Phenibut is an anxiety relieving and focus enhancing synthetic supplement that falls within a class of supplements known as nootropics.
Of all the nootropic compounds, one of the most controversial may be Phenibut. Phenibut (beta-phenyl-gamma-aminobutyric acid HCL) is a GABA agonist that was originally designed for use by Soviet cosmonauts. By the 1960's Phenibut was beginning to be prescribed to the general population in Russia and is still occasionally prescribed. Like picamilon, Phenibut was designed to be a focusing agent that wouldn't lead to stimulation or jitters that could decrease executive functioning.
There is a lot of debate as to whether or not Phenibut is actually a nootropic. According to Dr. Corneliu Giurgea, the discoverer of piracetam and originator of not only the term "nootropic" but the original criteria for exactly "what is a nootropic substance" made it clear what is and what is not a nootropic substance. They must be generally non-toxic, neuro-protective, cognitive enhancing and not have a major effect on the physiology or psychology (no vaso-dilation for instance which marks picamilon out of the running as a "true nootropic" by the original definition.
Phenibut may be nootropic by Giurgea's definition, but only when dosed under the level that would allow for muscular relaxation and sedation. So, in the right dosage, Phenibut can be a nootropic as it is certainly a neuroprotective, anamnesic and antihypoxic agent which shouldn't come as much of a surprise considering that other GABA analogues (cetyl-GABA, sodium and lithium hydroxybutyrate) are known to have such properties. Piracetam, the original nootropic substance is actually a cyclic derivative of GABA as well.
Phenibut is a GABA-B agonist, but unlike many other GABA agonists, in addition to anxiolytic benefit, there is some dopaminergic activity which can result in some mild euphoria that is comparable to alcohol, but without the lack of motor control associated with alcohol or benzodes. One of the biggest differences between Phenibut and alcohol or other GABA agonists is that it can be used in moderate doses without any impairment to cognitive function. Another mechanism for Phenibut's anxiety relieving benefit is it's action as an endogenous anxiogenic compound.
There is some controversy as to whether or not Phenibut is actually a nootropic substance. In multiple journal articles, it's referred to as a nootropic substance. It does not, however, strictly conform to the final criterion: They should lack the usual pharmacology of other psychotropic drugs (e.g. sedation, motor stimulation) and possess very few side effects and extremely low toxicity.
The placement of the phenyl ring seems especially important to the pharmacological activity of Phenibut (especially as compared to Piracetam for instance). The phenyl group allows for rapid penetration of the blood-brain-barrier allowing more binding to GABA receptors than by supplementation of pure GABA alone.
Care should be taken when dosing Phenibut. Keeping doses below a gram are most effective for nootropic purposes. Remember that it can take up to 4 full hours for full effects to be felt. The delay leads some people to redose which can lead to heavy sedation for up to 24 hours after a moderate to heavy dose. Another concern with Phenibut is that tolerance can build up quickly and with habituation, "free floating anxiety" can result. Minimum effective dosing and cycling off Phenibut are recommended as a result.
Remember to always consult with your personal care practitioner if you’re planning on undergoing any diet, physical fitness or supplementation regimen. If you’re currently under care of a doctor or taking any medicines (over-the-counter or prescribed) it’s especially important to consult with your medical professional. Remember that nootropics are not approved by the FDA and though many have been shown to generally non-toxic and benign adverse side effects such as allergic reactions are possible.
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