Semax is a medication used for the prevention and treatment of circulatory disorders in Russia and is also used as a cognitive enhancer.  Read below to find out about the proven benefits of this substance.

Note: By writing this post, we are not recommending this drug. Some of our readers who were already taking the drug requested that we commission a post on it, and we are simply providing information that is available in the scientific literature. Please discuss your medications with your doctor. 

What is Semax?

Semax is a peptide drug based on a fragment of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)   [R].  

In Russia, Semax is used as a medication for the prevention and treatment of circulatory disorders including stroke  [R].   Semax is listed on the Russian List of Vital & Essential Drugs, a reference of key medications which is reviewed and approved by the Russian government [R].

Semax is also used as a nootropic, or cognitive enhancer, due to evidence that Semax can enhance memory performance and reduce the negative effects of stress.

Uses of Semax

1) Semax Prevents Oxidative Damage

Semax has been shown to protect the body and brain from various types of oxidative damage.

In animal studies, Semax has been shown to prevent oxidative damage caused by the poisonous effects of lead exposure in the brain  [R].   

Semax has been shown to prevent the oxidative liver damage which occurs with chronic stress in lab animals  [R].

Semax also prevents oxidative damage to the body after a stroke or heart attack [R].   Researchers have suggested that this improvement is in part a result of oxidative protection  [R].

2) Semax Improves Memory

Semax improved memory and attention in a Russian study of task performance in healthy men [R]. Semax also decreased learning time in animal studies [R].  

Some researchers have suggested that the resistance to oxidative damage in the brain and improved brain circulation might explain the improved memory seen in these subjects  [R].

3) Semax Improves Circulation

Semax can be used in the treatment of ischemic stroke in patients. In rats, it is capable of protecting the heart from damage after a stroke or heart attack [R].

The drug partially prevents high blood pressure growth in the heart, thus exerting a beneficial effect on heart failure development after a heart attack [R].

A major risk factor for stroke is chronically poor circulation in the brain, a condition medically known as cerebrovascular insufficiency  [R].  Patients with different stages of cerebrovascular insufficiency saw significant stabilization of the disease progress and reduced the risk of stroke when treated with Semax in one study [R].  Researchers attributed the improvement in part to the improvement in circulation.

4) Semax Decreases Negative Effects of Stress

Semax has been shown to decrease the negative physical and mental responses to stress in animal studies.

One negative physical response to chronic stress is the increased production of some liver enzymes.  Treatment with Semax was shown to prevent this increase in several studies  [RR].

Semax normalized behavioral changes associated with increased stress resulting from physical injury  [R].   Semax also normalized behavioral changes associated with increased stress due to developmental problems in animals  [R].

5) Semax Increases BDNF

Semax increases the brain levels of a substance known as the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) [R].

BDNF is a major chemical factor that is essential for cognitive development, synaptic plasticity, and neuronal survival [R]. Studies indicate that low levels of BDNF may cause or worsen depression and anxiety [R]. By increasing the level of BDNF, Semax could help alleviate anxiety and depression. Animal studies have also indicated that Semax normalizes behavior associated with increased stress and anxiety, possibly as a result of this mechanism [R].

In a study of patients recovering from the stroke, Semax improved restoration of nerve function in subjects relative to those that did not receive the same treatment  [R].   This improvement in nerve function may be a result of the increase in BDNF.

6) Semax May Help Alleviate Pain

Semax prevents the breakdown of chemicals called enkephalins which regulate the response to pain  [R].    An increase in enkephalins may reduce the severity of perceived pain.

7) Semax May Help Treat ADHD

Semax has a number of effects that may be helpful in the treatment of ADHD, including memory improvement and the increase of neurotransmitters which are often lower in patients with this condition [R].  

Researchers have proposed evaluating Semax as a treatment for ADHD, and anecdotes support that Semax is occasionally used in Russia for this purpose [R].  Additional study is needed to determine if there is a reliable benefit when Semax is used for this purpose and to find what the best administration dosage and strategy would be to achieve these benefits if they occur.


  • Semax increases the striatal release of dopamine and serotonin [R].
  • Semax increases brain BDNF levels [R].
  • Semax prevents the degradation of enkephalins by inhibiting the molecule responsible for their breakdown. [R].
  • Semax protects the nervous system from oxidative damage [R].
  • Semax affects the expression of genes related to the immune and vascular systems during stroke [R].


Semax is not FDA approved, and has not been evaluated by the FDA.

One study using a high concentration of Semax found that it had an anti-oxidant effect at low dosages, but a pro-oxidant effect at higher dosages [R]. Another study using various dosages found that each dosage studied had antioxidant effects [R].   More research may be needed to determine if there is a negative effect associated with high dosages, and at what dosage that effect occurs if so.  

Some users have reported increased anxiety as a side effect of using Semax as a nootropic [R], [R1] [R2].

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.


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