Semax as a Nootropic: Review, Benefits & Side Effects

Updated July 12, 2024 by | Reviewed by William Gallagher, MNeuroSci
(Estimated reading time: 6 minutes)

Semax is a Russian-made experimental drug that is used in the treatment of various health problems. It has both peptide and nootropic effects, which are believed to improve cognition and memory.

The effectiveness and overall safety of Semax have not been thoroughly investigated in humans.

Continue reading to learn more about this nootropic, as well as its assumed advantages and mechanism of action, and whether its "advantages" are actually supported by evidence.

What is Semax?

As briefly mentioned, Semax is a synthetic peptide drug that is based on the molecular structure of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH).

In Russia, Semax was originally used as a medicine to prevent and cure circulatory diseases like strokes. Later, it was used to treat cognitive impairments in elderly patients.

Since then, Semax is mainly used for its nootropic properties, or more specifically alleged pro-cognitive ones.

It's believed that the drug improves memory formation and recall processes by regulating neurotransmitter release.

Since there are currently no adequate human studies on the drug, its effectiveness and possible side effects remain largely unknown.

There are only a few studies on the drug's effectiveness for treating certain diseases like neurodegeneration, optic nerve damage, and mood disorders.

However, these studies were conducted in animals - not humans; thus their results cannot be applied or translated directly to people.

It's also worth noting that Semax hasn't been licensed by the FDA for any medical or other application.

Mechanisms of Actions


Semax's mechanism of action is still not entirely clear, as there haven't been enough studies that would explain how it works.

That being said, some limited research shows that Semax affects the release of certain neurotransmitters in the human brain – namely dopamine and acetylcholine – which have a significant impact on mood, learning capabilities, motivation, and attention.

In fact, it's believed that Semax could help in cognition restoration after brain injuries, especially in elderly patients who are most affected by age-related cognitive disorders.

What is known about the drug's mechanisms of action is that it stimulates the secretion of ACTH from the pituitary gland.

This process then triggers the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline, which are neurotransmitters that affect a wide range of brain functions.

Semax is also believed to increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).

BDNF is a protein that encourages the growth and differentiation of new neurons and synapses in the brain.

Specifically, Semax has been shown to increase the levels of BDNF in certain areas of the brain during neurodegenerative diseases.

BDNF is also associated with improved memory formation and learning abilities, thus increasing its amounts in various parts of the brain could be beneficial to cognitive functions.

Semax also reduced the breakdown of enkephalins.

In the brain, Enkephalins are short peptides that function as neurotransmitters. They decrease substance P release in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord and pain fibers activation.

The transmission of opiates is blocked at sympathetic and locus coeruleus synapses.

What that means is that they play an important role in regulating pain and mood; thus their functional disruption has been linked to depression.

Increased enkephalin levels could be another way that Semax might improve the mood of people with low quality of life.

Finally, Semax is thought to safeguard the nervous system from oxidative damage.

What are the benefits of Semax?

Semax is mostly used for its nootropic, or more specifically pro-cognitive, effects.

It's believed that the drug improves memory formation and recall processes by regulating neurotransmitter release.

However, there aren't any human studies to back up such claims with empirical evidence.

Here is a list of things people use Semax for:

• Cognitive enhancement

• Memory improvement

• Depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders

Semax Side Effects & Safety Concerns

As already mentioned, there are no studies that would examine whether or not Semax is safe for humans.

More specifically, there are no studies that have looked into the possible side effects of taking Semax.

Since it's a peptide drug that lacks official medical approval, it cannot be prescribed to people for its cognitive benefits.

Some scientists warn about potential dangers associated with using Semax as well as other synthetic drugs like it.

What is the best Semax dosage?

When it comes to dosage, no official numbers have been given.

However, some people say that they get great results by using anywhere from 50-300 mcg once a day.

Semax can also be injected at Inject 0.3-1 mL subcutaneously twice a week.

How to take Semax?

Semax can be administered through the nasal or sublingual application.

Or, as mentioned before, it can also be injected.

The latter option is considered to be more efficient, but it's also riskier since needles are involved.

At the moment, there are no studies that would show whether or not this drug could have negative side effects when taken orally.

Semax vs. Selank - What's the difference?

Selank has long been used to treat anxiety and depression. Selank also has strong anxiolytic effects as well as long-term neuropsychotropic, antidepressant, and anti-stress activity.

Semax is utilized to treat individuals with pathologies connected to brain circulation problems.

Selank and Semax in combination, have been used in:

  • Improving learning processes
  • Exploratory behavior
  • Regeneration and development
  • Nociceptive and inflammatory processes
  • Nerve regeneration and improved neuromuscular performance

Possible long term effects

There are no studies that investigate whether or not Semax has side effects for humans in the long run.

In fact, there isn't enough research into the effects of this drug, to begin with.

All we have is anecdotal evidence from websites where people talk about their experiences using Semax over a period of several weeks, months, and even years.

These are the claims about the long term benefits of using Semax:

They claim that it has anti-aging properties, which would mean that this drug could be used to improve the quality of life for older people.

People say that it will not only improve your cognitive capacity but allow you to retain what you've learned for a longer period of time.

They say that Semax is good for improving memory and learning abilities. The idea behind this claim is that it makes it easier for your brain to maintain focus and concentration, while also helping you remember things better.

Finally, according to some people, taking this peptide can help you learn things faster.

You can find more anecdotal evidence from people right here.

How to buy Semax?

Since it's an unregulated drug and can't be prescribed for anything, in particular, you will have to look online.

Luckily, Semax is available in most online pharmacies.

Semax's effects on sleep quality

When it comes to sleep quality, most people have claimed that Semax has zero side negative effects.

Most people have taken it in the morning before going to work since they claimed that it energized them and kept them awake throughout the day.

However, some users say that taking Semax too late in the evening can affect their sleep later on.

Semax's effect on sports performance and bodybuilding

According to one man, Semax helped him increase his endurance and recover faster post-workout.

Some people have also claimed that this drug helped them work out for longer periods of time, without getting too tired or exhausted.

He also stated that his muscles felt less sore post-workout.

The peptide has been used in Russia as a doping agent for athletes.

Semax's effect on cognition and learning

According to one study, Semax was able to improve cognitive functions such as attention span and concentration.

It was also shown to benefit people who had to perform intellectually demanding tasks after taking this drug.

Some users claim that Semax can help you study better and remember things more easily.

This is thought to be connected to its effects on memory consolidation - the drug helps your brain make connections between memories, making them easier to recall later on.

Not only does it help you study better, but Semax is also said to improve your mental acuity.

Some people have claimed that it can help you find solutions to complicated problems more easily, allowing you to get creative inspiration easier.

There are no studies done on the effects of this drug on healthy people so far.

Semax's effects on creativity and mood

For the most part, these are claims made by users about Semax's effects on their mood.

However, there is some anecdotal evidence to support this claim.

One user claimed that taking Semax helped him get rid of negative thoughts and focus more on getting things done.

It was also said to help people relax and relieve stress.

Since it's also being used as a doping agent, there are some people who have claimed that Semax can reduce fatigue and help you increase your energy levels.

Some users have even said that taking this drug helped them get relief from depression.

However, the only study done on the effects of Semax on healthy individuals was conducted on people with brain damage who had depressive symptoms.

It was found that the peptide helped improve their mood, even when taken over a long term.


What is Semax good for?

Semax stimulates glucose metabolism and blood pressure. It also activates the brain for action that can help people be more productive. Semax may also be used to induce a controlled state of mental stress in order to improve brain function. Chemical stimulation on specific areas of the brain is how Semax works.

Is Semax legal in the US?

Semax is a drug that's primarily used in Russia and Ukraine. It's popular for its claimed nootropic, neuroprotective, and neurorestorative qualities. Semax is an illegal drug that isn't approved by the FDA in the United States.

Is Semax a peptide?

Semax a synthetic peptide composed of a fragment of ACTH(4–7) and the C-terminal tripeptide Pro-Gly-Pro (PGP), is one of the medications that is presently used in cerebral stroke therapy in Russia.