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So you’ve decided to take some supplements to improve your wellbeing.
If you’re here, I’m guessing you’re most interested in supps that are:
- Not too pricey
Am I correct?
If that sounds like you, I’ve got fantastic news. There are a ton of great supplements that will fit the bill.
Two good options that you may be aware of are GABA and Ashwagandha. I’m here to help you figure out which one is right for you.
In my ever-growing Supplement Comparison Series, I take 2 supplements and compare them on their price, benefits, side effects and more. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll have a better idea of which one to take.
In this post, we’ll take a gander at GABA vs Ashwagandha.
Here’s whether you should take GABA or Ashwagandha:
If you want to reduce stress, reduce high blood pressure or improve your sleep, then you should go for GABA. Whereas if you want to increase testosterone levels, gain more muscle or reduce high blood sugar levels, you should go for Ashwagandha.
What is GABA?
GABA (Gamma-Aminobutryic acid) is an amino acid that’s naturally produced in the brain.
It works as a neurotransmitter, meaning it facilitates communication among brain cells.
GABA’s main role is to dampen the activity of neurons in the brain and central nervous system, which results in a range of effects on the body and mind, including:
- Reduced stress
- Enhanced mood
- Improved sleep quality
- Increased feelings of relaxation
Commonly prescribed anxiety medications like Valium and Xanax work by increasing levels of GABA.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) is an ancient herb from India that’s been used for many thousand years.
And even today, Ashwagandha is used by many to promote feelings of calmness, strength, and vitality.
Ashwagandha is a member of the Nightshade family of plants, which includes popular vegetables like potatoes and aubergines.
Now let’s get stuck into the nitty gritty of these 2 supplements.
Benefits of GABA
GABA may improve sleep quality
According to research, insomnia sufferers have lower levels of GABA than the rest of us.
This could be due to the fact GABA helps the mind relax, so low GABA activity may cause you to overthink which disrupts sleep.
In one study, 100mg of GABA reduced the time it took for subjects to fall asleep by 5.3 minutes.
(Related reading: Does Phosphatidylserine Improve Sleep And Insomnia?)
GABA may reduce stress and anxiety
Did you know that over 40 million US adults experience anxiety?
The good news is that lots of studies have shown GABA’s effectiveness at reducing stress and anxiety.
For example, a study investigated the effects of GABA on relaxation in 13 adults.
The subjects had increases in slow brain waves after an hour of taking GABA, which helped them relax and reduced their anxiety.
Another study looked at how GABA affects stress levels during a difficult task.
The results showed that GABA reduced the decrease in slow brain waves, suggesting that it may have lowered the subjects’ stress from the task.
(Related reading: Do Cold Showers Help Anxiety?)
GABA may help reduce high blood pressure
According to research, GABA may help reduce high blood pressure.
In one study, subjects with high(ish) blood pressure took Chlorella for 12 weeks.
(FYI, Chlorella is a type of algae that’s loaded with GABA.)
At the end of the 12 weeks, the subjects’ blood pressure was significantly reduced.
And so it’s not surprising to see many people take GABA to naturally lower their blood pressure.
Benefits of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha may help boost muscle mass and strength
Despite being relatively unknown in the weightlifting community, Ashwagandha is an epic supplement for increasing muscle strength and size.
In a study of 57 people, some subjects took 600mg of daily Ashwagandha and the others took a placebo.
The results showed that the Ashwagandha users had bigger increases in size, strength, fat loss and testosterone levels.
Ashwagandha may help lower blood sugar levels
Research supports the use of Ashwagandha to lower your blood sugar levels.
A study looked at the blood sugar levels of 12 people after using Ashwagandha for a period of time.
After 30 days of Ashwagandha use, their blood sugar levels were lowered by amounts similar to that of blood sugar lowering medication.
Ashwagandha may help increase testosterone levels
A lot of people have lower than ideal testosterone levels nowadays.
This can be blamed on many things, such as:
- Low fat diets
- Poor sleep quality
- High alcohol intake
- High sugar consumption
But low testosterone levels are no laughing matter…
In fact, low T levels may be a common cause of depression in aging men. (Source)
If low T levels concern you, then perhaps you wanna give Ashwagandha a try as research shows it can boost T levels.
Ashwagandha may improve anxiety symptoms
Ashwagandha has shown some promising results at reducing anxiety in people.
For example, a 6-week study compared anxiety levels in people taking either Ashwagandha or a placebo.
At the end of the study, 88% of people who took Ashwagandha had less anxiety.
Another study had its subjects take either Ashwagandha or a placebo daily for 2 months.
The results showed that the Ashwagandha takers had a bigger reduction in scores on the “stress test” compared to the placebo takers.
(Related reading: Does Phosphatidylserine Work For Anxiety?)
GABA is generally sold as a powder or in capsules.
Typical prices for these are:
- Powder: $20 for 1lb
- Capsules: $22 for 100
Ashwagandha is usually sold as a liquid extract or as tablets.
Here are some standard prices for these:
- Tablets: $18 for 100
- Liquid extract: $17 for 2 Oz
GABA Side Effects
GABA supplements are usually well tolerated by healthy adults, although the following side effects have been reported by some people:
- Muscle weakness
- Reduced appetite
- Drowsiness and fatigue
Ashwagandha Side Effects
Like GABA, Ashwagandha supplements are usually safe to supplement with, but some mild side effects such as headaches and upset stomach have been reported in clinical studies.
Also, since Ashwagandha can lower your blood sugar levels, then please consult a doctor before taking it if you’re diabetic or are taking medication to lower your blood sugar levels.
The following people should NOT take Ashwagandha:
- Pregnant women
- People with stomach ulcers
- Those with high/low blood pressure
- People who’re allergic to Nightshade plants, i.e. Potatoes, Tomatoes, etc.
- People with autoimmune conditions, i.e. Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, etc.
My GABA Recommendation: Thorne Research PharmaGABA-100
This beauty is among the best GABA supplements on the market.
Perfect for those who prefer quality over quantity.
What I like about it
A quick glance at Thorne Research’s quality control process tells you how serious this brand is at making high-quality supplements.
In fact, some of the best supplements I’ve used have been from Thorne Research.
A great feature about their GABA is that it’s made from PharmaGABA.
This means it’s made naturally with bacteria.
(As opposed to synthetic GABA which is made in a lab from lots of chemical.)
Interestingly, PharmaGABA is believed to be more effective than synthetic GABA.
(Nature knows best, right?)
Its effectiveness is backed up by the numerous epic reviews, which shows that this is a trusted GABA supplement that’s used and loved by many other people.
The key downside is that PharmaGABA is a bit more expensive than synthetic GABA.
So those on a budget may opt for a cheaper (ahem, inferior) option.
My Ashwagandha Recommendation: NaturaLife Labs Ashwagandha
High strength, high quality and fair priced.
NaturaLife Labs Ashwagandha gets the gold star.
What I like about it
1000s of excellent reviews show that many people are using and having great results with this supplement.
So there’s no reason why it won’t work for you.
Also, NaturaLife Labs have added black pepper to this supplement, which improves the absorption of the Ashwagandha, making this more effective than other Ashwagandha supps out there.
It’s the healthy option too, as it contains only natural ingredients and no nasty additives or preservatives.
With the recommended serving size being 3 capsules a day, the bottle will only last you a month, which isn’t ideal.
I mean, it’s certainly not a deal breaker by any means.
But it would be good if you could get bigger sized bottles.
GABA vs Ashwagandha: The Verdict
Thanks for sticking to the end of this GABA vs Ashwagandha breakdown with me.
By now, you’ve hopefully decided which one’s ideal for you.
But if not, then here’s what I’d recommend:
You might prefer GABA if:
- You want to improve your sleep
- You want to lower your blood pressure
- You want to perform better under times of stress
You might prefer Ashwagandha if:
- You want to get stronger
- You want to build muscle mass
- You want to boost your T levels
- You want to lower your blood sugar levels
Hope this helped!