Dietary supplements are often considered far safer than prescription medication. This is especially true for supplements that are derived from natural sources. However, there are adverse effects even with dietary supplements.
For example, some people have experienced liver damage from overusing supplements containing green tea extract with other herbs. Others develop a tolerance and addiction to Phenibut and suffer from horrible withdrawal symptoms when they stop.
In this article, we’ll explain some of the most important safety aspects of using dietary supplements. We look into the safety of Phenibut and provide a short checklist for using supplements safely.
Dietary Supplement Safety
The FDA regulates dietary supplements in America, making sure that nothing deemed ‘dangerous’ or with the potential for abuse can be sold freely as a supplement. However, supplements and medication are regulated very differently. An article by the American Cancer Society sums it up perfectly:
“Drugs are considered unsafe until proven safe… Supplements are considered safe until proven unsafe”. Dietary supplements are treated differently to medication, for a number of reasons. Most of all, dietary supplements - unlike medicines - are not intended to treat, prevent, or cure any diseases or ailments.
Supplement ingredients that were not on the market before 1994 are deemed ‘new’. Manufacturers must prove the safety of any ‘new’ supplement ingredient before the FDA will allow it to be sold. The FDA then has the authority to ban the sale of a dietary supplement that is found to be unsafe – before or after it hits the shelves.
Problems with dietary supplements can be divided into three main groups:
1. Contamination and fillers
Disreputable supplements dealers may sell dietary supplements that are contaminated with germs, toxins, heavy metals, or pesticides. Always buy supplements from well-known dealers who include a certificate of analysis (CoA) for every batch. A CoA is a laboratory report indicating the contents of the supplement.
Another way that some companies rip their customers off is by using fillers instead of the labeled ingredients. Of course, this puts the company at risk of serious lawsuits – as reported by Forbes magazine. For example, a muscle-building supplements company was recently sued for using fillers and providing their customers with a far lower-quality product than was advertised – 44% of the advertised amount, to be precise.
2. Overuse and overdosing
Unlike medication, dietary supplements can be bought in a health store or online. You often don’t have a doctor or chemist to tell you about potential side effects or interactions. This leaves a lot of work for the customer. You’ll need to make sure that you research your supplement before taking it.
One issue is that many people believe that supplements are so different to medicines that they can be taken in ‘mega-doses’ to optimize the benefits. Often this overlooks the important fact that supplements may have adverse effects at high doses.
However, no supplements or substances are 100% safe. All dietary supplements have a safe dosage range that should be adhered to. This helps to avoid negative side effects. In 2013, there were just over 3’200 adverse effects reported to the FDA related to dietary supplements use.
Herbal supplements and dietary supplements are chemicals that have various effects on your body. The ways in which they work are often complicated and multi-faceted. Dietary supplements can interact with other dietary supplements, as well as medication. These interactions can potentially be very harmful.
Always make sure that you read up on potential interactions before consuming a dietary supplement. If you are using medication, make sure to talk to your doctor before taking supplements.
4. Misleading marketing
Many supplements companies use marketing techniques that can be misleading. The main thing to remember is that a dietary supplement cannot be sold on the pretense of having the ability to treat, cure, or diagnose any disease or ailment.
It’s also important to note the difference between anecdotal evidence and evidence gathered from scientific journal articles. Anecdotal evidence is subjective and comes mostly from online sources or books where people have noted their experiences with supplements.
While anecdotal evidence definitely has its merits, it is not nearly as solid or convincing as data collected from scientific studies. Some companies may even use the data from scientific articles incorrectly.
For the most part, you can be safe by making sure that your dietary supplement provider does not make any claims that their products have any clinical applications.
For example, a company was recently sued for the claim that their Omega-3 oils were ‘clinically shown’ to improve memory. However, the Center for Science in Public Interest filed a lawsuit and pointed out that data from scientific journals have found that Omega-3 oils have no better effect than placebo at improving memory.
For those of you who don’t know, Phenibut is a laboratory-designed chemical used as a prescription medication in Russia. In the US and the rest of the world, Phenibut is sold as a dietary supplement.
People take Phenibut to help with relaxation and to promote a sense of calm. Many users also experience a decrease in stress levels, and some report feeling more sociable. Check out our Ultimate Phenibut FAQ for more information about Phenibut.
Phenibut is made in a laboratory and is a chemical that was originally designed to help reduce stress. Phenibut is easily available as a dietary supplement and some people have tried over-using the powerful compound. Unfortunately, Phenibut has the potential to cause negative side effects, especially when taken in high doses.
The main safety concerns when using Phenibut can be divided into three groups:
1. Phenibut addiction and withdrawal
This is the most common form of adverse effect that people experience when using Phenibut. Phenibut needs to be taken in cycles – the recommended cycle is two days ‘on’, two days ‘off’. Taking Phenibut for more than two consecutive days may result in your body building up a tolerance.
This is a common reason that people stop feeling Phenibut effects and starting increasing their dosage. Phenibut can be addictive and withdrawal symptoms from addiction are very unpleasant. Withdrawal symptoms may include: tremors, anxiety, fatigue, dizziness, low appetite, trouble sleeping and nausea. Please use Phenibut responsibly.
2. Phenibut Interactions
Phenibut has the potential to interact with a number of supplements and chemicals. If you are taking any medication – prescription or over-the-counter – please consult with your doctor before using Phenibut.
The most important Phenibut interactions include Phenibut with alcohol and Phenibut with benzodiazepines. Phenibut, alcohol, tranquilizers, and sedatives all target the same receptors in your brain – known as GABA receptors.
We’ll explain a little more about how this works below. What you need to know is that combining any of these substances can result in dangerous and sometimes life-threatening adverse effects. Do not combine Phenibut with alcohol, sedatives, or tranquilizers.
3. Phenibut Overdose
Lastly, Phenibut must not be taken in dosages exceeding 2000 mg per day. The recommended dosage for Phenibut is recommended at around 500 – 1500 mg per day, divided into two to three separate servings.
Although many people have used higher dosages than this, these are the average dosages at which Phenibut has been studied. Taking Phenibut within the recommended dosage range lowers your risk of experiencing negative side effects. Taking more than the recommended Phenibut dosage increases the risk of experiencing a Phenibut overdose.
For more information about the correct dosages for Phenibut, check out our Phenibut dosage guide.
How Phenibut Works
Phenibut works in a way that is similar to many sedatives and tranquilizers. Its effects on your body are actually not unlike those of alcohol. Phenibut’s primary effect in your body is to target brain receptors called GABA receptors. The GABA receptors are divided into two classes, creatively named GABAA and GABAB receptors.
Phenibut targets specifically the GABAB receptors and some GABAA receptors. Phenibut is actually extremely similar in its chemical structure to the GABA neurotransmitter itself, which is what makes it so effective. Benzodiazepines and alcohol also target GABA receptors, although they act more on the GABAA receptors.
For more information on the safety aspects of Phenibut, take a read through our article on Phenibut safety.
Are ‘Natural Supplements’ Safer?
In the world of dietary supplements, there is often a perception that natural supplements and herbal supplements are safer to take than laboratory-made substances.
Firstly, it’s important to remember that many of the most poisonous compounds in the world are natural. Plant toxins and venom from spiders and snakes are all very natural.
Secondly, natural products differ in their safety profiles – even from part to part in a single plant. Herbal supplements have a safety limit in their dosages and may interact with other herbs and medicines.
St John’s Wort may increase the rate at which many medications are broken down. Vitamin K supplements may affect the way that blood thinners work in your body. Some antioxidant supplements may decrease the effectiveness of chemotherapy.
Checklist for Safe Supplements
The following is taken from a checklist from Cancer.org that explains some great ways to ensure safety when you take dietary supplements:
- Do some research on the product before you buy it. Make sure the sources you read through are referenced using scientific articles.
- Check that the label does not claim any medical cures – doesn’t say it treats anything or is ‘clinically effective for’ anything
- Avoid taking mixtures or stacks – rather purchase a pure extract or chemical substance and make sure that the supplier provides a Certificate of Analysis
- When using plant extracts try to find an extract from a specific area of the plant – plants are very complex and often the desired chemical compound is only found in one area of the plant (like the roots or bark)
- Make sure to check with your doctor before starting any supplements if you are on medication or have any underlying medical conditions.1
We’ll also add on:
- Make sure to follow the recommended dosages and dosage guidelines for dietary supplements
- If you start feeling any side effects, immediately stop taking your supplement for a while. If you start again and side effects continue do not continue taking the supplement
Supplements Safety Aspects: Conclusion
In conclusion, there are some important supplements safety aspects to know before starting with any supplement. There are a few easy steps that you can take to ensure safety when taking supplements. Following these guidelines is especially important when taking a supplement like Phenibut, which has a potential to cause negative effects if used incorrectly.
Dietary supplements are not one hundred percent safe but you can definitely avoid risk by using them responsibly. The most important thing to remember is that dietary supplements are not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any disease or ailment. Don’t purchase a dietary supplement that makes medical claims.
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 P Gardiner et al., “Herbal and Dietary Supplement–Drug Interactions in Patients with Chronic Illnesses”, Am Fam Physician. 2008 Jan 1;77(1):73-78.
 “CVS Sued Over False and Misleading Claim that its Algal-900 Supplement Improves Memory”, February 2016, Center for Science in the Public Interest, available online, retrieved on January 10, 2017
 AV Samokhvalov et al., “Phenibut dependence”, BMJ Case Rep. 2013, PMC3604470, doi: 10.1136/bcr-2012-008381
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 “DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW”, National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements, reviewed June 2011, available online, retrieved on January 10, 2017