GABA Hey! Blood Pressure and Sleep

NYBC carries Pressure Optimizer and GABA Soothe to help manage a range of issues. Among them, the data below suggest a benefit for managing borderline hypertension (high blood pressure). A related item in the NYBC catalog, Theanine Serene, also has a fair amount of GABA along with green tea-extract theanine; this combination was designed especially as an anti-anxiety or anti-stress formula.

The second study below looked at a combo of GABA and 5-HTP and found some benefits for helping to get a restful sleep.

Shimada M, Hasegawa T, Nishimura C, Kan H, Kanno T, Nakamura T, Matsubayashi T. Anti-hypertensive effect of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-rich Chlorella on high-normal blood pressure and borderline hypertension in placebo-controlled double blind study. Clin Exp Hypertens. 2009 Jun;31(4):342-354.

Abstract
The anti-hypertensive effect of GABA-rich Chlorella was studied after oral administration for 12 weeks in the subjects with high-normal blood pressure and borderline hypertension in the placebo-controlled, double-blind manner in order to investigate if GABA-rich Chlorella, a dietary supplement, is useful in control of blood pressure. Eighty subjects with Systolic blood pressure (SBP) 130-159 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure (DBP) 85-99 mmHg (40 subjects/group) took the blinded substance of GABA-rich Chlorella (20 mg as gamma-aminobutyric acid) or placebo twice daily for 12 weeks, and had follow-up observation for an additional 4 weeks. Systolic blood pressure in the subjects given GABA-rich Chlorella significantly decreased compared with placebo (p < 0.01). Diastolic blood pressure had the tendency to decrease after intake of GABA-rich Chlorella. Neither adverse events nor abnormal laboratory findings were reported throughout the study period. Reduction of SBP in the subjects with borderline hypertension was higher than those in the subjects with high-normal blood pressure. These results suggest that GABA-rich Chlorella significantly decreased high-normal blood pressure and borderline hypertension, and is a beneficial dietary supplement for prevention of the development of hypertension.

PMID: 19811362 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

***
Shell W, Bullias D, Charuvastra E, May LA, Silver DS. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of an amino acid preparation on timing and quality of sleep. Am J Ther. 2010 Mar-Apr;17(2):133-139.

Abstract
This study was an outpatient, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of a combination amino acid formula (Gabadone) in patients with sleep disorders. Eighteen patients with sleep disorders were randomized to either placebo or active treatment group. Sleep latency and duration of sleep were measured by daily questionnaires. Sleep quality was measured using a visual analog scale. Autonomic nervous system function was measured by heart rate variability analysis using 24-hour electrocardiographic recordings. In the active group, the baseline time to fall asleep was 32.3 minutes, which was reduced to 19.1 after Gabadone administration (P = 0.01, n = 9). In the placebo group, the baseline latency time was 34.8 minutes compared with 33.1 minutes after placebo (P = nonsignificant, n = 9). The difference was statistically significant (P = 0.02). In the active group, the baseline duration of sleep was 5.0 hours (mean), whereas after Gabadone, the duration of sleep increased to 6.83 (P = 0.01, n = 9). In the placebo group, the baseline sleep duration was 7.17 +/- 7.6 compared with 7.11 +/- 3.67 after placebo (P = nonsignificant, n = 9). The difference between the active and placebo groups was significant (P = 0.01). Ease of falling asleep, awakenings, and am grogginess improved. Objective measurement of parasympathetic function as measured by 24-hour heart rate variability improved in the active group compared with placebo. An amino acid preparation containing both GABA and 5-hydroxytryptophan reduced time to fall asleep, decreased sleep latency, increased the duration of sleep, and improved quality of sleep.

PMID: 19417589 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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Melatonin, best known as sleep aid, now studied as adjunct in some breast cancer treatment regimens

The University of Maryland Medical Center’s Complementary Medicine website provides an assessment of some recent studies on melatonin as an adjunct treatment for breast cancer. Of course melatonin is best known and has been most researched for its effects on sleep and its potential to address sleep disorders. Most of these investigations have focused on people whose circadian rhythms are disrupted by factors such as jet lag or work schedules, but there have also been studies looking at melatonin as a sleep aid for the elderly or for those with HIV (see other “Melatonin” entries on this Blog).

This excerpt from the UMMC article on Melatonin indicates, however, that this supplement may be eliciting additional interest as an auxiliary to certain cancer treatment regimens. We have highlighted the last sentence in this passage, which repeats one of the crucial guides in using supplements: be sure to consult your health care professional.

“Several studies indicate that melatonin levels may be linked with breast cancer risk. For example, women with breast cancer tend to have lower levels of melatonin than those without the disease. In addition, laboratory experiments have found that low levels of melatonin stimulate the growth of certain types of breast cancer cells, while adding melatonin to these cells inhibits their growth. Preliminary laboratory and clinical evidence also suggests that melatonin may enhance the effects of some chemotherapy drugs used to treat breast cancer. In a study that included a small number of women with breast cancer, melatonin (administered 7 days before beginning chemotherapy) prevented the lowering of platelets in the blood. This is a common complication of chemotherapy, known as thrombocytopenia that can lead to bleeding.

In another study of a small group of women whose breast cancer was not improving with tamoxifen (a commonly used chemotherapy medication), adding melatonin caused tumors to modestly shrink in over 28% of the women. People with breast cancer who are considering taking melatonin supplements should consult their doctors before beginning supplementation.

Sleep drugs wildly popular, and expensive, but not terribly effective–what about melatonin as an alternative?

We were amused to see the recent New York Times article about how many billions of dollars Americans spend on popular sleep drugs like Ambien, yet how little effect these medications actually seem to have:

Sleep Drugs Found Only Mildly Effective, but Wildly Popular  NYT Oct. 23, 2007

Meanwhile, there have been a number of studies over the years pointing to the dietary supplement melatonin as a useful sleep aid, providing comparable effects to the prescription meds.

 

For example:

 

 Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1996 Jul;126(2):179-81.

 

Low dose melatonin improves sleep in healthy middle-aged subjects.

Attenburrow ME, Cowen PJ, Sharpley AL.

University Department of Psychiatry, Littlemore Hospital, Oxford, UK.

We studied the effects of single evening doses of melatonin (0.3 mg and 1.0 mg orally) on polysomnographically measured sleep in 15 healthy middle-aged volunteers, using a placebo-controlled, double-blind, cross-over design. Compared to placebo, the 1.0 mg dose of melatonin significantly increased Actual Sleep Time, Sleep Efficiency, non-REM Sleep and REM Sleep Latency. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that low dose melatonin has hypnotic effects in humans. It is possible that administered melatonin may have a role to play in the treatment of sleep disorders. 

There are also current studies funded by NIH on melatonin for sleep disturbances in the elderly, and in people with Alzheimer’s.

 

But getting back to the New York Times piece: while the article reported prices of prescription sleep aids in the $2-4 range per dose, the typical melatonin dose can cost just a few cents. See, for example, the Douglas Labs Melatonin stocked by NYBC.