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Trying to pick between 2 supplements?
There’s so much to consider, including pros, cons, cost and more.
So I’ve gone ahead and collected all of that info so you don’t have to.
No need to thank me!
Our Supplement Comparison Series continues with GABA vs Valerian Root.
What is GABA?
GABA (Gamma-Aminobutryic acid) is an amino acid that’s naturally made in the brain.
It functions as a neurotransmitter, so it enables communication among brain cells.
GABA’s main function is to dampen the neuron activity in the brain and central nervous system, which results in a range of effects, such as:
- Lower stress
- Improved mood
- Improved sleep quality
- Increased feelings of relaxation
In fact, commonly prescribed anxiety meds like Xanax and Valium work by enhancing the effects of GABA.
What is Valerian Root?
Valerian Root (Valeriana Officinalis) is a herb native to Europe and Asia that’s renown for its calming properties.
It’s been used in traditional medicine for many thousand years and is still often used today for many different ailments, such as insomnia.
Its name is derived from the Latin verb Valere, which means “to be strong”.
Benefits of GABA
GABA may help reduce high blood pressure
Research suggests that GABA may be able to reduce high blood pressure.
In one study, subjects with medium-high blood pressure supplemented with Chlorella for 12 weeks.
(Chlorella is a type of algae that’s extremely high in GABA.)
By the end of the study, the subjects’ blood pressure was significantly lowered.
And so lots of people take GABA to naturally lower their blood pressure.
GABA may reduce stress and anxiety
Let me share with you a rather depressing statistic.
Over 40 million American adults suffer from anxiety-related disorders.
Now, that’s a shockingly high number.
The good news is that GABA’s effectiveness at reducing stress and anxiety has been shown in many studies.
In one study, 13 adults supplemented with GABA.
An hour after taking GABA, they had increases in alpha brain waves which reduced their anxiety and helped them relax.
Another study investigated the effects of GABA on stress levels during a challenging task.
The GABA helped reduce the decrease in alpha brain waves, which may have helped the subjects remain calm during the task.
GABA may improve sleep quality
Research shows that insomnia sufferers have lower GABA levels than the rest of us.
It’s possible that low GABA levels make it harder to relax and fall asleep, which may explain why.
A study showed that 100mg of GABA reduced the time it took for people to fall asleep by 5.3 minutes.
(Related reading: Does Holy Basil Improve Sleep And Insomnia?)
Benefits of Valerian Root
Valerian Root may help relieve menopause symptoms
When a woman goes through menopause, her estrogen levels decline which can result in a range of unwanted symptoms, including:
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Sleep problems
- Vaginal dryness
If you’re going through menopause, then perhaps you should try out Valerian Root as it’s shown some exciting results in a few studies.
In one study, menopausual women who took 1060mg of Valerian Root daily for 4 weeks had significantly improved sleep.
In another study, menopausal women who took 765mg of Valerian Root daily for 8 weeks experienced less frequent and severe hot flashes.
(Related reading: 3 Best Fish Oil Supplements For Menopausal Symptoms)
Valerian Root may help you relax
Research in both humans and animals support the use of Valerian Root to help relaxation.
For example, in one study, subjects were given 600mg of Valerian Root with Lemon Balm during a stressful task.
The results showed that this helped reduced their anxiety during the task.
(Interestingly, subjects who were given 1800mg had more anxiety, which suggests there’s an optimal dosage.)
In another study, rats who were given Valerian Root before a maze experiment showed less anxiety than rats given alcohol.
Valerian Root may improve sleep
Valerian Root is widely known for its ability to improve sleep.
The good news is this ability has been supported by research too.
For example, a study looked at how Valerian Root supplementation affected sleep quality.
The results showed that 89% of those who took Valerian Root reported improved sleep, and 44% reported perfect sleep.
Another study looked at how Valerian Root affects the time it takes to fall asleep in insomnia patients.
Compared to those who took a placebo, the Valerian Root subjects entered deep sleep 8 minutes faster.
(Related reading: Do Cold Showers Help You Sleep?)
GABA is normally sold in capsules or as a powder.
Typical prices for these are:
- Powder: $20 for 1lb
- Capsules: $22 for 100
Valerian Root Cost
Valerian Root is sold in a variety of forms, including powder, capsules and as a liquid extract.
Here are some general prices for these:
- Powder: $28 for 1 lb
- Capsules: $7 for 100
- Liquid extract: $19 for 2 Oz
GABA Side Effects
GABA supplements are normally well tolerated, but some people have reported the following side effects after taking GABA:
- Muscle weakness
- Reduced appetite
- Fatigue and drowsiness
Valerian Root Side Effects
Although most people use Valerian Root with little fuss, some users have reported the following side effects:
- Vivid dreams
- Upset stomach
- Heart palpitations
Also, the following drugs may interact with Valerian Root, so use with caution and speak to a doctor if you’re taking any of them:
- St. John’s wort
- Other sleep aids
And until further research has been done, young children and pregnant women should avoid using Valerian Root.
My GABA Recommendation: Thorne Research PharmaGABA-100
Arguably the highest quality GABA supplement on the market, Thorne Research PharmaGABA-100 is the real deal.
What I like about it
A quick peek at Thorne Research’s quality control process tells you how serious they are at making only the finest quality supplements.
In fact, some of the best supplements I’ve ever taken have been from Thorne Research.
What makes this GABA supplement unique is that it’s made from PharmaGABA.
This means it’s produced naturally with bacteria.
(Most GABA supplements are made from synthetic, i.e. unnatural, man-made GABA in a lab.)
It’s widely believed that PharmaGABA is more effective than synthetic GABA.
Which isn’t surprising, as nature knows best, right?
The effectiveness of this PharmaGABA is supported by the many solid reviews, which show that lots of people use and love this supplement.
As you may expect, PharmaGABA costs a bit more to make than synthetic GABA, which is reflected in the price of this supplement.
I mean, it’s not expensive by any means, but there are cheaper GABA supplements out there.
My Valerian Root Recommendation: NOW Valerian Root
A top-quality Valerian Root supplement from a reliable brand.
You really can’t beat NOW Valerian Root.
What I like about it
For its relatively low price, this is a great quality supplement making it a top budget buy.
Also, I’m a huge fan of NOW supplements.
They’re GMP certified, meaning every step of their manufacturing process has been closely examined for quality assurance.
This is just one of many reasons why they’re arguably the most trusted supplement brand on the market.
And with other 1,000 cracking reviews, it’s pretty clear that this is a super supplement that many people have seen results with.
Some users have reported that the capsules have a dodgy smell.
Although it’s impossible to pinpoint why, this is apparently quite common for any Valerian Root supplement.
Well, I hope you’ve liked this GABA vs Valerian Root breakdown.
These are both awesome supplements that offer such a diverse range of benefits.
If this article has served its purpose, then you should know exactly which of the two you’re going to start taking.
But if it hasn’t, then here’s how I’d make my decision:
You might prefer GABA if:
- You want to lower anxiety
- You want to lower your blood pressure
You might prefer Valerian Root if:
- You want to want to feel more relaxed
- You want to reduce menopause symptoms
Hope this helped!