Recently I received a big order of various nootropics and other supplements at Powder City, and among those was phenibut.
I had the opportunity to try it over the last three weeks, and I was impressed.
What is phenibut?
Phenibut is a derivative of the neurotransmitter GABA. Discovered in Soviet Russia in the 60’s, phenibut’s name is an abbreviation derived from its chemical name β-phenyl-γ-aminobutyric acid.
In the United States, phenibut is unregulated and is often sold as a supplement.1
Because of a minor structural difference to normal GABA, phenibut is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and affect GABA receptors directly. By comparison, regular GABA has a much more difficult time reaching the brain and affecting mood.
Basic effects of phenibut
Generally, anything that affects the GABA receptors can lead to tranquility and calmness. (Theanine is a favored GABA-booster; Kava Kava is also known to activate GABA receptors. By contrast, thujone, found in wormwood present in absinthe, is a GABA receptor antagonist)
Here are a few of the things people report after taking modest doses of phenibut:
- Reduced anxiety
- Relaxed feeling
- Slight reduction in inhibition
According to Erowid: “Effects can first be felt after around 60 to 90 minutes. Typically takes 2-4 hours for full effect to manifest when consumed orally.” The effects last “4-10 hours; longer with redosing.”2
The duration of effects of phenibut make this substance even better. Phenibut is also said to have a dopaminergic effect3, meaning this drug has the potential to increase motivation.
Where to purchase phenibut
The following are some recommended outlets for picking up your own phenibut:
- Powder City (my choice; good if you are going to be purchasing some nootropics from them too) – also in capsules
- iHerb (powder and capsules; good if you want to purchase nutritional supplements)
- Happy Hippo (Chris from GLL’s choice, good if you’re getting some kratom as well)
How to take phenibut – dosage and cycling
(Please see this post on phenibut withdrawl, be mindful of your dosage)
First of all, I’d like to say thanks to Chris at Good Looking Loser for his awesome introduction to phenibut. I highly recommend reading his review as he goes into detail about its effects on sex as well. (NSFW) (hint: they’re great)
The following dosing suggestion is based on Chris’ protocol:
- 250 mg in the morning on an empty stomach with coffee, cocoa, tea, guayusa or UpliftX.
- +2 hours after first dose, 250 mg more
- (optional) +5 hours after first dose, 250 mg more (depending on what you’re doing later)
(This protocol has since been edited by me to reduce phenibut dosage.)
NOTE: Phenibut is a substance that you can develop a tolerance to and withdrawl from.
The GABA-B receptors will downregulate when you take phenibut.
To cycle phenibut, it is suggested not to take more than 5 days per week, leaving 2 days to recover. Others have stated 4 days with 3 days to recover. So that is 4 days on, 3 days off, or 5 days on, 2 days off. Try 4 days first, then see how it works for you.
Whatever you do, DO NOT take it daily as you will only develop a tolerance and the subsequent withdrawl will hit you, as mentioned in the next section.
Respecting the power of phenibut, correct dosage and cycling will ensure that you do not have a bad experience. This substance can be safe provided that you use it responsibly. Do not use it if you have a tendency toward addiction and dependency. You’re better off sticking to theanine if this is the case.
Phenibut side effects, contraindications, combinations and withdrawl
According to Erowid’s page on Phenibut Basics:
Side effects can include headache. At higher doses, blurred vision or nystagmus, lack of coordination, depressed respiration, nausea, memory loss (“blacking out”), and hangover have been reported.
Phenibut may interact with alcohol, benzodiazepines, or other gaba-affecting substances. Care should be taken when consuming phenibut in combination with other psychoactive drugs.
Withdrawal symptoms after abrupt discontinuation of phenibut use are commonly reported, often characterized by restless anxiety, reduced sleep quality, and free-floating anxiety.
Based on the above, if you follow the dosage and cycling suggestions as outlined, you are of good mental and physical health, and are not currently taking any benzodiazapenes or other anti-anxiety medications, phenibut should be okay.
One thing that is mentioned is the combination of phenibut and alcohol. Phenibut can increase the intoxicating feelings of alcohol due to its effects on the GABA receptors. This IMO is not a good combination, and is not recommended when taking phenibut.
My experiences with phenibut
The first time I tried phenibut, I decided to take about 800 mg in the afternoon, (note: in retrospect, this dose was higher than necessary) just a little below Chris’ suggestions. Within 3 hours, I started to feel a strange feeling in my eyes, and started to feel “floaty.” Walking to the restroom to investigate in the mirror, I saw my pupils were very dilated. Apparently some people only have this reaction when they take a couple grams, so it was a little surprising at first.
The rest of the evening was pretty nice, I felt more talkative with friends. I had turned down some drink because I didn’t want to experiment with that combination at the time.
Following Chris’ suggestion to dose after a couple hours, the next few times I had phenibut were amazing, especially combined with a stimulant source. The anxiolytic effects carried on for hours and hours. Music and work were very pleasant and almost hypnotic, and I was motivated to get things done. I cleaned my home and even reorganized things I had been putting off.
Phenibut is not quite sedative as much as other anxiolytics. I’d liken phenibut to a sort of super-theanine in terms of its effects. I assume that its dopaminergic effects explain why I was suddenly more motivated to do things I was putting off or not considering while under its influence.
On phenibut, conversations with people were easier, and I was more prepared to go out and do something or interact with people instead of sit at home and work on my projects alone, as is my preference (although working would’ve been fine too).
Now, phenibut in combination with alcohol… I can’t say I enjoyed it as much as I would enjoy them separately. Adding 1 or 2 drinks seemed to diminish the good, uplifting phenibut effects and left me feeling “normal” and inebriated. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it was just — for a lack of better words — LAME. Because of phenibut, I have actually been consuming less alcohol.
Withdrawl effects? I have yet to experience any intense effects as I follow Chris’ suggestions for cycling.
4 days on, 3 days off. Once I did 5 days on, 2 days off and didn’t really notice much other than the phenibut floaty feeling was gone, I felt more grounded and ready to work when I had my morning tea. Your mileage may vary however as I am not taking phenibut for its anti-anxiety effects.
Note: As of June 2015, I prefer to keep my initial dose to about 250 to 500 mg. I only take it when I have an occasional unproductive bad mood, or I’m going to be around crowds of people for a long time.
If you want something that will give you a level head to get things done, or get you out of your head when you’re trying to interact with people, phenibut is great. Just be very mindful of dosage and cycling.