Friends old and new seem to consider me as somewhat of a nootropics expert, which leads them to send me all manner of odd cognitive improvement tools and nootropics. Most are more marketing than nootropics, but when one friend obsessed with the best nootropics for cryptocurrency trading told me he was thinking about using “pig brains”, it caught me by surprise.
Although I had heard of cerebrolysin, I didn’t know much about it. In researching the substance I found a fair number of intelligent, mindful nootropic users who considered cerebrolysin a valuable tool.
Cerebrolysin (and cousin the P21 nootropic) are drugs and peptides used by the underground nootropic community for improving cognitive performance and preventing degenerative diseases likes Alzheimer’s.
While scientists aren’t currently spending much money or research on healthy individuals, much of the old research combined with anecdotal accounts is creating a demand for cerebrolysin.
Is Cerebrolysin…Pig Brains?
Yes and no.
Cerebrolysin is a mixture of amino acids and proteins, which is derived from pig brains. They are naturally derived in the human brain , but for obvious reasons sourcing them from pigs makes more ethical sense than other humans.
The added proteins and peptides from cerebrolysin theoretically work to decrease beta-amyloid plaque (associated with Alzheimer’s disease) , promote neurogenesis and new brain cells , and protect brain cells from harmful conditions (neuroprotective) .
Memory Benefits of Cerebrolysin
As with many exploratory or early stage compounds, research is scarce and even more scarce on healthy adults. With cerebrolysin and others of the same caliber, there is a lot of guesswork that must go on in order to feel most comfortable with consuming the peptide drug.
According to a study of 54 adults suffering memory loss, a derivative of cerebrolysin could improve memory formation and learning  and this can be seen even after a single dose .
Again, another meta-analysis of 15 trials of over 2,446 subjects found that the higher doses of cerebrolysin could reduce progression of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia . While this is positive news, it is hard to extrapolate how this might be useful for healthy adults.
Does this translate to healthy adults? It’s hard to say.
According to one nootropic user on Reddit (anecdotal account):
“I can safely say that Cerebrolysin is by far the best nootropic I have ever used. This is only three weeks in, but my memory, recall ability, sensitivity to music, observance over my emotions, thinking faculties have all improved to a noticeable amount.
A few instances are that I do not need to “plan” as much when I am writing something out; before I would need to think of the sentence, its structure and flow before writing it out…
Memories are going off the chart, I am able to remember very very distant memories from my childhood at even the age of a few years old (I checked with my mother if I was correct), albeit these memories are extremely short and rather… vague; however, I can recall more memories at will. I can consciously choose a more important day in my past and begin to “push” my memory from an important event into the more “dull” unimportant areas that I used to not remember.” 
For right now, there aren’t even that many anecdotal accounts, but what we do have is usually fairly positive. There are numerous examples of people who have brain injuries (such as concussion) and take it upon themselves to try cerebrolysin to improve recovery . This is well-grounded in the scientific literature considering numerous study show benefits for stroke patients in over 600 patients .
Focus and Concentration (Cerebrolysin and ADHD)
There is not a lot of evidence proving one way or another, but cerebrolysin may be effective for concentration and focus. A study on 60 children diagnosed with ADHD used cerebrolysin to improve symptoms by 70 – 86% on average . Some anecdotal reports corroborate the evidence.
Cerebrolysin Side Effects
Even though cerebrolysin seems relatively untested, it has been used for many years and, as the last study shows, even in human children struggling with ADHD.
That doesn’t mean there are no cerebrolysin side effects, so it is important to take a closer look at some of the effects.
According to scientific literature, the side effects of cerebrolysin include things like headaches, dizziness, insomnia, or fatigue. Some people have nausea or vomiting as well . Because the cerebrolysin is usually injected, some people experience reactions around the site (irritation or itchiness).
In one cerebrolysin user who tried it for long periods of time, he noted the following side effect:
“The long-term effects aren’t so pleasant. There is an increasing feeling of “mounting personal hell” as I like to call it. Basically, all the negative traits of one’s character seem to be unnaturally emphasized and underlined in your mind, while the positives seem little and insignificant. It doesn’t really manifest itself in a severe form to others, but you may feel “grumpy” and “dissatisfied” even when you seem to be razor-sharp mentally. A good comparision would be some rich spoiled kid who has everything throwing tantrums and breaking stuff, just because he is rich and spoiled. Several of my friends reported very similar mental side effects.” 
Even more scary are the negative effects of cerebrolysin seen by this guy due to the administration method (most likely) .
What’s the Verdict?
Some of the horror stories with cerebrolysin give reason to take precautions with the drug and utilize it only if the situation is dire (perhaps concussion or stroke victims). From the last list of side effects (whereby a man suffered depression that eventually led to his suicide), it is potentially dangerous if used incorrectly.
As with any tool, cerebrolysin may be advantageous for some people. It can be quite expensive  and comes with side effects, but if you appreciate the wild west of nootropics, cerebrolysin may be a valuable tool.