Top 3 GABA Benefits for Health - Stress, Antioxidant, and Sleep

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid made naturally in our brains. It functions as a chemical messenger that regulates the signals in our brains to produce a naturally calming effect. Research suggests that GABA may be effective in the prevention and treatment of a variety of conditions including anxiety, stress and sleep disturbances. [1] With a greater number of people struggling with stress and poor sleeping patterns, it's no surprise that GABA supplements are increasing today's market. Just how effective are these supplements though and what conditions can GABA supplementation help with? In this article, we explore the evidence supporting the top benefits of GABA supplementation.

Top GABA Benefits for Health

1. Helps to Reduce Stress and Frustration

Due to the natural calming effect of GABA, there has been a lot of research looking at the role of GABA in the prevention and treatment of stress and anxiety disorders. In a 2012 review, summarizing the research done on GABA and anxiety, the authors found low GABA levels to be a common denominator in anxiety disorders.[2] Small changes to the GABA signalling system was also found to cause restlessness, insomnia, and anxiety. [3] This finding is supported by earlier research which found a once-off GABA supplementation dose of only 100mg to produce increased feelings of relaxation. The relaxing effects were felt within an hour of taking the supplement.[4] It is well known that anxiety and stress weaken our immune systems putting us at risk of repeatedly falling ill as well as other more life-threatening conditions including heart disease, hypertension, and depression.[5] When our bodies are under stress (something occurring more often than not, unfortunately) amino acids, like GABA, become depleted more quickly. Therefore, if you live in a stressful day to day environment, or if you suffer from anxiety, a GABA supplement might be just what you need!  

2. Helps to Support a Healthy Circulatory System

There is mixed evidence supporting the role of GABA supplementation in reducing high blood pressure. In a study involving the consumption of 70mg GABA daily for 12 weeks, subjects with both mild and moderately high blood pressure were found to have significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic readings when compared to baseline.[6] Further supporting these findings, a study done on mildly hypertensive adults found that the consumption of GABA enriched white rice (11.2mg GABA/100g rice) improved morning blood pressure readings when compared to the placebo rice group. The study duration was eight weeks, however, positive effects on blood pressure were already evident within the first week of the study.[7] The consumption of GABA enriched white bread was more recently, however, found to not affect blood pressure.[8]In In this 2015 study, subjects consumed 22.8 mg/100 g of GABA daily for four weeks. The authors concluded that the relatively low baseline BP levels in the study may have influenced the low impact of GABA on BP findings.  

3. Helps to Support Restful Sleep

When it comes to a good night's sleep, having a low-stress level is an important factor. Given the promising research on GABA in reducing anxiety and stress, it makes sense that GABA would have an impact on improving sleep outcomes. In one of the earlier studies investigating the effect of GABA on sleep quality, using 26.4 mg GABA, 3 times/day, it was found that sleep disturbance was significantly improved in 65% of the subjects taking the supplement.[9] This finding was later supported in a 2016 study, where GABA consumption of 100mg/day for one week, was shown to significantly improve sleep latency (the amount of time it takes to fall asleep). The study also found an improvement in non-rapid eye movement sleep time[10] (a period of sleep essential for the body to repair and regrow tissue and strengthens the immune system). [11] Following this study, the results of a 2018 study using a higher dose of GABA (300mg/day) for four weeks was published. The study found a significant improvement in sleep efficiency as well as a decrease in sleep latency (subjects feel asleep at an average of 13 minutes faster) in subjects taking the GABA supplement. [12]

Conclusion - Top 3 GABA Benefits

In summary, GABA supplementation can be seen to have a significant impact on improving stress, anxiety, and insomnia. At this point, the evidence supporting the effectiveness of GABA on lowering blood pressure is mixed. When it comes to the correct dose, studies have reported positive effects of GABA supplementation at a dose of 100mg/day. No adverse effects have been reported even at dosages of up to 600mg/day. It is, however, always advisable to start at the lower dosage when you first begin taking any new supplement. Very interestingly, two clinical trials have recently shown Yoga to be an extremely effective method of producing GABA naturally. The trails involved a 12-week yoga period in subjects with major depressive disorder and anxiety as well as otherwise healthy control subjects. The study found that after the 12-week yoga intervention, the mood and anxiety measures of the subjects with major anxiety improved to scores similar to those of non-depressed individuals. The bottom line – if you are not already practising yoga, start today! Taking a GABA supplement combined with yoga practice may be your best bet at reducing daily stress and anxiety and improving your sleeping patterns.


Medical Disclaimer

Not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any disease or ailment. Please read and fully understand the potential adverse effects before using this product. These statements have not been reviewed by the FDA and are not written by a medical professional. Please consult your doctor before using any supplements, especially if you have any medical conditions.


BSc(Med)(Hons) Nutrition & Dietetics Researched & written by Michaela and verified by the Research Team

Citations and Supporting Literature

[1] Ngo, D.-H., & Vo, T. S. (2019). An Updated Review on Pharmaceutical Properties of Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid. Molecules, 24(15), 2678. [2] Möhler, H. (2012). The GABA system in anxiety and depression and its therapeutic potential. Neuropharmacology, 62(1), 42–53. [3]Kaur, S & Singh, R. (2016). Role of different neurotransmitters in anxiety: a systemic review. International journal of pharmaceutical sciences and research. 411-421 [4] Abdou, A. M., Higashiguchi, S., Horie, K., Kim, M., Hatta, H., & Yokogoshi, H. (2006). Relaxation and immunity enhancement effects of γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) administration in humans. BioFactors, 26(3), 201–208. [5] Celano, C. M., Daunis, D. J., Lokko, H. N., Campbell, K. A., & Huffman, J. C. (2016). Anxiety Disorders and Cardiovascular Disease. Current psychiatry reports, 18(11), 101. [6] Matsubara, F.; Ueno, H.; Kentaro, T.; Tadano, K.; Suyama, T.; Imaizumi, K.; Suzuki, T.; Magata, K.; Kikuchi, N. (200). Effects of GABA supplementation on blood pressure and safety in adults with mild hypertension. Jpn. Pharmacol. Ther., 30, 963–972. [7] Nishimura, M.; Yoshida, S.; Haramoto, M.; Mizuno, H.; Fukuda, T.; Kagami-Katsuyama, H.; Tanaka, A.; Ohkawara, T.; Sato, Y.; Nishihira, J. (2016).Effects of white rice containing enriched gamma-aminobutyric acid on blood pressure. J. Tradit. Complement. Med, 6, 66–71. [8] Becerra-Tomás, N.; Guasch-Ferré, M.; Quilez, J.; Merino, J.; Ferré, R.; Díaz-López, A.; Bulló, M.; Hernández-Alonso, P.; Palau-Galindo, A.; Salas-Salvadó, J. (2015) Effect of functional bread rich in potassium, γ-aminobutyric acid and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors on blood pressure, glucose metabolism and endothelial function: A double-blind randomized crossover clinical trial. Medicine (Baltimore), 94 [9] Okada, T.; Sugishita, T.; Murakami, T.; Murai, H.; Saikusa, T.; Horino, T.; Onoda, A.; Kajimoto, O.; Takahashi, R.; Takahashi, T. (2000) Effect of the defatted rice germ enriched with GABA for sleeplessness, depression, autonomic disorder by oral administration. J. Jpn. Soc. Food Sci. 47, 596–603. [10] Yamatsu, A.; Yamashita, Y.; Pandharipande, T.; Maru, I.; Kim, M. (2016) Effect of oral γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) administration on sleep and its absorption in humans. Food Sci. Biotechnol,25, 547–551 [11] Felsn, S. (2018). “What are REM and non REM sleep?”. [online] Available at: [12] Byun, J. I., Shin, Y. Y., Chung, S. E., & Shin, W. C. (2018). Safety and Efficacy of Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid from Fermented Rice Germ in Patients with Insomnia Symptoms: A Randomized, Double-Blind Trial. Journal of clinical neurology (Seoul, Korea), 14(3), 291–295.

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