Phenibut (β-Phenyl-γ-Aminobutyric Acid): an Easily Obtainable "Dietary Supplement" With Propensities for Physical Dependence and Addiction

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2019 Mar 9;21(4):23. doi: 10.1007/s11920-019-1009-0.


Purpose of review: Phenibut (β-phenyl-γ-aminobutyric acid) is a psychoactive GABA analogue currently being marketed online as an anxiolytic and nootropic dietary supplement. Its use is growing in popularity, but its pharmacological activity is well beyond that of a conventional nutritional supplement, and similar to that of a prescription strength sedative. This review will focus on the potential adversities of phenibut use and will discuss what treatment options may be beneficial to afflicted patients.

Recent findings: Over the last several years, multiple case reports have highlighted phenibut's potential to produce the conditions of physical dependence, withdrawal, and addiction. In cases involving intoxication, patients have presented with a varying degree of mental status changes, from being minimally responsive to manifesting symptoms of an agitated delirium. Phenibut is a potent psychoactive substance with GABAB agonist properties, which is emerging as a drug of misuse through growing internet sales. Its marketing as a "dietary supplement" is inaccurate and misleading, given its pharmacological profile and ability to induce the physiological changes associated with withdrawal and physical dependence.

Keywords: Baclofen; Dietary supplement; GABAB agonist; New psychoactive substance; Nootropic; Phenibut.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive / etiology
  • Dietary Supplements / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / adverse effects
  • Nootropic Agents / adverse effects
  • Substance-Related Disorders / etiology*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / adverse effects
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / analogs & derivatives*


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Nootropic Agents
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • 4-amino-3-phenylbutyric acid