GABA side effects, supplement - Does it help reduce anxiety symptoms

GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid, discovered in 1950, is the most important and widespread inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Excitation in the brain must be balanced with inhibition. Too much excitation can lead to restlessness, irritability, insomnia, and even seizures. GABA is able to induce relaxation, analgesia, and sleep. Barbiturates and benzodiazepines are known to stimulate GABA receptors, and hence induce relaxation. Several neurological disorders, such as epilepsy, sleep disorders, and Parkinson’s disease are affected by this neurotransmitter.

GABA side effects of the supplement
No major GABA side effects have been mentioned in the medical literature as of 2014.

Q. In studying phycology and talking to my phycology professors, they highly suggest against taking additional GABA and claim the effects of any additional GABA supplement can cause many side effects and neurological problems and that they and other doctors prescribe this to balance out low levels  but if your levels are too high they give you medication to reduce the level, problems such as causing low vitamin B6 levels which cause seizures, not to mention withdrawal of the drug can result in GABA receptor hypoactivity producing symptoms worse than the ones that the patient originally sought treatment for. So my question is, why is GABA drug so glorified in the bodybuilding community if its dangerous and possibly deadly to take? Steroids are used in the medical community all the time but restricted from bodybuilding for the same reasons GABA should be.
   A. There is no evidence at this time that taking a GABA supplement is harmful to the body, however human research with GABA supplement use is lacking. We are not convinced it is a helpful product for bodybuilding. As far as its use for relaxation, some people may notice the effects but many people don't. Most supplements should not be used all the time, and if GABA is used occasionally, we don't suspect any safety issues.

Review
We have not come across few studies regarding the use of a GABA supplement in humans. We don't have a strong opinion regarding its effectiveness at this time.

GABA supplement, 250 mg, 60 Capsules - Enzymatic Therapy

GABA is an important amino acid neurotransmitter in the brain.

Recommendations: One, two, or three GABA capsules once or twice daily.
Supplement Facts:
GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) -  250 mg

 

GABA is made in the brain from the amino acid glutamate with the aid of vitamin B6. GABA is available as a supplement in vitamin stores, but taking it in pill form is not always an effective way to raise brain levels of this neurotransmitter because GABA cannot easily cross the blood-brain barrier. Companies are searching for ways to place GABA in an oil base in order to ease its entry across this barrier. Having said this, I have spoken to a few people who feel that GABA helps reduce their anxiety. One user takes GABA in the morning and says it takes the edge off his anxiety, and the effects are noticed a few hours later.

Benefit and medical disease condition uses

Dystonia
I was reading your information online regarding gamma-Aminobutyric acid and felt compelled to write. I started taking GABA supplements several months ago when a promotion at work resulted in high stress and chronic insomnia. I had tried numerous other herbal sleep aids and nothing helped in the least, but, seemingly, the GABA worked miraculously when I started taking three 750 mg capsules right upon going to bed. And there was yet another dramatic positive effect of the GABA. I suffer from chronic and constant spasmodic cervical dystonia. After I started using the GABA the symptoms of the dystonia all but completely went away. Interestingly, I had been taking GABA every night for about four months and stopped suddenly about three weeks ago when I went on a backpacking trip. After I returned from the trip I did not begin taking the GABA again, within about a week my level of stress and anxiety had skyrocketed again and the dystonia symptoms returned unabated (though the symptom that led me to take the GABA in the first place, the insomnia, has not returned.
   Thanks for sharing this with us.


Influence on hormones
Q. I would like to know whether GABA has any effect on hormones such as prolactin or gonadotropin? And if it improves liver detoxication?
   A. GABA supplement has not been tested in human long enough to know what effect it would have on prolactin, gonadotropin or other hormones. We're not sure what people mean when they use the word detoxification.

Memory, mental enhancement
Q. Does GABA supplement help with memory?
   A. We doubt GABA pills improve memory.

Alcohol and receptors
Q. Can you please explain what the following research is saying? Does this mean that the use of alcohol lowers the normal level in your body and a supplement of GABA (LTheanine) might be needed?
   Alcohol effects on gamma-aminobutyric acid type A receptors: are extrasynaptic receptors the answer? Life Sci. 2004 Nov 19;76(1):1-8.
   GABA (A) receptors have long been implicated in mediating at least part of the actions of ethanol in mammalian brain. However, until very recently, reports of the actions of ethanol on recombinant receptors have required very high doses of ethanol and animals lacking receptor subunits shown to be important for ethanol actions in vitro did not support the view that these subunits are crucial in ethanol actions. Recombinant GABA (A) receptors are uniquely sensitive to ethanol, with a dose-response relationship mirroring the well known effects of alcohol consumption on the human brain. Receptors containing the delta subunit are thought to be located extrasynaptically and it will be important to determine if these extrasynaptic GABA (A) receptor subunit combinations mediate low dose alcohol effects in vivo.
   A. It's too early to tell from this early research. Taking a GABA supplement is not likely to replenish GABA receptors. One should consider treating the whole body and symptoms of a condition rather than focusing on one neurotransmitter or receptor.

Blood brain barrier crossing
Q. I have read the section of your website concerning GABA and the probability of an oral version not crossing the blood-brain barrier. That said, I am wondering if you have heard of natural (ie valerian root) or man-made supplemental GABA being used for stiff man syndrome (Moersch-Woltman Syndrome, sometimes also called stiff person syndrome). The symptoms of this disease are believed to be caused by, essentially, the inability of the body to access sufficient GABA. Most treatment in Western medicine is either to artificially reduce muscle spasms (benzodiazepines) or potentiate the available GABA (baclofen). However, it would seem logical to introduce more GABA into one's system, if this were possible. It would seem that Oriental medicine would have considered doing this and I am wondering if there has ever been anything suggesting the efficacy of natural or supplemental GABA in Eastern medical literature or folklore.
   A. We are not familiar with the use of GABA supplements or herbs that influence it as a treatment or help for Moersch-Woltman Syndrome.

I just bought GABA L-Theanine Stress B Lozenge. Is this product any better then straight L-Theanine?
   We are not familiar with this product.

Can it counteract the benefit of Tribulus terrestris supplement?
   It is possible that it counteract it.