Alzheimer’s and age related memory loss afflict tens of millions of people annually [1]. Many of these patients have treatments to slow the progress of the disease, but no cure. Memantine is one of those treatments, developed in 1968, which has significant effects against moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease [2].

Even though the drug has been available for decades and is approved by the U.S. FDA and European Medicines Agency for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease [3], it is growing in popularity as a nootropic within the online communities. Off-label use of memantine provides benefits for focus and concentration and many others according to anecdotal reports.

Also Known As

Namenda, Axura, Ebixa

Editors’ Thoughts on Memantine

I’ve been a part of the nootropics community and industry for many years, but there are few drugs that have gotten the response of memantine. Of course, there is a bias in that the people for whom the drug is impactful will be more vocal on the forums etc., but it is still striking.

The off-label use of memantine is so surprising because the benefits seem to range from memory to concentration, treatment of ADHD, OCD, manic episodes, and even libido. It’s pretty surprising when I take a look through the community though I’ve never tried it myself.

Mansal Denton, Nootropedia Editor

Memantine Benefits

The main memantine benefits are related to improving memory formation and learning (among healthy individuals) and reducing memory decline among those with Alzheimer’s disease and other memory related ailments [4].

A 2003 study in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that memantine successfully reduced deterioration of moderate and severe Alzheimer’s disease [5]. Given this is one of the most prestigious journals in the world, it is meaningful that they concluded “other treatments are not available”.

This was a relatively large study with 252 patients over 28 weeks. The memantine benefits come from the antiglutamatergic treatment specifically, which blocks NMDA receptors [6]. This discovery wasn’t made until recently, however.

The evidence in favor of using memantine for reducing cognitive decline is sufficient, though using the drug for cognitive enhancement purposes is another story [7]. While there is some evidence on similar drugs (like donepezil), they don’t correlate directly with memantine.

Other benefits of memantine include:

  • Dementia [8]
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) [9]
  • Generalized anxiety disorder [10]
  • Addiction therapy [11]
  • ADHD [12]

All of these benefits have received far less academic attention than the Alzheimer’s disease and senile dementia research. While these promising studies have prompted community members and nootropics enthusiasts to try the drug themselves, the benefits aren’t set in stone.

Memantine and ADHD

One of the memantine benefits is for ADHD patients. There are over 11% of U.S. children who are diagnosed with ADHD and given amphetamine based drugs [13]. Millions of children (and adults) are taking these drugs and while life-saving at times, there are plenty who seek alternatives to Adderall.

When a possible treatment for ADHD pops up as a nootropic, it’s worth looking into. According to much of the anecdotal and scientific reports, this might be a useful alternative. A 2013 study concluded that memantine demonstrated beneficial effects in childhood disorders.

They also aptly concluded that there was too little evidence to advocate for regular use of the drug, but they did note that off-label use was the only way to see benefits until further studies were completed [14].

The off-label use seems to be going well for many, however. In one anecdotal report, a Redditor noted:

“I was diagnosed with ADHD at a young age and I've been on stimulants for it for most of my life – mostly Concerta (extended-release methylphenidate). The stimulants helped me focus, but I still procrastinated like crazy and the side effects made me feel like a zombie. A few years ago I decided to stop taking stimulants and search for a more sustainable solution. I think I've finally found that solution in Memantine…

…I can focus better, it's easier to motivate myself to get things done, and I'm procrastinating much less than I used to. I've been much more productive at my job and around the house. Best of all, I've had absolutely no side effects other than a bit of dissociation and brain fog for the first week after increasing my dosage to 10mg (and even that could probably have been avoided if I had titrated more slowly.)…” – blindcolumn [15]

What is Namenda?

We’ll take a detour from discussing memantine to mention a confusing drug terminology issue. Because names are different based on the chemical compound, the drug patent name, branded drugs etc., there are a variety of names that memantine goes by. One of these is Namenda.

Namenda is the same thing as memantine and knowing this could help avoid some confusion and make it easier to get a prescription and / or purchase. Back to the main event

Memantine Side Effects

With such powerful effects and off-label use, many people fear the memantine side effects. After all, this is a prescription drug being used for cognitive enhancement purposes (for which there is no research).

According to studies, “memantine is well tolerated” [16] and only around 1% of patients suffer from memantine side effects. They usually come in the form of confusion, dizziness, insomnia, or headache. In some extreme cases they come with hallucinations, but this is rare.

There is some evidence to suggest memantine can have a negative effect on neuroplasticity, but like many of the benefits, this is not well researched. The study also looked at this measurement after a single dose rather than many (which is less indicative of the use-case of the drug) [17]

One interesting memantine side effect includes higher libido. Both the research [18] and anecdotal reports [19] recount as much.

Memantine Dosage

The memantine dosage will differ based on the use case. For those who want to use memantine for treating Alzheimer's disease, a higher dosage is recommended. For those trying to improve cognitive performance, the memantine dosage will be less.

A standard dose is in the 2.5 – 5 mg per day range. Some anecdotal evidence suggests taking 5 mg per day every second day (rather than every day), which might be a better place for beginners to start.

How and Where to Buy Memantine

For anyone who suffers from age related memory loss or Alzheimer’s disease, we recommend speaking to a doctor about using memantine. Obviously as an approved drug in the U.S., you can find it in many places though probably not your local health food store!

One reputable vendor provides memantine for off-label use, which is Ceretropic. We have thoroughly vetted their (and Nootropics Depot) operation for safety procedures. This is probably the only place you can reliably purchase memantine for off-label usage.

Go ahead and pick up memantine here.

Selected Community Experiences

“Memantine does seem to be helping me… It also seems to be “removing” some of the inner monologue so to say. (I can't think of a better way to say it.) I think this is the reason that it is also helping my anxiety to some extent.” – I_am_Jake_ [20]

“I agree that Memantine's initial effects are brutal enough to warrant caution when driving and other activities. Even after several months of stable dosing, the cognitive-dulling effects never fully went away for me. I only fully realized how dulling the Memantine was when I discontinued it and returned to baseline.” – PragmaticPulp [21]

Memantine Reviews

There is some scientific information on memantine, but unfortunately it is not well-rounded on all the use cases of the drug. There is little evidence of using memantine for ADHD, for example. However, memantine reviews (such as the community experiences above) help us to better understand how the drug might affect us.

Each person is different, but memantine reviews and anecdotal information can be helpful even if only as a cautionary tale. This is why we have included the reviews of memantine through this piece.

References (Click to Expand)
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  18. Rossi S, editor. Australian Medicines Handbook 2006. Adelaide: Australian Medicines Handbook; 2006.
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Nootropedia is meant to be a resource for individuals researching drugs and supplements that are good for brain health, otherwise known as nootropics, and thus we are the Nootropics Encyclopedia. Because of our in-depth coverage of this topic, our community has requested that we cover other brain health topics and "lifehacks" so that has become the focus of Nootropedia.