At dosages typically found in supplements for sleep, patients have reported no serious unwanted effects. One organization recommends against daily doses of GABA over 750 mg or use of GABA supplements for more than four weeks without first talking with a health professional. GABA is normally created within cells of the brain, but it can also be produced in a laboratory or by natural fermentation. This allows GABA to be sold as a dietary supplement that can be purchased without a prescription. Dr. Singh is the Medical Director of the Indiana Sleep Center.


  • A similar approach is followed at other holistic treatment centers.
  • McClain said scientists don’t yet know if taking certain probiotics or prebiotics would help people who have an alcohol addiction.
  • An interesting fact is that alcohol suppresses the central nervous system.
  • Here are of our picks for the best anxiety relief products.

Scientists measured a slowing down of brain waves in people who’d taken GABA, pointing to an alleviation of mental stress. Another study tested the effects of GABA in people who were about to take a stressful math test. Those who ate chocolate infused with GABA rebounded more quickly from test-related stress, including stress-lowering changes to heart-rate variability.

What Does Gamma Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) Do?

Please review this supplement label with your healthcare provider to discuss potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications. Clinical studies suggest that taking up to 120 milligrams of GABA per day as supplements for 12 weeks is unlikely to cause adverse effects. Using them with medications for high blood pressure or epilepsy may increase the impact of those drugs.


Benzodiazepines and all of the supplements listed above can potentially interact with alcohol, since all of them affect GABA receptors. Caution is also advised for combining oral GABA with alcohol, even though this supplement may not reach the brain. As we will see, no one actually needs alcohol forever to maintain the illusion of normal GABA levels. We will discuss herbs, supplements, and medications that can fill in for GABA while you quit drinking and conquer withdrawal.

In this Article

Theoretically, increasing foods with glutamic acid or glutamate may increase GABA in the body. Glutamic acid may be obtained by eating meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, and select high-protein vegetable sources. Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease. Alcohol detox isn’t easy and not everyone can do it on their own.

gabapentin and alcohol

GABA is the most common inhibitory neurotransmitter in your central nervous system. Inhibitory neurotransmitters prevent or block chemical messages and decrease the stimulation of nerve cells in your brain. There is ongoing investigation and debate about how GABA supplements work in the body, and how their mechanisms of action may differ from the body’s internally-produced GABA. There remains real need for additional research into the effects of supplemental GABA, including how it may affect the nervous system via the gut.

Alcohol can bring a lot of harm to the mind, body, and spirit. It is important for any individual to talk with their doctor about the potential side effects of any dietary supplements, including GABA alone or in combination with other compounds. There’s also some risk for gabapentin misuse, but clinical trials show that it’s not a high risk specifically for alcohol use disorder. Other evidence shows that there is a risk for people who misuse opioids. This dietary approach has since been adopted by other addiction treatment centers.

Some people with these conditions take GABA supplements to help manage their symptoms. While this makes sense in theory, there hasn’t been much evidence to suggest that GABA supplements can help with these conditions, aside from anxiety. Limited studies have shown a possible link between GABA and lowered blood pressure. Researchers haven’t confirmed whether or not it works for the many reasons people take it.

Those are feel-good chemicals that play a role in managing cravings, including for alcohol and sweets. There’s little research to support the benefits of over-the-counter supplements. They may offer some help, but they also pose a potential threat to your health if you use those supplements with alcohol or some other drugs. Healthcare providers may be able to prescribe medications to help regulate GABA activity and treat these problems. These drugs need to be properly administered to avoid dependence or abuse.

Besides low what is a sober living home sugar levels, another reason why people with an alcohol addiction reach for sugar is because it lights up the pleasure center of the brain, Lettenberger-Klein said. Holistic treatment centers also tend to restrict the amount and timing of caffeine, which might contribute to hypoglycemia symptoms and can certainly interfere with sleep. Insomnia is a common challenge in people receiving treatment for an alcohol addiction. The well-planned, balanced meals offered at holistic treatment centers are viewed as an essential part of addiction recovery and long-term abstinence. To improve treatment success, a small but growing number of holistic addiction treatment centers are digging deeper. If you’re using GABA medication or supplements and other GABA-affecting drugs like alcohol and benzodiazepines, talk with your healthcare provider.

Millennials Affected by Bad Timing of Opioid Epidemic, Expert Says

That is why alcohol detox and alcohol withdrawal treatment is administered by medical professionals. Alcohol mimics the effects of GABA by binding to GABA receptors in the brain. While alcohol and GABA have similar effects, does alcohol affect levels of GABA? Alcohol does not increase GABA, but it produced similar effects on the body. One of the key benefits of magnesium is that it increases our gamma-aminobutyric acid levels. The magnesium binds to and stimulates GABA receptors in the brain, which puts the brakes on brain activity.

Thankfully, Heroes’ Mile is a treatment center that is made especially for veterans who experience struggles with addiction in addition to their mental health. There’s relatively limited research on the direct benefits of supplemental GABA for sleep. Some recent research suggests that GABA produced in fermented food may increase sleep time and decrease the time it takes to fall asleep.

In addition to her work at the exclusive Executive Health clinic in Marbella, Spain, she helps to keep Fit Recovery up to date with emerging research. I hope you’ve learned something valuable in this article about GABA and alcohol. I do not wish to de-emphasize the importance of other neurotransmitters, but GABA is certainly one of the most crucial when it comes to alcohol dependence.

heroes’ mile

Estimated success rates in the few years following treatment vary between 20 and 50 percent, depending on the criteria used and severity of addiction. As with many other herbal supplements, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid taking GABA supplements since there isn’t strong research showing it’s safe. If you’re thinking about taking GABA supplements, talk to your healthcare provider first. Aromatherapy is often used as a natural remedy to relieve anxiety and stress. Find out which essential oils you can use for anxiety symptoms.

Drastic dietary changes may interact with your medications or affect your medical conditions. GABA does exist in supplement form, but there is no evidence that it crosses the blood-brain barrier in order to stimulate GABA receptors. Personally, I have never experienced any effect – positive or negative – from taking GABA supplements. I do have friends who swear by them, and there is some speculation that increasing GABA levels in the gut may have a positive effect on mood – even if it does not enter the brain.

High blood pressure

If this is the case for you, be sure to check out my review of OTC sleep aids and article on alcohol withdrawal insomnia. These are anti-anxiety drugs that must be prescribed by doctors. Benzodiazepines, like alcohol, plug into GABA receptors and help with relaxation and sleep. Also like alcohol, benzodiazepines can cause severe dependence if used for a long duration. When it comes to alleviating the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, it’s imperative to increase GABA levels in the brain.

Desensitized GABA receptors due toalcohol abuseuse may also explain why people experiencealcohol withdrawal symptomslike anxiety when they attempt to stop drinking. Their brains may become overstimulated and unable to regulate GABA on their own, triggering withdrawal symptoms once they become sober. GABA activity plays an important role in several diseases, including neurodegenerative disorders in which the body’s nerve cells break down or die.

Ross is a writer for Verywell with years of experience practicing pharmacy in various settings. She is also a board-certified clinical pharmacist and the founder of Off Script Consults. Additionally, professional counselors and staff are available for one-on-one therapy, and for group or family counseling, if needed. Gabapentin works by slowing impulses in the nervous system.

A study from 2015 found that a person enhanced their ability to prioritize and plan actions by taking 800 milligrams of GABA supplementation per day. Although the study was small, involving just 30 healthy volunteers, it showed how GABA supplementation might promote enhanced thinking. Some people may take a supplement in pill form, while others may add it to foods, such as protein drinks.

Since storage instructions might vary for different supplement products, carefully read the directions and packaging label on the container. But, in general, keep your medications tightly closed and out of the reach of children and pets, ideally locked in a cabinet or closet. A study of 30 people suggested GABA-enriched oolong tea was linked with lower short-term stress scores than regular oolong tea.

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