All You Need to Know About Vasopressin & Its Role in Chronic Health Issues

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.


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

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How to Increase Vasopressin (AVP Promoters)


  • Not drinking 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) (RR2).
  • 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)



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).


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