Relaxation and immunity enhancement effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) administration in humans

Biofactors. 2006;26(3):201-8. doi: 10.1002/biof.5520260305.


The effect of orally administrated gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) on relaxation and immunity during stress has been investigated in humans. Two studies were conducted. The first evaluated the effect of GABA intake by 13 subjects on their brain waves. Electroencephalograms (EEG) were obtained after 3 tests on each volunteer as follows: intake only water, GABA, or L-theanine. After 60 minutes of administration, GABA significantly increases alpha waves and decreases beta waves compared to water or L-theanine. These findings denote that GABA not only induces relaxation but also reduces anxiety. The second study was conducted to see the role of relaxant and anxiolytic effects of GABA intake on immunity in stressed volunteers. Eight acrophobic subjects were divided into 2 groups (placebo and GABA). All subjects were crossing a suspended bridge as a stressful stimulus. Immunoglobulin A (IgA) levels in their saliva were monitored during bridge crossing. Placebo group showed marked decrease of their IgA levels, while GABA group showed significantly higher levels. In conclusion, GABA could work effectively as a natural relaxant and its effects could be seen within 1 hour of its administration to induce relaxation and diminish anxiety. Moreover, GABA administration could enhance immunity under stress conditions.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / drug therapy
  • Electroencephalography / drug effects
  • Female
  • GABA Agents / administration & dosage
  • GABA Agents / pharmacology*
  • Glutamates / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Immunity / drug effects*
  • Immunoglobulin A / drug effects
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Phobic Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Phobic Disorders / immunology
  • Phobic Disorders / psychology
  • Reference Values
  • Relaxation / physiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / drug therapy*
  • Stress, Psychological / immunology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Water / administration & dosage
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / administration & dosage
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / pharmacology*


  • GABA Agents
  • Glutamates
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Water
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • theanine