Picamilon - An Overview
Picamilon (also known as N-nicotinoyl-GABA, pycamilon, and pikamilon), is a synthetic nootropic that may be useful for the following:
- Lowering anxiety and stress
- Improving mood
- Increasing cerebral circulation
- Improving memory and learning
- Addiction recovery
It works primarily through increasing GABA levels in the brain. Typically, GABA cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, making direct supplementation ineffective.
However, picamilon gets around this by attaching a Vitamin B3 (niacin) molecule to a GABA molecule.
It was originally developed in Russia during the ’60s and is still prescribed for anxiety, attention disorders, and addiction recovery.
Like Phenibut, it can promote feelings of relaxation and well-being without the drowsiness or impairment of traditional tranquilizers. 16R. P. Kruglikova-L’vova, et al. Pikamilon-a new vasoactive and nootropic preparation, Pharmaceutical Chemistry Journal. 1989
Is picamilon banned?
Not quite, although this supplement has caused some controversy in the US with regulatory agencies.
In 2015, the FDA determined that “picamilon is a substance that does not meet the statutory definition of a dietary ingredient.”
It demanded that some companies pull products “adulterated” with this product, as it is not approved for sale in the US as a human supplement.
However, despite this recent controversy, picamilon is still technically legally available for purchase in the USA. Just not branded for human consumption.
Please consult your local regulations to see if picamilon is legal to purchase where you live.
What Does Picamilon Do?
Although the FDA has never approved picamilon for use in the USA, it is used in Russia as a treatment for anxiety, among other neurological conditions.
There is significant clinical evidence that this nootropic can decrease stress and increase cognitive function under pressure. 1Dorofeev BF, Kholodov LE. Pikamilon pharmacokinetics in animals, Farmakol Toksikol. 1991
Drugs that can mimic or increase GABA activity in the brain, such as picamilon, have the potential to provide anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects.
Research shows that people with too little GABA may be at a higher risk for developing anxiety.2Shephard RA. Behavioral effects of GABA agonists in relation to anxiety and benzodiazepine action, Life Sci. 1987 3Matsuyama K, et al. Evaluation of isonicotinoyl-gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and nicotinoyl-GABA as pro-drugs of GABA, Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 1984 4Nemeroff CB. The role of GABA in the pathophysiology and treatment of anxiety disorders, Psychopharmacol Bull. 2003
According to research, picamilon has a “depriming” effect on the system of negative emotions.
Anecdotally, many people say it helps them deal with stress and keep a clear head during difficult times.
Even better, it seems that picamilon can lower anxiety without impairing motor function or mental abilities like other anxiety medication. 5R. P. Kruglikova-L’vova, et al. Pikamilon-a new vasoactive and nootropic preparation, Pharmaceutical Chemistry Journal. 1989
Depression & Mood
By balancing GABA/glutamate and increasing dopamine and serotonin, picamilon may have some antidepressant effects.
According to animal studies, this nootropic can prevent despair and encourage the “normalization of the behavioral parameters” in rats. 6Akopian VP, Balian LS, Avetisian NA. The effect of hypokinesia on depression and on the central GABA-A receptor complexes in the rat brain, Eksp Klin Farmakol. 2006
Many users report a mood boost when taking this nootropic. They say it gives them more energy and balances their emotions.
Although more human studies are needed, we think that there is some solid preliminary evidence picamilon may be useful for depression and raising mood.
ADHD & Motivation
Despite picamilon’s reputation as a calming agent, it also does have some stimulatory properties which may be useful for treating ADHD.
There is clinical evidence that it “has an activating effect on positive reinforcement structures,” i.e,. that it can increase motivation. 7R. P. Kruglikova-L’vova, et al. Pikamilon-a new vasoactive and nootropic preparation, Pharmaceutical Chemistry Journal. 1989
This may be due to picamilon’s ability to balance GABA and glutamate, as well as its effects on dopamine, serotonin, and cerebral blood flow.
These are all critical aspects of attention, meaning picamilon can have an overall “balancing” effect.
Users often report a calm but energized focus while supplementing with this nootropic.
Drug and Alcohol Recovery
In Russia, picamilon has been used for decades to help addicts mitigate their withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings.
It increases GABA, the same receptor that alcohol effects, meaning it may be especially valuable for recovering alcoholics.
Patients taking this nootropic during recovery report less anxiety, less desire to relapse, and more motivation.8R. P. Kruglikova-L’vova, et al. Pikamilon-a new vasoactive and nootropic preparation, Pharmaceutical Chemistry Journal. 1989
Picamilon can improve short and long term memory, as well as act as an anti amnesiac. This could be partially due to its niacin molecule, which is a proven memory aid.
Increasing cerebral blood flow and balancing neurotransmitters may also help improve memory. 9Loriaux SM, Deijen JB, Orlebeke JF, De Swart JH. The effects of nicotinic acid and xanthinol nicotinate on human memory in different categories of age. A double blind study, Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1985
On experimental models of animals with induced memory damage, picamilon showed antihypoxic and antiamnesic activity.
This means that picamilon may prevent and possibly reverse some aspects of amnesia and cognitive decline. 10Voronina TA, Garibova TL, Khromova IV, Tilekeeva UM. Dissociation of the anti-amnesic and antihypoxic effects of nootropic and antihypoxic preparations, Farmakol Toksikol. 1987
How Picamilon Works In The Brain
GABA is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, and it counteracts glutamate, the major excitatory transmitter.
Both of these neurotransmitters are critical to proper brain function and cognition, but it’s important that they stay in proper balance.
In particular, you need enough GABA to ensure glutamate levels do not get too high. Too much glutamate can lead to anxiety, dysfunction, and even be neurotoxic to brain cells.
Picamilon works by crossing the blood-brain barrier, where it is metabolized into GABA and nicotinic acid.
Increasing GABA can keep glutamate levels in check, and provide balance to your brain. This can ensure you stay calm, focused, and motivated. 11V. M. Kopelevich. V. I. Gunar. Some approaches to the directed search for new drugs based on nicotinic acid, Pharmaceutical Chemistry Journal. 1999
Another major pathway picamilon works on is blood-flow.
Research proves it can significantly increase vascular flow to the brain.
As you can probably guess, more blood and oxygen in your brain cells leads to a healthier brain and better overall cognition. pathe12Bendikov EA, Shmuĭlovich LM, Kopelevich VM. Effect of gamma-aminobutyric acid, nicotinoyl-gamma-aminobutyric acid and its ethyl ester on central processes of formation of vasomotor reflexes, Biull Eksp Biol Med. 1972
Picamilon also seems to have a secondary effect on dopamine and serotonin in the brain, which are crucial to overall mood and mental health.
Combined with its ability to balance GABA and glutamate, this makes picamilon a powerful and well-rounded nootropic for many users. 13R. P. Kruglikova-L’vova, et al. Pikamilon-a new vasoactive and nootropic preparation, Pharmaceutical Chemistry Journal. 1989 14Kuchmerovs’ka TM, et al. Correction by nicotinamide and nicotinoyl-GABA of dopamine metabolism in rat brain in experimental Parkinson’s disease, Ukr Biokhim Zh. 2001
Picamilon Potential Side Effects
There are very few reported side effects from taking picamilon. Picamilon has extremely low toxicity and shows no allergenic or carcinogenic properties.
However, it may not mix well with substances like:
We strive to bring you the most up to date, research-based information about Picamilon and other nootropics.
Something we missed? Do you use Picamilon? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
About the author:
Erik Levi is a co-founder of HolisticNootropics.com and a certified holistic nutritional therapy practitioner.
As an NTP Erik takes a nutrition first approach to health. He has worked with many different people to help them use nutrition to optimize their quality of life.
Erik believes that mental health is a physiological process and cognitive enhancement is not something that can be achieved by just taking some pills with good Amazon reviews.
Instead, true cognitive enhancement comes with the right balance of nutrients, movement, and gratitude. Erik continues to stay up to date with the most current nootropic and holistic health research and promises to deliver the best solutions possible.
You can check out his personal health blog/podcast/YouTube Channel all under the name Holistic A-Hole.