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Selank (TP-7) for Anxiety + Insufficiently Investigated Uses, Dosage, & Limitations

Written by Carlos Tello, PhD (Molecular Biology) | Last updated:
Jonathan Ritter
Puya Yazdi
Medically reviewed by
Jonathan Ritter, PharmD, PhD (Pharmacology), Puya Yazdi, MD | Written by Carlos Tello, PhD (Molecular Biology) | Last updated:

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Selank is a small protein produced in Russia to treat anxiety and improve learning. According to some users, it has no side effects. Keep reading to learn more about the possible benefits of Selank.

Disclaimer: By writing this post, we are not recommending this drug. Some of our readers who were already taking the drug requested that we commission a post on it, and we are simply providing information that is available in the clinical and scientific literature.

What is Selank (TP-7)?

The recent boom in biotechnology has opened the door for studying new biologically active compounds, including cognitive enhancers or nootropics. One of these is Selank (previously known as TP-7), which belongs to a class of molecules called synthetic peptides, or small artificially-made proteins [1].

It is an anti-anxiety compound claimed to improve learning and increase energy without side effects or the risk of addiction.

Selank is small and only a fraction of the size of most naturally occurring proteins. It was developed at the Institute of Molecular Genetics (Russian Academy of Sciences) in cooperation with the V.V. Zakusov Research Institute of Pharmacology (Russian Academy of Medical Sciences) along with its cousin Semax.

Selank was derived by combining the sequence of a peptide called tuftsin with another sequence that improves its stability. Tuftsin is naturally occurring and makes up one part of IgG (an antibody) [2].

Both tuftsin and Selank reduced anxiety and increased serotonin levels in rats, being Selank more effective [3].

Selank is approved in Russia for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder and for its use as a nootropic. The FDA doesn’t approve its use for any conditions, but Selank is available in several countries as a supplement.

Selank (TP-7) Mechanism of Action

Selank may stabilize enkephalins in the blood. Enkephalins are natural peptides in the body that reduce stress [4, 5].

However, some mice did not demonstrate the enkephalin stabilization following dosing with Selank and did not benefit from its anti-anxiety effect [6].

In cells, Selank binds to GABA receptors. Most compounds that bind to GABA receptors cause a sedative effect. In mice treated with Selank, researchers discovered more activity in inhibitory neurons, which rely on GABA. This resulted in less brain activity [7, 8, 9].

In addition, researchers discovered an increase in BDNF, which has been implicated in learning and memory and may explain how Selank can improve learning [10, 11].

Selank also changed the levels of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin in mice. They are involved in motivation, focus, and pleasure [12].

In some mice, Selank increased norepinephrine, but decreased dopamine and serotonin. In others, Selank increased norepinephrine and dopamine and did not change serotonin [12]. Therefore, its exact effect/mechanism is not clear.

Possible Uses and Effects of Selank

Possibly Effective for:

Anxiety

In a clinical trial on 62 people, those given Selank had fewer anxiety symptoms, with a greater decrease being observed in those suffering from pre-existing anxiety disorders [13].

In another trial, similar benefits were observed in 60 patients suffering from anxiety and phobias up to a week after the final dose [14].

Additionally, in 70 anxiety patients, Selank increased phenazepam’s effects (an anti-anxiety drug banned in some U.S. states for its recreational use) while reducing its side effects (drowsiness and memory loss) [15, 16].

In mice, Selank reduced their anxiety. The more anxious the mice were, to begin with, the more significant the result [17, 18].

Additionally, it showed anti-anxiety effects in rats over 4 weeks of daily treatment [19].

Although limited, the evidence suggests that Selank helps curb anxiety. If you suffer from anxiety, you may discuss with your doctor how taking Selank might help you. Remember that you should never take this supplement in place of what your doctor recommends or prescribes.

Animal and Cell Research (Lack of Evidence)

No clinical evidence supports the use of Selank for any of the conditions listed in this section (which includes its common use as a nootropic). Below is a summary of the existing animal and cell-based research, which should guide further investigational efforts. However, the studies listed should not be interpreted as supportive of any health benefit.

Learning

In rats, within three days, Selank supplementation improved learning ability [20].

The Selank-treated rats were able to learn more quickly during an electrical test. It also reduced their anxiety, which helped them move faster [21, 22].

Memory

Selank stabilized memory traces (storage) in rats during a 30-day trial. However, it is unclear how these measurements were performed, as memory traces are not detectable as discrete locations in the brain [23, 24].

It may also preserve memory in monkeys [25].

Brain Damage

In one study, researchers gave Selank supplements to rats with toxin-induced brain damage. This drug restored their brain activity to normal levels [26].

Depression

Selank decreased depression symptoms (immobility during a forced swimming test) in mice, being more effective at low than at high doses [27].

Antioxidant Activity in the Liver

Injection of Selank increased the levels of antioxidants in the livers of stressed mice [28].

Blood Flow

In sedated cats, Selank decreased blood pressure by about 30% for 3 minutes [29].

It also increased blood flow to the cats’ brain by about 24% for up to 10 minutes [30].

Alcohol Withdrawal

To mimic high alcohol intake, rats were given a 10% ethanol (alcohol) solution as their sole drinking source for 24 weeks. Selank decreased the anxiety of rats following 48-hour alcohol withdrawal [31].

Preventing Weight Gain and Reducing Cholesterol

In one study, rats on a high-fat diet had 35% less weight gain when treated with Selank. Additionally, total cholesterol for these rats was reduced by over 58% and blood glucose level was reduced by 23.5% [32].

Cancer

In one study, mice with breast cancer were treated with daily doses of Selank and had slower tumor growth. Also, these mice lived longer [33].

However, this preliminary finding doesn’t mean that Selank has any value in anticancer therapy. Do not under any circumstances attempt to replace conventional cancer therapies with Selank or any other supplements.

Inflammation in the Spleen

After treatment with Selank, mice spleen had increased levels of several inflammatory response genes, which may protect from the harmful effects of inflammation [34].

Ulcers

Selank reduced the area of stomach ulcers in animal models [35, 36].

This may be because this drug increases lymph flow, an important component of the immune system, to the stomach [37].

Immune Function

Selank increased IL-6 in blood cells collected from patients suffering from depression. IL-6 is an inflammatory protein that helps fight infection [38, 39].

In cell-based studies, Selank caused the release of interferons, which are anti-viral molecules [40].

Selank protects cells from some viral infections. However, mice infected with a virus did not benefit from Selank [40].

Selank, NA-Selank, and NA-Selank Amidate

Selank is sold in three forms. The commonly researched form is Selank. NA-Selank (also called N-Acetyl Selank) is the same as Selank but with an “acetyl” group attached to one end.

Acetyl groups may assist in penetration into the brain [41].

Importantly, note that no human studies have been performed on NA-Selank.

Amidate (also known as Etomidate) is a sedative used for general anesthesia [42].

There are no available studies that combine Selank with Amidate.

Selank vs. Semax

Much like Selank, Semax is also a synthetic peptide.

Semax comes from a different protein (a brain hormone) and also has different purported benefits, such as improving circulation and preventing liver damage.

Things to Know About Using Selank

Dosage of Selank

Because Selank is not approved by the FDA for any conditions, there is no official dose. Users and supplement manufacturers have established unofficial doses based on trial and error. Speak with your doctor before supplementing with Selank.

Importantly, as an insufficiently researched substance, its safety profile is practically unknown. You should consult your doctor about potential side effects based on your health condition and possible drug or supplement interactions.

Selank products are normally available as a 0.15% spray, with 75 μg of Selank per spray. The recommended dosage is 2 or 3 sprays per dose with 3 doses per day (a max total of 675 μg/day) [43].

For an adult weighing 67.5 kg (about 149 lbs.), this translates to about 0.01 mg Selank/kg body weight. Rat studies normally used 0.3 mg/kg body weight.

Limitations and Caveats

In sum, the above data seems encouraging, but there is room for skepticism about the future of Selank.

Firstly, despite the stabilizing protein sequence, the half-life of Selank is only two minutes. Selank is undetectable in the blood after 10 minutes [44, 45].

This puts into doubt whether it can really have the week-long effects as reported in the clinical trials.

There is limited information about Selank’s activity in patients because there are only 3 clinical studies listed in PubMed [46].

Another concern is the lack of reported side effects. Many of the studies conducted were very short-term (within 24 hours). More rigorous and longer testing must be performed to measure side effects.

One final concern is that Selank cannot be taken orally because the stomach will digest it. Thus, you must either inject it under the skin or inhale it through the nose, with inhaling being more effective in delivery to the brain [47].

This dosing requirement may be off-putting to some considering trying this drug.

While Selank is purchasable in Russia, it still has a long road ahead before it becomes readily available in the US. Synthetic peptides require FDA approval in the US.

The Russian Academy of Sciences reported all findings described above. As the Russian Academy of Sciences is the sole developer of Selank, there is a conflict of interest in these studies.

User Reviews

The opinions expressed in this section are solely those of Selank users who may or may not have medical or scientific training. Their reviews do not represent the opinions of SelfHacked. SelfHacked does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.

Do not consider user experiences as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare providers because of something you have read on SelfHacked. We understand that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.

Users reported that Selank has anti-anxiety effects at higher doses. However, they did not experience any nootropic (brain or memory-enhancing) effects.

Buying Selank

Selank is available online. Use the coupon code selfhacked8 for 8% off.

This drug has not been evaluated nor used in the US.

Want More Targeted Ways to Enhance Brain Function?

If you’re interested in improving your cognitive function, we recommend checking out SelfDecode’s Limitless Mind DNA Protocol. It gives genetic-based diet, lifestyle and supplement tips that can help improve your cognitive function. The recommendations are personalized based on your genes.

SelfDecode is a sister company of SelfHacked. The proceeds from your purchase of this product are reinvested into our research and development, in order to serve you better. Thanks for your support!

About the Author

Carlos Tello

Carlos Tello

PhD (Molecular Biology)
Carlos received his PhD and MS from the Universidad de Sevilla.
Carlos spent 9 years in the laboratory investigating mineral transport in plants. He then started working as a freelancer, mainly in science writing, editing, and consulting. Carlos is passionate about learning the mechanisms behind biological processes and communicating science to both academic and non-academic audiences. He strongly believes that scientific literacy is crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid falling for scams.

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