How to Protect Your Brain from Alcohol & Never Be Hungover

In the cortex, there are three classes of GABA interneurons, which are categorized based on morphological characteristics, basket cells, Chandelier, and Martinotti cells, whereas in the hippocampus, 21 classes of GABA interneurons have been identified . In a human post mortem study, mRNA expression of seven calcium binding proteins and neuropeptides expressed by GABAergic interneurons were examined in the dorsolateral PFC of individuals from age 6 weeks to 49 years (Fung, et al., 2010). In contrast, GABA interneurons in the hippocampus generally have been found to obtain adult morphological characteristics early in life, prior to adolescence (in mice, Jiang, Oliva, Lam, & Swann, 2001). However, ontogenetic changes in the GABAergic system that coincide with the adolescent period are considerably more complex than the contributions of GABA interneuron receptor density alone.

But several clinical trials suggest that GABA isn’t linked to severe side effects, except for low blood pressure. As with many medications and supplements, side effects are possible with GABA. While GABA is a naturally occurring chemical in your brain, it’s also widely available as a supplement. However, in supplement form, only minimal amounts of GABA can actually cross the blood-brain barrier and have any effect on the brain. Clearly, there’s lots that can be done to protect your brain from alcohol. Selenium levels tend to be lower in people who drink alcohol on a regular basis .

According to some studies, magnesium supplements can be very effective in reducing anxiety symptoms. Yoga and other exercise practices appear to increase GABA levels in the brain, according to a body of evidence. Furthermore, cravings should be avoided by eating a balanced diet that balances blood sugar levels.

It may be difficult for those who are sensitive to alcohol cravings to break their alcohol habit for a month. GABA is produced by the enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase and the enzyme GABA transaminase, both of which require vitamin B6 as a cofactor. Animal products, including grains, pulses, eggs, and dairy, contain B6.

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. Created for family members of people with alcohol abuse or drug abuse problems. Answers questions about substance abuse, its symptoms, different types of treatment, and recovery. Addresses concerns of children of parents with substance use/abuse problems. For people coming off benzodiazepines, as well as for those who have never taken these drugs, but may have a deficiency of GABA in the brain, focusing on healthy, natural ways to increase GABA levels is often a much better and effective option.

What is GABA’s relationship to glutamate?

Cruz DA, Eggan SM, Lewis DA. Postnatal development of pre- and postsynaptic GABA markers at chandelier cell connections with pyramidal neurons in monkey prefrontal cortex. Coyle JT, Enna SJ. Neurochemical aspects of the ontogenesis of GABAnergic neurons in the rat brain. Chang L, Cloak CC, Ernst T. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy studies of GABA in neuropsychiatric disorders.

gaba supplement and alcohol

But some older adults may generally be more sensitive to medication side effects. Speak with your healthcare provider to help you weigh the benefits and risks of GABA while pregnant or breastfeeding. A study of 30 people suggested GABA-enriched oolong tea was linked with lower short-term stress scores than regular oolong tea.

Oro Recovery provides compassionate care, combined with evidence-based treatment therapies for people struggling with addiction and mental health. Many people with mental health conditions like anxiety disorders benefit from prescription medications. Eight weeks of L-theanine administration to depressed patients produced multiple beneficial effects on depressive symptoms, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and cognitive impairments. Even though your body and brain can be overwhelmed by alcohol, you can support yourself and reduce the damage by drinking the right alcohol, hydrating heavily, and supplementing with various antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.


Causes the body to decrease GABA receptors and increase glutamate receptors in an attempt to counteract alcohol’s sedative effects on the brain. Wills TA, Knapp DJ, Overstreet DH, Breese GR. Sensitization, duration, and pharmacological blockade of anxiety-like behavior following repeated ethanol withdrawal in adolescent and adult rats. Slawecki CJ, Roth J, Gilder A. Neurobehavioral profiles during the acute phase of ethanol withdrawal in adolescent and adult Sprague-Dawley rats. Slawecki CJ, Betancourt M, Cole M, Ehlers CL. Periadolescent alcohol exposure has lasting effects on adult neurophysiological function in rats. Grobin AC, Matthews DB, Devaud LL, Morrow AL. The role of GABA receptors in the acute and chronic effects of ethanol.

gaba supplement and alcohol

To put this in perspective, think of the common side effects of drinking. These often include loss of motor skills, slurred speech, blurred vision, impaired judgment, and so on. If the natural methods prove to be effective, there’s always a possibility that they will serve as a replacement for prescription drugs if GABA production increases to healthier levels.

Thus, consistent with GABAA and NMDA manipulation studies, adolescent-hyposensitivity to alcohol sedation appears to be coincident with developmental changes in GABAA receptor sites targeted by zolpidem (Moy, et al., 1998). To the extent that GABA also plays a role in alcohol-induced seizure susceptibility (Olsen & Spigelman, 2012), when pentylenetetrazole was used to induce seizures during alcohol withdrawal, seizures were significantly shorter in adolescents compared to adults (Acheson, et al., 1999). In contrast, modulation of the GABAA receptor with acute alcohol or the neuroactive steroid allopregnanolone did not differentially impair the retrieval of spatial memory on the Morris water maze between adolescents and adults (Chin, et al., 2011). In general, adolescents are less responsive than adults to sedation and motor impairment, and withdrawal-related anxiety, which typically serve to limit intake in humans.

Medical benefits of GABA

Uematsu A, Matsui M, Tanaka C, Takahashi T, Noguchi K, Suzuki M, Nishijo H. Developmental trajectories of amygdala and hippocampus from infancy to early adulthood in healthy individuals. Trim RS, Simmons AN, Tolentino NJ, Hall SA, Matthews SC, Robinson SK, Smith TL, Padula CB, Paulus MP, Tapert SF, Schuckit MA. Acute ethanol effects on brain activation in low- and eco sober house price high-level responders to alcohol. Torres JM, Ortega E. Alcohol intoxication increases allopregnanolone levels in male adolescent humans. Torres JM, Ortega E. Alcohol intoxication increases allopregnanolone levels in female adolescent humans. Tolliver GA, Samson HH. The influence of early postweaning ethanol exposure on oral self-administration behavior in the rat.

  • Even though benzodiazepines are prescription medications, I’ve included them on this list because they are the most commonly used drugs for alcohol withdrawal.
  • But several clinical trials suggest that GABA isn’t linked to severe side effects, except for low blood pressure.
  • As a result, people who frequently consume alcohol might make decisions that harm themselves or others because they aren’t able to think clearly.
  • We assume that after the BZD treatment cessation the “hyperexcitable withdrawal-like” neurochemical state can occur repeatedly in ADPs over the long-term abstinence.

Li Q, Wilson WA, Swartzwelder HS. Developmental differences in the sensitivity of spontaneous and miniature IPSCs to ethanol. Kristt DA, Waldman JV. Late postnatal changes in rat somatosensory cortex. Temporal and spatial relationships of GABA-T and AChE histochemical reactivity. Keltner JR, Wald LL, Frederick BB, Renshaw PF. In vivo detection of GABA in human brain using a localized double-quantum filter technique.

It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers. I’ve talked about the many mental health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids before, and it appears they can protect your brain from alcohol exposure too. This class of drugs, which includes diazepam (Valium®) and alprazolam (Xanax®), acts on the GABA-A receptor.

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I eventually realized that we view external reality through the lens of our own biochemistry. Cleaning up our lifestyle – and making time to immerse ourselves in activities that we love, on a regular basis – is a crucial part of alcohol recovery. Since GABA regulates a stress chemical in the brain called glutamate, levels of glutamate surge – causing hyperexcitability, nervousness, panic attacks, insomnia, and even seizures in extreme cases. This is the natural result of having adapted to the presence of alcohol by turning the dial down on natural GABA. Most drinkers subjectively understand the experience of alcohol influencing their GABA receptors. Up to a certain point, the outside world seems to slow down to a manageable pace.

In adult patients with partial seizures, OCC GABA levels increased three fold after 25–84 days after treatment with vigabatrin, although benzodiazepine binding (measured using iomazenil] SPECT) did not change (Verhoeff, et al., 1999). Similarly, three days of treatment with vigabatrin increased OCC GABA levels in healthy adult volunteers, however no evidence of GABAA receptor down regulation (measured using 11C-flumazenil -PET) in response to elevated GABA levels was observed (Weber, et al., 1999). Other antiepileptic drugs targeting the GABAergic system used for treating managing seizures have also been shown to elevate GABA levels measured using MRS, in human and rodent tissue. There was a 62% increase in GABA concentration following vigabatrin applied to human neocortical tissue resected during epilepsy surgery, as well as a 13% increase in GABA concentrations following application of gabapentin, an analogue of GABA.

People who drink to relax are essentially drinking to activate their GABA receptors. Alcohol impersonates GABA, causes glutamate to plummet, and leads to that relaxed feeling we’ve all learned to enjoy. Adinoff et al. have measured GABA in both plasma and CSF from 14 male alcohol-dependent patients at day one of acute alcohol withdrawal and 21 days after inpatient treatment. They did not find significant correlations between the indices of alcohol withdrawal and plasma or CSF GABA levels, suggesting that the involvement of other eco sober house neurobiological factors should be investigated. To our knowledge, there are no data on prospective measures of plasma concentration of GABA and glutamate during the first hours of alcohol cessation and the physiopathology of AWS remains poorly understood, particularly during this acute phase. We wanted to focus on these changes occurring during the withdrawal syndrome, particularly concerning inhibitory and excitatory systems, which interact with each other and are purported to play an important role in the development of AWS.

Initially, the first drink has a relaxing effect, but as a person continues drinking, it takes more and more alcohol to produce the same effect. Some people have more acute tolerance than others—probably due to genetic factors. “These are the people who can drink anybody else under the table,” says Koob. He adds that these people may also be at increased risk of developing dependence on alcohol because of their increased tolerance.

While many alcohol alternatives try to recreate the taste of alcohol, without, you know, the alcohol. Functional drinks are offering something else, on their own merit—because the taste of alcohol has yet to be successfully mimicked, if it can be at all. It’s also used to improve the mental status of people with hepatic encephalopathy.

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