Professor David Nutt Marks Stress Awareness Month with ‘GABA-Raising’ Tips to Take the Edge Off - Responding to the stresses of life is the engine of evolution, so why are we turning to old methods that make us feel worse?

Professor David Nutt Marks Stress Awareness Month with ‘GABA-Raising’ Tips to Take the Edge Off - Responding to the stresses of life is the engine of evolution, so why are we turning to old methods that make us feel worse?

April 2023: Stress is an inevitable part of life. Whether it's work related, financial worries, or personal issues, stress affects everyone at some point. In the UK, stress is a growing problem, with 74% of adults experiencing ‘overwhelming stress’ in the past year. One common coping mechanism for stress is turning to alcohol. Widely available and socially acceptable, alcohol is an easy way to unwind and escape from stress. However, while providing temporary relief, alcohol can ultimately exacerbate the problem. So, with Stress Awareness Month upon us, world renowned scientist Professor David Nutt, and his team at GABA Labs share some GABA-raising tips to take the edge off.

  1. 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope[1]
  2. 49% of UK adults who felt stressed reported feeling depressed as a result[2]
  3. 34% of UK adults who have felt stressed in the past year have turned to alcohol as a way of coping[3]
  4. UK adults who drink heavily are more likely to experience long-term stress and anxiety than those who drink in moderation or not at all.[4]
  5. Alcohol consumption has been linked to a range of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and insomnia, which can all be exacerbated by stress.[5]

David Orren, CEO of GABA Labs, whose mission is to change the face of social drinking, said: It is understandable that so many of us turn to alcohol during times of stress. We know that alcohol can help us relax, unwind, and be more open to human connection, which is so important for mental health.  

Responding to the stresses of life has been integral to our evolution, and in a world with so much innovation and technological advances, why are we still relying on this old technology called alcohol… – when we know it isn’t good for us?

Of course, choosing to drink alcohol doesn’t have to be stress-related at all. Many people socialize over drinks because alcohol can help to break down barriers and facilitate conversation. However, it's important to find ways to connect with others that don't involve alcohol, especially if is being used as a crutch to deal with stress.”

Professor David Nutt, Chief Science Officer at GABA Labs and a prominent force driving change in the alcohol space said:“The problem with using alcohol as a coping mechanism is that it can lead to a range of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and insomnia, which can all be exacerbated by stress. Alcohol can also interfere with the brain's neurotransmitters, which regulate mood and behaviour, leading to long-term mental health problems.

The good news is that there are other ways to reduce stress and stimulate the brain's natural relaxation response. When we're stressed, the brain releases a range of neurotransmitters, including cortisol and adrenaline, which activate the sympathetic nervous system and trigger the fight or flight response. This response is useful in short bursts, but when it's activated for prolonged periods, it can lead to a range of health problems.

One neurotransmitter that plays a key role in relaxation is GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps to calm the brain and reduce anxiety. When GABA levels are low, the brain can become overactive, leading to feelings of stress and anxiety.”

What is GABA?

  • GABA is a naturally occurring stress response mechanism that is active in all plants and animals.
  • GABA has been around for billions of years, and our bodies produces it naturally all the time, modulating our levels of relaxation and sense of harmony.
  • Consuming high volumes of alcohol leads to all sorts of unpleasant effects but more moderate volumes of alcohol, around one or two units, raise our body’s GABA activity, which is understood to be the reason alcohol is so widely enjoyed.
  • GABA Lab’s research led to the identification and combination of natural botanicals that together enhance GABA function from gut to brain.
  • GABA Labs are continuing their pioneering research into GABA.

Professor David Nutt continues:The discovery that GABA is at the heart of the ‘good’ alcohol experience led us to develop the world-first botanical blend which activates GABA in the brain. We believe this will be a game-changer for adult social drinking because it means safer, healthier alcohol alternatives exist which still give drinkers what they want from alcohol – a sense of connection, relaxation, and harmony – but without the alcohol and all its attendant problems”.

Take the edge off: Try these Six Steps to raise GABA levels in your brain:

  1. Exercise regularly: Regular exercise has been shown to increase GABA levels in the brain. It is recommended to engage in moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
  2. Get enough sleep: Getting enough sleep is important for maintaining healthy GABA levels. It is recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
  3. Reduce stress: Chronic stress can deplete GABA levels in the brain. To reduce stress, try relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.
  4. Eat a GABA-rich diet: Foods that are high in GABA include fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut, as well as certain types of tea, such as green tea.
  5. Consider taking supplements: GABA supplements are available in pill or powder form. It is recommended to speak with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplements.
  6. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness practices, such as mindfulness meditation, have been shown to increase GABA levels in the brain. Try incorporating mindfulness practices into your daily routine to support healthy GABA levels.
  7. Spend time with people you love: We are social animals and are at our best when we form part of a community.

While stress remains a growing problem in the UK and alcohol still widely accepted and available, it’s important to remember that, despite the temporary relief, alcohol can ultimately exacerbate the problem and lead to a range of mental health issues. It's important to find other ways to reduce stress and promote relaxation, such as exercise, diet, and sleep.

To find out more visit // @sentiaspirits //

For samples of SENTIA Red and Black, to interview Professor David Nutt, Chief Scientific Officer, or speak to David Orren, CEO, or for further information and hi-res images, please contact   


About SENTIA and GABA Labs

  • Brand new to the spirits world, SENTIA has been created by an expert team of scientists and botanists using a powerful blend of botanical ingredients proven to stimulate the ‘GABA’ neurotransmitter activity.
  • GABA is responsible for activating that ‘two-drink sweet spot’ sensation in the brain, designed to give drinkers everything we want from alcohol, without the alcohol (light, relaxed and positively social feelings).
  • At the heart of SENTIA lies science and innovation from a team led by renowned British neuropsychopharmacologist Professor David Nutt. A prominent force for change in the alcohol space over the past 20 years, David recognized the need to offer a practical ‘solution’ for the increasing number of more mindful drinkers globally, who would like to enjoy the upsides of alcohol, without the alcohol.
  • SENTIA is a exciting and innovative functional spirit. It can be enjoyed neat, over ice, with a premium mixer, or in a cocktail. It has been crafted from all-natural ingredients to offer a distinctive flavour journey.
  • SENTIA Red and Black will soon make up a trio of Spirits that will launch over 2023, available directly from the brand, at all Planet Organic and via Amazon. RRP £29.00. SENTIA is rapidly becoming available in the premium on trade, off trade and health & wellness retailers throughout 2023.



  • Taste: Sweet heady aromatics, rich herbal complexity, and bittersweet spiced berries.
  • Moment: SENTIA Red is perfect for after-work intimate drinks and to wind-down for the weekend
  • Mood: Designed to help you relax, connect, and harmonize 
  • Serve: Enjoy 25ml neat, over ice, with a premium tonic and an orange garnish or in a sophisticated cocktail.



  • Taste: Spiced pepper warmth, smooth, earthy body, and smoky bitter finish
  • Moment: SENTIA Black is for that lunchtime moment, or after-hours gathering, think socialising around a table with a group of friends or colleagues.
  • Mood: Designed to stimulate the release of GABA for focus and conviviality
  • Serve: Enjoy 25ml neat, over ice, with a soda, ginger beer, or in a sophisticated cocktail.



[1] Mental Health Foundation, 2021

[2] YouGov, 2021

[3] Mental Health Foundation, 2021

[4] Alcohol Change UK, 2021

[5] Drinkaware, 2021