Do GABA and Lexapro interact?

In this article, we will take a close look at Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a non-protein amino acid that acts as the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the human body, and Lexapro, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) used to treat depression and anxiety. We will also explore the potential interaction between GABA supplements and Lexapro.
Natasha Puttick

Natasha Puttick

Graduate medical student at Barts and London.



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What is GABA?

Gamma-aminobutyric acid, commonly known as GABA, is a non-protein amino acid that is widely distributed in nature, including in plants, animals, and microorganisms [1]. It is synthesized primarily from glutamate by the enzyme glutamate decarboxylase (GAD) [2].

In the human body, GABA acts as the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system [3]. This means it helps to reduce the activity of nerve cells in the brain, promoting relaxation and reducing stress. It is also involved in the regulation of various physiological functions, including blood pressure and heart rate [4].

GABA has been associated with several beneficial effects, such as promoting relaxation, reducing stress, and helping with insomnia [5]. It also has potential therapeutic applications in the prevention and treatment of various diseases due to its anti-hypertension, anti-diabetes, anti-cancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammation, anti-microbial, anti-allergy, hepato-protection, reno-protection, and intestinal protection properties [6].

In the food and pharmaceutical industries, GABA is produced through microbial methods, which are more environmentally friendly than chemical methods [4]. It is also used in the production of certain biopolymers [7].

What is Lexapro?

Lexapro, also known as escitalopram, is a type of antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It works by increasing the activity of a chemical known as serotonin in your brain to help regulate your mood [8, 9].

Lexapro is typically prescribed to people who have depression or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

It's also used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD) in adults and some children aged 12 years and older [9].

In addition to depression and GAD, Lexapro is also used to treat various anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, simple phobia, and social anxiety disorder [10].

Understanding GABA Supplementation

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a naturally occurring amino acid that functions as a neurotransmitter in the brain. It's considered an inhibitory neurotransmitter because it blocks or inhibits certain brain signals and decreases activity in the nervous system. When GABA attaches to a protein in your brain known as a GABA receptor, it produces a calming effect, which can help with feelings of anxiety, stress, and fear [11].

How GABA Supplements Work

The exact mechanism of action of GABA supplements is not fully understood. It has long been thought that GABA is unable to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB), but studies assessing this issue have often been contradictory. Some evidence suggests a calming effect of GABA food supplements, but this evidence is often reported by researchers with potential conflicts of interest. It's suggested that any veridical effects of GABA food supplements on brain and cognition might be exerted through BBB passage or, more indirectly, via an effect on the enteric nervous system [12].

Can GABA supplements and Lexapro interact?

There may not be sufficient evidence to answer exactly whether GABA supplementation can interact with Lexapro (escitalopram). Lexapro is a prescription drug used to treat depression and anxiety, and it can interact with other medications, alcohol, and some supplements [13]. However, the specific interaction between Lexapro and GABA supplements is not clearly mentioned in the current research.

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, and it plays a significant role in reducing neural excitability [14, 15]. Some natural compounds can modulate the GABAergic system, demonstrating different pharmacological effects [14]. However, these studies do not specifically mention an interaction with Lexapro.

Lexapro is known to interact with certain herbal supplements like tryptophan and St. John's wort, increasing the risk of serotonin syndrome [13]. However, there are currently no reports of Lexapro interacting with GABA supplements [13].

It's important to note that even though no specific interactions have been reported, this doesn't mean that interactions won't be recognized in the future. Therefore, it's always recommended to consult with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new supplement while taking Lexapro [13].

Natasha Puttick

Natasha Puttick

Natasha is a medical student at Barts and the London school of Medicine and Dentistry, with an interest in the social determinants of health. She graduated from the University of Oxford with a BA in Human Sciences and has obtained two publications. Her most recent work investigating clinical vaccine trials has been published in BMJ Public Health.