First discovered in the Soviet Union in the 1960s, Phenibut has been described as one of the most remarkable natural compounds that is currently available. It acts as a true nutraceutical, combining dietary supplementation with a therapeutic action.
In essence, Phenibut is a tranquilizer and nootropic (or study drug) that is known to enhance mood and reduce stress. It is widely available in most countries without a prescription, and is commonly referred to as a supplement.
Phenibut is fast gaining the reputation for being considerably more effective in relieving panic disorders, anxiety and stress than many prescription medications. In Russia it is commonly used for insomnia, particularly for neurotic or psychosomatic patients, and as a psychotropic drug. It is also used to treat mental disorders, including depression. Interestingly, it is used to reduce stress in Russian cosmonauts (astronauts) without negatively affecting their work performance by making them drowsy.
Because it is also a successful growth hormone, body builders often use it.
What is Phenibut?
A natural derivative of the “inhibitory neurotransmitter” gamma-aminobutyric acid, commonly referred to as GABA, phenibut stimulates the dopamine receptors in the brain, at the same time antagonizing ß-phenethylamine (PEA), which is a “putative endogenous anxiogenic.” In other words, it has the effect of regulating “neuronal excitability” that occurs in the central nervous system, and it prevents the brain from becoming hyperactive.
Dopamine is, of course, the well-known hormone that makes us feel well and happy, especially when a person has accomplished something or overcome a challenge. When phenibut stimulates the dopamine receptors, it creates a similar feeling of well being.
Once it reaches the brain, phenibut activates both the GABA-A and GABA-B receptors, lessening stress and anxiety, relaxing the muscles, reducing inhibitions, and generally providing a sedative effect. This makes it completely different to other nootropic supplements that commonly have a stimulatory effect.
The dosage of phenibut depends to a large extent on what is being treated. For instance, when used to treat stress and anxiety, a relatively lower dose will avoid drowsiness. Higher doses are given to insomniacs to induce a hypnotic or sleep-inducing state. But too much will create a state of “hyperarousal” and will make it difficult to sleep.
At the same time, those who don’t generally suffer from anxiety or stress may not feel any effect unless they take a relatively high dose.
Generally a “safe” dose for minor stress symptoms or to improve sleep is 250 g (0.25 grams) taken two hours prior to going to bed. This may be increased to 500 mg if required.
Most published studies have involved using dosages of no more than three grams per day, and at this rate there were no psychological side effects. But because research indicates that it is possible to become addicted to phenibut in just 10 days, it is best to keep the dosage as low as possible. For instance, some experts say that athletes should take less than half a gram when they are in training, and that a daily dose should not exceed one gram.
Personal recommendations from people who have used phenibut vary in terms of dosage, but the body of opinion is that it’s better to under-dose, and to avoid increasing the dosage once you have started taking it. It is known that the effect of phenibut on the GABA receptors can last for at least a day, until all of it has been excreted by the kidneys. For this reason some people say that one shouldn’t take it more than twice a week.
Another factor is that because the brain can develop a tolerance to phenibut very quickly, it is best to “cycle” the drug. You can do this by using it for two weeks and then not taking it for two weeks.
At the end of the day, because of the danger of side effects, and unpleasantness of withdrawal, phenibut should generally be treated as a drug to be used only when required, and not as a daily supplement.
Clinical Research: Benefits and Effects
While it isn’t possible to supplement with GABA itself, because the natural compound can’t penetrate the “blood brain barrier,” phenibut can cross the blood brain barrier, and can therefore replicate the effects of natural GABA.
The most common benefits and effects caused by phenibut are:
- Anxiolytic The anxiolytic action is used to treat all types of anxiety disorders. This makes it useful for treating a wide range of quite vaguely related disorders from stuttering and balance disorders, to hyperactivity, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. It is also used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and on a more day-to-day level, simply to calm the nerves when attempting to do something more challenging than normal.
- Caridoprotective This can protect the myocardium (muscular tissue of the heart) if it is threatened by anything from chronic stress or alcohol abuse to chronic renal problems.
- Neuroprotective This safeguards the brain neurons when the brain or body is stressed in various circumstances ranging from brain injury to extreme physical activity.
- Nootropic This provides cognitive enhancement and assists the improvement of attention span and concentration, as well as memory, learning ability and mood.
It also has an anti-hypoxic effect, which, like the neuroprotective action, allows athletes to train harder, because it increases the body’s tolerance to overall metabolic stress.
Additionally, a study of male weight lifters has shown that phenibut can also increase resting growth hormone concentrations as well as post-exercise growth secretions. Another study found that men (specifically those who were clinically neurotic ) were able to increase muscle strength using phenibut.
Researchers have also found that when given to animals, phenibut helped enable them to cope in situations that were emotionally negative.
Interestingly, the psychoactive effects of phenibut are very similar to the effects of drinking alcohol, but the upside is phenibut doesn’t have any depressant effect (except sometimes in withdrawal, see below). It also doesn’t fit either the “upper” or “downer” drug classifications. It simply provides an ability to be calm and focused without the jitters associated with caffeine, or ultimate “cloudiness” that so often accompanies the consumption of alcohol.
It is a well-documented fact that long-term use of phenibut can lead to dependence, particularly if it is discontinued abruptly. Further, the side affects are described as “highly unpleasant,” and similar to the rather awful side effects caused by benzodiazepines, commonly used to treat seizures, anxiety and severe insomnia by working on the brain’s neurotransmitters. These symptoms include hallucinations and, ironically, heightened insomnia and anxiety. For this reason it is best to taper off usage gradually.
Many people who have suffered withdrawal symptoms when they’ve stopped taking phenibut warn that it should only be taken “in moderation.” Most report that it triggers serious anxiety and sometimes depression, even if taken for a short period of time.
People who have taken as much as 20 grams per day have shown psychotic symptoms, quite simply due to rapid addiction.
Even if you take very small amounts of phenibut it tends to dehydrate the body, so all users should drink lots of water, day and night.
Reviews and Experiences
Online forums on the Internet share experiences, both good and bad, that people using Phenibut have had. These include:
- Extreme effects including a racing mind, while feeling calm. Sleeping well with vivid dreams.
- • Mood leveler that also improves quality of sleep and dreaming.
- Don’t take with alcohol.
- Phenibut helps my PTSD tremendously keeping me level-headed enough to do my job as an accountant.
- Phenibut made my whole life better, but it does have nasty withdrawals, so you can’t take it all the time.
- I went through phenibut withdrawals pretty hard.
- Definitely a better option than benzos which just made me sleepy. Withdrawals after long term usage.
- Increased sociability, anti-anxiety, no inhibition.
- I used to do phenibut like once a week but stopped because everytime I did it, I'd be incredibly depressed and anxious the next day.
- I have a phenibut smirk plastered on my face for at least 24 hours after taking it. And there is no comedown to speak of for me, only a gradual wearing off of effects.
- I used it for two weeks straight, it was amazing then I went cold turkey. The five days of withdrawal was a pretty sadistic experience.
Oftentimes, the advice given sounds something similar to, "The secret is to stay smart when using any type of 'study drug.'”
Please note that legality of Phenibut (whether it's legal as a Research Chemical or for Human Consumption) varies from country to country. Please be aware of the legality of this drug in your country. This article is here as a general resource only. We do not encourage or recommend the consumption of drugs that are against the law in your country. As always, consult your doctor before starting a new diet or fitness program.