Phenibut is a nootropic that works by binding to GABA receptors in the brain.  The direct effect of this is to calm down the brain’s signaling and act as a sedative.  It also boosts our dopamine levels in the reward centre of our brain, helping us to feel calm, content and happy.

Phenibut is sometimes used by astronauts to both calm anxiety and improve mental clarity, and is popular with students under exam pressure.  In Russia, where Phenibut was first developed, it is used to treat a range of conditions; from depression, anxiety and PTSD, to sleep disorders and vestibular (balance) problems.


Some studies on the role of Phenibut:

  • Lapin, I.  Phenibut (B-Phenyl-Gaba): A Tranquilizer and Nootropic Drug, History of Drug Development, CNS Drug Reviews, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 471-481, 2001.


Hops Extract

A sedative used since Roman times, hops are believed to also possess antibacterial and antispasmodic properties.  We have selected hops as an ingredient for iM-Zen as they are a Phytoestrogen, so may also be useful for hormone imbalances brought on my PMS and menopause.

Hops have been reported to improve sleep and counteract the restlessness that comes from nervous tension.  One study (included below) showed hops to improve oxidative stress in our blood platelets.


Some studies on the role of Hops:

Magnolia Bark Extract (2% Honokiol)

Popular in Chinese medicine, magnolia bark is used to alleviate depression and insomnia.  Magnolia bark works by increasing serotonin and noradrenaline levels in the prefrontal cortex, the brain region associated with your ‘executive functions’.  

These functions include decision-making, working memory, focus, and responding to problems as they arise.  This part of your brain is a key player in your resilience and ability to cope under pressure, so it’s really worth taking good care of!

The other reported benefits of magnolia bark are wide-ranging; from helping with menopause, to lowering high-blood pressure and assisting with cancer treatment.  The research continues as the list of possible benefits continues to grow.


Some studies on the role of magnolia bark:

  • Cheng, S; Castillo, V; Welty, M; et al, 2016.  Honokiol inhibits migration of renal cell carcinoma through activation of RhoA/ROCK/MLC signaling pathway.  International Journal of Oncology, Volume 49, Issue 4.


  • Talarek, S; Listos, J; Barreca, D; et al, 2017.  Neuroprotective effects of honokiol: from chemistry to medicine.  BioFactors,
    Volume 43, Issue 6, Pages 760-769.


Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata L.) Aerial Powder

Passionflower extract is used as a remedy for sleep problems, nervousness, anxiety, and the digestive upset we sometimes get with anxiety and nerves.

Sometimes also used as a food and drink flavoring, this plant has had a wide variety of uses since first being discovered in the 1600s in Peru.

We’ve selected passionflower for iM-Zen as it is know to work well as a sedative, both alone and in combination with other ingredients.

Some studies on the role of passionflower:


  • Dave, P. H; Vishnupriya, V; Gayathri, R.  Herbal Remedies for Anxiety and Depression- A Review.  Research J. Pharm. and Tech. 9(8): August. 2016.

  • Yeung, K. S; Hernandez, M; Mao, J. J; et al, 2018.  Herbal medicine for depression and anxiety: A systematic review with assessment of potential psycho‐oncologic relevance.  Phytotherapy Research, Vol. 32, Issue 5, Pages 865-891.

Magnesium Citrate

Magnesium citrate is a magnesium preparation in salt form with citric acid.  These has a gentle laxative effect, so please do not exceed the recommended dosage on the bottle.

Although official magnesium (Mg) dietary reference intakes are open to question, a significant number of adults likely have intakes that are in the range of 50%-99% of the requirement.  Human studies have found that a lack of dietary magnesium is related to serum or plasma C-reactive protein (CRP). Individuals with apparently deficient magnesium intakes have an increased likelihood of low serum or plasma CRP, which is considered an indicator of chronic inflammatory stress that increases the risk for chronic disease.

In addition, elevated serum or plasma CRP in individuals with chronic disease is decreased by magnesium supplementation, which suggests that magnesium decreases the risk for chronic disease.

Magnesium supplementation is helpful for a wide range of conditions such hypertension, ischemic heart disease, stroke, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, migraine and IBS.  It has also been studied as an aid for people experiencing mild to moderate depression.


Some studies on the role of magnesium:

  • Dibaba, D. T; Xun, P; Song, Y. et al, 2017.  The effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure in individuals with insulin resistance, prediabetes, or noncommunicable chronic diseases: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 106, Issue 3, 1 September 2017, Pages 921–929.


  • Tarleton, E. K; Littenberg, B; MacLean, C.D. et al 2017.  Role of magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression: A randomized clinical trial. PLoS ONE 12(6): e0180067.


Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) – as Calcium Pantothenate


This is a very important nutrient for adrenal support, assisting in steroid hormone synthesis, so essential for recovery from prolonged periods of stress.  Vitamin B5 is also indicated for people recovering from surgery or intense physical activity, in part due to its association with reducing inflammation.  

Also important for energy metabolism, B5 enhances the release of energy from carbohydrates.  It is essential for the production of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter most associated with skeletal muscle movement.  It keeps us moving and energized.


Some studies on the effects of vitamin B5:


  • Gominak, S.C.  Vitamin D deficiency changes the intestinal microbiome reducing B vitamin production in the gut. The resulting lack of pantothenic acid adversely affects the immune system, producing a “pro-inflammatory” state associated with atherosclerosis and autoimmunity.  Medical Hypothesis. Vol. 94, Pages 103-107, September 2016.



Vitamin B6 – as Pyridoxal 5 Phosphate

Pyridoxal 5’-phosphate is the metabolically active coenzyme form of vitamin B6, chosen for its bioavailability.  Vitamin B6 deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies, which is partially due to large amounts being lost during cooking and food processing.

Vitamin B6 is also an inflammation-fighter, and studies show benefits to cardiovascular health.  It is essential for red blood cell and niacin production.   It’s also requires for neurotransmitter production, which is crucial for people experiencing anxiety and depression.  

When carbohydrates are stores in our liver, they take the form of glycogen.  Vitamin B6 allows glycogen to be converted to glucose, giving us a needed energy boost.


Some studies on the effects of vitamin B6:

  • Lotto, V; Choi, S.W; Friso, S.  Vitamin B6: a challenging link between nutrition and inflammation in CVD.  The British Journal of Nutrition.  106 (2): 183-95, July 2011.




Vitamin B12 – as Methylcobalmin

Vitamin B12 is crucial for neurological health.  It plays a key role in the metabolism of cells, including our brain cells and our red blood cells.  Many of us are deficient in B12 due to our diets.  Deficiency can manifest as anemia, fatigue, depression, confusion, pain and skin sensitivity.  It can also show up as a lack of appetite – unhelpful when we need to be getting more nutrients!

When we are extra tired and needing help to get going again, replenishing our B12 is a smart move.  If you are following a vegetarian and vegan diet then supplementing B12 is strongly advised, as it is not present in meat and dairy free diets.


Some studies on the effects of vitamin B12:


  • Koning, E.J; van der Zwaluw, N.L; van Wijngaarden, J.P. et al.  Effects of Two-Year Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid Supplementation on Depressive Symptoms and Quality of Life in Older Adults with Elevated Homocysteine Concentrations: Additional Results from the B-PROOF Study, and RCT.  Nutrients, 8, 748, 2016.  Book Result
  • Neurologic presentations of nutritional deficiencies.  Neurologic Clinics, 28(1): 101-70, February 2010.


  • Yajnik, C.S; Lubree, H.G; Thuse, N.V. et al. Oral vitamin B12 supplementation reduces plasma total homocysteine concentration in women in India. Asia Pac Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2007;16(1):103-9.