Stimulants are one of the most infamous classes of drugs, whether recreational or for medical purposes. They can be unpredictable, leading to difficult side effects like anxiety, hypertension, and in extreme cases, even neurotoxicity. Members of the nootropics community have been reluctant to place the label “nootropic” on any kind of stimulant, due to these potential side effects and the risk that comes with taking them for long periods of time. However, there exists somewhat of an anomaly in the world of stimulants: the drug known as bromantane.
This unique drug is purported to possess both stimulant and anxiolytic properties. This seemingly paradoxical nature is due to bromantane’s status as an actoprotector, an obscure class of drugs that will be described below. As for bromantane’s origin: like many of the greatest cognition-enhancers, it is a product of the laboratories and pharmaceutical companies of Russia (formerly the Soviet Union).
Discovery of Bromantane
The discovery of adamantane in petroleum in 1933 launched a new field of chemistry dedicated to studying the synthesis and properties of polyhedral organic compounds. Bromantane (also known by the trade name Ladasten (Ладастен) or its structural name of adamantylbromphenylamine) arose incidentally from the research of antiviral drugs meant to treat influenza. Amantadine, a derivative of the adamantane molecule, was being researched in the 1960s for its antiviral properties. Due to the vigorous amount of research surrounding the amantadine molecule, it was soon discovered that amantadine and its derivatives possessed psychostimulant through a dopaminergic effect; thus, it has been sometimes used as a treatment for early-stage Parkinson’s disease.
The new discovery of the dopaminergic properties of adamantine led to increased research on the development of new stimulants. In the 1980s, researchers at the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences in Moscow engineered the adamantine derivative bromantane as a new stimulant drug.
While displaying stimulant properties, bromantane is also commonly categorized as an actoprotector, that is, a drug that “enhance[s] body stability against physical loads without increasing oxygen consumption or heat production. Or, in short, actoprotectors are synthetic adaptogens with a significant capacity to improve physical performance.”
Actoprotectors, in theory, exhibit many advantages over traditional stimulants. For one, stimulants like Adderall typically cause a “crash” when its effects wear off. Actoprotectors like bromantane are purported to be more “smooth” and stable in their effects. However, many of these positive claims surrounding bromantane are somewhat dubious. Much of the research that has been conducted on actoprotectors like bromantane was based solely in the Soviet Union, and most of the literature have not been translated into other languages like English.
Another actoprotector, known as Bemitil (Metaprot), was commonly given to Soviet cosmonauts and soldiers in the 1990s to increase their performance and resistance to fatigue in their respective fields of work. Bromantane was also used, albeit not as commonly as bemitil, to “shorten recovery times after strong physical exertion.” Although bromantane soon fell out of use in the military, it still continued to be researched in areas such as sports medicine, as it was found to boost athletic performance. Bromantane was brought somewhat into the eyes of the public during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, when 5 Russian athletes tested positively for using bromantane as a doping agent. Bromantane was thereafter banned from use in sporting events, relegating its use to purely medical fields.
Mechanism of Action and Side Effects
While bromantane’s mechanism of action is sadly not as well studied as other nootropic substances, it is known to exhibit characteristics of both stimulants (like amphetamine) and adaptogens (like Rhodiola Rosea). Bromantane’s two foremost modes of action are thought to be dopaminergic and serotonergic stimulation of the nervous system. Although the mechanism is not that well understood, research has indicated that the administration of bromantane triggers a release of dopamine, as well as increasing the concentration of serotonin and 5-HIAA in the frontal cortex of the brain. Bromantane also works as an anxiolytic by strengthening GABA-ergic mediation. Unlike most stimulant drugs, bromantane has not demonstrated addictive potential. Likewise, it does not appear to build a tolerance after prolonged periods of use. One study suggests that high doses of bromantane (50 mg/kg) in rats can cause an increase in the DNA-binding activity of the beta-amyloid precursor protein (β-APP) gene promoter, which is linked to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. However, the dose used in the study is about 68 times the normal prescription dose of bromantane.
Uses of Bromantane
Bromantane is most commonly used in Russia as a treatment for neurasthenia, a somewhat vague medical condition that is marked by fatigue, irritability, anxiety, anhedonia and depressed mood.
The very favorable side-effect profile of bromantane is one contributing to factor to its increase in popularity as a potential nootropic substance. Because “true” nootropic drugs do not carry any addictive potential, bromantane is one of the few stimulating drugs that can be said to fit this definition. Unfortunately, bromantane has not yet seen any official research regarding its exact effects of cognition and cognitive health. Due to its effects as an actoprotector, bromantane would theoretically reduce any fatigue that comes alongside long periods of mental exertion, making it a possible study aid. This effect would be enhanced by bromantane’s stimulating effects, which lead to increased motivation and concentration. A typical single dose of bromantane can range from 50 to 100 mg.
Positive Effects of Bromantane
- Enhances physical and mental endurance under stress
- Stimulation of the nervous system
- Reduces anxiety
- Enhances cognition and learning capability
- Low to no potential for addiction
- Low toxicity, especially when compared to other stimulants
Negative Effects of Bromantane
As of now, there are no established side effects in the scientific literature surrounding bromantane
As with any drug that has not been extremely well-documented in the scientific literature, it can be useful to include anecdotal reports from users to see the effects of the drug. Obviously, anecdotal reports are not to be considered hard evidence, so use good judgment. The following subjective reports have been gathered from Reddit users from /r/nootropics.
- From /u/SocialT – “So the first time I tried it, it felt alright. The anxiolytic effect was good but I had taken a bunch of other noots, to the point where it was just a confusion of effects. But I took it (~50mg) yesterday and felt great. Calm, motivated, a very subtle kind of euphoric happy mood throughout the day. I was wide awake, and very sociable. I held a conversation for almost 3 hours with a coworker who I’d hardly ever talked to! Caffeine seemed to enhance the effect, though the comedown was a weird jittery-excited-slight unease mind state.”
- From /u/Nootrophic – “I’d like to report that this summer, I’ve took 100 mg for a month without issue and much improved effects: Stamina (++), Overall Confidence (+++), Social Confidence (++) and Motivation (+ or ++). I didn’t suffer side effects, and I stacked this dosage with insane amount of other nootropics without any issue whatsoever.”
- From /u/drejp – “I literally experienced total bliss these two weeks on Bromantane, starting from day 3-4 maybe. Depression allievated, mental and physical energy increased a lot, libido restored, excersise is rewarding and general outlook on life is very positive. It seriously felt like I got my old self back to a degree. I started to experience some sides yesterday though, I still experience mood-lifting effects, but I have the worst headaches today and general brain-fog, I have hard time thinking straight and am generally confused cognitive-wise.”
- From /u/somebodybettercomes – “I’ve been taking bromantane for over a month now, at least 50mg daily and most days I take around 100mg. The most I’ve had at once is around 200mg. So far I have not noticed any negative side effects from it. I’m generally in a better mood and more motivated than normal, less prone to anxiety. I believe it has improved my ability to stay focused. That said, I don’t feel like I am taking a stimulant. Even the few times I tried it close to bedtime I did not feel like it kept me from falling asleep or interfered with my ability to stay asleep.”
Bromantane is a unique drug, given that it acts as a stimulant and anxiolytic simultaneously. It also serves to enhance performance by increasing the body’s resistance to mental and physical fatigue and exhaustion. Sadly, bromantane lacks the wide spectrum of research that has been invested in other more popular cognitive enhancers and stimulants. Because of this, nootropic users may want to consider trying bromantane to see if it acts as an effective drug for enhancing their cognition.
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