GABA: The Natural “Chill Pill”

Oh, if we all could just “chill out” as easily as my dog!  How many times have you thought that an individual you’ve encountered needed to just take a “chill pill”?  That old saying came up a lot in our house before I discovered the supplement GABA.  Both of my sons had anxiety and were impulsive, which are common in children with autism and ADHD.

That is, until we introduced GABA as a supplement.

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.  The GABA system acts as something of an information filter to prevent the nerves from becoming overstimulated.  It has long been suspected that this filtering process is compromised in many autistic children. Impairment of the GABA system could overwhelm the brain with sensory information, leading to many of the behavior traits associated with autism. GABA is also believed to play a key role in the early development of the brain.

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 can contribute to the poor inhibition that allows the brain to become over stimulated, which results in a constant state of anxiety. People with a GABA deficiency may experience:

  • anxiety/nervousness/jumpy or on edge
  • headaches
  • irritability
  • heart palpitations
  • seizures
  • hypertension

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 effects wear off, so we dose throughout the day. I end the day with 500 mg at bedtime to induce relaxation for sleep.

My son with ADHD use to need 1,500 mg/day, but since we treated his ADHD with neuro-feedback, he now only needs 500 mg/day. GABA is a little known, but very effective supplement for symptoms resulting from autism and ADHD. It’s my family’s natural little “chill pill”.

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