Piracetam

Last updated: December 22, 2016

Summary

Imagine working on a fulfilling project, your brain tingling, and creativity buzzing. Pieces of your puzzle are coming together and it’s easier to remember all the factors that you need. If it seems like a magic pill, that is exactly what many people consider piracetam, but what is the truth?

Developed in Belgium in the 1960s, piracetam is a synthetic derivative of the neurotransmitter GABA [1] that is considered the grandfather of the term “nootropic”. Since then, piracetam has increased in popularity due to mentions from brain health celebrities like Tim Ferriss and Dave Asprey [2].

Piracetam is one of the most researched popular smart drugs. Evidence suggests piracetam improves memory in elderly populations best [3], but there is ample support for non-elderly adults as well [4]. One major study of verbal learning showed healthy individuals improve memory by 8.6% when using piracetam alone [5]. The drug is often combined with a choline source to provide synergistic effects and reduce the potential for side effects, such as headaches [6].

Given the length of study and folklore around piracetam, it is usually one of the first nootropic compounds that users find. While piracetam can be a powerful cognitive enhancer, it is one of the weaker within the racetam family.

Also Known As

Pyracetam, Pyrrolidone acetamide, 2-Oxo-1-pyrrolidine, Memotopril, Fezam (with cinnarizine), UCB6215

Editors’ Thoughts on Piracetam

I’ve seen a high variation in efficacy across my self experiments, friends, and the general nootropic community. I judge it is highly dependent on personal brain chemistry to a greater extent than some other compounds (such as caffeine). My personal experience has been positive, especially when seeing connections and putting mental pieces together during jiu-jitsu of all things.

One thing I’ve noticed is that most people do not take a high enough dosage. If you use piracetam, it isn’t going to be as strong as some of the other racetams so taking a hefty dose is in order. 3600 – 4800 mg of piracetam is not unheard of and it’s important to give the drug weeks to work. It has a significant “build-up” effect in my experience.

Mansal Denton, Nootropedia Editor
Piracetam

History of Piracetam

In the past decade piracetam has received the most notoriety and popularity amongst nootropic, brain hacking, and quantified self movements. Due to the popularity amongst many key players in the field recently, one might conclude that piracetam is one of the latest and greatest substances to improve cognition and memory.

The reality, is that piracetam was first synthesized in 1964 by Romanian scientist Corneliu E Giurgea among others. Created by the UCB Pharma company in Belgium, piracetam was tested in European countries during the 1970s and was the first “nootropic” as we know it today [7].

Luckily, the history of piracetam is long, which means there have been dozens of studies across the globe to validate and verify results. When choosing if you want to buy piracetam or not, having a long research history can provide more assurance of efficacy and safety.

Piracetam Benefits

More than ever, we live in a culture where features and comforts are right at our fingertips. Want delicious pizza? Have it delivered to your door. Want to experience another country? Hop on a cheap flight. If you’re interested in piracetam, I’m sure you’re wondering “what are the piracetam benefits?”

Memory Improvement – Piracetam is perhaps best well known for being a memory enhancer. For any research claim, the best type of study is a “meta-analysis”, which is a scientific look at many different studies and their claims. One piracetam analysis looked at 19 different double-blind studies and noted a significant benefit in memory with this nootropic [8]. However, another study made it clear that this memory improvement takes time to create: after 7 days there was no change, but 14 days showed a significant enhancement with piracetam [9].

This is the most touted and likely benefit of piracetam. Most people purchase piracetam for this reason.

Cognition – In brain enhancement circles, memory and “cognition” are considered different things. While neither you nor I need to know the details of this distinction, the evidence suggests piracetam can improve cognitive function particularly in those who have ailments or degeneration [10]. In the research, this typically refers to elderly who are suffering from degenerative diseases or Alzheimer’s disease, but ample evidence suggests it can support healthy adults (though to a lesser extent).

Keep in mind, just because the main area of research focuses on unhealthy, elderly adults, does not mean that it cannot help you with your situation. It just means that piracetam is extraordinarily equipped to support elderly with degenerative diseases.

Age-related Neuroprotection – As the human brain ages, it starts to decline. Just like an old car starts to sputter and stall, the aged brain will start to develop ailments that impact memory, hand-eye coordination, among a host of other things. Piracetam can help elderly (and non-elderly) to prevent the decline of neurons in the brain [11].

The key to remember is that this benefit is about prevention, which means you take the nootropic before it becomes too late. While racetams can help reverse neurological decline (see: oxiracetam), it is best to work with prevention as the first line of defense.

Sensory Perception – Imagine walking outside and finding the colors brighter, more vibrant, and alive. While under-researched, there is some evidence to suggest that piracetam can improve sensory perception by increasing acetylcholine activity [12].

Mood – Anecdotal reports suggest piracetam can be an effective tool for dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression, but the clinical research is slim. One study had self-reported reductions in depression with unhealthy patients [13].

If you are suffering from clinical depression, we do not suggest relying on piracetam to solve these mood disorders. However, if you suffer from generalized or social anxiety, anecdotal reports are positive.

How Does Piracetam Work?

As we know from any nootropic compound, whether it “works” (and how it does so) is highly dependent on personal brain chemistry. Piracetam is no different and works for many people in one way and others in another.

There is no commonly held scientific explanation for why piracetam improves brain function, cognition, and memory, but there are several theories. The most prominent theory is that piracetam helps to enhance neuronal function by improving membrane fluidity. The downstream effect of this is increased mitochondrial function [14], which helps general brain function.

Additionally, piracetam can increase blood flow to the brain, which is responsible for more oxygenation [15]. This shows (at least with elderly) improvements for memory formation, preventing against Alzheimer’s disease.

If all of this “mechanism of action” discussion is too difficult to understand, we understand, but it is worth it to know how piracetam might improve your brain health before you buy.

Side Effects of Piracetam

Congratulations on making it all the way to the “side effects” section. Learning about the side effects of piracetam can help you to better protect yourself from harm so you can be mindful about your usage.

Luckily, the adverse effects of piracetam are rare and usually of short duration [16]. People who do suffer from piracetam related side effects usually note insomnia, drowsiness, agitation, and in some cases headaches.

These headaches, while confined to anecdotal reports online, are often referred to as “racetam headaches” because of the common effects of this class. People who suffer from headaches often opt for a choline supplement in order to mitigate these side effects and improve memory.

As with most consumable drugs, piracetam toxicity was researched in a laboratory setting on rats. The LD50 (amount required to kill 50% of a research population) for piracetam is 8-10 grams per kilogram of bodyweight [17] (544 grams for a 150 lb. person), which is extremely high. In all human studies, doses of 8 grams per day were met with no adverse effects [18].

These general data points may not pertain to your individual brain chemistry so make sure to be mindful of the changes that you feel and experience.

Drug Interactions

Even though piracetam side effects are relatively minor and infrequent, it is a substance that can interact with others (for better or worse!). Here are a few of the drugs that piracetam interacts with:

Choline – using piracetam causes a decrease of acetylcholine [19], but a choline supplement will provide more acetylcholine to replace what is lacking. Most studies suggest the combination of choline and piracetam are effective ways to boost piracetam’s memory enhancement potential. While it seems this is true moreso for those with cognitive impairment [20], it still supports healthy adults.

In this case, the drug interaction with choline is predominantly considered good or beneficial.

Alcohol – depending on your current relationship to alcohol, interactions can be good or bad. For those with alcohol-related trauma (such as overuse, addiction etc), piracetam can increase “synaptic reorganization”[21] which helps to reduce memory and neurological loss after abuse.

However, while there are no studies to this effect, consuming alcohol and piracetam can be detrimental for your health according to anecdotal reports. Be very careful when consuming high quantities in general, but especially with drugs like piracetam.

Anecdotal Interactions – The same holds true for other recreational drugs, such as MDMA and LSD, where there are no studies to clearly delineate the effects. Anecdotal reports are mixed, but it is not worth trying if you’d like to remain free from side effects.

Piracetam Dosage

From a scientific perspective, dosage recommendations are not cut and dry. Typically, as is the case with piracetam, there are recommendations based on body weight. For the piracetam dosage, 40 – 100 mg per kg of body weight is normal with 40 – 50 mg / kg as the more common measurement.

For the common piracetam user, it’s best to dose between 1200 – 4800 mg per day. One recommended starting point is as follows:

1600 mg piracetam x 3 servings per day for a total of 4800 mg.

Common Piracetam Stacks

A “nootropic stack” refers to a combination of nootropics that improves various cognitive function in a synergistic way. Often, nootropic stacks are combinations of ingredients that can activate certain parts of the brain together in a more beneficial way.

Piracetam has a number of nootropic stacks, but only one of them has been verified in a traditional research setting.

Piracetam and Choline – this is the only researched combination and much of the research has been done in animals and elderly. Piracetam increases acetylcholine uptake and utilization in the hippocampus, which depletes the brain’s stores and requires supplementation [22]. This is where the choline, a precursor for the brain chemical acetylcholine, can come in handy.

Piracetam and Other Racetams – while piracetam is the most well-researched and studied, it is not the most potent. Aniracetam is more potent because it enters the bloodstream in higher quantities for a shorter duration [23]. Anecdotal reports show that combining aniracetam, oxiracetam, or other potent variations with the piracetam option can be effective.

Piracetam and Huperzine A – there is no laboratory evidence to support the combination of piracetam and huperzine A, but this herbal extract of Huperzia serrata can prove helpful. Huperzine A inhibits the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine [24], which means it acts to maintain the brain chemical even when using piracetam.

How and Where to Buy Piracetam

The popularity of piracetam is great within the world. According to Google search trends, there are over 22,200 people searching every month, which means there vendors interested in making a lot of money.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of piracetam for sale is not of good quality or, at the very least, there are a lot of risks in buying it. If you would like to buy piracetam as a consumer, you can do so legally, but there are a few things to consider for your own safety.

For one, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved the sale of piracetam as a drug in medical contexts or as a “supplement”. That means, vendors are forced to meet the needs of the public without all the scrutiny to maintain the best operations.

Before you buy piracetam, it is imperative you search for third-party (or in house) testing in order to see the assay and heavy metals. The assay will tell you what percentage of the powder is a particular ingredient. The heavy metals will detect any kind of substance that could be potentially harmful to your health. You want to see these indicators before you make a purchase.

Just because a vendor has a great looking website does not mean that they are safe. Nootropedia recommends Pure Nootropics piracetam because the owner is transparent, offers third-party certificates of analysis, and has continued to provide high quality nootropics.

Full Disclosure: While we do get a commission from recommending Pure Nootropics, we could receive more money by recommending Peak Nootropics or Absorb Health, but we do not feel comfortable doing this for reasons you can see in their supplier summaries..

Selected Community Experiences

Here are a few selected community experiences (portraying all sides of piracetam usage) that, while anecdotal and often confounded, might prove valuable for your research:

I’ve been taking piracetam and noopept for roughly 1 week now and have noticed a significant increase in my ability to relate to others. I am regularly initiating conversations with people i would formerly avoid and feel extremely comfortable in situations i used to feel awkward in.”[25]TheChildishOne

I noticed very soon after taking the Piracetam that my brain was working a hell lot better. I only ate eggs alot for choline. The piracetam was working so I didn’t feel the need to buy choline sources.”[26]drmassien

Whilst under the effects your brain creates new connections at a faster rate. You will still retain those new connections but just not gain them as quickly again. To put it into a real world example; you could use it to become really good at math and when you stop taking it you would still retain those skills so long as you kept them topped up with practice. You would not then be able to go on and learn the german language at the same rate or be much better at learning it as before as the skillset is different and is (generally) handled by different parts of the brain.”[27]aggiez10

References (Click to Expand)
  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22101539
  2. https://www.bulletproofexec.com/upgrade-your-brain/
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12006732
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/826948
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  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6483933
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  8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12006732
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  10. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11055-009-9146-2
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  24. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ar9800892
  25. https://www.reddit.com/r/Nootropics/comments/1ccvrc/piracetamnoopept_social_effects/
  26. https://www.reddit.com/r/Nootropics/comments/1qc7du/my_piracetam_experience/
  27. https://www.reddit.com/r/Nootropics/comments/qt64x/long_term_benefits_of_piracetam/
Other Scientific Resources (Click to Expand)
  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20166767
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  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/116278
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  • Peter Tilman

    Do I need to use choline with piracetam or no?

  • Ben Sotherbee

    Is it legal to buy piracetam in the US?

    • Mansal Denton

      As a consumer, yes!

  • Brenda larkin

    do you have to always have to take this? Do you become dependent on it?

    • Mansal Denton

      Hi Brenda,

      You don’t always have to take it for piracetam to be useful. However, piracetam does have a loading effect where the longer you use the drug, the better (it doesn’t help as much acutely like caffeine).

      I’ve never read anything about people becoming dependent on piracetam. That isn’t to say it doesn’t exist, but I would find it highly doubtful!