mechanisms of action and exploring natural ways to optimize GABA levels, you can harness its potential to alleviate anxiety, improve sleep, and enhance cognitive performance.

At, we aim to empower you with the knowledge and tools to make informed decisions about your brain health. While GABA supplementation may benefit some individuals, it’s essential to prioritize lifestyle and dietary interventions as the foundation of your cognitive optimization journey.

By cultivating a holistic approach that encompasses stress management, regular exercise, quality sleep, and nutrient-dense nutrition, you can create a solid framework for long-term mental resilience and performance.

If you choose to explore GABA supplementation, remember to start low, monitor your individual response, and consult a trusted healthcare provider to ensure safety and efficacy. By staying informed, engaged, and proactive in your brain health journey, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the exciting world of holistic nootropics and unlock your full cognitive potential.


1. Cryan JF, Slattery DA. GABAB receptors and depression. Current status. Adv Pharmacol. 2010;58:427-451. doi: 10.1016/S1054-3589(10)58016-5.

2. Boonstra E, de Kleijn R, Colzato LS, Alkemade A, Forstmann BU, Nieuwenhuis S. Neurotransmitters as food supplements: the effects of GABA on brain and behavior. Front Psychol. 2015;6:1520. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01520.

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Erik Abramowitz is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP), Naturopathic Doctoral student, health coach, and father. He is the primary content creator for and the host of the Holistic Nootropics Podcast.

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