With the growing concern regarding the serious side effects of both prescription and over-the-counter sleeping pills, it is important for consumers to look to natural products that are both safe and effective in improving sleep quality. A new study with the natural form of GABA known as PharmaGABA showed it to produce excellent results in helping people get a good night’s sleep.

Background Data:

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a major neurotransmitter that is abundantly and widely distributed throughout the central nervous system (CNS). Low levels or decreased GABA function in the brain is associated with several psychiatric and neurological disorders, but most primarily anxiety, depression, insomnia, and epilepsy.

GABA naturally manufactured via a fermentation process that utilizes Lactobacillus hilgardii has been shown to produce effects not achieved by the synthetic form of GABA, which is produced from pyrrolidinone – an industrial solvent.  This natural form, PharmaGABA has been shown to produce relaxation as evidenced by:

  • Increasing the alpha to beta brain wave ratio.
  • Preserving salivary antibody production during stress.
  • Reducing markers of stress including cortisol levels.

Once ingested, it appears that it is absorbed easily and binds to GABA receptors in the peripheral nervous system leading to activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. This arm of the autonomic nervous system is responsible for producing what is referred to as the “relaxation response,” a physiological response that is in direct contrast to the stress or “fight or flight” response.  This activation of the parasympathetic nervous system by PharmaGABA is measurable within 5 to 30 minutes after ingestion.

New Data:

To evaluate the ability of PharmaGABA to improve sleep, a placebo-controlled study was conducted by measuring brain waves through electroencephalography (EEG) after subjects took 100 mg of PharmaGABA or a placebo. The results demonstrated that PharmaGABA significantly shortened the time required to get to sleep by five minutes and increased the time of quality sleep compared to the placebo. Questionnaires showed that subjects receiving PharmaGABA had improved sleep as especially noted by their higher energy scores upon awakening.

Several proposed mechanisms were offered to explain the positive effects including the sleep-improving effect of PharmaGABA may be related to its stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system and its stress relieving effects. An earlier study demonstrated that it can activate the parasympathetic nervous system to lower core body temperature in humans, a factors that can promote sleep.

The study also measured the blood level of GABA after administration of PharmaGABA. Results showed that the GABA was quickly absorbed, and the blood level of GABA was the highest 30 minutes after oral administration. The researchers felt that taking GABA 30 minutes before bedtime offers the best effects on promoting a restful sleep.


PharmaGABA can be used to improve sleep quality as well as whenever someone feels a bit “stressed out.” For stress, take it at a dosage of 100 to 200 mg up to three times daily. To promote a better night’s sleep take 100 to 200 mg at bedtime. PharmaGABA is completely safe and without any known adverse drug interaction. As a general guideline, it is recommended to take no more than 600 mg within a 6 hour period and no more than 1,200 mg within a 24 hour period.

The key to getting results with GABA is to utilize the natural form, like PharmaGABA, derived from a fermentation process. The synthetic form derived from a chemical solvent has not been shown to produce the same benefit.


Yamatsu A, Yamashita Y, Pandharipande T, Maru I, Kim M. Effect of Oral γ-aminobutyric Acid (GABA) Administration on Sleep and its Absorption in Humans. Food Sci. Biotechnol. 2016:25(2): 547-551.

Dr. Michael Murray

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