FDA Nixed Kavinace Ultra PM! What’s The Best Alternative?

FDA examines Kavinace capsules

Disclaimer: This post reflects my own personal opinion. I do not represent, nor am I associated with NeuroScience: the manufacturer of Kavinace.

POST DIGEST: Kavinace Ultra PM was taken off the market after the FDA issued a warning about a mislabeled ingredient: 4-amino-3-phenylbutyric acid HCl (aka phenibut). This is a synthetic sedative compound that may cause addiction and withdrawal symptoms.

Kavinace OS (order here) is the reformulated product that can improve sleep, but it’s less effective for anxiety than Ultra PM. Other alternatives are listed down this page (jump here).

What a funny business the supplement industry is! It is dominated by highly hyped, useless, scammy products… and when you finally manage to find one that actually works for you, chances are it will soon be discontinued, reformulated or cracked down on by some three-letter agency!

Yep, the FDA has recently sent out a warning letter to NeuroScience about their product Kavinace (Ultra PM). The letter asserts that one of the ingredients the supplement contains — 4-amino-3-phenylbutyric acid HCl (aka phenibut) — does not fit the FDA’s definition of a dietary ingredient and thus cannot be sold in over-the-counter dietary supplements.

So that means the manufacturer (NeuroScience) had to remove this ingredient from Kavinace (Ultra PM) to comply with the FDA request, and they’ve already decided to permanently discontinue both the original Ultra PM and non-PM formulas of this product.

All online stores that used to sell Kavinace and Kavinace Ultra PM are now out of stock of these two supplements.

No Phenibut = Not Cool!

Unfortunately, without phenibut, Kavinace (Ultra PM) will never be the same product with the same remarkable effect that many consumers loved. You can still find the other ingredients at many supplement stores, but it was really phenibut that made this supplement so unique and powerful.

If you are looking for the same relaxing and calming effect that both the old Kavinace formulas provided, then you’ll need to continue taking phenibut, although there are less potent natural substitutes.

So, what’s the best alternative to Kavinace Ultra PM? You can simply just buy the exact same ingredients separately! You don’t need to search for a replacement product with different ingredients if you already know what works for you.

As I said, the other two ingredients (Melatonin and 5-HTP) are widely available at Amazon and many other stores at very low prices compared to Kavinace’s premium price point. The star ingredient, phenibut, is also quite cheap, but a little trickier to source.

Where to Get Phenibut?

Phenibut is actually more of a drug than a dietary supplement. In some countries, most prominently Russia, phenibut is an approved medicine that is sold under the brand name Noofen and others.

In the USA, this is neither an approved drug nor a dietary supplement. But it’s also not a scheduled or controlled substance, which means it can still be legally sold and bought over the counter, as long as it is not sold as a treatment.

In fact, phenibut is one of the most popular nootropics (or cognitive enhancers) that are purchased online by consumers in the USA, Europe and other countries.

There are many nootropics vendors that sell generic phenibut either as pure powder or in capsules. One of the most reputable US-based stores that sell phenibut is Nootropics Depot. They offer excellent service and they have top-notch quality control compared to other sellers in this arena.

Before You Buy Phenibut

Phenibut is basically a synthetic derivative of a naturally occurring amino acid called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). In the human body, GABA has many functions and it is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain.

You can buy GABA on its own as a dietary supplement, but since this compound has a limited ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, it won’t have a very significant calming effect on your brain, although some personal experiences seem to contradict this theory.

Phenibut, on the other hand, is a phenylated analog of GABA, and with the addition of a phenyl ring to the molecule, phenibut is efficiently able to cross the blood-brain barrier and has a more profound sedative and anxiolytic effect.

But that also means you must be very careful when dosing phenibut. Your body sees phenibut as GABA, and it acts like it, so when you take phenibut it artificially increases GABA levels in your brain. The natural response of the body will be to produce less GABA of its own.

Taking high doses of phenibut repeatedly will cause your body to get used to being fed GABA instead of making it. And then if you suddenly stop taking phenibut, it will take some time for your body to restore its normal GABA production, and during this period you will suffer from many unpleasant consequences of having very low GABA levels in your brain, aka withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, insomnia, agitation, depression, brain fog, and others.

Your body can also quickly build up tolerance to phenibut if taken very frequently, which means you can easily enter a spiral of constantly having to increase your dose to get a noticeable effect.

Because of its tendency to cause dependence/addiction, phenibut does have a higher abuse potential than most other nootropics, and so should be used very wisely and moderately. Think of it as alcohol — if you abuse it, you’ll get hooked to it and then you’ll have a hard time getting off.

Phenibut Dosage Guidelines

Here are some general guidelines for taking phenibut responsibly:

  • The normal dosage ranges from 250mg to 750mg a day.
  • Start with a 250mg dose once or twice a day.
  • Do not take more than 1,000mg (1g) in a single day.
  • To avoid tolerance build-up, it is recommended not to take phenibut every day. Try to take it 2-3 times a week or less.
  • When you decide to stop taking phenibut, you should gradually decrease your dose (taper off) for a few weeks to avoid withdrawal symptoms. This is especially recommended for users who take it on a daily basis.
  • Everyone’s body is different. If you used to take Kavinace Ultra PM every day without a problem, then it’ll probably be fine if you take a small dose of phenibut every day. Since Kavinace is a proprietary formula, the exact amount of phenibut per capsule is unknown, but it seems to be about 500mg.

Kavinace OS as a Replacement

Kavinace OS Capsules by NeuroScience

A couple of months after Kavinace went off the market, the manufacturer released a new supplement under this line called Kavinace OS.

The new OS formula is available as an emulsion (flavored liquid) and capsules. Although it is under the same brand name, this is pretty much a whole different formula than the old Kavinace.

Here are the active ingredients in Kavinace OS capsules:

  • Melatonin
  • L-Theanine
  • Resveratrol
  • Astaxanthin
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Selenium

Kavinace OS is designed to be an all-natural sleep aid with 5mg of melatonin at the center of this formulation. The other ingredients are also used to promote sleep and having varying efficacy.

L-Theanine stands out as a natural alternative to phenibut. L-Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea and it has a mild relaxing effect. Many people have had positive results with it, but it is significantly less potent than phenibut.

If you were happy with Ultra PM, then it was most likely due to one, or both, of two ingredients: phenibut and melatonin.

Melatonin is an effective sleep aid, and if that’s what does the trick for you then you’ll likely have a good experience with Kavinace OS.

Phenibut is a sedative and anti-anxiety agent, and if that’s what your body was responding to in Ultra PM, then you are not likely to have much success with OS as it lacks strong anxiolytic ingredients.

There is mixed feedback about this new supplement — some users say it works, while others say it did nothing for them!

If you’d like to give the new Kavinace OS a try, you can buy it from PureFormulas.

Other Alternatives

The following are some recommended formulas and single supplements that can be used in place of the old Kavinace.

Sleep support:

Anxiety and stress relief:

42 Replies to “FDA Nixed Kavinace Ultra PM! What’s The Best Alternative?

  1. I have taken Kavinace for 2-3 years without the PM as it made me groggy in the morning. Instead I would take the Kavinace with 1mg of melatonin and sometimes lately I have also taken one during day without the melatonin for well being during the day. Do you know of any supplement without the melatonin but with the phenibut?

    1. Hey peggy,

      Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any other recommendable sleep supplements that contain phenibut without melatonin.

      In fact, there aren’t that many pre-formulated dietary supplements that contain phenibut, and most manufacturers are now shying away from this ingredient, thanks to recent FDA crackdown!

      If phenibut is what’s working for you, then you can buy it separately from nootropics vendors; Nootropics Depot and LiftMode are two of the most reputable vendors that carry phenibut. But please use it moderately and carefully (more info in the post above.)

      The other two ingredients in “Kavinace” (vitamin B6 and Taurine) can also be bought separately from many sellers on Amazon and other stores, but you probably just need phenibut.

  2. Thank you so much for your article. When Kavinace PM was being discontinued I was able to buy a few months worth. I finished the bottle a couple of days ago. Last night I was waking up throughout the night with horrible anxiety. It never dawned on me that it was withdrawal. Question: Why is Sleep Time allowed to stay on the market and not Kavinace PM?

    1. Hey Donna,

      Yeah, most consumers are not aware that phenibut (4-amino-3-phenylbutyric acid) can lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms. Most manufacturers don’t mention anything about this either.

      As for Sleep Time by Nutritional Frontiers, I’ve heard the manufacturer has already stopped making it and is working on a new formula (without phenibut). They are probably just clearing what’s left of the current formula before releasing the new one.

      Other supplement brands that contain phenibut will probably follow suit and remove it from their products, and many have already done so.

      The FDA did not “ban” phenibut, but they decided it is not allowed as an ingredient in dietary supplements. There are numerous US-based vendors that sell it as a nootropic compound or research chemical.

      It is sad because phenibut is such an effective anxiolytic that has helped many people combat anxiety and sleep better.

      I think many consumers would be more grateful if the FDA required manufacturers to provide appropriate instructions, precautions and warnings for dietary supplements that contain phenibut, instead of dropping the hammer on it!

      1. Dear Morris,
        Thank you for your reply. I have now been a week without the Kavinace PM and still struggling. I hate the idea of being addicted to something but not sleeping is horrible. I can’t function. I will have to figure it out. Thx again. You are a great resource and I appreciate your response.

        1. You’re welcome, Donna!

          You may find the following subreddit helpful: https://www.reddit.com/r/quittingphenibut/ — It is dedicated to people quitting phenibut, but please note that many users there are heavy abusers who take several times the recommended maximum daily dosage, so many of the symptoms (and solutions) discussed may not apply to normal users.

          There are numerous natural/herbal formulas for anxiety and sleep that you may consider as a replacement, particularly those containing GABA and L-theanine, but nothing natural is going to be as potent as phenibut.

          If your symptoms continue, it’s better to consult your doctor. Good luck!

  3. I have only found success with Kavinance Ultra Pm for five years without fail. This makes me so anxious to think I may not find something equivalent. This article was VERY informative and so much appreciated. I just ordered the product from the site recommended above for Phenibut. I will combine it with regular Kavinance and pray something positive results for me to sleep as well as I did on the Ultra PM.
    It would be nice if the FDA worries more about the preservatives on our cereal and food, and make necessary restrictions like Europe and other countries….but there is no money to be made if people are “well and healthy”. Big Pharmaceutical and the FDA are crooks. Period.

  4. Aloha Morris, I have been taking 2 capsules of kavinace or kavinace ultra pm (depending on my need) every night for the better part of 7 years. I had no idea I was addicted until I read your article. I’ve been off of both kavinace products for over a week and have not slept, have headaches, anxiety and feeling very irritable. I’ve taken your suggestion and ordered phenibut from Nootropics depot and am waiting for it to arrive. Are there any negatives besides the addiction (weird I even said that) that I need to be concerned about. I know synthetics can often have repercussions.

    1. Hey Trudi,

      Please note that since phenibut hasn’t been studied or approved for medical use in Western countries, most of the information about its efficacy and safety comes from personal user experiences and the few clinical studies available (mostly from Russia).

      It is believed that phenibut, when taken at standard dosages, is generally safe. Besides the risk of developing tolerance and dependence, no major side effects have been associated with normal use.

      However, I have seen reports of minor adverse effects, such as headache, tiredness, dizziness, brain fog, and even sleeplessness in some users!

      When taken in high doses (more than 2 grams a day), phenibut can become quite risky. Many people abuse this substance by taking 10-20 grams a day. At excessively high dosages, there have been cases of extreme sedation, impairment of cognitive functions and even unconsciousness. Check out this recent case report: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5662439/

      As with any other psychoactive substance, phenibut should be used with caution, and you should not take it with alcohol or any other sedative or depressant substance. Not much is really known about its long-term side effects on the brain.

      If other natural substances work for you (melatonin, l-theanine, 5-HTP, glycine, etc.) then you should stick with those. But if you must take phenibut, then take it moderately and only when necessary.

      I hope this helps!

      1. While I wake up in 3-4 hours without Kavinace, I question if it’s because I am going withdrawal because that was my initial sleep issue before trying Kavinace (with melatonin and other natural remedies). Even though I have upped my melatonin from 1 mg to 4 mg, I do not stay restfully asleep. If I take more melatonin than that, I wake up groggy. I would like to try the phenibut you discussed but am concerned about becoming addicted. The whole issue seems to run in circles. What a disservice the FDA has done to us.

  5. Hey Morris,
    I greatly appreciate this information! I’ve taken Kavinace and PheniTropic for about 10 years for inability to fall asleep and thought I was doomed to follow in the footsteps of 2 of my brothers in having to take Seroquel. Thanks so much! The Lord bless you.

  6. I took Kavinace Ultra PM 1 nightly for at least 3 years. Like others I recently ran out and am trying Insomnitol with pharmaGaba, L-theanine, 5-HTP and 3 mg melatonin but it’s not working. 6 days in I’m definitely withdrawing. Just got Phenibut in mail today but don’t know how to dose to slowly bring me down. 250/d or go higher? You mentioned 10% less every 2 wks I believe. That’s going to be tough to titrate with 250 mg capsules. I’m taking Rhodiola, Mg and Camomile but feel jittery, palpitations, can’t sleep through the night, occipital headache and tired with reduced appetite. Tough to function. Any further advice to step down? Thanks so much!

    1. Hello Liz,

      There is no official or scientific information on tapering off phenibut, so it’s mostly anecdotal recommendations based on varying personal experiences.

      One capsule of Kavinace Ultra PM contained about 500mg phenibut. I’d suggest you do a slow taper by decreasing the dose by 50mg per week (450mg 1st week, 400mg 2nd week, etc.)

      It’d be easier to use the powder and a digital milligram scale for this purpose, but since you’ve already bought the capsules you can simply empty the content of one 250mg capsule, divide it into five equal portions each of which should be roughly 50mg.

      If this doesn’t work then it’s better to consult a professional.

      1. Thank you so much! It really helps to have some guidance and avenues to taper off. Here’s to better nights and fewer daytime symptoms soon.

  7. Most of us were given this supplement by a naturopath! I took UltraPM as suggested, one to two caplets nightly for about two years. I was highly suspicious and asked 4 medical personnel if it was in fact addictive and was told no. I did do some reading on the review sites and did find a few alarming posts but ignored them much to my demise. I built up a tolerance and also became depressed so started taking more caps at night and again early morning. As you can guess I became addicted. I went back down to 2 a night and felt fairly normal after 9 weeks of hell. When the FDA pulled it I went completely off and after 3 months I am still not functioning normally. This is an atrocity. If my naturopath or the doctor she worked under had told me it could be addictive I would have never taken it. In fact they asked me if I were sleeping well. I never asked for a sleep aid. The bottles should have contained warnings in bold print. My life is basically ruined. Hopefully my brain will heal but for now I still cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am miserable. I see my daughters and grandchildren rarely. I go no where.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Marie!

      I understand your frustration and I agree that the manufacturer and their “affiliates” should have clearly warned consumers about the tolerance and dependence risk, but they really failed their customers on this important detail.

      I know that many people take phenibut for anxiety and sleep issues, and are quite happy with it despite being aware of its addictive potential, but then not everyone may be okay with that.

      It is important that you do your own research before taking any new supplement or drug, even if your doctor recommended it! Always check the label and do your research about any unfamiliar ingredients.

      1. Hey Morris,

        Similar story as the above. Do you know if there is any grounds for suing Neurosciences or my doctor (M.D.)? This has destroyed my life.

        1. Hello Matt,

          I’m not sure about the legal aspects, however, since the most concerning ingredient in this product (phenibut) has not been adequately studied, proving that whatever you mean by “destroyed my life” was in fact due to this product won’t be an easy quest.

          Additionally, unlike the pharmaceutical industry, the supplement industry is unregulated, so manufacturers aren’t required by law to prove that their products are effective or safe, i.e. they aren’t “required” by the FDA to provide information about potential side effects and risks. That’s why supplements don’t normally come with a patient package insert.

    2. So sorry to hear your story although I stick up for naturopaths over MDs most anytime as one is ruled by Big Pharma and the other one isn’t. While I don’t understand why you would be given a sleep aid when that was not your issue, I have very safely taken 1-2 capsules of Kavinace with other supplements for years. For me, and apparently many others, it’s been a Godsend. And again, I question, if my initial problem was an inability to “stay asleep” and Kavinace cured that…and now that I don’t have the Kavinace I’m not staying asleep again, I don’t understand how that is a withdrawal from addiction rather than simply not having the substance that cured the problem.

      1. Hello Robbie,

        Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after quitting phenibut is a possibility that depends on varying factors, and it may not always be the case. So yes, what some people may think are withdrawal symptoms may simply be the problems they had before they started taking the supplement arising again.

  8. I have been taking 2 capsule of Kavinace (not the PM version) daily for many years! How many mg of phenibut do you believe that contains. I just ran out and I am now very concerned about what to expect. Thank you so much for your help!

    1. Laura, no one besides the manufacturer knows exactly how much phenibut the capsules contained since it was a proprietary blend. But based on commonly used dosages of the ingredients, I’d estimate that the standard Kavinace formula contained 500-700mg (average: 600mg) of phenibut per serving (2 capsules).

  9. Thank you for this informative article. I wanted to comment that I took regular Kavinace consistently with a few breaks for 3-4 years until it was discontinued. I usually 1-2 capsules at bedtime for sleep. The only symptom I had when I discontinued it was insomnia and I continue to not sleep well. It’s not extreme insomnia just the same level that led me to take Kavinace in the first place. I’ve ordered phenibut to see if it helps me as well as Kavinace did.

  10. Thank you so much for providing this detailed information on Kavinace Ultra PM and phenibut; and the supportive answers to the many concerned users of this product. I have been taking 1 capsule nightly for 2 1/2 years. I have never had the need to increase the dosage. It works perfectly for me. On the few occasions I have forgotten to take the capsule I woke with difficulty going back to sleep. I purchased as much as I could find when I heard it was being discontinued. I am now down to about 20 capsules and starting to feel anxious about my sleep in the very near future. My question is, would it be beneficial to start decreasing dosage now with the last I have, i.e. 3/4 capsule to 1/2 capsule, etc. Would that help manage any potential withdrawal symptoms and/or help stimulate my own production of gaba? Appreciate your thoughts! Thank you. And I hope any readers that have found a successful alternative to please post.

    1. Hello Mary,

      Unless you plan on continuing to take phenibut, then yes, it’s better to taper off. With the amount of capsules you’ve got left, you’ll have to go with a quick taper (about 1/4 capsule down each week or so). A slower taper is generally better, but this varies for each individual.

  11. When Kavinace Ultra PM was available, NeuroScience told me it contained 3x the amount of “proprietary formula” that regular Kavinace had. Just FYI

    1. That’s interesting, Cyndi! But, the “proprietary formula” had a different additional ingredient in each of those products, or was that a shy reference to phenibut only? Also, is it 3x per serving or per capsule?

  12. Thank you so much for this information! I took Kavinace Ultra PM for six months. It was the first and only thing that has truly worked for me (and I’ve tried every herb and pharmaceutical under the sun). After about 4.5 months I realized it wasn’t working as well. I started to research it to see how to manipulate the ingredients. I was horrified when a bunch of addiction centers started popping up in my search!
    I went off for another 4-5 months cleaning it out of my system. After researching a lot, I realized that the problem was that I hadn’t been instructed on how to take it – if I had just been told not to take it every day or I would build up a tolerance that would have solved the problem.
    I’ve now tried Pheniubt FAA (powder from Lift Mode) in combination with the 3 mg melatonin that was in the Kavinace product. I’m very sorry to say that for some mysterious reason it’s just not working the way Kavinace did. That stuff was MAGIC. Does anyone have any insight into how to better replicate what was in those pills? Are there different forms of phenibut?

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Marie!

      The two most common forms of phenibut are HCl (hydrochloride salt) and FAA (free amino acid). Users have reported different experiences with these two forms, however, the HCl form is more widely used and generally seems to work better.

      Ultra PM contained phenibut HCl (undisclosed dosage), so it’d be safer to go with this one. Keep in mind that the quality of the substance varies from one manufacturer to another.

        1. Most stores that sell phenibut, and there aren’t that many left, have the HCl version. Nootropics Depot is a reputable vendor you can source it from.

    2. This is good to know. You are right. Kavinace was magic for getting a relatively decent night’s sleep. (I’d be curious to know where the addiction centers pop up as I’ve just gone through 5 pages of Google searches for Kavinace and the only sites are discussing the product’s unavailability — not addictive properties. It would not surprise me if you were reading fake news, propaganda by Big Pharma.)

      1. I think she was researching the ingredients, phenibut in particular, which is where you’d get some addiction-related search results.

  13. Contrary to the opening of this article, I don’t believe the “FDA” smelled something fishy about Kavinance. More likely, it’s Big Pharma directing the natural supplement market to take it off the shelf so they can instead push their costly products that are often addictive and produce side effects. It really is quite disgusting that our own government agencies do not really help the public.

    I’ve taken Kavinace (no PM listed on the bottle) with other natural remedies for years and it’s been wonderful to keep me staying asleep. My doc said Kavinace OS is not as effective and had me try Serenity by Ortho Molecular Products but it doesn’t help me stay asleep either.

    1. Well, unless the manufacturer decides to do their (past) customers a favor and reveal their “secret” formula (you could try asking them), the only other way to know for sure is to send the capsules to a lab for chemical analysis.

      Anyway, if you are thinking of taking phenibut, it’s safer to start with a lower dosage of 250mg and see how that works for you. If you don’t notice much of an effect, you can double it to 500mg.

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