What Is Phenibut?
With the prevalence in popularity in nootropics and other similar smart drugs, there is an urgent need for the public at large to be informed as to all the benefits and dangers of these supplements. One of the most powerful and potent such supplements that have had it’s profile increases lately is the neuropsychotropic drug, Phenibut. Its rise in popularity suggests that it actually is beneficial, but many reports indicate that those who are using it need to practice caution and responsible use when using it. Only when one has thoroughly researched all the pros and cons of this drug can one make informed decisions and administer it safely.
In technical terms, Phenibut is a central depressant and derivative of the naturally occurring inhibitory neurotransmitter γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA). The addition of a phenyl ring allows Phenibut to cross the blood-brain barrier. Once the supplement has entered into the central nervous system it is able to bind with GABA receptors. This serves to increase activity in GABA sites within the brain. Since this neurotransmitter is considered to be the chief inhibitory chemical within the human body, it has the effect of reducing the level of excitement within the brain. Most neurotransmitters affected by nootropics are excitatory, meaning that their release causes other neurons to fire. When GABA is released, those active nerves or neurons are targeted and are regulated in such a way as to limit their firing rate. Phenibut basically off-sets some of the stimulation that occurs in the brain so that only the most important signals get through. A close structural analogue of GABA, as well as of baclofen (β-(4-chlorophenyl)-GABA), pregabalin (β-isobutyl-GABA), and GABOB (β-hydroxy-GABA). it’s originally thought to act as a selective GABAB receptor agonist.
In basic terms, it’s a supplement similar to certain nootropics that can cross over the blood-barrier barrier and enter into the central nervous system so it can treat a wide range of ailments, including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, asthenia, insomnia, alcoholism, stuttering, and vestibular disorders, among other conditions. In most countries, Phenibut is not approved for clinical use and is instead sold as a nutritional supplement. It has been reported by some researchers to possess nootropic actions for its ability to improve neurological functions, but others have not observed these effects.
The roots of Phenibut are mainly from its Russian origins. In 1963, St.Petersburg, A Soviet Union lab scientist by the name of Perekalin synthesizes the base compound of Phenibut, 3-phenyl-4-aminobutyric acid, as an experimental drug intended to calm psychiatric children. By 1964, Professor Khaunma labels the drug, Phenigamma, and reports the first findings of its tranquilizing effects in the Byulleten Eksperimental’noi Biologii iMeditsiny. In 1975, Phenigamma had spread from clinical practice to public use under the name of Phenibut. The Soviet Ministry mandated its use for astronauts in space flights due to the drug’s revolutionary psychologically calming yet cognitively stimulating effects. By 2001, over 300 scientific publications studied Phenibut’s nootropic and pharmacological properties. As a result, by 2014 Phenibut became widely used all over the globe as a smart drug, mood enhancer, sleep aid, and recovery booster.
The benefits of Phenibut are quite extensive for anyone suffering from anxiety or simply anyone who wants to be able to relax more. It has been shown to relieve anxiety and stress, promote calm and relaxation, reduce social anxiety and improves communication skills and increase memory function. Many others report that it can prevent “test anxiety” to help you perform better academically, can regulate proper sleep patterns, reduces insomnia and restless leg syndrome, increase the duration of your REM sleep, and can help people overcome social anxiety by improving reaction time in social environments.
Benefits Related To Depression
Due to its effects on dopamine levels in the brain, Phenibut seems to have an indirect influence on those suffering from depression. Not only does it help lessen anxiety, a symptom of clinical depression, but it has been shown to help facilitate social interaction. More social activity is shown to counteract and help fight symptoms of clinical depression. Phenibut is, however, not intended as a replacement for medication especially used for treating clinical depression such as Prozac, Zoloft or Paxil.
Benefits Related To Anxiety
One of the most touted benefits of Phenibut is the ability to lessen anxiety – especially social anxiety or shyness. By increasing the stimulation of both GABA and Dopamine, users feel slightly sedated as though thoughts are no longer racing through their minds. Many say that Phenibut helps to turn down the volume on some of the “mental background noise” that your brain is constantly processing. As users become more relaxed, this will also help to lessen symptoms of stress and depression. Interestingly, it also has an effect on lowering inhibitions which may explain why people feel more outgoing and confident when taking Phenibut.
Benefits Related To Neuroplasticity
There is no data to suggest that Phenibut can improve brain function and neuroplasticity with long term use by users. Its effect is only temporary while using the drug.
Benefits Related To Insomnia
Proper dosing of Phenibut has also been shown to help with deeper, better and more restful sleep. Because of its anxiolytic properties, it can help put one’s body at ease, which will allow users to fall into a deeper sleep, faster. Those suffering from insomnia may also benefit from this supplement. Current Russian research indicates that Phenibut can help aid in dealing with insomnia by relaxing the user to a point where its effects may be compared to those of Valium. The importance of high-quality sleep for mental performance cannot be overstated. Sleep is also vital for processes related to memory consolidation and brain and body maintenance. In this regard, using Phenibut to promote sleep can lead to better cognitive function across a wide spectrum of metrics. However, Phenibut is not specifically meant to replace clinically approved prescription medication for insomnia, so take this fact into account when using it to help with sleep problems.
Benefits Related To ADHD
Though Phenibut has a similar effect to Adderall, there are no studies that indicate it also is an effective treatment for ADHD in children or adults, even though it has origins as a treatment for children in psychiatric care.
Benefits Related To Alzheimer’s Disease
Due to the positive effects created by various nootropics and similar neuropsychotropic drugs, they’ve been extensively studied regarding Alzheimer’s and other cognitive diseases. It is believed that Alzheimer’s patients have experienced damage to their cholinergic system. Since many nootropics target the cholinergic system, they work by increasing the amount and efficiency of Acetylcholine. It is believed that Acetylcholine receptors and the function of Acetylcholine itself, are directly correlated with mental decline.
Before administering this supplement, you must remember that Phenibut is a very powerful neuropsychotropic drug. Proper care and caution must go into planning your dosage schedule. Due to the possibility of forming a tolerance to this compound, Phenibut should not be taken every day. You should ideally use it a maximum of twice a week or cycle it with long periods of not using it. This will ensure that your body does not adjust to higher levels of GABA activity which can lead to withdrawal symptoms after extensive use.
Regular users recommend taking between 250 mg to 1000 mg of Phenibut powder or capsules per day. Based on user reports and clinical studies, anywhere from 250 to 3,000 mg per day has been used safely. Of course, it is always advisable for a beginner to begin with their lowest effective dose. This could possibly be even lower than the 250 mg mentioned above. This allows time for the body to adjust to the higher levels of GABA which are now being introduced into your endocrine system. You can experiment within this range, although going above 1,000 mg per day is generally not recommended. Proceed slowly and carefully observe the effects at lower levels before considering raising your dosage of Phenibut.
Most people will take Phenibut later in the day as opposed to using it during the more productive hours. You should generally not split your dose into smaller administrations. This is due to the fact that Phenibut has a fairly long half-life and remains active in the system for the better part of a full day, unlike most other Nootropics. Additionally, it is water soluble so you have a lot of options for administration, either mixing the powder with water or juice or even using pills (you could even decide to cap your own pills). Phenibut does have a very strong and sour taste, especially in the powdered form.
Though there is plenty of evidence to indicate that all the above-listed benefits have been confirmed by those who use Phenibut, as will all potent drugs there are some side effects:
Changes In Dream Patterns: One of the more interesting side effects that have been reported by users is a change in their normal dream patterns. This may be caused by the increase in REM sleep associated with taking Phenibut. In many cases, this means that they begin to remember their dreams and they seem to be more vivid. Sadly, this can be both good and bad. There have been users reporting that they experience nightmares on a daily basis when using Phenibut. On the other hand, some people find that their dreams are actually better and become more pleasant. Most people also report that they sleep much more soundly and wake up feeling more refreshed and ready to tackle their day.
Numbness & Pain: Although very uncommon, a number of other users have indicated that after taking Phenibut (usually a few hours later) they feel a pain in their limbs. Others might experience only a numbness. This feeling is described as coming from ‘deep’ inside their bones and feels a bit strange and even unnatural. In some cases, this does go away, but the general remedy for this is usually either reducing the dosage or taking a break from this nootropic.
Drowsiness: Phenibut can make people drowsy or excessively fatigued, especially when taking it at certain times of the day. You may feel like you are moving in slow motion or that all of your thoughts are taking a long time to be processed. This is usually the result of an excessive dose. The best way to overcome this is to monitor how much is being taken and pay attention to the specific effects it has on your body. The right dosage for someone else may, in fact, be too much for you.
Tolerance Build-Up: The main side effect of Phenibut to be concerned about is the risk of a build-up of tolerance and potentially even withdrawal. This can happen with almost any supplement, so it is very important to track how much is being taken and what effects it is having. Noticing any type of significant or regular decline in the effects should be taken as a sign that tolerance is building. It can also help to use the supplement in a sort of cycle, with a few days on and then a few days off. This helps to clean out and re-balance your receptors so they do not adjust to the presence of the supplement in your system. This irregular dosage schedule will also curb any potential Phenibut side effects related to withdrawal when you stop taking it.
Studies indicate that Phenibut should not be administered daily over a long period of time. There are many respondents who have been using the drug for up to two years, but these users repeatedly stress how they either cycle their administration of Phenibut or experienced severe tolerance and withdrawal symptoms when using too much. Those who used it daily for a period of six months or more experienced more acute and life-threatening cases of the above-listed side effects as well as acute and painful withdrawal symptoms.
Many students use it as a test or studying aid, but also report stopping usage once they have taken their exams or are no longer in need of increased concentration or memory retention aids.
Risk of Addiction
Since tolerance of Phenibut can accumulate quickly, the danger of addiction for those who stray from recommended Phenibut dosage regimens is somewhat moderate. Since your brain quickly adapts to the presence of Phenibut in your system and withdrawal symptoms can be acute in those who build up a tolerance quickly, becoming addicted to this supplement is unfortunately very easy. And, because withdrawal symptoms can be very pronounced when you try to cycle off of it, the temptation to re-administer the drug is often significantly high. This is the main danger of using Phenibut and those who wish to avoid addiction need to practice consistency with regard to dosage recommendations and make every possible effort to cycle use to allow your body and brain to return to its normal state. Only when you no longer feel any withdrawal symptoms or a need for the drug should you re-commence use of Phenibut.
Limited evidence indicates that withdrawal symptoms of Phenibut include severe anxiety, nervousness, tremors, agitation, dizziness, irritation, fatigue, loss of appetite, rapid heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, tension, psychosis, hallucinations, and insomnia. These effects may last for up to two weeks. Additionally, tolerance may develop rapidly with repeated use. This is an expected reaction when using a neurologically active compound like Phenibut for long periods of time. As your brain adjusts to higher levels of GABA, it may start to naturally release less of this neurotransmitter or your receptors may become less sensitive to its presence. With enough repetition, it is theoretically possible that if you stop taking Phenibut, you could experience withdrawal since your brain has now adjusted to its regular presence.
Individuals who have seen long durations of withdrawal (5 days or more) after quitting Phenibut typically take upwards of 2 grams per day for several days. There is one instance that was reported by a patient that described his side effects as “nervousness and shakiness, psychomotor agitation, feeling easily annoyed and irritated, fatigue, poor appetite, heart pounding and racing, nausea, insomnia, and feeling tense and keyed up.” Other Phenibut withdrawal symptoms may include sleep disruption, increased susceptibility to stress and anxiety and persistent negative thoughts. This is not common and has not been shown in clinical trials, though this may be due to the fact that most trials are short in duration and use conservative dosages.
The best way to prevent Phenibut withdrawal is to only use it on an occasional basis. You may decide to save it for days when you are experiencing anxiety episodes or to take it for one week and then cycle off of it for a week. Cycling your Phenibut dosages with another anxiolytic compound like Aniracetam is common. If you start to see yourself developing a tolerance, it is best to allow your body to reset and your receptors to readjust. In case you do experience withdrawal symptoms from Phenibut, it is best to seek qualified medical advice as to how to proceed. Your doctor may recommend that you slowly ease off your dosages over the course of a month so that you do not shock your system.
In terms of chemical structure, Phenibut is a derivative of GABA with a phenyl group in the β-position. It is a chiral molecule and thus has two potential configurations, an (R)- and (S)-enantiomer. It has almost the same structure of baclofen (lacking only a chlorine atom in the para-position of the phenyl group) and contains phenethylamine in its structure. Pregabalin has the same structure as Phenibut except that a phenyl group is instead an isobutyl group.
Phenibut works by binding to GABA receptors and lowering levels of excitatory action in the brain. GABA is considered to be the most prominent inhibitory neurotransmitter, used to balance out the effects of the excitatory chemicals that stimulate greater activity in your neurons. In most cases, the brain is able to achieve this balance on its own, but when you are overly stressed or suffering from anxiety, it is often the result of excessive firing in your neurons. This over-stimulation of your brain cells leads to the characteristic symptoms of general anxiety disorder such as feelings of uneasiness and nervousness, uncontrollable or obsessive thoughts, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating.
The “Phenibut high” occurs because this supplement helps to restore the balance in your brain activity by preventing some of the over-excitement in your brain. It causes the same effects as your natural GABA levels, thereby ensuring that your neurons only fire when they are supposed to. We experience this Phenibut effect as a sensation of relaxation, peace or tranquility. Taking Phenibut can make it easier to fall asleep, help you focus more appropriately on the important stimuli, and channel your energy into productive pursuits rather than negative thought loops.
Another effect of Phenibut is in partially stimulating Dopamine receptors in the brain. Dopamine is one of the chief mood neurotransmitters and it is associated with our pleasure centers in the brain. Whenever you do something positive or enjoyable, your dopamine neurons fire as part of the rewards system that we use to decide whether to stop doing something or do something again. Dopamine is also involved in executive functions related to inhibition control, concentration and attention. By boosting Dopamine activity, Phenibut can enhance your mood and even help you become more motivated and driven.
Research on Mice and Rats
In the passive avoidance test in mice PB at small doses (5 to 10 mg/kg i.p.) facilitated the formation of the conditioned reflex (38). The latency for the entry into the dark section of a chamber was 91 ± 154 sec in control animals and 284 ± 45 sec in animals treated with 5 mg/kg i.p. of PB (p< 0.05). The total time spent in the dark part of the chamber was 108 ± 28 sec in control animals and 38 ± 12 sec in PB-treated animals (p< 0.02). In addition, PB antagonized the amnestic effects of chloramphenicol, 100 mg/kg i.p. At doses of 10 to 20 mg/kg i.p. PB enhanced the performance of mice in the swimming and rotating rod tests (38). Chronic administration of PB (50 mg/kg i.p., twice daily for 5 days) promoted tolerance to its sedative action on the last day of treatment while its nootropic effect was enhanced.
In striatum of rats, PB, at 50 to 100 mg/kg i.p., increased the levels of dopamine and its metabolites: homovanillic and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acids (1,38). It was suggested that PB may activate dopaminergic processes and that this effect may be important for the sedative and tranquilizing effects of the drug. Pretreatment with haloperidol (a dopamine receptor antagonist) or á-methyl-p-tyrosine (an inhibitor of tyrosine hydroxylase) antagonized the effects of PB on the levels of dopamine or its metabolites in mouse brain. PB-induced activation of dopamine metabolism in the striatum of rats was found to be bicuculline-insensitive.
Studies in the Military
The only usage of Phenibut in any military environments or contexts is with its use by the Russian space program for cosmonauts during missions, due to its mental enhancing abilities while still being relaxing and calming in these stressful conditions. There is no data with regard to its use in combat situations, though all the research indicates that such conditions would be problematic to administer Phenibut in due to exact dosage recommendations and potential side effects interfering with military activities.
Is Phenibut Legal?
Although Phenibut is not cleared for clinical use by most health professional authorities around the world and by the FDA, it is legal for purchase via most nutritional supplement websites and storefront markets. Medical professionals are, however, not authorized to prescribe Phenibut for their patients.
Phenibut has a number of devoted users who attest to this supplement’s effectiveness for treating depression, social anxiety, nervousness, reducing social inhibitions, and generally enabling you to relax and enjoy yourself more. Some people use it late in the evening to help them have more restful sleep or even to promote lucid dreaming. Other individuals have been known to take Phenibut as a recreational substance in the place of alcohol since some of the effects of these compounds have some similarities. There are also a number of Nootropic-like effects and benefits to this supplement. This includes helping to improve memory, learning, attention span, focus, concentration, and even decision-making processes. Even those with memory problems or cognition difficulties can use Phenibut effectively.
Beyond the uses of Phenibut as a dietary supplement, it is also administered in medical contexts as a treatment for a number of different conditions. In Russia and certain other European countries, it is often prescribed for sleep disorders or cases of anxiety. Phenibut is also quite safe when you follow the directions for how to take it properly. The technical term is that it is well-tolerated for human use and consumption. Interestingly enough, the supplement has been included in the standard health kit of Russian Cosmonauts since the early 1970s.
The following reports are taken by respondents posting reviews of both positive and negative experiences on WebMD following administration of this supplement. Take into account some respondents may not have stayed with dosage recommendations and their negative reports may reflect this incorrect administration of the drug:
- “I am merely sharing my experience for those that are considered Phenibut so that they are fully informed and not surprised by anything that may occur. POSITIVES – Completely anxiety free. felt a new motivation to do things. upbeat mood. a mild sense of euphoria which was great NEGATIVES- tolerance builds QUICKLY. If I didn’t space my doses out more than 3 days apart, I would need to take twice the dose to get the same effect. IMPORTANT – after it would kick in I would feel a strangle “tingle” in my lung and slight shortness of breath. one day (after taking Phenibut) I had severe trouble breathing and went to the hospital. they determined I had a collapsed lung which they could not explain. I had to be operated on, was hospitalized for 10 days, needed a chest tube to breath, and was in recovery for another month. If you take Phenibut and experience difficulty breathing or a strange sensation in your lungs, please discontinue use !“
- “I cannot say how it will affect you if you take this stuff, I can only comment on how it affected me. Don’t be fooled, that small scoop is in there for a reason. Start with a half dose or smaller. Taken for a long period of time this stuff could make Xanax look like children’s aspirin. There ARE side effects. Absolutely, positively stay away from drinking alcohol for at least 24-48 hours after you stop consuming this drug, compound, supplement, whatever you want to call it. I didn’t and I lost my appetite for an entire day, dry mouth, bad dreams, slight memory loss, and an overall feeling that something was not right… and I only stopped taking it after 2 days. The first effects for me did (in some ways) mimic Xanax to a very, very small degree. But everyone’s physiological makeup is different. I take Xanax occasionally, especially when I fly, and a 1/4 dose if I am in a stressful situation. For me, it helps. But it falls into the category of a benzodiazepine so it can be addicting (for some people). Therefore it is regulated and you need a doctors prescription. But doctors hate prescribing it because they are concerned you (will) become addicted and malpractice insurance is expensive…Phenibut should have (some) regulation and I believe at some point in time it will. I would rather take Xanax once a week to help me, than this stuff 5 days in a row to try and achieve the somewhat same result. Be very careful and do your research well before consuming this product. The life you save may be your own.“
- “I first heard about this substance about 2 months ago while researching things that could help me with sleep and anxiety/depression. I am a self-employed attorney and recently have had several factors in my life, family, and business, combine to create tremendous stress. I’d previously tried Celexa but had several side effects and limited benefit. I also tried Zoloft. No side effects, but it was only OK in terms of being effective. In all fairness, I still take it at low dosage. In the past, I’d also tried all the normal herbal supplements. Valerian, 5-htp, St. John’s Wort. After reading about Phenibut I decided to take a chance and actually order some online. I’m VERY leery ordering anything online, but I took a chance. Phenibut is absolutely fantastic. The immediate effect, no side effects, fantastic sleep and I feel great the next day. I smile more, I feel like actually being pleasant to people, it’s easier to concentrate. I’ve taken it consistently and responsibly, and I also stopped taking it for several days to check on any withdrawal symptoms. I didn’t have any, so I think if you use it responsibly and at proper dosages cycling off shouldn’t be too bad. I also ramped up the dosage for a while to check on effect, and yes, don’t do this b/c it will induce an intoxication effect. Don’t abuse this stuff. I did order it from Liftmode, the website mentioned in several other reviews. And no, this is not a fake review. I wish I could provide my contact info so people could verify this by contacting me personally. Liftmode is a legitimate website, provided prompt service and the product is fantastic. I’m very pleased. I can’t believe this substance isn’t FDA controlled as a prescription medication.“
- “I have been using Phenibut since I discovered it about two years ago. Granted it has been in existence for several decades. As a long time sufferer of generalized anxiety, it has been a blessing to finally have a non-pharmacological remedy for social and general anxiety. I don’t like taking RX meds because they take away anxiety but cause a down feeling. It literally takes one dose and WOW!!! GAD was gone! I have so much energy and such a happy, bright outlook! I only take it in the morning 2-3 times a week. This supplement was the perfect solution for my conundrum. Not only does Phenibut make me feel less stressed, it puts me in a calm and focused mindset. I highly recommend this for anyone who needs to deal with stress at work or school. I have been taking Phenibut at night for several years for sleep due to insomnia related to GAD and it is what I had been searching for years for!! I have tried several brands but have found Liftmode to be the most effective and economical. I have tried both the Phenibut, HCL, and F.A.A. (free amino acid) versions. By far the F.A.A. is the better choice. I was a little skeptical of this when I first bought it I have come to really appreciate Phenibut. In Russia, this is a prescription medication, so that lent some credibility to the product right away. I have noticed that I do feel more calm and relaxed when I use it; I work with frustrating individuals, and the days that I take it, I have markedly different tolerance level to these people. It can be an addictive tolerance building, as the packaging claims, so it is a good idea to take it for 2-3 days and stop for 2, as recommended. Follow dosing directions and you should have no problem.“
There is still some considerable amount of research need to fully outline all the benefits of this drug, but the dangers of overuse and withdrawal make Phenibut a powerful, yet tricky supplement for regular users of nootropics. If you have experience with other similar neuropsychotropic drugs and have been able to successfully cycle and wean yourself off of similar supplements with no long-term neurological or physical damage, then you should be able to use Phenibut safely as long as you follow recommended dosage amount and periods of use. Those just starting to administer nootropic drugs should begin with other, less potent supplements before attempting to use Phenibut. That being said, when used properly and sparingly, Phenibut is significantly and demonstrably effective at reducing anxiety and stress, increasing sociability, enhancing calm and helping you sleep better. Typical doses range from 250-1000 milligrams per day. There is no one Phenibut dosage however, as each individual’s biology is very different and requires different amounts. Always start with the lowest effective dosage and only increase it as needed.
Excellent article, sound advice. Phenibut is by far one of the most effective broad spectrum nootropics available. It works, and notably so. Caution certainly should be exercised on dosage and frequency though.