In case you missed the news, Kavinace Ultra PM has been discontinued after the FDA send out a warning letter (1) to the manufacturer, NeuroScience, demanding that they remove one of the ingredients from the supplement.
The problematic ingredient is 4-amino-3-phenylbutyric acid HCl, which is more commonly known as phenibut. The FDA has stated that phenibut does not meet their definition of a dietary supplement, and so manufacturers are not allowed to use this ingredient in their formulations. (2)
Both the Ultra PM and the regular formulas of Kavinace used to contain phenibut and both have been discontinued for good.
The FDA has also sent similar warnings to other brands that use this ingredient, which all had the same fate as Kavinace!
What is Phenibut?
Phenibut, or more scientifically 4-amino-3-phenylbutyric acid, is a synthetic form of a naturally occurring amino acid called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Phenibut is a phenylated version of GABA, and it’s also known as beta-phenyl-GABA.
In the human body, GABA has a few important functions. Most notably, it is the principal inhibitory neurotransmitter that is responsible for slowing down and calming your brain. Higher levels of GABA in the brain result in sedation, relaxation and calmness. Adversely, low levels of brain GABA result in anxiety, agitation, restlessness, insomnia, and other symptoms.
GABAergic drugs that are used as sedatives and anxiolytics work by boosting GABA in the brain. Phenibut is a GABAergic substance, more specifically it is a GABA receptor agonist, and it works by mimicking GABA, thus increasing the concentration of this neurotransmitter in the brain resulting in a sedative and relaxing effect.
GABA on its own can be taken as a dietary supplement, but since it cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, it won’t affect GABA levels in the brain and so it’s not an effective anxiolytic, but it may have other benefits.
Phenibut (phenylated GABA) does cross the blood-brain barrier, and so it artificially injects more GABA into your brain resulting in feelings of sedation and tranquility.
It is fair to say that the high efficacy of the old formula was for the most part due to phenibut, but there are some serious concerns about this chemical compound…
What’s Wrong With Phenibut?
Phenibut is used as a prescription medicine for anxiety and other mental disorders in some parts of the world. In Russia, where phenibut was developed, it is sold in local pharmacies under different brand names.
In the U.S., phenibut has not been approved by the FDA for medical use. But it is also not a scheduled or banned substance, so supplement manufacturers thought they could get away with adding it to their formulas, and they did for a while.
What probably prompted the FDA to take action against phenibut is that it does come with some serious safety concerns.
This is an addictive substance. Your body can quickly develop tolerance to phenibut, which means you will have to keep increasing the dosage to maintain its effectiveness. And quitting isn’t an easy option!
People who quit phenibut after they have been taking it on a regular basis may suffer from withdrawal symptoms, including insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, fatigue, depression, brain fog, and others. The higher the dosage the user used to consume, the harsher withdrawal symptoms they will likely suffer from.
Phenibut addiction and abuse are no joke, (3) and there have been calls to ban this substance, which still remains unregulated and legal to buy over the counter.
However, these withdrawal symptoms often occur in individuals who abuse phenibut by taking more than 2,000 mg (2 g) a day. It is still possible to happen with lower dosages, but not likely to be a big problem.
If you noticed you have become extremely anxious and unable to sleep after you stopped taking Kavinace Ultra PM (or the non-PM formula), then those may be withdrawal symptoms resulting from your brain having been dependent on phenibut to get its GABA fix.
But let me repeat again, developing a phenibut dependence is not very common at lower dosages in the 250-750 mg range, which is around the amount that one serving of Kavinace had. It is very much possible that your experiences of increased anxiety and insomnia after quitting Kavinace are due to other health issues that have been temporarily suppressed while you were taking the supplement.
What’s The Alternative to Kavinace?
If you want the exact same effect you had with Kavinace or Kavinace Ultra PM, you may need to get phenibut! After all, this was the most effective ingredient in the formula.
So, after learning about its potential risks (addiction and withdrawal), if you still want to continue using phenibut, you can buy it as a nootropic compound. Nootropics Depot is a reputable vendor that sells this stuff. If you only take 250-500 mg a day; 2-3 times a week max you should be fine.
Note: If you used to take the PM formula, then it is also likely that melatonin was doing the magic for your body. If you haven’t tried another supplement that has melatonin in it, I’d recommend you do so before you go with phenibut.
You can find several worthy natural supplements that may serve as a safer substitute and provide similar benefits. As you must know, everyone’s body is different and so are the causes of sleep problems. You’ll probably have to try a few different supplements to find the one that works for you.
The following are four well-formulated sleep aid supplements that contain a handful of the most popular and effective natural substances that are commonly used for sleep problems, anxiety and stress. If you haven’t tried some or all of these ingredients, give it a go!
Sleep Factors by Nutra Biogenesis
- Calcium (40 mg)
- Magnesium (40 mg)
- Valerian (120 mg)
- GABA (100 mg)
- Inositol (100 mg)
- L-Theanine (100 mg)
- 5-HTP (40 mg)
- Chamomile (40 mg)
- Hops (40 mg)
- Passion flower (40 mg)
- Skullcap (40 mg)
- Wild lettuce extract (40 mg)
- Jujube (25 mg)
- Melatonin (3 mg)
Sleep Factors sells for $36.89 per bottle (60 capsules; 30 servings) at PureFormulas.
Insomnitol by Designs for Health
- Vitamin B6 (10 mg)
- Valerian (400 mg)
- Passion flower (200 mg)
- Lemon balm (200 mg)
- Chamomile (200 mg)
- GABA (PharmaGABA) (100 mg)
- L-Theanine (100 mg)
- 5-HTP (100 mg)
- Melatonin (3 mg)
Insomnitol sells for $48.30 per bottle (60 capsules; 30 servings) at PureFormulas.
Best-Rest Formula by Pure Encapsulations
- Vitamin B6 (3.3 mg)
- Melatonin (1 mg)
- GABA (300 mg)
- L-Theanine (50 mg)
- Valerian (400 mg)
- Lemon balm (150 mg)
- Hops (150 mg)
- Passion flower (100 mg)
- Chamomile (100 mg)
Best-Rest Formula sells for $28.60 per bottle (60 capsules; 30 servings) at PureFormulas.
Tranquinol by Premier Research Labs
Active ingredients (proprietary blend):
- Seditol (magnolia bark and jujube seed extracts)
- Organic turkey tail
- Organic chlorella
- Olive leaf extract
- Organic turmeric
- Japanese knotweed
Tranquinol sells for $27.94 per bottle (60 capsules; 30 servings) at PureFormulas.