A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised-designed GABA tea study in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Conditions: a feasibility study clinical trial registration: ISRCTN 72571312

Penny Hannant, Anna Joyce, Sarah Cassidy, Derek Renshaw

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    Abstract

    Objective: The research has shown an association with sensorimotor integration and symptomology of Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC). Specific areas of the brain that are involved in sensorimotor integration, such as the cerebellum and basal ganglia, are pathologically different in individuals with ASC in comparison to typically developing (TD) peers. These brain regions contain GABAergic inhibitory neurons that release an inhibitory neurotransmitter, γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). Brain GABA levels are decreased in ASC. This study explored the effect of introducing a non-invasive GABA substitute, in the form of GABA Oolong tea, on sensorimotor skills, ASC profiles, anxieties and sleep of children with ASC. Methods: Nine children took part: (5 male, 4 female). Each child participated in three tea conditions: high GABA, high L-Theanine (a compound that increases GABA), placebo with low GABA. A double-blind, repeated measures design was employed. Measures were taken after each tea condition. Sensory and ASC profiles were scored using parental questionnaires. Motor skills were assessed using a gold standard coordination assessment. Sleep was monitored using an actiwatch and anxiety measured through cortisol assays. Subjective views were sought from parents on ‘best’ tea. Results: The results showed significant improvement in manual dexterity and some large individual improvements in balance, sensory responsivity, DSM-5 criteria and cortisol levels with GABA tea. Improvements were also seen in the L-Theanine condition although they were more sporadic. Conclusions: These results suggest that sensorimotor abilities, anxiety levels and DSM-5 symptomology of children with ASC can benefit from the administration of GABA in the form of Oolong tea.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)45-61
    Number of pages17
    JournalNutritional Neuroscience
    Volume24
    Issue number1
    Early online date6 May 2019
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Funder

    This work was funded by Coventry University, UK. Local Support groups and Parents Mei Leaf Tea, 99-105 Camden High Street, London, NW1 7JN, UK.

    Keywords

    • Autism
    • GABA
    • anxiety
    • motor coordination
    • sensory
    • sleep
    • tea

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Medicine (miscellaneous)
    • Neuroscience(all)
    • Nutrition and Dietetics

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