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GABA vs Kava – Which One Should You Take?

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So today is the day you’ve decided to improve your health with supplements.

That’s awesome!

I’m pleased for you.

There’s just one big problem…

You have literally hundreds of supplements to choose from. So how do you decide which one to take?

Well, in my Supplement Comparison Series, I put 2 supplements up against each other on their pros, cons, price, and more.

Rather than picking a “winner”, the goal is to help you decide which one is best for you.

Up next, we have GABA vs Kava.

Let’s get started.

What is GABA?

GABA (Gamma-aminobutryic acid) is an amino acid that’s naturally produced in the brain.

It works as a neurotransmitter, meaning it helps facilitate communication between brain cells.

GABA’s main function is to dampen the neuron activity in the brain and central nervous system, which results in a range of effects like:

  • Lower stress
  • Enhanced mood
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Increased feelings of calmness

Interestingly, many common anxiety medications like Xanax and Valium work by enhancing the effects of GABA. (Source)

What is Kava?

Kava (Piper Methysticum) is a plant native to Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia.

Interestingly, people have been taking Kava in these regions for social ceremonies for many thousand years.

Kava belongs to the Nightshade family of plants, which includes common vegetables like potatoes and egg plants.

And today, Kava is widely used for its calming and euphoric effects.


Benefits of GABA

GABA may help improve sleep

According to research, insomnia sufferers have lower levels of GABA than the rest of us.

Perhaps lower GABA levels make it more difficult to relax at night, which may contribute to their insomnia.

In one study, 100mg of GABA reduced the time taken to fall asleep by 5.3 minutes.

GABA may help reduce high blood pressure

Research suggests that GABA may be able to help reduce high blood pressure.

For example, a study looked at the effects of Chlorella on blood pressure levels.

(Chlorella is a type of algae that’s naturally high in GABA.)

During the study, the subjects with medium-high blood pressure took Chlorella for 12 weeks.

By the end of the study, their blood pressure was significantly lowered.

GABA may help relieve anxiety and stress

Here’s a shocking fact for you.

Anxiety-related disorders affect over 40 million American adults.

Well, the good news is that research supports the use of GABA to help reduce anxiety and stress.

In one study, 13 subjects took GABA.

An hour after taking it, the subjects had increases in alpha brain waves which helped them relax and reduced their anxiety.

In another study, the subjects’ stress levels were measured during a mentally challenging task.

After taking GABA, they had a smaller reduction in alpha brain waves, which may have helped them stay calm during the task.

Benefits of Kava

Kava may help improve sleep

Like GABA, Kava is widely used to help improve sleep.

In one study, 61 subjects took either 200mg of Kava extract or a placebo each day for 4 weeks.

According to the results, the Kava takers had significantly better sleep than the placebo takers.

Interestingly, they also reported less anxiety.

In another study, 24 subjects with insomnia took 120mg of Kava each day for 6 weeks.

The results showed that the Kava significantly improved their insomnia by relieving their stress.

Kava may help enhance mental performance

Many people take Kava for its brain-boosting effects.

And for good reason too.

In one study, 12 subjects took either Kava or oxazepam before a word recognition task.

The results showed that the Kava takers performed significantly better at the task than the oxazepam takers.

Another study showed that a single 300mg dose of Kava improved short term memory and visual attention.

Kava may help relieve anxiety

Like GABA, Kava may help reduce anxiety.

In one study, 101 anxiety sufferers took either Kava or a placebo for 25 weeks.

According to the results, the Kava takers had significantly improved anxiety after 8 weeks.

Also, a review of 11 studies concluded that Kava significantly improved anxiety symptoms when compared to a placebo.



GABA is normally sold as a powder or in capsules.

Here are some typical prices for these:

  • Powder: $20 for 1lb
  • Capsules: $22 for 100

Kava Cost

Kava is usually sold as a powder or in capsules.

Standard prices for these are:

  • Powder: $32 for 8 Oz
  • Capsules: $20 for 100

Side Effects

GABA Side Effects

Most healthy adults can tolerate GABA supplements with minimal fuss, but in some instances, the following effects have been reported:

  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Reduced appetite
  • Fatigue and drowsiness

Kava Side Effects

Like GABA, Kava is normally safe to supplement with but the following effects have been reported in some cases:

  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches

Also, Kava may affect your reaction time and motor skills so driving and operating heavy machinery is not advised after consuming Kava.

Kava may interact with certain drugs and medications which can lead to severe liver damage, so please consult a doctor before supplementing with Kava.


My GABA Recommendation: Thorne Research PharmaGABA-100

Click to see on Amazon


High price? Yep.

High quality? Mhmm.

High strength? You betcha.

Thorne Research PharmaGABA-100 is the Rolls-Royce of GABA supplements.

What I like about it

What stands out about this supplement is that it’s made from PharmaGABA.

This just means the GABA’s produced naturally with bacteria.

(Most GABA supplements are made synthetically in a lab.)

It’s believed that PharmaGABA is more effective than the synthetic version, which is hardly surprising as nature knows best, right?

Also, some of the best supplements I’ve ever taken have been from Thorne Research.

I credit this to their quality control process, which shows just how much they care about making the finest quality supplements.

Unsurprisingly, the reviews are ace too which shows that lots of people have used this supplement with exciting results.

Potential Drawbacks

The only drawback of a supplement of this quality is its price.

So if you’re on a super tight budget, you may want to look elsewhere.

Check price and read more reviews of Thorne Research PharmaGABA-100 on Amazon.

My Kava Recommendation: Kava Kalm Micronized Kava Powder

Click to see on Amazon


A solid Kava supplement in powdered form.

Kava Kalm Micronized Kava Powder gets the gold star.

What I like about it

The fact that it’s powdered means you can chop and change the dosage to meet your own needs.

(Some people respond better to a lower dose while others respond better to a higher dose.)

And since it’s a pure powder, there are no chemical fillers, additives, or preservatives you need to be cautious of.

Just 100% real Kava goodness.

Also, a quick peek at the reviews shows that lots of people feel calm and relaxed after using this supplement.

Potential Drawbacks

Kava powder supposedly has a muddy taste, so if you can’t stomach odd flavours then you may want to opt for capsules instead.

Check price and read more reviews of Kava Kalm Micronized Kava Powder on Amazon.

GABA vs Kava: The Verdict

So you’ve made it to the end of this GABA vs Kava comparison guide.

You should now have a pretty good idea of which one you’re going to take.

If not? Then this high-level guide should help:

You might prefer GABA if:

  • You want to lower your blood pressure

You might prefer Kava if:

  • You want to boost your mental function

Hope this helped!