Nootropics and GABA: Everything You Need To Know

Written on March 14, 2023 by | Reviewed by William Gallagher, MNeuroSci

Do you know the difference between Nootropics and GABA?

You’ve probably heard of nootropics, but what about GABA?

Nootropics are a class of drugs that improve cognitive function. They can be found in many forms including supplements, prescription medications, and over-the-counter drugs.

However, there are other types of nootropics such as Racetams which have been shown to increase memory retention and reduce anxiety levels by increasing GABA neurotransmitter activity within the brain.

In this article we will discuss how these two different types of nootropics work together to help people who suffer from various mental health disorders or just need a little boost for their day-to-day lives.

What Is GABA And What Does It Do?

Gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter in your central nervous system.

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers used by neurons to communicate with other cells, which makes GABA responsible for communication between different parts of our body's nerve cells.

It also helps to regulate the heart rate and breathing, which is why it's important for people who suffer from anxiety.

What Role Does GABA Play in Nootropic Supplements?


As we mentioned previously, nootropics such as Racetams are thought to increase the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA within your brain.

It’s believed that this increased GABA activity, results in improved memory retention and reduction of anxiety levels.

While GABA is not considered an actual nootropic on its own, it is imperative to the function of some nootropics such as Racetams.

This neurotransmitter has been shown to help people with anxiety and therefore is a vital component of the construction of some Nootropics that work to reduce anxiety levels.

GABA can also help improve memory retention which makes GABA itself a good supplement for those who suffer from the conditions described above.

How can you increase your own production of GABA?

While it might sound like all the magic is happening within the supplements themselves, there are actually other ways to get these benefits without having to take them!

Benefits of GABA


Insomnia and disrupted sleep are linked with deficient GABA activity.

People who have poor sleep often show symptoms of anxiety, so increasing your GABA levels may help to reduce these symptoms.

Stress Relief

In the brain and central nervous system, GABA is primarily involved in reducing nerve activity in order to promote relaxation and reduce stress and anxiety.

GABA activates throughout the limbic system, shutting down signals from the fear response, which we refer to as "fight or flight."

The limbic system quiets down, the amygdala softens, and the central nervous system is never informed that destruction is imminent.

In an actual life-threatening scenario, GABA will just somewhat obstruct neural communication.

It allows the warning to get through while maintaining enough cognitive control to deal with the problem in a way that is likely to result in the best possible outcome.

High Blood Pressure

According to some studies, GABA may aid in lowering blood pressure. As part of the body's sleep processes, healthy blood pressure naturally drops at night.

High blood pressure might be an indication of hyper-vigilance, which makes it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Hypertension can be induced by chronic sleeplessness or sleep deprivation.


The GABA neurotransmitter system aids new neurons by increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).

BDNF is a protein that promotes the birth and growth of new neurons in the brain.

Maintaining proper levels of BDNF is critical for overall cognitive development and performance, and low BDNF levels have been associated with reduced neurological plasticity and mental processing.

3 Popular Nootropics For GABA

Rather than binding directly to GABA receptors like a traditional agonist, certain plants, vitamins, and minerals boost the frequency and duration of GABA channel activity.

These natural nootropics help to alleviate stress and anxiety by increasing GABA activity.

They also enhance a good mood while promoting sleep. So let's take a closer look at 3 of them right here.


L-Theanine protects GABA levels by inhibiting glutamate uptake.

It acts as a glutamate antagonist and binds to glutamate receptors, lowering glutamate levels.

Green, black, and oolong tea as well as some medicinal mushrooms contain L-theanine, but ingesting sufficient quantities to have any beneficial impact from herbal supplementation alone is difficult.

Bacopa Monnieri

With consistent, long-term use, bacopa may promote the creation of more GABA receptors.

It also promotes the production of GABA, serotonin, and dopamine, all involved with concentration, memory recall, and mood.

It has been shown to assist in cognitive function by minimizing anxiety and promoting neuronal communication for better learning and memory retention.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is required for the synthesis of GABA.

Vitamin B6, often known as pyridoxine, is essential for serotonin and GABA production, and growing evidence suggests that systemic inflammation might reduce vitamin B6 metabolism.

In addition, Vitamin B12 has also been shown to increase GABA activity.

This vitamin is essential for the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, which makes it vital in energy production.

It's often used as a treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome and insomnia because of its ability to stimulate serotonin receptors within the brain.