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The Best GABA Supplements

The Top 9 Evidence-Based GABA Optimizers List for Anxiety and Sleep

GABA acts as the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. This means it regulates our neurons from over-firing and over-stimulating. It operates by balancing glutamate, the primary excitatory NMDA neurotransmitter.

We can confirm GABA regulates anxiety, depression, stress, relaxation, muscle tension, convulsions, insomnia, and epilepsy. We call GABA-producing neurons, GABAergic neurons, and these exist throughout the brain.

The two primary GABA receptors called GABA-A and GABA-B. GABA-A influences sedation, relaxation, reduced anxiety, and short-term memory inhibition.

Alcohol, benzodiazepines, and kava kava are common GABA-A agonists. GABA-B agonists can help with stress, general and social anxiety, depression, and muscle tension.

GABA-B causes less sedative, hypnotic, and memory impairment than GABA-A. Plants and supplements can increase GABA, and we view them as “relatively safe”.

The synthetic GABA agonists, such as phenibut, could cause dependence and should be used with high levels of caution.

The Top 9 GABA Supplements

#1 Kava or Kava Kava (Piper Methysticum)

Kava, one of the most psychoactive plants, is a popular Polynesian root, often used in place of alcohol. The plant was at the heart of the controversy in the 1990s when it was believed that the plant was hepatotoxic.

Since then, we discovered this was not the case when pure root parts were used instead of stem and leaf. While some positive modulators of GABA (barbiturates and benzodiazepines and even alcohol) can cause dependence in some users, GABA agonizing plants, such as kava, do not meet the criteria for abuse or dependence.

#2 Black Seed Oil (Nigella Sativa)

Black seed oil (Nigella Sativa), one of the world’s oldest plants native to South Asia, has been used for an array of indications, and has been affectionately been referred to as, “the cure for all diseases except for death.” While black seed oil, also known as black cumin oil, has lacked evidential support, recently it has been used with great success in the opioid community to assist in recovery, and as well has been used both anecdotally and now supported in human studies for raising acetylcholine, GABA, and serotonin levels.

We have attributed the believed mechanism for this anxiolytic and inhibitory effect to high amounts of thymoquinone.

#3 Hops Humulus Lupulus

Part of the colloquially named, “Three Sisters of Sleep”, hops when combined with valerian, and purple passionflower is so effective at raising GABA activity, that we have found it to be equally effective as the prescription medication zolpidem otherwise known as Ambien. In Germany, this formula is the number one sleep medication. It is likewise effective as an anti-anxiety plant for the same GABA agonist effects.

#4 Valerian (Valeriana Officinalis, Valerenic Acid)

Part of the colloquially named, “Three Sisters of Sleep”, valerian when combined with hops, and purple passionflower is so effective at raising GABA activity, that we have found it to be equally effective as the prescription medication zolpidem otherwise known as Ambien. In Germany, this formula is the number one sleep medication. It is likewise effective as an anti-anxiety plant for the same GABA agonist effects.

#5 Purple Passionflower (Passiflora Incarnata)

Part of the colloquially named, “Three Sisters of Sleep”, purple passionflower when combined with valerian, and hops is so effective at raising GABA activity, that we have found it to be equally effective as the prescription medication zolpidem otherwise known as Ambien. In Germany, this formula is the number one sleep “medication. It is likewise effective as an anti-anxiety plant for the same GABA agonist effects.

#6 Magnolia Bark (Magnolia Officinalis, Honokiol, Magnolol)

People have used this traditional Chinese medicinal herb as a very popular strong anti-anxiety and sleep aid. While we still need human studies to support the vast anecdotal, animal, and in vitro evidence, it continues to perform as a very strong psychoactive plant extract. It as well boasts powerful support for antioxidant activity and protection of the major organs of the body.

#7 L-Theanine

Found in the highest concentrations in matcha green tea at roughly 39 milligrams for every 2 grams, l-theanine is an amino acid found mainly in tea leaves. L-theanine sometimes referred to as just theanine, is one of the most popular supplements in the nootropics community and is often used as part of a “stack” and combined to balance out the “jitters” from caffeine or other stimulants. The dose most commonly researched and referenced is 200 milligrams, as theanine continues to be popular for performance in focus, relaxation, and use as a sleeping supplement.

#8 Magnesium

One of the most commonly used supplements in the world, magnesium involves itself with over 300 enzymes in the human body, including cell-to-cell communication and production of ATP, DNA, RNA, and proteins. For GABA regulation, magnesium plays a big role and is often used as a sleep and anxiety supplement, as up to 80% of humans are believed to have a magnesium deficiency, which has become more and more difficult to correct from the diet.

#9 Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera)

One of the most popular adaptogens in the world, ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng, has developed an almost cult-like following in the supplement world. Withanolides from ashwagandha are thought to produce the GABAergic effects of ashwagandha, which range from testosterone to anti-stress to sleep. KSM-66 and sensoril are the two commonly found ashwagandha formulas. KSM-66 comes from the ashwagandha root, while Sensoril is leaf and root-derived. As the withanolide percentage is higher with Sensoril, KSM-66 ashwagandha typically comes in a higher dose. Many users report that KSM-66 is not as strong but more stimulating than Sensoril.

GABA Top 9 Notables

Bacopa Monnieri, Curcumin, Glycine, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Picamilon, Phenibut, Skullcap, Taurine.

GABA Essential Cofactors

Vitamin B6 Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate (P5P) or Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine).

GABA Agonists

GABA Analogs, GABA Drugs, GABAergic Plants, GABA Pro-drugs.

GABA Antagonists

DHEA, Ginkgo Biloba, Muira Puama, Opioids, Pregnenolone, Theobromine, Wormwood, Zinc.

GABA Biosynthesis

Glutamate decarboxylase (GAD) + pyridoxal phosphate (active form vitamin B6) => glutamate => GABA

Diamine oxidase + aldehyde dehydrogenase => putrescine => GABA

GABA Receptors

GABAA (ligand-gated ion channels or ionotropic receptors)

GABAB (G-protein-coupled receptors or metabotropic receptors)

While more GABA receptors exist, these are considered the primary receptors.

GABA Precursors

Glucose, Pyruvate, Glutamate.

Others

Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR), Adrographis, Alcohol, American Ginseng (Cereboost), Apigenin, Asian Ginseng, Astralagus Membranaceus, BPC-157, Berberine, Beta-Alanine, Bromantane, Butyric Acid, COQ10, Cacao, Caffeine, Cannabidiol (CBD), Carvacrol, Catalpol, Chamomile, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Clary Sage, Cocoa, Coca Leaf, Creatine, Cussonia Plants, Cyperus Plants, EGCG, Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng), Epimedium, Fenugreek, Fish Oil, Fo-Ti, GABA, Ginger, Grape Seed Extract, Green Tea, Hibiscus, Holy Basil, Inositol, Jasmine, Korean Ginseng (Panax Ginseng), L-Carnitine, L-Dopa, L-Glutamine, Lactobacillus, Lactobacillus Brevis, Lactobacillus Buchneri, Lactobacillus Hilgardii, Lactobacillus Paracasei, Lactobacillus Rhamnosus, Licorice, Luteolin, Maca, Matcha Tea, Methionine S-Adenosine (SAMe), Mucuna Pruriens, NAC, Nefiracetam, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Noni, Noopept, Oil of Oregano, Oregano, Oleamide, PharmaGABA, Phenibut, Pregnenolone, Probiotics, Protein, Pramiracetam, Propolis, Quercetin, Rhodiola Rosea, Red Sage (Danshen), Reishi, Resistant Starch, Resveratrol, Rosemary, Shilajit, Sumac, Rosemary, Saffron, Schisandra, St. John’s Wort, THC, Trimethylglycine (TMG), Tulsi, Ubiquinol, White Oolong Tea.

Your Friend in Health,

Mark Stein

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