Citation: Blue skies. "Sublingual, Vaporised and Insufflated: An Experience with GABA (exp23114)". Erowid.org. Feb 6, 2006. erowid.org/exp/23114
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GABA (gamma-amino-butyric acid) is an extensively studied, though poorly understood neurotransmitter found primarily in the limbic system deep inside the brain. Scientists say that it is an 'inhibitory' chemical, which essentially means it can act as a Central Nervous System Depressent. Drugs including alcohol, benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium), and barbiturates (Phenobarbital, Sodium Pentothal) dramatically potentiate this transmitter in different ways. In any case, we'll come back to science later. For now, I'll describe some experiments with GABA itself.
GABA is sold as a dietary supplement, mainly as a performance enhancer. Although GABA is inhibitory, it stimulates the production of HGH, or Human Growth Hormone. Frankly, I think it's quite useless to take GABA tablets for any reason. They won't get me high, and they probably don't make me any bigger. The reason for this ineffectiveness is that it is extensively broken down by the GI tract, and that which is not broken down has difficulty crossing the blood/brain barrier. After thinking about this, I wanted to find out if GABA has any recreational or therapeutic value by other routes of administration, as it would seem that a more direct route like epithelial absorption (this is route by which dip and Salvia quids work) may yield measurable effects. I conducted several experiments under different conditions. The methods of administration I tried were: insufflation (snorting), sublingual absorption (what I just described), and inhalation of vaporized GABA. I did all three experiments completely sober, in combination with alcohol, and in combination with alprazolam (Xanax). Each individual experiment was performed on a different day.
Before I continue, I must emphasize that I have extensive training in Pharmacology, Neurobiology, and Biochemistry (ie, working on graduate degrees) and it was still quite stupid for me to use myself as a Guinea Pig. That being said, here's what happened.
Material: PURE Laboratory Reagent Grade GABA. This is NOT what you buy at GNC, which contains other chemicals, buffers, and binders.
Insufflation: 4 lines, each weighing out to 175mg, were snorted. Relatively little discomfort, and a distinct but mild taste. Very negligible effects, but a distinct desire to go to bed emerged.
Vaporization: 1000mg were vaporized and inhaled. The smoke was very mild. No effects whatsoever were noted. Most likely, the GABA was destroyed by the heat, but I'd have to do Gas Chromatography to confirm this. Note that vaporization had no effects in combination with Alprazolam or alcohol either.
Sublingual: 1000mg were placed under the tongue. After 5 minutes, the entire amount had been absorbed. Roughly two minutes later, a very pronounced lethargy developed along with disturbances in balance in coordination. This test was repeated 3 times (on different days), and each time I felt the same thing.
WITH 1.5 MG OF ALPRAZOLAM
Insufflated: 1.5 mg of alprazolam (Xanax) had been taken on an empty stomach 60 minutes prior to blowing another 500mg of GABA. After this was done, I noticed further disturbances in coordination (though nothing dramatic). This seemed to subside in 25 minutes.
Sublingual: I have lapses in memory and regret not keeping a notebook. I distinctly recall a strong feeling of dizziness and sedation before the full gram had been absorbed, and this continued for about 15 minutes (I think) before I decided to call it a night and go to bed.
WITH 2.4 OZ OF ALCOHOL
Insufflated: 4 1.5oz shots of Skyy vodka were consumed on an empty stomach (see, science CAN be fun) 30 minutes prior. After which time, 500mg seemed to upset my coordination a little bit, much like it did on the Xanax. Lasted about 10 minutes.
Sublingual: VERY pronounced effects after absorption. Extreme feelings of vertigo, coordination was quite disturbed, and I felt a little nausea. In short, it felt like I had taken another 4 shots of Vodka.
I believe smoking GABA is useless. Furthermore, I think snorting it had only marginal effects. Sublingual absorption, however, really seemed to make a big difference. I will say, though, while sober, these effects (though quite distinct) were pretty negligible. The strongest effects came with Xanax and alcohol. Let's look at a little more science, as I think it puts this in perspective. I'll assume that you're at least vaguely familiar with synaptic transmission (the chemical communication that occurs from nerve to nerve).
The receptor protein to which GABA binds can be allosterically agonized. In English, this means that drugs like Xanax, Pentobarbital, and Alcohol bind to the same receptor that GABA does, but they bind to different places on that same receptor. Think of the GABA receptor as a dead-bolted door. We might say that Xanax unlocks the deadbolt, and GABA unlocks the lock on the doorknob. We can't open the door just by unlocking the deadbolt and not the main lock, and vice versa. Xanax, alcohol, and barbiturates are all useless in the absense of GABA. GABA in the absense of allosteric agonists is only mildly active. A combination of the two swings the door wide open. This may partially explain the relative lack of psychoactive effects I experienced with GABA while sober. In combination, GABA and the other drugs worked synergistically to considerably potentiate the effects I was already feeling. When I say the door swings open, I mean the GABA proteins open. This allows Chlorine atoms to pass into the nerve, and this is actually what slows you down under the influence of the drugs we've talked about.
In short, GABA definitely, for lack of a better way to put it, makes me drunker, but only under very specific circumstances. I doubt I'll be putting any more GABA into my body soon as it's not worth the trouble, and I've seen NO studies that indicate doing so is safe. Hell, I haven't seen any human studies on GABA administered in these ways. A smart rule of thumb is to stay away, especially considering the GABA most people have access to is impure. This report is for informational and educational purposes only.
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Some of the activities described are dangerous and/or illegal and none are recommended by Erowid Center.