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Phenibut (aminophenylbutyric acic) is a drug developed in the Soviet Union in the 1960s primarily for the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, PTSD, and depression. In some countries it is sold as a prescription, and in the US it is considered a dietary supplement. Phenibut is a unique drug that possesses both nootropic and anxiolytic qualities.1https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1527-3458.2001.tb00211.x
Phenibut is most commonly used to as a prosocial mood brightener and antidepressant. Phenibut is unique among depressant drugs due to its ability to promote relaxation and improve mood without causing heavy sedation or otherwise poor cognitive functioning.1https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1527-3458.2001.tb00211.x. As such phenibut is a very popular choice for socializing, and is a much safer alternative to alcohol. It also sees a lot of use to help people fall into a deep and restful sleep.
Like many depressant drugs, phenibut works by increasing levels of GABA in the brain.2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18275958 GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the body, and its presence can reduce anxiety and improve sleep.
Unlike typical GABAergic drugs (such as benzodiazepines , barbiturates, and alcohol) which modulate GABA in a rather rough and nonspecific manner, Phenibut is unique. It is actually an analogue of GABA and as such directly binds to the GABA-B receptor site.2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18275958 This simply means that Phenibut has a more direct mechanism of action with fewer side effects and more consistency in contrast with something like xanax or alcohol.
Anecdotally, many people describe phenibut as a relaxing yet stimulating effect. Others may describe it as feeling like being drunk without any of the associated cognitive impairments. For this reason, some consider it a nootropic, and while it does have nootropic-like qualities, it’s up for debate.
That said, phenibut is certainly much safer than almost any other depressant drug out there, and may even provide a boost to cognition when used appropriately. In fact phenibut is quite safe; no deaths have ever been reported.
However, care should still be taken when using phenibut; overdoses can cause neausea, vomiting, unconsciousness. People who chronically abuse phenibut at high doses may risk dependence and addiction and therefore care should be exercised.
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Phenibut Dosage Information
Phenibut takes quite a long time to kick in and varies depending on the individual, dosage, and whether it was taken on an empty stomach. The comeup typically does not start until about an hour after dosing, and it may not peak until 2-4 hours, but for some people it may not peak for 6 hours or later. The half life is about 5.3 hours.2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18275958
When sold as a prescription, the therapeutic dose is 250mg. I would suggest taking no more than about 1500mg in one day because it becomes more recreational than therapeutic, and can increase the likelihood of side effects and complications especially when combined with other substances.
Overall, phenibut induces euphoria, reduces anxiety, and increases sociability, but it has potential for addiction if it is abused. I believe phenibut is an excellent pick-me-up, but is not something that should be used more than a 1-2 times a week.