Disclaimer: This post reflects my own personal opinion. I do not represent, nor am I associated 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 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 probably need to continue taking phenibut, although there are less potent natural substitutes.
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 and you’re happy with it.
As I said, the other ingredients (Melatonin and 5-HTP) are widely available in 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 capsule form. One of the reputable US-based stores that sell phenibut is HR Supplements.
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.
In general, taking 250mg to 500mg of phenibut two times a week is considered safe and unlikely to cause dependence or tolerance issues.
Kavinace OS as a Replacement
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:
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. It’s just not as potent as the old formula.
Best Natural Alternatives
There are so many natural and herbal formulations used to promote restful sleep. As always, the efficacy does vary from one individual to another, but at least some substances are potent enough to be worthy of trying out.
I don’t know what will work for you personally, but the following are a couple of the best OTC supplements that can be used in place of the old Kavinace.
- Sleep Factors by Nutra Biogenesis: This formula contains 3mg of melatonin in addition to a few of the most commonly used natural sleep-promoting substances, such as 5-HTP, valerian, passion flower, GABA, etc. It saves you from having to try each of the ingredients on its own. If you haven’t tried a similar formula, then this is definitely one of the first supplements I’d consider.
- Magnesium Glycinate by Pure Encapsulations: Magnesium deficiency is very common and it is known to cause anxiety and insomnia among several other symptoms. Daily magnesium supplementation can induce calmness and improve sleep. Glycine (glycinate) is an amino acid and inhibitory neurotransmitter that can also help improve sleep quality. Magnesium glycinate is a chelated form of magnesium that is considered the best for people with sleep problems. If you don’t already take a magnesium supplement, this one is a must-try.