Is It Safe to Take Phenibut While Pregnant?

Phenibut is something that until fairly recently wasn’t heard of much in the U.S. Now, with the explosive popularity of herbs and supplements being called “nootropics.,” it’s more common to hear about phenibut. Phenibut is a central nervous system depressant, and it’s often used to treat conditions such as insomnia and anxiety. Phenibut was originally developed in the Soviet Union and was used medically starting in the 1960s. it’s still used for medical purposes in countries like Russia and Ukraine. In the U.S. and Europe, phenibut isn’t approved for clinical use. It’s not banned, however. Instead, it’s sold online and marketed as a supplement and nootropic. Nootropics are supplements that are supposed to have positive cognitive and psychological effects. It’s believed phenibut acts similarly to GABA, and it has some properties like gabapentin and pregabalin. Phenibut can cause a sense of euphoria in some users, and it’s a controlled substance in Australia. Some in Europe are pushing for it to be controlled there as well.

Phenibut is well-tolerated by many users, and when side effects are experienced they tend to be fairly mild. Side effects of phenibut can include nausea, irritability, sedation, dizziness, and headache. If someone uses higher doses, they’re more likely to experience side effects similar to intoxication. Symptoms of using high doses of phenibut may include loss of coordination and balance, as well as symptoms similar to a hangover. Users can develop a tolerance to phenibut with repeated use, and withdrawal symptoms can occur. Phenibut is not regulated or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This is one problem with its use. Another is how quickly users can develop a tolerance. Tolerance can occur after using phenibut just a few times. Then, the user has to take higher and higher doses, which increases the likelihood of negative side effect. Withdrawal symptoms can also be severe for some users. Withdrawal symptoms of phenibut can be physical and psychological. Physical withdrawal effects can include fatigue, dizziness, heart palpitations, tremors, and nausea or vomiting. Psychological side effects can include hallucinations, anxiety, agitation, depression, and problems with cognition, such as brain fog. So, is it safe to take phenibut while pregnant? The answer is no, probably not.

Risks of Taking Phenibut While Pregnant

Most drugs and substances are broken down into different categories by the FDA, based on what their believed level of risk or safety is likely to be during pregnancy. For example, category A pregnancy drugs are considered the safest and they don’t have any known effects on a fetus, in either animal or human studies. Then, there are category B drugs which are still fairly safe but may have some risks associated with their use. Most drugs are category C, which is somewhat of a gray area where there’s not enough evidence to say for sure it’s safe. There are category D drugs, which should rarely be used and only if a healthcare provider determines the benefits outweigh the risks. Finally, category X drugs should not ever be used during pregnancy. Phenibut is problematic because it’s not currently categorized in the U.S. There isn’t enough research or information available to determine that phenibut is safe, or to know what potential risks are. Since it’s not a regulated substance in the U.S. and there aren’t standard dosage guidelines, this makes the unknowns associated with phenibut even greater. It is not advised that pregnant or nursing women use phenibut.

Alternatives to Taking Phenibut While Pregnant

Luckily, there are many alternatives to taking phenibut while pregnant. For example, if a woman uses phenibut because of anxiety, many options are considered safe or relatively safe during pregnancy. She can speak to her doctor about the use of an SSRI, just as an example. For the most part, SSRI medications are believed to be fairly safe during pregnancy, and they can be helpful in treating anxiety and depression. Certain beta blockers may also be considered safe during pregnancy and can help treat symptoms of anxiety. If phenibut is being used for other purposes, a pregnant woman should talk with her doctor about alternatives available.

There is something important to note with phenibut. Since phenibut can cause physical dependence and severe withdrawal symptoms, a pregnant woman should speak with her healthcare provider before discontinuing her use. Withdrawal during pregnancy can cause adverse effects for a woman and her unborn child including an increased risk of miscarriage. A doctor may be able to help a pregnant woman safely stop using phenibut and reduce the risk of complications. It’s important not to use any substance, including uncontrolled substances, or even stop using a substance without first speaking with your doctor when you’re pregnant.

Don’t try and handle your addiction alone. We’re here, and we’re ready to help you make the change. Contact The Recovery Village.

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The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.