GABA Labs in the News

About GABA Labs

GABA Labs is a pioneering and science-driven company that develops functional ingredients as patentable alternatives to alcohol.

Their flagship product, ‘Alcarelle’, is a synthetic GABAergic* ingredient designed to mimic the positive effects of alcohol – conviviality and sociability – while avoiding alcohol’s harms and unpleasant effects. Alcarelle will be licensed to Drinks Companies, enabling them to create a whole new generation of functional adult beverages.

GABA Labs will be taking Alcarelle through formal regulatory programs prior to licensing it to the global drinks industry. GABA Labs is seeking registration for Alcarelle as ‘novel food’ in the UK/EU/Canada and ‘GRAS’ (‘Generally Regarded As Safe’) in the US.

GABA Labs has also completed its first botanical ingredient, which has now been licensed to The Social Drinks Company (TSDC). TSDC has launched the first of a new range of botanical spirits called Sentia*, which also simulate the sociability and conviviality effects of alcohol-based drinks.

GABA Labs’ scientific work is led by Chief Scientific Officer and renowned neuropsychopharmacologist, Professor David Nutt. Following thirty years’ research into the effects of alcohol and other substances on stress, anxiety and relaxation, Professor David Nutt embarked on a program to develop a patentable synthetic compound as a functional alternative to alcohol.

GABA Labs was originally formed in May 2016, with a mission to develop new compounds that are designed to mimic the pleasurable effects of alcohol on the GABA* system, without the use of alcohol. 

GABA Labs is now raising investment to support the regulatory processes for Alcarelle, and to develop further their bioprospecting program into plant-based molecules using AI-based techniques.

*GABA (Gamma aminobutyric acid) – exists in almost all living organisms, and is produced naturally within the human brain. It is a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) and produces a calming effect, enhancing conviviality and sociability. 

*GABAergic – in molecular biology and physiology, a substance is GABAergic if it produces its effects via interactions with the GABA system.

*Sentia is an alcoholic-free, functional Botanical Spirit that enhances sociability and relaxation. Sentia is intended as an adult recreational drink and although alcohol-free, is not recommended  for anyone under the age of 18, pregnant or breastfeeding, or taking prescription medication including antidepressants.

GABA Labs in the News

02-Feb-2024: BevNet (US)
GABA Labs Launches SENTIA in the US
(GABA Labs comment – Sentia is now in the US!)
The NCS Consumer Sentiment Survey 2024 highlights a significant shift, with over 41% of Americans expressing a conscious effort to drink less. This represents an increase of 7 percentage points from 2023, indicating a growing awareness and intention to modify drinking habits. As consumers become more informed about the impact of their choices on personal well-being, there is an increasing preference for alternatives that align with holistic approaches to health and wellness. In fact, the survey further reveals that more than one in three Americans (34%) identify themselves as mindful drinkers.” (in English)

02-Feb-2024: Mail Online
Hangover-free beer and wine is coming to Britain: Specially-crafted ‘booze’ contains NO alcohol but still gets you ‘tipsy’
(GABA Labs comment – Mail Online Science reporters are very thorough, early press mention of “Gabyr”)
Hangovers may be a thing of the past. For alcohol-free beer and wine that leaves users tipsy but skips the dreaded after effects the following day could be coming to Britain as soon as this year. SENTIA, a spirit that mimics the effects of alcohol but, crucially, doesn’t contain any alcohol, was launched last year by Hertfordshire-based GABA Labs. The team behind the drinks, headed by ex-Government drugs tsar Professor David Nutt, has now revealed plans to bolster their product range in 2024, which will include alcohol-free beer and sparkling wine.” (in English)

21-Jan-2024: First Fashion Style
Sentia Spirits: Elevating mood, redefining the drinking experience
Whether you’re looking for connection and harmony, or simply enjoy the experience of sipping a good drink, SENTIA has got you covered. The science behind it all is nothing short of cutting-edge, meaning that you can discover a ‘third way’ beyond ‘alcohol’ and ‘not alcohol’.” (in English)

11-Jan-2024: Independent
This alcohol-free spirit actually makes you feel tipsy
(GABA Labs comment – thorough and accurate article)
While many non-alcoholic drinks want to replicate the taste of a tipple, Sentia wants to replicate the effects. By combining various GABA-enhancing and GABA-promoting herbs and botanicals into a concoction, Nutt says he and the team have been able to develop an “effective alternative to drinking low levels of alcohol”. Essentially, it’s an alcohol-free drink that’ll make you comfortable enough to spill secrets, smooth out a hard day’s wrinkles and ease yourself into the evening.” (in English)

10-Jan-2024: Women’s Health
I tried GABA spirits and they’ve totally saved my first Dry January
(GABA Labs comment – inspiring!)
GABA spirits are different to other alcohol-free drinks because instead of creating a drink that tastes like alcohol, they create a drink that aims to mimic the ‘good’ effects of alcohol too. GABA-infused Sentia has been created to give drinkers that ‘sweet spot’ feeling of relaxation and sociability, without the unsteadiness or nasty side effects of a drink too many.” (in English)

09-Jan-2024: Bloomberg UK
UK Brands Are Splashing Into the $10 Billion Enhanced Non-Alcoholic Drinks Market
(GABA Labs comment – good description of UK innovators in this space)
Adaptogenic beverages like the buzzy Sentia are getting global attention. If you want to understand the growing dichotomy in the UK’s drinking habits, start with the first month of the year. The country might be synonymous with pubs and martinis, but London is also the place the Dry January campaign launched, in 2013.” (in English)

05-Dec-2023: Kindred Spirit
How to Be More Present This Christmas
(GABA Labs comment – includes a good description of GABA)
Sharing a drink (or several) is often at the centre of socialising, especially around the holiday season. Think about the pleasant sensation you get after your first drink, when you feel you’re really connecting with those around you, and sharing profound conversations. Now imagine being able to freeze-frame this moment, and bask in it the entire night. Enter SENTIA, the revolutionary alternative to alcohol designed with conscious drinkers in mind.” (in English)

29-Sep-2023: Men’s Health
How To Get Tipsy on Non-Alcoholic Spirits
(GABA Labs comment – focuses on GABA Labs’ USP)
That first sip of booze stimulates the production of a neurotransmitter called GABA, which has a calming effect. But this chemical messenger is also found in plants and certain fermented foods. GABA Labs, helmed by chief scientific officer Professor David Nutt, has found a way to harness it.
‘Functional spirits such as Sentia amplify and accelerate the effect of the GABA plant products in the brain,’ explains Rayyan Raja Zafar, who researches brain science at Imperial College London. By combining different plant-based ingredients, it’s possible to activate GABA, thereby increasing sociability – without the addition of liver-battering alcohol.” (in English)

28-Jul-2023: The Wall Street Journal
Alcarelle: The Pleasure of Drinking, without the Pain
(GABA Labs comment – article also includes two other products which are not connected to GABA Labs)
The London-based company is developing a synthetic alcohol that it says will bring pleasurable effects without hangovers, health problems or slurred speech. Its basis is gamma-aminobutyric acid, an amino acid that targets receptors in the front of the brain that trigger the relaxation and sociability alcohol brings, while avoiding the chaos it wreaks on the body.” (in English)

31-Mar-2023: Club Soda
How Professor David Nutt is creating an alternative to alcohol
(GABA Labs comment – intelligent discussion of the issues around alcohol)
“At GABA Labs, we aren’t against alcohol and can understand its appeal and the role it has played in society for centuries. Humans are social beings, and alcohol can support connecting, relaxing, and bringing people together. However, we maintain that, if overused, alcohol is a dangerous substance […] And every family in Britain is damaged to some extent by alcohol […] In short, alcohol – ethanol – is old technology, and we feel that the government is falling short on being proactive in exploring viable alternatives which offer some of the sensations and experiences that we enjoy from alcohol but without the alcohol itself.” (in English)

27-Mar-2023: Daily Star
Booze-free drink that makes punters ‘tipsy’ without a hangover is set for supermarkets
(GABA Labs comment – good description of Alcarelle)
A new booze-free drink which makes you feel drunk could make hangovers from hell a thing of the past. The tipple gives the fuzzy feeling of alcohol without the after effects, its creator claims. And it may be on supermarket shelves by 2025. The product, called Alcarelle, is the brainchild of former government drugs advisor Professor David Nutt. He said: “Assuming you’re not a heavy drinker and you haven’t de-sensitised your brain receptors then it will have an effect like a glass of wine. “It’s a mellow effect, it’s a mellow relaxation, but you’re not sleepy and don’t fall asleep – you just feel a bit chilled. That’s the clever thing about it. However much you took, you won’t get a greater effect but you’ll get a longer effect”.” (in English)

23-Jan-2023: The Sun (UK)
Sentia review: We tried SENTIA Red to see if it lives up to its spirit-lifting claims
(GABA Labs comment – comprehensively covers the science, along with a highly finessed tasting description.)
Did SENTIA have the desired effect on me? I think so, in that I felt relaxed while drinking it and after, but the effects were subtle. I remained in control and there was no risk of drinking too much, getting lairy, causing a row and having to be poured into a taxi home. And best of all – always best of all – no hangover the next day!” (in English)

23-Jan-2023: The Scotsman (UK)
If you are doing Dry January, this is when the going gets tough
Designed specifically to target the ‘GABA’ receptors which calm and relax the brain, Sentia aims to deliver that nice two-drink feeling of disinhibition […] Crucially, it’s alcohol-free and instead relies on a herbal concoction to achieve the desired neurological effect. So could it catch on?” (in English)

21-Jan-2023: The Daily Mail (UK)
Alcohol WITHOUT the hangover: 0% herbal spirit gets you ‘drunk’ but has no lasting effects… as two MailOnline reporters found out
The Daily Mail sends two rosy cheeked, and hopefully merry, MailOnline reporters to test out SENTIA and give their verdict.
I’m feeling slightly squiffy already. I can definitely feel a little buzz, my commute home should be interesting.” (in English)

06-Jan-2023: The Times (UK)
How I felt after getting ‘drunk’ on hangover-free zero-alc booze
Times Science Editor, Tom Whipple, sits down with Professor Dave Nutt and David Orren to discuss (and experience) GABA Labs’ functional zero-alc drinks.
Most people drink alcohol to become more sociable and more relaxed. They want to take away that social inhibition, that anxiety, that slight uncertainty about how people are going to react to you. A bottle of 0 per cent beer does not do that.” (in English)

05-Jan-2023: The Spirits Business (US)
Neuroscientists have created a new category of non-alcoholic ‘spirit’ designed to mimic the feel-good effects of alcohol
…Nutt and his team have developed a synthetic alternative to alcohol, known as Alcarelle […] This ingredient will go into food safety testing once the company has raised funds […] Alcarelle will be sold to beverage companies in order for them to add it to their drinks and allow consumers to experience the benefits of alcohol without ethanol.” (in English)

03-Jan-2023: inews (UK)
I tried substitute alcohol that gives you a buzz without the booze and it worked
Susie Mesure tries GABA Labs’ botanical functional zero-alc drink, “SENTIA”.
Forget living on lime cordial or soda water, companies are now producing drinks that give you a buzz but without the alcohol.” (in English)

04-Nov-2022: Sun (US)
DUTCH COURAGE – Millions of Brits booze before a funeral, a work presentation or a job interview, study finds
Survey by GABA Labs’ picked up by international press.
A study of 2,000 adults who drink found 49 per cent have had a beverage before an event or social occasion to increase confidence. Such situations have included a family gathering (43 per cent), the first social outing with new colleagues (25 per cent) and catching a flight (23 per cent). More than one in 20 (seven per cent) have even had a ‘shot’ of courage before a job interview, while 10 per cent have done so before a video call. Among the top situations in which people drink to feel their best are on nights out (55 per cent), a holiday (48 per cent) and someone else’s wedding day (43 per cent).” (in English)

03-May-2022: The Champagne Problems podcast (mp3 audio file, 53mins)
Professor Dave Nutt and David Orren discuss alcohol culture and how GABA Labs is delivering better drinking choices for adult social drinkers with the Champagne Problems podcast team – mental health and wellness professionals, Robbie Shaw, Patrick Balsley and Sam Hampson. (in English)

03-Jan-2022: Der Tagesspiegel
Wie eine Alternative zu Alkohol Leben retten könnte (auf Deutsch)

01-Jan-2022: Time Magazine
Synthetic Alcohol Promises to Make Drinking Safer (in English)

03-Mar-2021: Vice Magazine
The Drink That ‘Gets You Tipsy with No Hangover’ (in English)

30-Jan-2021: Metro, UK
Excellent review of Sentia (new botanical drink powered by GABALabs’ ingredients) (in English)

(All items prior to 2021 refer to GABA Labs as “Alcarelle”)

28-Feb-2020: Quest magazine, Nederlands
Drinking “alcohol” without a hangover (in Dutch)

02-May-2019: BBC Science Focus Magazine
Could Alcarelle, a synthetic alcohol substitute being developed in UK labs, spell the end of binge drinking, hangovers, and alcohol-related diseases? (in English)

03-Apr-2019: mnn (Mother Nature Network)
With Alcarelle, scientist aims to create booze that keeps the buzz but none of the baggage (in English)

02-Apr-2019: Splice (magazine for Life Scientists)
Scientists Develop “Fake Alcohol” That Gets You Buzzed But Never Drunk (in English)

28-Mar-2019: Inverse
Synthetic “Alcarelle” Promises to Make You Feel Drunk Without the Hangover (in English)

26-Mar-2019 – Irish Examiner
Here’s what you need to know about Alcarelle (in English)

26-Mar-2019 – The Independent
Synthetic alcohol that doesn’t cause hangovers or liver damage may be available in five years (in English)

26-Mar-2019 – The Guardian
Could Alcarelle provide all the joy of booze – without the dangers? (in English)