Phenibut on the Clock: Nootropic or Not?

Contel Bradford
3 min readOct 10, 2023

Phenibut is one of the most interesting and controversial members of the nootropics kingdom … though some of the so-called internet experts might trash me for even calling it a nootropic. We’ll get into the dramatics a bit later. Let’s start with some background info first.

Technically marketed as a psychotropic, phenibut is a GABA analog that functions as a central nervous system depressant. The chemical was first discovered in the Soviet Union back in the 1960’s. In fact, it was reportedly used by members of the joint space flight between the USSR and US in 1975. Today, phenibut is commonly used throughout Russia, where it is prescribed to treat anxiety and a wide range of other ailments.

Phenibut Effects

Phenibut’s greatest strengths lie in its anxiolytic effects. By shutting off neurons that trigger anxiety, phenibut eliminates distractions and creates more productive stimulation in the brain. The results of this activity are remarkable. For example, someone who struggles with social anxiety may feel more calm and confident during social interactions. Some users have even reported that phenibut is a more effective social lubricant than alcohol or traditional anti-anxiety medications due to the fact that it allows them to stay alert and focused.

Those same anxiolytic qualities also enable phenibut to show tremendous promise as a sleep aid. Used as a sedative, this supplement can restore natural sleep patterns that you see going to sleep faster, staying asleep longer, and enjoying a better sleep overall. As a result, phenibut is increasingly being used as alternative to melatonin and many of the prescription sedatives people find ineffective. Considering that sleep is so vital to our quality of life, you might say that its ability to promote a good night’s rest may be one of phenibut’s most attractive benefits.

Phenibut Side Effects and Concerns

Like any drug, phenibut comes with side effects, most of which are a direct result of overdosing — as in taking more than your body can handle. When taken in excess, the user may experience dizziness, loss of coordination, and other effects associated with alcohol inebriation. Less common side effects may include nausea, stomach discomfort, and fatigue. As with any drug, phenibut side effects are more likely to occur when combined with other substances, so caution is warranted.

Over the years, phenibut has developed somewhat of a bad rep due to its addiction potential and the resulting withdrawal symptoms that may follow. Tolerance develops fairly quickly, lessening the efficiency and requiring a higher dosage to achieve desired results. For this reason, daily usage is not recommended. Many users find a regimen of two to three times a week to be ideal, but as always, individual mileage may vary.

A Final Word

Phenibut is hands down one of the most effective “nootropics” on the market. Despite the controversy, I personally like to think its status as an unscheduled supplement says a lot about its overall safety. However, with great power comes great responsibility. Phenibut is something that should be respected and used wisely, especially when it comes to pairing with existing medications. One way or another, you should spend some time doing your homework before making the call on phenibut.

Contel Bradford is a mystical and complex individual. You can attempt to unravel some of the mystery by visiting his author site at



Contel Bradford

A seasoned freelance journalist and author, Contel Bradford is into reading, botanicals, horror, video games, and pro wrestling. Moreover, he LOVES adulting.