Picamilon combines niacin and GABA into a molecule that crosses the blood-brain barrier and then breaks down, releasing its payload. It was invented by a shirtless Vladimir Putin, while wrestling a bear one lazy Sunday afternoon. OK he didn’t invent it, but he wrestles bears like all the time. It actually was developed in the former Soviet Union in 1969, by the All-Union Vitamin Scientific Research Institute, but the patents are now held by the Russian pharma NPK ECHO. It is still sold there today as a prescription drug for treating people with blood flow problems in their brains, like stroke sufferers.

But what we’re interested in is its anti-anxiety effects. Alongside Phenibut, these two drugs probably have the most targeted effects on anxiety and social fluidity. Which makes them extremely popular, especially amongst the vast and quickly growing population of people with autism spectrum disorders, ADHD and Aspergers. It’s also really popular amongst people in sales or public facing roles who feel uncomfortable having to be super social day after day.

A string vest, parachute pants and a silly hat

Picamilon crosses the brain barrier and interacts with water, causing it to breakdown into GABA and niacin (also known as vitamin B3). GABA is normally blocked by the blood-brain barrier, but because it’s bonded to the niacin it’s let through. Kind of like getting past security at a nightclub wearing a string vest, parachute pants and a silly hat, simply because you’re accompanied by a beautiful woman.

Once inside the exclusive nightclub of your brain (or the seedy bar that smells of urine, but has cheap beer that is my brain), the GABA goes to work activating the GABA receptors, reducing anxiety (anxiolytic effect). It does this by dampening down excessive neural activity that can lead to feelings of anxiousness, stress and negative thoughts. So it quiets the busy, worrying mind.

Meanwhile the niacin is a vasodilator, meaning it relaxes blood vessel walls in the brain, increasing overall blood flow, creating a generalised cognitive enhancement of memory, focus and mental energy. Together, these effects create an awesome combination of clear thinking and zen-like calm, making it incredibly popular.

Seriously, what’s up with St John’s Wort?

Some nootronauts have reported trouble sleeping, nausea or headaches, but these seem to be pretty standard effects across all the smart drugs for some users. Also when you take it and how much you take can help you control any side effects you might experience. Beyond that, not much is known about its side effects, because it hasn’t been extensively studied.
Niacin is known to cause some people to experience skin flushes, eczema, and rashes, but I haven’t seen reports of this amongst the smart drug community. Anecdotal evidence from long-term users suggests it is safe, with few side effects. Most people report a tolerance effect and so they cycle between it and other anti-anxiety drugs and cycle off everything regularly.

There are a couple of cautions you do need to consider though. GABA can cause drowsiness in some people, so make sure you know how it affects you, before you drive a car or fight Godzilla using a giant war robot. But for most of us, Picamilon will produce a calmly stimulating effect, not drowsiness, probably because of the increased blood flow from the niacin.

Another caution is that Picamilon is a weak MonoAmine Oxidase Inhibitor (MAOI), meaning it might interfere with the breakdown of dopamine in your brain. Other MAOIs include some antidepressants and St John’s Wort. These classes of drugs can have dangerous interactions with other drugs and even foods containing tryptophan or tyramine. Also seriously, what’s up with St John’s Wort? That thing interacts with every substance ever. If St John’s Wort had been present at the earliest stages of the formation of the universe, we simply wouldn’t exist. Anyway, if you already take any MAOIs then I would talk to your doctor before taking Picamilon.

The final caution is for diabetics. Niacin has been known to raise blood sugar levels at high doses, but again this can be controlled through dosage. Do not be taking 1000mg of Picamilon if you’re a diabetic.

A slightly sour taste is a massive win

Picamilon is pretty potent, so as with all these substances, start with a low dose, once per day and go from there. People report noticeable effects within one hour of dosing and effects seem to last maybe 4-6 hours. It has a slightly sour taste and can be taken in powder or pill form, no need to take it with meals because it’s water soluble. Please note, that in the world of nootropics, a slightly sour taste is a massive win.

Most users work up to about 50 to 150 mg once or twice a day. But lots of people also us it as an occasional thing, like when they have a crucial presentation or when they are going to a party. I guess it depends on what you want it for and how much and how often you experience anxiety.

Some surfing the web reveals nobody seems to be selling it in Australia. This likely means it’s schedule 4 prescription only. Which brings me to my final point. The other social anxiety nootropic is Phenibut and you can still get this in Australia.

Comparing the two, it seems that Phenibut is also effective for anxiety, but doesn’t have the cognitive enhancement effects. This may mean it’s easier to fall asleep on. Phenibut has also been researched more extensively and used far more widely, which for me, gives it the edge in safety.

On the downside, it looks like you need to take much higher doses of Phenibut perhaps as high as 1000 mg per day, to get the effects you’re looking for. Also users report withdrawal symptoms from Phenibut including anxiety and irritability. This suggest you’d need to step down your dosage before cycling off it.