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

  • Edward A. JouneyEmail author
Complex Medical-Psychiatric Issues (MB Riba, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Complex Medical-Psychiatric Issues


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.


Phenibut Nootropic New psychoactive substance Baclofen GABAB agonist Dietary supplement 



The author and publisher would like to thank Dr. Patricia Ordorica, MD, for reviewing this manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Edward A. Jouney declares no potential conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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