Since the start of the pandemic, four out of 10 adults have reported experiencing anxiety symptoms or signs of major depression, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Whether symptoms began recently or have been persistent for years, anxiety and stress can negatively impact every part of life. Suppose you're one of the millions of people with anxiety in the United States. In that case, you may feel hesitant to take prescription drugs to alleviate your symptoms or find that medications do not do enough on their own to reduce stress and other signs of the condition. Fortunately, there are other remedies that you can try. Read on to discover how to calm anxiety with a natural approach.
What Is GABA?
GABA is the shorthand for gamma-aminobutyric acid or γ-aminobutyric acid, a neurotransmitter. Your body naturally produces this chemical from certain amino acids. The GABA neurotransmitter's primary job is to act as an inhibitor for the central nervous system. GABA benefits the body by stopping nerve cells from sending and receiving messages. Without enough GABA, the nervous system cannot work correctly. Scientific studies have linked low levels of GABA to epilepsy and other seizure disorders, and mood disorders.
What Are GABA Receptors?
GABA receptors are areas on nerve cells that GABA binds to. Many prescription medications work by attaching to these receptors, including diazepam and lorazepam. These two drugs are prescribed for anxiety and insomnia. By binding to the GABA receptors, they cause nervous system activity to decrease. This leads to a sense of calm and, at higher doses, sleepiness. Other drugs for insomnia like Zolpidem and eszopiclone work by helping the natural chemical bind to cell receptors to support GABA function.
Can You Get GABA From Food?
GABA is not present in many foods that are common in western diets. The chemical is found in fermented foods, including miso, tempeh, and kimchi. Because most people do not consume enough fermented foods to get an adequate supply of the chemical, those wanting to learn how to deal with anxiety and other conditions with GABA typically rely on supplements which are an excellent choice if you’re looking to increase GABA intake.
Brands like XEED formulate clean and natural supplements. XEED Balance uses a clinically-studied form of GABA (PharmaGABA) as well as other natural ingredients that work synergistically to support anxiety-relief and improve mental composure.
The Rationale Behind Taking a GABA Supplement
The idea behind taking a GABA supplement for anxiety and other conditions is to increase the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid in the body by taking a tablet, capsule, powder, or other product that contains the chemical. In theory, this may help ensure that the body has enough GABA to regulate the central nervous system properly. While there are promising studies into the benefits of taking GABA for sleep, stress, and anxiety, more research is needed to prove definitively that the supplements can alleviate symptoms of any medical condition.
GABA's Effects on Anxiety
People often take GABA to reduce anxiety attack frequency and ease other symptoms of anxiety. So far, the link between GABA and anxiety relief has only been the subject of a few small studies. Two found that people who took GABA for anxiety reported feeling more relaxed during a period of stress than those who took a placebo or another calming supplement called l-theanine.
GABA and High Blood Pressure
Stress often contributes to hypertension. Many people believe that when you take GABA, the stress response becomes lower and that this may help address spikes in blood pressure associated with tension. One study found that individuals who drank a fermented product rich in GABA had slightly lower blood pressure levels after two to four weeks. Another found that people with borderline high blood pressure who took a chlorella supplement with GABA twice a day saw a reduction in readings.
Does GABA Help You Sleep?
Many people take GABA for sleep because they know that the GABA receptors play a role in sleep. Scientific studies into whether or not GABA can help people sleep better have been minimal. One small research project gave individuals with sleep disorders 300 milligrams of GABA an hour before bed. The researchers found that those who took the GABA sleep aid saw improvements in sleep within two weeks compared to those given a placebo who saw no progress.
GABA and Stress
As with studies on GABA's effects on anxiety, hypertension, and insomnia, there are few studies related to using the supplement for stress relief. One study involved giving individuals a GABA anti-stress beverage before a demanding problem-solving task. People who took both 25 milligrams and 50-milligram versions of the drink performed better on the tasks, with the group receiving the larger dose slightly outperforming their peers on the lower dose.
How Much GABA for Sleep, Anxiety, and Other Conditions?
Because studies into taking GABA for anxiety and depression and other conditions are limited, there are no established dosing instructions. Typically, the maximum GABA dosage for sleep, anxiety, and other conditions is 800 milligrams, usually spread out over a day. The most potent GABA stress supplement products contain 500 to 750 milligrams. Lower-dose products and combination products typically provide around 200 milligrams of GABA per dose. Before using a GABA Supplement for sleep, anxiety, or stress, talk to your medical provider. They can help you determine if taking GABA for anxiety and panic attacks is the right choice for you. In addition, your doctor can recommend the correct dose of GABA for stress and anxiety relief.