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Vasopressin, otherwise known as Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH), is produced by the hypothalamus and released by the pituitary gland in the brain. It has roles in water balance and blood pressure, but it’s also sought after as a smart drug. Learn the pros and cons of high and low vasopressin and how to manipulate your levels in your favor.

If you are struggling with chronic health issues – the way I used to – you probably have piles of lab tests that can potentially tell you a lot about your health. Vasopressin may be one of them. However, doctors never had enough time to explain it properly. They will only notice it if the lab flags your test results as outside of normal. But what if all your results are coming back normal, yet you know you are feeling nowhere near healthy? They may even tell you there is nothing wrong with you, and that it’s all in your head – I’ve been there.

Lab Test Analyzer is the tool I wish I had when I was dealing with all my health issues. Instead of normal, it will tell you the optimal values for vasopressin and many other lab tests. And if you are outside the optimal range, it will give you actionable tips and recommendations that will help you get there.


Why is vasopressin so important? Vasopressin plays a major role in keeping your body hydrated, your mind sharp, and your mood bright.

  • If you’re an athlete, you’ll want to make sure your vasopressin isn’t too high, or you will have difficulty holding onto salt, a key electrolyte.
  • If you’re concerned about mental sharpness, you may want to find ways to increase your vasopressin, which is considered a “smart drug” by many and is being studied as a treatment for dementia.
  • If you struggle with frequent urination or if your child struggles with bedwetting, low levels of vasopressin may be to blame.
  • If you feel nauseated after drinking a lot of water or get headaches after intense exercise, your vasopressin may be too high.
  • If you feel like you’re constantly thirsty and always running to the bathroom, your vasopressin is probably on the low side (R).
  • If you do a test and find out your vasopressin is elevated, you may be dealing with stress and/or chronic inflammation (R).

Although it’s seldom discussed, even in health circles, vasopressin clearly plays a major role in our everyday health and well-being.

Understanding how it manifests in different health conditions can be a turning point in returning our bodies to a healthy state.

Vasopressin Overview

Vasopressin is otherwise known as Arginine-Vasopressin (AVP) because in most species it contains Arginine.

It’s also called Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH) because it reduces urination (diuresis).

Vasopressin is especially active at night, eliminating the interruption of getting up to go to the bathroom every couple of hours, and allowing you to sleep straight through until morning (RR2).

Besides helping the body to retain water, is also constricts blood vessels, which increases blood pressure. You can think of it as inhibiting flow– of water and of blood. That’s where the name “vasopressin” comes from –causing a restriction in blood vessels.

It all starts in the brain.

When the brain gets the signal that the body is getting dehydrated (blood pressure is low, blood is highly concentrated), vasopressin is released and the kidneys are given the message to conserve water and prevent the loss of water in the urine. Instead, the urine is more concentrated and water is reabsorbed into the body, diluting the blood, and restoring balance to the body.

Vasopressin does much more than just regulate our water and salt concentrations. It also has a role in memory, regulating blood pressure and body temperature, CRH release, socio-sexual behavior, and even our circadian rhythm (R).

It can act as a neurotransmitter, and it can stimulate the production of other needed neurotransmitters (R).

Vasopressin is also considered to be a stress hormone like cortisol or CRH (R).

Vasopressin Influences Brain Function


Higher levels of vasopressin can be GOOD:

  • Vasopressin is used as a nootropic/smart drug.  Vasopressin increases mental clarity, attention to detailshort-term memory (RR2) and long-term memory (RR2).  
  • It enhances learning in mice (R).
  • It is also being considered for the treatment of memory problems associated with aging, dementia, drug toxicity, and amnesia. (R)
  • High Vasopressin can make you more cooperative (R).

Higher levels of vasopressin can be BAD

  • Vasopressin may contribute to major depression (R).
  • It can cause an unsteady gait (RR2).
  • It can cause impaired memory (R).

Conditions Associated with Low Vasopressin

  • Bed wetting (R).
  • Diabetes Insipidus (R).
  • Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (based on anecdotes from Shoemaker, which may not be true, since the testing used isn’t accurate). Most healthy patients have vasopressin come in at under 1.
  • Insomnia in the elderly – vasopressin nose sprays increase sleep quality in older subjects (RR2).
  • Slow gut flow (motility) in the digestive tract (in rabbits) (R). Vasopressin has also been found in the human digestive tract with implications for involvement there (R).

Conditions Associated with High Vasopressin


  • Stress -in humans (R, R2) and in rats (R) and mice (R).
  • Pain – in humans (R).
  • High blood pressure (R).
  • Major depression (R).
  • Diabetes (Type 2) (R).
  • Low Cortisol (R).
  • Low sodium/Hyponatremia/ Syndrome of Inappropriate Diuretic Hormone (SIADH) secretion
    • Unsteady gait (R)
    • impaired memory (R)
  • Low Thyroid (R).
  • Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome (R).
  • Autism (R).
  • Kidney Stones – Vasopressin causes our urine to be less dilute (R).
  • High Blood Sugar – Insulin can cause the release of vasopressin (R). Vasopressin causes insulin release in mice (R).
  • Low BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen) levels (R).
  • Low Uric Acid levels particularly in SIADH (R).
  • High CRH – Vasopressin releases CRH (R).
  • Anorexia – vasopressin suppresses appetite (R, R2).

How to Increase Vasopressin (AVP Promoters)


  • Restricting water (R).
  • Dietary Sodium (R).
  • Standing (R).
  • Exercise (R).
  • Sauna (R)
  • Forskolin/cAMP (R)
  • Glycine (R, R2)
  • Rhodiola – Lowers endopeptidase activity, leading to higher vasopressin. Rhodiola sacra (R) and Rhodiola sachalinensis (R). I couldn’t find a study using the more common, Rhodiola rosea.
  • Ginkgo – Lowers endopeptidase activity, leading to higher vasopressin (R).
  • Baicalein – Inhibits endopeptidase, raising vasopressin (R).
  • Berberine – Inhibits endopeptidase, raising vasopressin (R).
  • Acetylcholine – Increases vasopressin (in rat studies) (R, R2).
  • Increase IL-1beta (R).
  • Increase Interleukin-6 (R).
  • Increase CRH, which increases vasopressin (R).
  • Inhibit IGF-1, which inhibits vasopressin (R).
  • Increase BMAL1, which is needed for the production of vasopressin (R).
  • Stimulate 5-HT2C receptors, which leads to an increase in vasopressin (R). Some 5-HT2C activators include Serotonin (R), Ginseng (R), and Bacopa (rats) (R).
  • Vasopressin – Vasopressin is also used as a nootropic/smart drug. Ask your doctor about vasopressin.
  • Nicotine (rabbits, cats, men ) (R1, R2, R3).
  • Racetams – Raise Acetylcholine, raising vasopressin
  • Pramiracetam – Inhibits endopeptidase, raising vasopressin (R).
  • Desmopressin – Synthetic vasopressin that has 10 times the antidiuretic effects of vasopressin, but 1500 times less of the constricting effect on blood vessels (R).  I tested out the nasal desmopressin to see what vasopressin feels like. It did increase orexin and wakefulness as the research suggests. It ruined my sleep and the next day caused some cognitive dysfunction.  I don’t recommend it to anyone. The nasal spray has been implicated in two deaths due to hyponatremia or low salt levels.  I made sure not to drink water and consumed adequate salt beforehand.
  • Other Drugs that increase vasopressin: morphine, amitriptyline, barbiturates, desipramine, and carbamazepine (R).

How to Lower Vasopressin (AVP Inhibitors)

  • Cold (humans and rats) (R, R2) – this can be done with a cold shower.
  • Lying down – Inhibits vasopressin (R).
  • California Poppy – Has 2 compounds that inhibit the V1 receptor (RR2).
  • Lithium – In human studies (R).
  • Decrease Interleukin-6 (R).
  • Decrease IL-1beta (R).
  • Decrease CRH  CRH increases Vasopressin (R).
  • Increase MSH – MSH decreases ADH/Vasopressin in rat studies (R).
  • Increase IGF-1, which inhibits vasopressin (R).


  • Increase Progesterone – Progesterone therapy caused a decrease in blood levels of vasopressin (R).
  • Combine Estrogen with Progesterone – There was no change in blood levels of vasopressin with estrogen treatment alone, but following a combined administration of estrogen and progesterone (R).
  • Increase Testosterone (R).
  • Increase Oxytocin – under certain circumstances, oxytocin indirectly inhibits the release of stress hormones such as cortisol and, in those situations, may be considered an antagonist of vasopressin (R).


  • Danggui-Shaoyao-San (Chinese herb formula) (rat and mouse models) (R).
  • Alisma plantago-aquatica – (cell studies) (R).
  • Alcohol – Inhibits vasopressin (R).
  • Decrease BMAL1, which is needed for the production of vasopressin (R).

Lectins. WGA (a lectin in wheat) and ConA (a lectin in legumes) was found to bind to animal vasotocin neurons which are very similar to human vasopressin (R).

Irregular Vasopressin Levels?

If you have not yet tested your vasopressin levels, I recommend that you ask your doctor for it. If you already have your blood test results and you’re not sure what to make of them, you need to check out Lab Test Analyzer. It does all the heavy lifting for you. No need to do thousands of hours of research on what to make of your various blood tests.

People don’t realize that their blood test results contain a gold mine of information that’s waiting to be unearthed. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time or the inclination to sift through dozens of research papers.

It’s super-simple, so that even if you don’t have any background in science, you will understand what your results mean, and what you can do to get them in the optimal range.

Lab Test Analyzer gives you up-to-date scientific information about your lab results. In addition, you will get both lifestyle tips and natural solutions to help you optimize your health. You can also rely on our science-based Optimal Ranges to prevent potential health issues and maximize your overall wellbeing.

All of the content is backed by science and researched by a team of PhDs, professors, and scientists.

We’re all unique, so we deserve solutions that treat us that way.

Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick

At SelfHacked, it’s our goal to offer our readers all the tools possible to get optimally healthy. When I was struggling with chronic health issues I felt stuck because I didn’t have any tools to help me get better. I had to spend literally thousands of hours trying to read through studies on pubmed to figure out how the body worked and how to fix it.

That’s why I decided to create tools that will help others cut down the guesswork:

  • Lab Test Analyzer – a software tool that will analyze your labs and tell you what the optimal values are for each marker — as well as provide you with actionable tips and personalized health and lifestyle recommendations to help you get there.
  • SelfDecode – a software tool that will help you analyze your genetic data from companies such as 23andme and ancestry. You will learn how your health is being impacted by your genes, and how to use this knowledge to your advantage.
  • SelfHacked Secrets – an ebook where we examine and explain the biggest overlooked environmental factors that cause disease. This ebook is a great place to start your journey if you want to learn the essential steps to optimizing your health.
  • SelfHacked Elimination Diet course – a video course that will help you figure out which diet works best for you
  • Selfhacked Inflammation course – a video course on inflammation and how to bring it down
  • Biohacking insomnia – an ebook on how to get great sleep
  • Lectin Avoidance Cookbook – an e-cookbook for people with food sensitivities
  • BrainGauge – a device that detects subtle brain changes and allows you to test what’s working for you
  • SelfHacked VIP – an area where you can ask me (Joe) questions about health topics

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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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  • Dan rynne

    Will vasopressin replace ddavp

  • kendra maria sudano

    Is there a specific time of day and/or of the month to test vasopressin?
    Specifically for menstruating females?

    Thank you!

  • Kathy Adams

    This is an excellent article. It states that AVP contains Arginine. Would taking Arginine increase Vasopressin?

  • Samantha

    Why am I just learning about this? Seriously? At age 52 I’ve never heard a doctor mention vasopressin. I’m having my cortisol levels checked so I guess I’ll be bringing this up to my doctor like I have so many other things in the past for a proper diagnosis or help.

  • Kathy Clester

    I posted thos once. I have been recently diagnosed with diabetes insipidus. I would prefer not to take desmopresin. Does antone have experience with a supplement/herb thst worked for them.

  • Kclester

    I was recently diagnosed with diabetes insipidus. I hate the desmopresin. However i have low cortisol and chronic stress and inflammation. Does anyone have any reason to believe that one of these other mentioned herbs or supplements could help?

  • K-sue

    The reference next to forskolin on the “raise vasopressin” list linked to an article that suggested that forskolin actually lowers vasopressin. Should forskolin be on the “lowers” list instead?

  • Alex

    Is Lithium right unter “How to Lower Vasopressin (AVP Inhibitors)”?
    I think the study quoted says otherwise.

  • nisar

    Hi…I take arginine amino acid before gym session as a supplement to reduce fatigue. Is this a good move?

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