- What other names is Gamma-aminobutyric Acid known by?
- What is Gamma-aminobutyric Acid?
- How does Gamma-aminobutyric Acid work?
- Are there safety concerns?
- Are there any interactions with medications?
- Dosing considerations for Gamma-aminobutyric Acid.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a chemical that is made in the brain. Because GABA that is made naturally in the brain has anti-seizure and anti-anxiety effects, there is interest in using it as a dietary supplement. But when taken by mouth, GABA is not able to cross the blood brain barrier. Therefore it does not have the same effects as drugs that increase levels of natural GABA.
GABA is taken by mouth for relieving anxiety and stress, improving mood, reducing symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and treating attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is also used for promoting lean muscle growth, burning fat, and for treating high blood pressure, motion sickness, cerebral palsy, bronchitis, Cushing's disease, epilepsy, Huntington's disease, meningitis, a progressive brain disease caused by exposure to chemicals, and pain.
Possibly Effective for...
- High blood pressure. Research shows that drinking 100 mL of fermented milk containing 10-12 mg of GABA daily at breakfast for 12 weeks reduces blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. Other limited research shows that taking a chlorella supplement containing GABA twice daily for 12 weeks reduces blood pressure in people with slightly elevated blood pressure.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
- Cerebral palsy. Early research shows that taking one to four tablets of a product containing GABA (Gammalon) daily for 2 months might improve mental development, learning, vocabulary, and physical function in children with cerebral palsy.
- Long-term infection of the airways in the lung (bronchitis). Early research shows that taking 1.5 to 3 grams of a specific GABA product (Aminalon) for 18-20 days along with medications used for bronchitis increases the amount of time between symptom episodes by about 3 months.
- Cushing's disease. Early research shows that taking 1-3 grams of a GABA product (Aminalon) daily for one month reduces the release of the hormone that causes Cushing's disease.
- Seizures. Early research shows that taking 2.5 to 3 grams of GABA along with 500 mg of phosphatidylserine for 3-8 months reduces the frequency of a type of seizures called absence seizures in some people. But it does not benefit people who have partial or complex seizures or seizures triggered by lights or other visual causes.
- Huntington's disease. Early research shows that taking GABA alone or along with the drug dipropylacetic acid does not improve movement in people with Huntington's disease.
- Inflammation of the tissue around the brain and spine (Meningitis). Early research suggests that taking 0.5 to 1.5 grams of a GABA product (Aminalon) reduces the development of symptoms after recovery and prevents the development of other serious conditions in children 7 months to 16 years-old with meningitis.
- Motion sickness. Early research shows that taking 0.5 grams of a GABA product (Aminalon) 40-50 minutes before anticipating motion sickness or three times daily for 4 days slows the onset of motion sickness. GABA also reduces symptoms such as chills, cold sweats, and pale skin.
- Brain disorder caused by exposure to chemicals. Early research shows that taking GABA improves attention, memory, and emotional responses in children with a brain disorder caused by exposure to chemicals.
- Stress. Early research shows that taking 100-200 mg of GABA as a single dose prevents brain wave changes that are linked with stress. However, it doesn't appear to affect subjective measures of stress.
- Burning fat.
- Improving mood.
- Promoting lean muscle growth.
- Relieving anxiety.
- Relieving pain.
- Relieving premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
- Stabilizing blood pressure.
- Treating attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Other conditions.
GABA works by blocking brain signals (neurotransmissions).
GABA is LIKELY SAFE when taken correctly by mouth for short periods of time, up to 12 weeks.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking GABA if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.
GABA seems to decrease blood pressure. Taking GABA along with medications that lower blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.
Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For high blood pressure: 100 mL of fermented milk containing 10-12 mg of GABA per 100 mL, has been consumed as a drink daily at breakfast for 12 weeks. A chlorella supplement containing 20 mg of GABA has been taken twice daily for 12 weeks.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Abe, Y., Umemura, S., Sugimoto, K., Hirawa, N., Kato, Y., Yokoyama, N., Yokoyama, T., Iwai, J., and Ishii, M. Effect of green tea rich in gamma-aminobutyric acid on blood pressure of Dahl salt-sensitive rats. Am.J.Hypertens. 1995;8(1):74-79. View abstract.
Ackermann, D. Über ein neues, auf bakteriellem Wege gewinnbares, Aporrhegma. Hoppe-Seyler´s Zeitschrift für physiologische Chemie 1910;69(3-4):273-281.
Akama, K., Kanetou, J., Shimosaki, S., Kawakami, K., Tsuchikura, S., and Takaiwa, F. Seed-specific expression of truncated OsGAD2 produces GABA-enriched rice grains that influence a decrease in blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Transgenic Res. 2009;18(6):865-876. View abstract.
AWAPARA, J., LANDUA, A. J., FUERST, R., and SEALE, B. Free gamma-aminobutyric acid in brain. J.Biol.Chem. 1950;187(1):35-39. View abstract.
Baldrighi, G. and Tronconi, L. [Research on the antihypertensive effect induced by the mebutamate-GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) combination in essential hypertension]. Clin.Ter. 5-15-1966;37(3):207-234. View abstract.
Belloni, L. and Savioli, F. [Experience in hypotensive treatment with the association of mebutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid]. Minerva Med. 2-17-1967;58(14):501-509. View abstract.
Belloni, L., Savioli, F., and Barbieri, C. [On the antihypertensive properties of gamma-aminobutyric acid. Clinical experience in 29 hypertensive patients]. Arch.Maragliano.Patol.Clin. 1966;22(1):119-145. View abstract.
Benassi, E., Besio, G., Cupello, A., Mainardi, P., Patrone, A., Rapallino, M. V., Vignolo, L., and Loeb, C. W. Evaluation of the mechanisms by which gamma-amino-butyric acid in association with phosphatidylserine exerts an antiepileptic effect in the rat. Neurochem.Res. 1992;17(12):1229-1233. View abstract.
Cavagnini, F., Benetti, G., Invitti, C., Ramella, G., Pinto, M., Lazza, M., Dubini, A., Marelli, A., and Muller, E. E. Effect of gamma-aminobutyric acid on growth hormone and prolactin secretion in man: influence of pimozide and domperidone. J.Clin.Endocrinol.Metab 1980;51(4):789-792. View abstract.
Cho, Y. R., Chang, J. Y., and Chang, H. C. Production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) by Lactobacillus buchneri isolated from kimchi and its neuroprotective effect on neuronal cells. J.Microbiol.Biotechnol. 2007;17(1):104-109. View abstract.
Danilova, I. N., Neretin, V. I., and Nesterova, L. A. [Effect of aminalon electrophoresis on brain bioelectrical activity in cerebral atherosclerosis patients with disordered cerebral blood circulation]. Vopr.Kurortol.Fizioter.Lech.Fiz Kult. 1980;(4):13-17. View abstract.
ELLIOTT, K. A. and JASPER, H. H. Gammaaminobutyric acid. Physiol Rev. 1959;39(2):383-406. View abstract.
Enna, S. J. GABA. San Diego: Academic Press/Elsevier;2006.
Furukawa, T. and Kushiku, K. Antagonism by gamma-aminobutyric acid of the stimulant effect of angiotensin II on cardiac sympathetic ganglia in spinal dogs. Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch.Pharmacol. 1981;317(2):149-153. View abstract.
Garkusha, L. G., Kukhtevich, I. I., and Proskurkina, O. A. [Treatment of chronic diffuse arachnoiditis with aminalon]. Vrach.Delo 1978;(1):114-116. View abstract.
Glebova, O. S. [Peculiarities of neuro-psychological and autonomic disorders in patients with remote consequences of closed craniocerebral injury]. Lik.Sprava. 2007;(5-6):85-89. View abstract.
Hayakawa, K., Kimura, M., Kasaha, K., Matsumoto, K., Sansawa, H., and Yamori, Y. Effect of a gamma-aminobutyric acid-enriched dairy product on the blood pressure of spontaneously hypertensive and normotensive Wistar-Kyoto rats. Br.J.Nutr. 2004;92(3):411-417. View abstract.
Jones, E. A., Schafer, D. F., Ferenci, P., and Pappas, S. C. The GABA hypothesis of the pathogenesis of hepatic encephalopathy: current status. Yale J.Biol.Med. 1984;57(3):301-316. View abstract.
Kawabata, K., Tanaka, T., Murakami, T., Okada, T., Murai, H., Yamamoto, T., Hara, A., Shimizu, M., Yamada, Y., Matsunaga, K., Kuno, T., Yoshimi, N., Sugie, S., and Mori, H. Dietary prevention of azoxymethane-induced colon carcinogenesis with rice-germ in F344 rats. Carcinogenesis 1999;20(11):2109-2115. View abstract.
Kim, J. Y., Lee, M. Y., Ji, G. E., Lee, Y. S., and Hwang, K. T. Production of gamma-aminobutyric acid in black raspberry juice during fermentation by Lactobacillus brevis GABA100. Int.J.Food Microbiol. 3-15-2009;130(1):12-16. View abstract.
Krnjevic, K. When and why amino acids? J.Physiol 1-1-2010;588(Pt 1):33-44. View abstract.
Likhodeev, V. A., Spasov, A. A., Isupov, I. B., and Mandrikov, V. B. [Effects of aminalon, fenibut, and picamilon on the typological parameters of cerebral hemodynamics in swimmers with dysadaptation syndrome]. Eksp.Klin.Farmakol. 2009;72(4):15-19. View abstract.
Loeb, C., Marinari, U. M., Benassi, E., Besio, G., Cottalasso, D., Cupello, A., Maffini, M., Mainardi, P., Pronzato, M. A., and Scotto, P. A. Phosphatidylserine increases in vivo the synaptosomal uptake of exogenous GABA in rats. Exp.Neurol. 1988;99(2):440-446. View abstract.
Lu, J. and Greco, M. A. Sleep circuitry and the hypnotic mechanism of GABAA drugs. J.Clin.Sleep Med. 4-15-2006;2(2):S19-S26. View abstract.
Meldrum, B. S. GABAergic mechanisms in the pathogenesis and treatment of epilepsy. Br.J.Clin.Pharmacol. 1989;27 Suppl 1:3S-11S. View abstract.
Melis, G. B., Paoletti, A. M., Mais, V., and Fioretti, P. Interference of dopamine infusion on gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA)-stimulated prolactin increase. J.Endocrinol.Invest 1980;3(4):445-448. View abstract.
Mori, H., Kawabata, K., Yoshimi, N., Tanaka, T., Murakami, T., Okada, T., and Murai, H. Chemopreventive effects of ferulic acid on oral and rice germ on large bowel carcinogenesis. Anticancer Res. 1999;19(5A):3775-3778. View abstract.
Nakamura, H., Takishima, T., Kometani, T., and Yokogoshi, H. Psychological stress-reducing effect of chocolate enriched with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in humans: assessment of stress using heart rate variability and salivary chromogranin A. Int J Food Sci Nutr 2009;60 Suppl 5:106-113. View abstract.
Ouyang, C., Guo, L., Lu, Q., Xu, X., and Wang, H. Enhanced activity of GABA receptors inhibits glutamate release induced by focal cerebral ischemia in rat striatum. Neurosci.Lett. 6-13-2007;420(2):174-178. View abstract.
Park, K. B. and Oh, S. H. Cloning, sequencing and expression of a novel glutamate decarboxylase gene from a newly isolated lactic acid bacterium, Lactobacillus brevis OPK-3. Bioresour.Technol. 2007;98(2):312-319. View abstract.
Poemnyi, F. A. and Trubnikov, B. M. [Treatment of infectious-toxic and traumatic lesion, of the hypothalamic region with aminalon and gammalon]. Klin.Med.(Mosk) 1975;53(9):52-55. View abstract.
Powers, M. E., Yarrow, J. F., McCoy, S. C., and Borst, S. E. Growth hormone isoform responses to GABA ingestion at rest and after exercise. Med.Sci.Sports Exerc. 2008;40(1):104-110. View abstract.
ROBERTS, E. and FRANKEL, S. gamma-Aminobutyric acid in brain: its formation from glutamic acid. J.Biol.Chem. 1950;187(1):55-63. View abstract.
Shizuka, F., Kido, Y., Nakazawa, T., Kitajima, H., Aizawa, C., Kayamura, H., and Ichijo, N. Antihypertensive effect of gamma-amino butyric acid enriched soy products in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Biofactors 2004;22(1-4):165-167. View abstract.
Smirnov, A. N. [Cardiovascular preparations; clofibrate and aminalon]. Feldsher.Akush. 1978;43(3):37-38. View abstract.
Tillakaratne, N. J., Medina-Kauwe, L., and Gibson, K. M. gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) metabolism in mammalian neural and nonneural tissues. Comp Biochem.Physiol A Physiol 1995;112(2):247-263. View abstract.
UDENFRIEND, S. Identification of gamma-aminobutyric acid in brain by the isotope derivative method. J.Biol.Chem. 1950;187(1):65-69. View abstract.
Winsky-Sommerer, R. Role of GABAA receptors in the physiology and pharmacology of sleep. Eur.J.Neurosci. 2009;29(9):1779-1794. View abstract.
Yamakoshi, J., Fukuda, S., Satoh, T., Tsuji, R., Saito, M., Obata, A., Matsuyama, A., Kikuchi, M., and Kawasaki, T. Antihypertensive and natriuretic effects of less-sodium soy sauce containing gamma-aminobutyric acid in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Biosci.Biotechnol.Biochem. 2007;71(1):165-173. View abstract.
Yoshimura, M., Toyoshi, T., Sano, A., Izumi, T., Fujii, T., Konishi, C., Inai, S., Matsukura, C., Fukuda, N., Ezura, H., and Obata, A. Antihypertensive effect of a gamma-aminobutyric acid rich tomato cultivar 'DG03-9' in spontaneously hypertensive rats. J.Agric.Food Chem. 1-13-2010;58(1):615-619. View abstract.
Abdou AM, Higashiguchi S, Horie K, et al. Relaxation and immunity enhancement effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) administration in humans. Biofactors 2006;26:201-8. View abstract.
Bloom FE, Kupfer DJ. Psychopharmacology: The Fourth Generation of Progress. New York, NY: Raven Press, Ltd., 1995.
Boonstra E, de Kleijn R, Colzato LS, Alkemade A, Forstmann BU, Nieuwenhuis S. Neurotransmitters as food supplements: the effects of GABA on brain and behavior. Front Psychol. 2015 Oct 6;6:1520. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01520. eCollection 2015.
Cavagnini F, Invitti C, Pinto M, et al. Effect of acute and repeated administration of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) on growth hormone and prolactin secretion in man. Acta Endocrinol (Copenh) 1980;93:149-54. View abstract.
Cavagnini F, Pinto M, Dubini A, et al. Effects of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) and muscimol on endocrine pancreatic function in man. Metabolism 1982;31:73-7. View abstract.
Cocito L, Bianchetti A, Bossi L, et al. GABA and phosphatidylserine in human photosensitivity: a pilot study. Epilepsy Res 1994;17:49-53. View abstract.
Franco L, Sánchez C, Bravo R, Rodríguez AB, Barriga C, Romero E, Cubero J. The sedative effect of non-alcoholic beer in healthy female nurses. PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e37290. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037290. Epub 2012 Jul 18. View abstract.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), Monograph. Altern.Med.Rev. 2007;12:274-79. View abstract.
Gershman RN, Vasilenko MA, Iliushina GG, et al. [Gammalon in the rehabilitation in infantile cerebral palsy]. Pediatr.Akus.Ginekol. 1977;(6):26-7. View abstract.
Hashimoto M, Yokota A, Matsuoka S, et al. [Choreo-ballistic status treated by GABA]. No To Hattatsu 1989;21:481-85. View abstract.
Inoue K, Shirai T, Ochiai H, et al. Blood-pressure-lowering effect of a novel fermented milk containing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in mild hypertensives. Eur J Clin Nutr 2003;57:490-95. View abstract.
Ivanova, RI and Senenkova, SI. [Experience with the use of aminalon in the complex treatment of children with meningococcal infections]. Zh.Nevropatol.Psikhiatr.Im S.S.Korsakova 1981;81(10):1502-1504. View abstract.
Kalant H, Roschlau WHE, Eds. Principles of Med. Pharmacology. New York, NY: Oxford Univ Press, 1998.
Lapaev EV, Voinova II, Vorob'ev OA, et al. [Aminalon as an agent for the prevention of motion sickness]. Zh.Ushn.Nos.Gorl.Bolezn. 1978;(5):35-9. View abstract.
Loeb C, Benassi E, Bo, GP, et al. Preliminary evaluation of the effect of GABA and phosphatidylserine in epileptic patients. Epilepsy Res. 1987;1:209-12 . View abstract.
Lupandin VM, Lando LI, Gromova EA, et al. [Role of biogenic amines in the pathogenesis of intellectual disorders in children with minimal psychoorganic syndromes]. Zh.Nevropatol.Psikhiatr.Im S.S.Korsakova 1978;78:1538-44. View abstract.
Mishunina TM, Kononenko VI, Komissarenko IV, et al. [The effect of GABA-ergic preparations on the function of the hypothalamo-hypophyseal-adrenal system in patients with Itsenko-Cushing disease]. Probl.Endokrinol.(Mosk) 1991;37:28-31. View abstract.
Nurnberger JI Jr, Berrettini WH, Simmons-Alling S, et al. Intravenous GABA administration is anxiogenic in man. Psychiatry Res 1986;19:113-7. View abstract.
Shimada M, Hasegawa T, Nishimura C, et al. Anti-hypertensive effect of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-rich Chlorella on high-normal blood pressure and borderline hypertension in placebo-controlled double blind study. Clin.Exp.Hypertens. 2009;31:342-54. View abstract.
Shoulson I, Kartzinel R, and Chase TN. Huntington's disease: treatment with dipropylacetic acid and gamma-aminobutyric acid. Neurology 1976;26:61-3. View abstract.
Sil'vestrov VP, Kinitin AV, and Chesnokova, IV. [Immunological and metabolic disorders and the means for their correction in patients with chronic bronchitis]. Ter.Arkh. 1991;63:7-11. View abstract.
Yoto A, Murao S, Motoki M, Yokoyama Y, Horie N, Takeshima K, Masuda K, Kim M, Yokogoshi H. Oral intake of ?-aminobutyric acid affects mood and activities of central nervous system during stressed condition induced by mental tasks. Amino Acids. 2012 Sep;43(3):1331-7. doi: 10.1007/s00726-011-1206-6. Epub 2011 Dec 28. View abstract.