GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) is an amino acid that acts as the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in our brain. It also keeps all the other neurotransmitters in check. Excitement in our brain needs a balance with inhibition. An unstable balance, or too much excitation will lead to restlessness, insomnia and irritability. GABA will balance this out, naturally. It is also involved with the production of endorphins in our brain, which provide us with that feeling of “all is good”, or what is often referred to as the “runner’s high”. GABA will reduce stress, relieve anxiety and increase alertness.
A deficiency of GABA in people with autism can contribute to the poor inhibition that allows their brain to become over stimulated, which results in their living in a constant state of anxiety. People with a GABA deficiency may experience:
- anxiety/nervousness/jumpy or on edge
- heart palpitations
Factors that may reduce GABA levels:
- B1, B6, zinc, manganese and iron deficiency
- Chronic stress
- Chronic pain
- Mercury or lead exposure
- Inadequate sleep
This can be helped with the GABA supplement. Whenever you introduce a new supplement, always take it slow and go low on dose. We started with a 250 mg capsule (they can be opened up and mixed in drink/food) and worked our way up over several weeks until we found the dose needed for our children. My son with autism uses between 1,000-1,250 mg/day. The affects wear off, so we dose throughout the day. I end the day with 500 mg at bedtime to induce relaxation for sleep.