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What is GABA?

GABA is a neurotransmitter or a chemical in the brain, that helps sedate and calm you down. It is considered “depressive” because it reduces the rate at which neurons operate. GABA does not cause depression; it helps with anxiety disorders, headaches, Parkinson’s syndrome, and other conditions where neurons are too excited. It is naturally produced in humans and is strictly regulated by the body.

The use of GABA supplements may help with anxiety and ADHD; however, some studies suggest that it may have no effect because of the strict regulation the body maintains. Nonetheless, the presence of GABA and the normal functioning of GABA receptors is important for everyday health.

1) GABA Benefits Sleep

Several scientific studies have suggested that GABA plays an important role in getting a good night’s rest.

In fruit flies, a GABA and 5-HTP combination regulates sleep activity better than each neurochemical does on its own (R).

In mice, the GABA and 5-HTP mixture was found to help regulate sleep quality, duration, and latency by serotonin (a sleep hormone) signaling (R).

Additionally, mice that were fed substances with a high dose of GABA experienced an improved quality of sleep, even when caffeinated (R1,R2).

Snoring is associated with low GABA in male patients diagnosed with sleep apnea (R).

Can’t fall asleep at night and wake up feeling more tired in the morning than you did the night before? Biohacking Insomnia is the only sleep resource guide that looks at all the possible factors contributing to you missing out on restorative sleep, and works to get you sleeping better from a holistic viewpoint. It’s time for you to finally get your nights and your days back to the way they should be.

2) GABA Helps with Intelligence and Social Brain Function

High levels of GABA were associated with high levels of intelligence (IQ levels) and cognitive performance (R).

High GABA concentrations in the anterior insula region of the brain were correlated with empathy (R).

Schizophrenic patients with GABA/Creatine ratios were low in comparison to neurotypical patients (R).

GABA and total Creatine levels were low in children and adolescents with neurofibromatosis type 1, a neurodevelopmental disorder (R).

Normal functioning of GABA receptors is required for a conditioned learning response and brain plasticity (R).

3) GABA Influences the Gastrointestinal System

A GABA-producing bacteria found in the gut lowers abdominal pain levels (R).

GABA helps with digesting food through the stomach and intestines, and producing gastric acid (R).

GABA regulates gastrointestinal activity through movement and secretion (R).

The “gut wall” has many GABA receptors, indicating that GABA is important in the GI tract and helps with function (R).

Mice that fasted had increased GABA levels in the hypothalamus, indicating that GABA plays a large role in appetite regulation (R).

4) GABA Is Neuroprotective

GABA receptors may play a role in antidepressant effects from ascorbic acid and ketamine (R).

GABA receptors are associated with maternal separation-induced depression (R).

Lower GABA and calcium levels are correlated with the development of Parkinson’s disease (R).

GABA relieves fear and anxiety symptoms, acting as a “natural Valium” (R).

GABA receptors are significantly involved in fear memory and fear conditioning (R).

GABA receptors regulate a stress response hormone (corticotropin) when GABA receptors are excited (R).

The activation of GABA receptors helps reduce anxious behaviors in rats with chronic cerebral hypoperfusion, by improving BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) signaling (R).

The combination of GABA and American ginseng protected against the effects of sleep deprivation, such as anxiety and neuroinflammation (R).

Methods to Increase GABA

  • Increasing taurine (an amino acid) levels (R)
  • Increasing magnesium intake (R)
  • Increasing L-Theanine (found in green tea) (R)
  • Ingesting kava (a plant-based medicine) tea (R)
  • Practicing yoga (R)
  • Eating more fermented foods with certain “good bacteria” (R)

Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick

At SelfHacked, it’s our goal to offer our readers all the tools possible to get optimally healthy. When I was struggling with chronic health issues I felt stuck because I didn’t have any tools to help me get better. I had to spend literally thousands of hours trying to read through studies on pubmed to figure out how the body worked and how to fix it.

That’s why I decided to create tools that will help others cut down the guesswork:

  • Lab Test Analyzer – a software tool that will analyze your labs and tell you what the optimal values are for each marker — as well as provide you with actionable tips and personalized health and lifestyle recommendations to help you get there.
  • SelfDecode – a software tool that will help you analyze your genetic data from companies such as 23andme and ancestry. You will learn how your health is being impacted by your genes, and how to use this knowledge to your advantage.
  • SelfHacked Secrets – an ebook where we examine and explain the biggest overlooked environmental factors that cause disease. This ebook is a great place to start your journey if you want to learn the essential steps to optimizing your health.
  • SelfHacked Elimination Diet course – a video course that will help you figure out which diet works best for you
  • Selfhacked Inflammation course – a video course on inflammation and how to bring it down
  • Biohacking insomnia – an ebook on how to get great sleep
  • Lectin Avoidance Cookbook – an e-cookbook for people with food sensitivities
  • BrainGauge – a device that detects subtle brain changes and allows you to test what’s working for you
  • SelfHacked VIP – an area where you can ask me (Joe) questions about health topics

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.


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  • Alison G

    From what I’ve read it sounds like you are taking too much.

  • Dave

    GABA tends to make me anxious and keep me up at night. Is there any explanation for that?


    1. erik

      you must use something else its react with gaba

  • Don Paladin

    Does avoidance of glutamic acid found in food like casein and gluten, increase Gaba production?

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