Is phenibut a safe, effective, treatment for social anxiety?
October 29, 2012 2:32 AM   Subscribe

Is phenibut a safe, effective, treatment for social anxiety?
posted by denverco to Health & Fitness (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Here is the PubMed search for phenibut, you'll notice that most of the research comes out of Russia, where it has been most widely used. Most of the results are abstracts, but you might find something by poking around. This is an old review (2001), but it was published in a US journal, so you might be able to find it if you're in the US. Also in a US journal, but unfortunately just a title, is this article about withdrawal symptoms after phenibut use.

But you should talk about this with your doctor.
posted by OmieWise at 4:38 AM on October 29, 2012

The standard method for determining efficacy and safety for drugs is the double-blind, placebo-controlled study, typically involving several thousand subjects. Two things to note about this process:

1) A sizable majority of drug candidates (over 90% for some classes) fail these studies, usually because the efficacy found in smaller studies vanishes under increased statistical stringency.

2) Even studies of this type fail to catch some safety issues—Vioxx being a recent and well-known example.

So the short answer to your question is that no one knows whether this drug is safe and effective. And that's assuming that what you get in the bottle is the chemical that's advertised, at the dose that's advertised, with nothing added that isn't supposed to be there. When it comes to nutritional supplements, those assumptions shouldn't necessarily be made. Caveat emptor.

To speculate, it looks like phenibut shares some pharmacological properties with baclofen on the one hand and gabapentin/pregabalin on the other. Those drugs aren't approved for social anxiety disorder, though pregabalin's approved for treating generalized anxiety disorder in the EU. If phenibut has an anxiolytic effect, I would imagine it would be of a similar nature. I would also expect there to be some issues with withdrawal, as well as potential interactions with alcohol and other medications. Again, caveat emptor.
posted by dephlogisticated at 3:55 PM on October 29, 2012

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