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The Danger of Phenibut in Supplements

dangers of phenibut


Of the many medications developed in the 1960s, phenibut carries a life of different twists and turns. Although scientists originally developed the drug as a psychoactive to treat anxiety and depression in Russia, the drug has taken on a life of its own in recent years in the US. Not FDA-approved but still fitness-popular, phenibut is not available as a prescription drug, but it can still be found through online retailers.

To create more mass availability, manufacturers can circumvent the FDA by classifying phenibut as a nootropic and a "dietary supplement."  Recently, dietary supplements that are claimed to increase cognitive function are becoming more popular, and that appeal has created a new market for phenibut. Although healthcare providers often warn consumers about the dangers of cognitive enhancement supplements, the dietary supplement industry has grown from $4 billion to $40 billion in the last 20 years as FDA regulations are sidestepped. 

If you're purchasing any workout supplements or looking for phenibut specifically, remember that this drug could cause harmful side effects left unshared by drug sellers and manufacturers. Stay informed about the risks and benefits of phenibut to ensure that you’re making the best decisions for your overall health.

What Is Phenibut?

Phenibut is an anti-anxiety medication available only in certain Eastern European countries, like Russia and Belarus. The drug has several brand names, including Anvifen, Fenibut, and Noofen. Traditionally, healthcare providers have used phenibut to treat depression, insomnia, vestibular disorders, PTSD, and an irregular heartbeat. 

Phenibut is a synthetic form of GABA, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Essentially, this means that when a person ingests phenibut, any feelings of anxiety or nervousness diminish. The user may also feel that they have greater control over intrusive or overwhelming thoughts when under the influence of phenibut since phenibut is structurally similar to GABA receptors — nerve cells that help to inhibit or reduce nerve impulses. Generally, users feel a sense of relaxation when taking less than one gram of phenibut, but higher doses negatively impact the user's motor skills.

Some medical professionals believe that phenibut could be used to treat anxiety in the future, but there is little clinical evidence that supports the drug's effectiveness in treating these disorders. But since people in the US cannot obtain phenibut from a doctor, they may order this substance online. There is a small loophole, given that phenibut is legal to possess in the United States but not purchase. Although the  FDA warned consumers that some companies are branding the phenibut supplements as nutritional supplements, almost half of Americans do not trust the FDA. Therefore, their warnings are not heeded by consumers. 

The Side Effects of Phenibut

People that use phenibut should be aware that they may experience side effects. However, these side effects are typically not severe. The side effects an individual experiences when taking phenibut are dependent on their dosage. Furthermore, each person has a different reaction to phenibut.

At lower dosages, individuals may experience the following side effects:

  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Allergic reactions

At higher doses of phenibut, the side effects may include the following:

  • Motor impairment
  • Loss of balance 
  • Hangovers

Long-Term Effects of Phenibut

The most significant risk associated with phenibut use is the development of dependence. When it comes to phenibut, some people are more prone to dependence than others. While one person could develop dependence after one use, others may never develop a dependence. 

People who use phenibut but do not have a dependence may experience withdrawal symptoms such as depression and fatigue. Those that heavily use phenibut over a long period are at high risk for complications related to their liver or blood.

Signs of Phenibut Abuse and Addiction

Phenibut may reduce anxiety, but users may also use the drug to enhance their concentration abilities. Some people take phenibut recreationally to ease social anxiety. A person may want to continue using phenibut to experience a sense of relaxation and focus without the effects of substances such as caffeine or alcohol.

Phenibut has a half-life of 5.3 hours, but a user may feel the drug's effects for the rest of the day after taking it. Some people take phenibut for recreational use, but other people use phenibut for claims of increasing muscle mass. Bodybuilders, athletes, and fitness enthusiasts are often interested in phenibut because some medical sports science studies mention that GABA ingestion could increase a person's HGH levels and muscle response to exercise.

Even individuals who use phenibut under a doctor's supervision may abuse the drug over time. Since phenibut is only available as a dietary supplement in the US, it can be challenging for people to know how much they should consume. The ideal dosage of phenibut depends on the individual and their biological composition, but a doctor should be consulted before taking the substance.

Signs of Phenibut Overdose

There is sometimes a risk that phenibut users will experience an overdose when abusing the drug. The symptoms of a phenibut overdose include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Low blood pressure or pulse
  • Renal impairment

At doses of phenibut higher than 7 grams, the individual may experience fatty liver degeneration over time. If an individual takes too much phenibut, there are risks of seizures, delirium, and unconsciousness. However, if phenibut is combined with other depressants, such as opioids or alcohol, the effects of a phenibut overdose are more pronounced.

Signs of Phenibut Withdrawal

The withdrawal symptoms of phenibut may last up to two weeks, depending on how heavily individuals have been abusing the drug. A phenibut user may exhibit the following signs and symptoms of withdrawal:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Aggression/Irritability
  • Decreased pain threshold
  • Hallucinations
  • Fatigue
  • Cognitive Deficits

Identify Phenibut Use with Countrywide Testing

If you suspect that a loved one may be using phenibut, there are resources available that will assist you in detecting illegal drug or dietary supplement use. 

Countrywide Testing is an online retailer of many health-related diagnostic test devices, including drug tests. If you’re concerned that a loved one may be abusing an illegal drug, let Countrywide Testing offer you peace of mind with our FDA-approved at-home drug testing kits.

Our drug kits are all analyzed with laboratory services from Phamatech, Inc, a SAMHSA, ISO, CLIA, and CAP licensed laboratory, to provide you with fast and reliable results that you can trust.

When you need answers, Countrywide is there. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help!