Disclaimer: This post reflects my own personal opinion. I do not represent, nor am I affiliated with NeuroScience: the manufacturer of Kavinace.
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) will have to remove this ingredient from Kavinace (Ultra PM) to comply with the FDA request, and it seems that they’ve already stopped making this product.
Most online stores that used to sell Kavinace and Kavinace Ultra PM are now out of stock of these two supplements. It is not clear if the manufacturer decided to permanently discontinue this product or maybe they will reformulate it and relaunch it.
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 NeuroScience decide to continue producing Kavinace with a different formula, then whatever other ingredients they add, it just won’t have the same relaxing and calming effect that phenibut provides.
So, what’s the best alternative to Kavinace Ultra PM? You simply just buy the 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 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 or a little less.
Sleep Time is a dietary supplement by Nutritional Frontiers that is very similar to Kavinace Ultra PM. It contains the same ingredients, including phenibut, and a few additional ones.
The following is a list of the active ingredients in Sleep Time by Nutritional Frontiers (dosage shown is per one serving or 2 capsules):
- Vitamin B6 [10mg]
- Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) [10mg]
- 4-amino-3-phenylbutyric acid (phenibut) [500mg]
- L-Taurine [500mg]
- Glycine [500mg]
- 5-HTP [50mg]
- Melatonin [3mg]
The four additional ingredients in this supplement (two vitamins and two amino acids) are all natural and generally considered to be safe. L-taurine is an amino acid that is used to improve mental performance and reduce fatigue. Glycine is an amino acid that is used to improve sleep quality.
One bottle of Sleep Time costs about $70 and contains 120 vegetarian capsules or 60 servings. You can buy it from PureFormulas.
UPDATE: This supplement has also been discontinued and will be reformulated without phenibut. Dietary supplements that contain phenibut are doomed following the FDA crackdown. You can still buy phenibut on its own from nootropics vendors, or consider natural non-addictive alternatives.
The following are three recommended natural formulas that can be used in place of Kavinace: