Health benefits of GABA

Research Based
Medically reviewed by - Dr Qudsiya Raiees, MD Written by - Dr. Shilpa R


What is GABA?

Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) is an amino acid that occurs naturally in the body and functions in the brain as a neurotransmitter or chemical messenger. It has a relaxing effect by slowing down the brain by inhibiting specific signals in the spinal cord and brain. Numerous neurologic and psychiatric disorders are linked to GABA signaling dysfunction. It is present in some foods, animals, plants, and microbes. This page addresses the origins of GABA and its advantages for health, drawbacks, and safety measures.

Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) is an amino acid that occurs naturally in the body and functions in the brain as a neurotransmitter or chemical messenger.


  • Other names may include – Piperidic acid, Piperidinic acid, 3-Carboxypropylamine, 4-Aminobutyric acid, or Gamma-Amino butanoic acid 1Overview| Researched based study from
  • C4H9NO2 is its chemical formula. 1Overview| Researched based study from
  • In addition to the neurological system, the pancreatic beta cells (-cells), which create insulin, also produce GABA in relatively high quantities.
  • GABA has also been found in other tissues such as the intestinal tract, stomach, uterus, ovaries, testes, kidneys, spleen, urinary bladder, lungs, and liver, though at much lower quantities than in neurons or beta-cells.2Overview| Researched based study from


Sources of GABA

Food sources

GABA can be found in various fermented foods, like

  • Kimchi. 3Sources| Researched based study from
  • Fermented fish
  • Tempeh
  • Sourdough
  • Miso or soybean paste.
  • Japanese rice wine. (Sake)

Other foods that either contain GABA or help the body produce it may include

  • Brown rice
  • Chestnuts
  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Kale
  • Peas
  • Tomatoes
  • Soybeans
  • Mushrooms
  • Adzuki beans
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Sprouted grains
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Sprouted soybeans
  • Sprouted adzuki beans
  • Green, black, and oolong tea


GABA and Glutamate relationship

  • The enzyme glutamate decarboxylase uses vitamin B6 as a cofactor and converts the precursor glutamate into GABA.
  • GABA and glutamate function differently.
  • GABA is the brain’s inhibitory neurotransmitter, stopping chemical messages from traveling from nerve cell to nerve cell.
  • Glutamate, on the other hand, is the excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, helping chemical messages to go from nerve cell to nerve cell.6Glutamate| Researched based study from
  • GABA’s inhibitory and glutamate excitatory properties must coexist in a finely tuned balance for the brain to function effectively. 7Glutamate| Researched based study from

Health benefits

Health benefits of GABA.

Health benefits of GABA

GABA’s health benefits may include the following

GABA is generally accepted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as being safe for use as a supplement and food additive. 4Health Benefits| Researched based study from There isn’t enough solid scientific proof to back up the usage of a GABA supplement to treat medical conditions. More research with more participants is required. How much GABA is ingested as a food or supplement and how much of it reaches the brain is unknown to experts. However, some studies indicate that the amounts are significantly less. 5Health Benefits| Researched based study from

The health benefits of GABA can be listed as follows:

  • Decreases anxiety and stress. 3Health Benefits| Researched based study from
  • Treats insomnia and regulates sleep – aids in the brain’s relaxation and slowing down so it can fall asleep. GABA aids individuals in falling asleep and achieving deep sleep 8Health Benefits| Researched based study from
  • Enhances a person’s mood.8Health Benefits| Researched based study from
  • Helps people with premenstrual syndrome (PMS)9Health Benefits| Researched based study from
  • Treats high blood pressure – GABA lowers a person’s blood pressure with the natural ACE inhibitor GABA.9Health Benefits| Researched based study from
  • Lowers cholesterol.9Health Benefits| Researched based study from
  • Helps with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – helps the nerves organize their data processing and soothes the nervous system. Low GABA levels can contribute to memory issues and attention impairments, frequent signs of ADHD.10Health Benefits| Researched based study from
  • Relieves pain or discomfort from injuries.
  • Adding protein and GABA to a post-workout supplements regimen may aid in improving the muscular growth brought on by training.11Health Benefits| Researched based study from
  • In addition to the advantages listed above, it may also have effects against hypertension, diabetes, cancer, cancerous cells, antioxidants, inflammation, microbial growth, and allergies.12Health Benefits| Researched based study from

Side effects

Side effects of GABA

The most frequently reported adverse effects may include

  • Stomach ache
  • Headache
  • Sleepiness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Low blood pressure.

An overdose or multiple GABA-modulating drugs may result in

  • Inability to breathe.
  • Sluggish speech.
  • Weakness.

It is unlikely that consuming supplements containing up to 120 mg of GABA daily for 12 weeks will have any negative consequences. However, it isn’t easy to know what to anticipate as the potential side effects of GABA supplements haven’t been thoroughly investigated.


Safety and precautions

  • When consumed orally in the concentrations typically seen in foods, GABA is probably safe.
  • Short-term usage of up to 1.5 grams daily showed no adverse effects.
  • Taking GABA supplements for an extended period is not yet proven safe.
  • GABA safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding is unknown due to insufficient information. Hence, it is better to avoid its use to stay safe.
  • Allergic reactions could occur if one attempts a new supplement, or medication. One should seek immediate medical help if any signs like shortness of breath, dizziness or rashes develop after using GABA supplement for the first time.
  • GABA should not be used after driving or operating machinery until the user has experienced its effects. This is because GABA can cause sleepiness in certain persons.


Interactions of GABA with other medicines

It’s unclear if GABA reacts with any drugs or supplements. However, the following may include few known interactions

Antihypertensive drugs

  • It is known to reduce blood pressure and when taken with several blood pressure drugs, the blood pressure may drop too low.9Interactions| Researched based study from

Epilepsy drugs

  • Combining GABA with antiepileptic drugs may intensify their effects and further depress the central nervous system.13Interactions| Researched based study from

Alcohol and opioids

  • While using GABA supplements or drugs, the body may become so sluggish that the person will be unable to breathe, which is potentially fatal.13Interactions| Researched based study from



As a chemical messenger, GABA plays a significant role in our bodies. However, its function is less clear when taken as a supplement. It is best to consult with a health care provider before taking GABA supplements. Patients should also inform the doctors about the medications a person already taking, including prescription or over-the-counter drugs and any herbs or dietary supplements. They recommend starting with a medically accepted remedy and how to use them safely. To properly comprehend the potential benefits of consuming GABA, more research is necessary.

Disclaimer: The user acknowledges that this article's information is being offered for informational purposes only. Every attempt has been made to guarantee that the article is informational and correct. If they have any doubts or questions about their health, we firmly advise our readers to visit a doctor or other healthcare professional.

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