Phenibut’s INSANE Benefits (and Brutally Awful Side Effects)
Phenibut is commonly used as a nootropic, an anti-anxiety medication, and sleep aid. Everyone’s always asking me how much they should take.
Here’s my answer…
Everyone’s phenibut experience is unique, but in general, men should take about 2 – 2.5 grams and women 1 – 1.2 grams of Phenibut in a day (source).
Yet even if you take the proper dose, the phenibut hangover can rear its ugly head the following day.
Positive Effects: The Benefits of Using Phenibut
First time users often pose the question, “what does phenibut feel like?”
Before I dive in, it should be noted that I only take pure phenibut crystals, which I buy here.
Sensations on Phenibut – How Does it Feel?
The effects of phenibut simultaneously combine mild-to-moderate sedation with mild-to-moderate stimulation, allowing one to feel physically relaxed and mentally focused at the same time.
This increases sociability, lowering stress and inhibition levels, without impairing judgment.
While some people have compared the primary effects of phenibut to that of a light dose of GHB or MDMA, it’s really just an effective anti-anxiety, antidepressant medication, with few side-effects and remarkable health benefits.
Phenibut gives some users the sensation of mild euphoria, tantamount to a mild “high”. As such, it can be abused if not used correct. Yet, the euphoric phenibut high is not intense, and taking more of it doesn’t intensify the high.
After consuming a dose of phenibut–usually between 250 milligrams and 1000 milligrams—-how long it takes to feel the effects varies considerably from person to person.
Personally, I’ve found that phenibut works most consistently when taken on an empty stomach, and I feel it’s effects in around 15 or 20 minutes.
However, it takes longer for most people to feel the effects.
People generally report that the effects start to kick in around 1 or 2 hours after oral ingestion, and then the primary effects usually last for around 4 or 5 hours, although pleasant lingering effects can last for another 24 hours.
While you won’t ever truly know until you’ve tasted the pudding, the following descriptions come pretty close:
- The best description of a good Phenibut experience is “extreme calmness”
- A moderate to drastic reduction in anxiety – general and social
- A moderate to drastic increase in pro social behavior and the desire to be social
- A moderate to pronounced “sense of well-being”
- A slight to moderate euphoria; high levels of euphoria can be achieved sometimes
- Music sounds amazing, somewhat like MDMA
The list goes on…
- Slight to drastic increase in alertness, this is also due to stimulants
- Moderate increase in cognitive processes (you think faster)
- Dilated pupils from taking 3000mg+ in a 24/hr period
- Slightly improved memory retention
- Increased sexual performance (low doses)
- Unlike benzodiazepines, Phenibut enhances instead of killing your motivation
The Dark Side of Phenibut: Negative Side Effects
1. Build-up and Tolerance
Building up tolerance against phenibut or one of its many effects is quite common, but this build up does not correlate with increases or decrease in phenibut’s nootropic effects.
In other words, more is not necessarily better; re-dosing will only worsen the hangover and provide little to no cognitive benefit.
The first signs of tolerance may be seen within as little as five days. For this reason, it is commonly used for one to two week periods, or dosage is increased by 25-30% after two weeks.
This makes phenibut ideal for short periods of stress or anxiety, but not ideal for chronic use. It is possible that taking only one dose daily may partially reduce the development of tolerance.
Consider this case – an individual taking phenibut in order to get rid of insomnia might see momentary relief of the surface layer symptoms, then after a week of using the product the same problem would occur again.
An ideal time course for phenibut should be no more than a few months.
Taking phenibut for longer periods of time, even as prescribed, increases the resistance to withdrawal. Inevitably the crash will come though, and it can be brutal.
Phenibut is not meant to help you in long term and so it cannot be used as a replacement for making the necessary lifestyle changes that would alleviate social anxiety.
Make use of other anxiolytics whenever possible. I recommend the following herbs:
- L-theanine, which is in most green teas.
- Kava Kava
- Lemon Balm
- Valerian Root
Of those five, theanine and Ashwaganda seem to work the best. I always keep them on hand if I plan to use phenibut.
2. Additional Side Effects and Negative Consequences of Phenibut
If you’re taking epilepsy medications like carbamazepine (a prescription anti-depressant for bipolar disorder), oxcarbazepine (a mood stabilizer), or other MAO inhibitors, adding phenibut can be lethal.
This drowsy effect can be very potent in cases of overdose.
Although having anti-anxiety properties, Phenibut is generally not recommended for long term treatment of General Anxiety Disorder. One of the side effects of Phenibut is a withdrawal or “hangover” effect following cessation of use due to GABA receptor down regulation and tolerance.
Though the source of the hangover is unclear, studies are finding that phenibut could alter the properties and functions of some epilepsy and sleep medications.
What happens during phenibut withdrawal
During phenibut withdrawal, excess glutamate floating around the brain causes people to get really bad anxiety, insomnia, and even depressive symptoms.
The depressive symptoms are also in part due to a down-regulation of dopamine receptors (remember that phenibut is a mild stimulant).
These symptoms are not normal. They usually occur in people who have used phenibut for prolonged periods of time in small doses: i.e. consecutive days …sometimes for years.
Most users begin by using phenibut at random times. Because of its steep tolerance ramp and dose-dependent intensity of symptoms, this sporadic dosing schedule leads to irritability and disturbed sleep.
In this weakened state, the temptation to use phenibut every day is very high and many users begin the downward cycle of daily use.
If you’ve been in this situation, then you’re well-acquainted with phenibut’s hellish side effects (when used improperly).
To break the habit, many individuals make serious attempts at cold turkey cessation. Cold turkey successes are rare but not impossible.
For the majority however, they only through your GABA receptor rejuvenation cycle further out of whack, intensifying anxiety. There is a solution in the middle ground.
Beating the Anxiety of Phenibut Withdrawal: A Method That Works
The key ingredient: slow your taper.
Many people don’t feel the effects of withdrawal until 24 hours after abrupt cessation of phenibut.
The withdrawal becomes progressively worse and maxes out at 72-96 hours but you’ll still have a rocky road ahead of you for a few weeks in terms of emotional flatness, dysphoria, some anxiety and definitely disturbed sleep. Of course these symptoms will vary from person to person.
Some may experience only one or two symptoms and some people will experience all of them. Decrease your dose by 100 to 300 milligrams every 1-3 days, depending on how you feel.
Usually (not always, but usually), the most dramatic withdrawal symptoms (even while tapering) don’t hit until the 72-hour mark.
For this reason, try maintaining the same dose (eg., gram per day divided in 250mg doses) for three days and then drop another 200 milligrams or so.
Experiment with low-dose NMDA antagonists to ease the withdrawal as well. Eventually you will get off of it naturally with only fragmented sleep for about 2 weeks after discontinuation.
If you still need help, consider soothing audio tapes like this one to soothe your mind:
A word of caution
This method of slow tapering is not always comfortable.
You could very easily take Klonopin or Baclofen to come off phenibut, but honestly it’s going to be healthier in the long run to tackle it with the same vigor that led you into the black hole of withdrawal.
If you have access to a short acting benzo (eg, Xanax) to get you through the initial 10 days, then use it at low doses and as infrequently as possible. But just be careful and don’t overdo it with benzos. YMMV.
If you’re still reading, then chances are you’ve read some of the horror stories about phenibut dependence.
Think about all the pain that others have had to go through, and learn from their mistakes. Phenibut is a substance that should be treated with respect, the same way you would treat a benzodiazepine.
It is an amazing compound and I do believe it has some therapeutic uses – when used appropriately.
That ‘line’ between use/abuse will be different for people but I hope that these tips help shed some more light on proper ways to use phenibut.
Phenibut isn’t so much an “addiction” in that users in withdrawal have no desire to stay on; the body is dependent on it and the positive effects people get from reasonable doses have diminishing returns.
In higher doses, it acts as a stimulant and disturbs sleep – even more of a reason to try and get off the drug.
Compare phenibut to drinking: with alcohol, you can develop a tolerance but you inevitably you hit a wall from drunken behavior or unconsciousness.
With phenibut, the same thing doesn’t really occur.
Once dependent, high doses will not give you the initial effects you felt before like motivation, pro-social behavior, and wonderful sleep.
On the contrary, it will break sleep up. And terribly so.
Handle with care
A final note — while the phenibut comedown can be intense if the drug is misused, phenibut is largely harmless. It is relatively non-toxic and it is not carcinogenic.
For a more in depth look at how phenibut operates, visit this page about the science of phenibut.