Picamilon is a synthetic compound made of GABA and vitamin B3 (niacin). It crosses the blood-brain barrier much more easily than GABA alone. It is reported to improve cognitive function and reduce anxiety. Read on to learn about the potential uses and side effects of picamilon.
- Mechanisms of Action
- Uses of Picamilon
- Side Effects of Picamilon
- Limitations and Caveats
- Drug Interactions
- User Reviews
- Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick
GABA is a neurotransmitter with relaxing and anti-anxiety effects.
Niacin is a vitamin involved in DNA repair, fat and cholesterol synthesis, and widening of blood vessels.
When taken as an oral supplement by itself GABA is not able to cross the blood-brain barrier (only a small amount does). However, picamilon (GABA bound to niacin) is able to cross the blood-brain barrier [R, R, R].
It is not approved as a prescription drug in the United States. In 2015, the FDA ruled that picamilon can’t be sold as a dietary supplement because it does not fit the definition of one and subsequently ordered five companies to remove it from their products. However, there are still some companies based in the United States that sell it [R].
Mechanisms of Action
Picamilon’s ability to cross the blood-brain barrier is mostly due to the ability of niacin to widen blood vessels. Once picamilon enters the brain, the molecule is broken down by water into GABA and niacin [R].
Once in the brain, GABA activates GABA (both GABAA and GABAB) receptors, while niacin increases blood flow to the brain by dilating blood vessels. This additional blood flow to the brain provides many of the neuroprotective and nootropic benefits of picamilon. New blood coming into the brain brings fresh oxygen and other essential nutrients that nourish brain cells [R].
Uses of Picamilon
1) Picamilon May Decrease Anxiety and Depression
GABA is the brain’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitters, and greater levels of this molecule are associated with decreased levels of anxiety [R].
When released, GABA slows the firing rate of neurons. Too much glutamate can contribute to feelings of anxiety, muscular tension, and even increased the risk of seizures. GABA slows neuronal firing rates by blocking the activity of glutamate, the brain’s primary excitatory neurotransmitter [R].
GABA’s main role in the brain is to slow down excitatory communication between neurons.Too little GABA can cause restless thinking, anxiety, and insomnia. Increasing GABA in the brain alleviates all of these symptoms [R, R].
People with excessively low levels of GABA tend to develop anxiety disorders, suggesting that increasing GABA could provide an effective treatment for anxiety [R].
Picamilon reversed both anxiety and depression and activated GABA receptors in rats [R].
In animal studies, picamilon blunts aggressive responses to startling stimuli and slows orientation to such stimuli. This indicates a diminished anxiety response [R].
2) Picamilon Improves Vision
The macula is the center of the retina of the eye, where vision is sharpest. In a study of 60 patients with macular degeneration, three months of picamilon supplementation improved visual acuity [R].
Central chorioretinal dystrophy is a hereditary retinal disorder that results in progressive visual loss. In a study of 48 patients with central chorioretinal dystrophy, picamilon improved the ability to distinguish shapes and colors (contrast sensitivity), increased peripheral vision, and reduced glaucoma severity [R].
3) Picamilon May Improve Memory
Picamilon improved both short- and long-term memory as well as navigation ability in rats. It also prevented electroshock-induced memory impairment [R].
4) Picamilon May Protect the Brain
Picamilon protects neurons from being overactivated to the point of death (excitotoxicity). It has also been shown to increase mitochondrial function in the brain cells of rats who have sustained brain trauma [R].
5) Picamilon Increases Blood Flow to the Brain
6) Picamilon May Help with Parkinson’s Disease
7) Picamilon Protects Against Nerve Inflammation (Neuropathy)
Side Effects of Picamilon
Limitations and Caveats
Many of picamilon’s benefits have yet to be investigated outside of animal studies and human trials are lacking.
Though the current research shows positive results, caution is still advised when using picamilon.
Any drug that modulates the GABA receptors has the potential to alter the effects of picamilon. These include:
- Nonbenzodiazepines (or Z-drugs) like Ambien
Drug interactions for niacin include [R]:
- High-dose aspirin
- Uricosuric agents
The dosage used in clinical trials ranges from 10 to 300 mg once daily. Users report greater efficacy when taken away from food to maximize absorption.
One user reported increased “mental clarity” and “energy without the need for stimulants like nicotine and coffee.” They also reported that their mild depression disappeared, vivid dreams, being sick less often, and increased motivation.
Another user will social anxiety said that after taking one 150 mg pill, they feel “extremely sociable and calm.” They also reported that “random people will strike up conversations with me in elevators when I normally would appear closed off.”
“Is there any crash after taking these? I don’t really notice one. Usually, a cup of coffee will calm my nerves for a while then crash 5 hours later. I don’t seem to notice any additional crash when taking picamilon alongside the coffee.”
One user reported picamilon making them “sleepy and kind of lifeless” from a 200 mg dose. They noted “after about 30 minutes I’ve got the feeling like when you down two or three beers you sit down on the sofa to watch tv and a few minutes later eyelids get heavy and you just want to sleep, literally this kind of feeling. I can’t imagine how it suppose to give you cognitive boost let alone energy.” They stated they would not purchase it again.
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.
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- SelfHacked Elimination Diet course – a video course that will help you figure out which diet works best for you
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- Lectin Avoidance Cookbook – an e-cookbook for people with food sensitivities
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- SelfHacked VIP – an area where you can ask me (Joe) questions about health topics
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