Racetams are a family of synthetic compounds, many of which belong to the nootropic class of drugs.
Some of the racetam compounds have been found to be helpful with focus and memory, while others help improve mood and work to reduce anxiety.
The synthesis of all racetam compounds can be traced back to one parent, Piracetam. Since various racetams have distinct structural differences, properties and effects of each will vary.
This compound is the mother of the racetam family of nootropic supplements. It has been well studied in humans and found to be effective in its ability to improve brain function.
Specifically, it is used to treat declining memory associated with aging. It has been used successfully to improve blood flow after a CVA (cerebrovascular accident) or stroke.
Though it is not approved for any use, supplement or prescription, in the US; it is commonly used throughout Europe and in Russia.
Piracetam – Pyrrolidone acetamide, Pyracetam, 2-Oxo-1-pyrrolidine, Fezam, Memotopril, and UCB6215
Most of the literature and scientific proof available indicates that piracetam has great potential as a nootropic drug. The largest benefit is in its treatment of conditions related to aging.
However, that is because of its approved uses, and the fact that funding is primarily available for testing and studying its usefulness for those conditions.
As you will see in the subsequent section, social proof does exist for its effectiveness as a nootropic in the community, at large.
It is important to note that racetams are not immediately effective. You can’t expect to feel a drastic change after the first dose. It takes some time to build up to a therapeutic level. Therefore, consistent and iterative dosing is needed for almost all of them to become effective.
The Proof: Racetam Reviews
From the Reddit community of nootropic users, the following reviews were found:
“I have definitely noticed improvements in language skills as well as my ability and willingness to empathize with people, especially people I don’t know. I have also noticed an increase in my ability to be mindful about my own thoughts and feelings. I am less likely to follow any particular emotion down its path without first considering where that path begins and ends.” -Anonymous
“Piracetam allows me to focus on several things at once and increases my attention span.”
“(…) my memory started working crazily well. I remember I was sitting in a class and I was learning about the meninges of the brain, and I was instantly connecting the meaning of the words with visual images and linking them on-the-fly as the teacher was talking, and it made the recall of the subject matter super easy and effortless. Just one example of many.”
Benefits and Effects
- Improves Cognitive Decline – due to aging
- Reduces aggression
- Improves memory
- May aid in stroke prevention and improve outcomes after a stroke or CVA
- Lessens social anxiety
Benefits Specific to Schizophrenia
One study described the effects of this nootropic drug in treating chronic schizophrenia. Because the drug acts on the central nervous system, patients with chronic schizophrenia showed improvement.
Specifically, the improvement was seen in “object naming” tests, in which the patients were required to indicate the number of times they had been physically stimulated.
Improvements were also elicited in basic memory tasks. Patients showed a reduced amount of incorrect verbal responses to various questions wherein they had previously failed.
While there were no changes in overall symptom rating or social rating, the results suggested that some cognitive improvement was possible in the chronic disease state of the patient.
Further studies are needed to determine the efficiency of using racetams in the treatment of these psychological illnesses.
How It Works
Piracetam enhances the fluidity of the cellular membrane. As we age, the ability to cross the blood brain barrier decreases.
This mechanism does explain why Piracetam is so effective in improving brain activity and enhancing memory, specifically, in older adults.
The standard Piracetam dose varies significantly for adults and is reported to be between 1,200 mg – 4,800mg each day divided into three equal doses. It is water soluble and can be taken with food or on an empty stomach.
Many users report nootropic stacks as being beneficial to them when adding piracetam. Only one combination therapy has been verified using scientific methods.
Piracetam and Choline
Because of the depletion of choline caused by the racetam family of drugs, this stack has been studied and is useful. Since choline is a precursor for the brain chemical acetylcholine, supplementation is necessary for anyone who regularly uses racetams.
Choline is a protein found naturally in soybeans and most meats and nuts. If you decide to take additional supplements, I highly recommend Alpha GPC. Choline bitartrate is also good.
Remember that Choline in and of itself has cognitive benefits. They have been studied and appear to be somewhat effective in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Choline also helps those who are engaged in bodybuilding and for athletes because it enhances growth hormone production. Choline is the precursor to Acetylcholine which impacts how the brain learns, creates our memory.
Piracetam and Other Racetams
Piracetam is the most researched and studied racetam compound. However, it is not the most potent. Self-reports indicate that combining piracetam with aniracetam, oxiracetam, or other powerful variations can be useful in achieving greater benefits.
Oxiracetam with Huperzine A
While there is no statistical evidence to provide support for the combination of oxiracetam and huperzine, anecdotal internet reports indicate the combination is helpful. B
ecause Huperzine A inhibits enzymes that break down acetylcholine, it may work to maintain the brain chemical choline, usually depleted by racetam use.
While there are indicators throughout the literature that other routes of administration might be more beneficial, the oral route was the only one Dr. Hansl provided dosage information concerning. There is nothing to indicate a preference, one way or another, in taking with food.
Commonly Reported Side Effects
Many users of piracetam say they experience no side effects, some have reported an associated brain fog, confusion and temporary impairment that did resolve within an hour or two.
Note: Taking a choline supplement may prevent side-effects caused by racetams including nausea, dizziness, and headache.
Main Racetams and Alternatives to Piracetam
These are two most commonly used racetams, although other nootropic alternatives are available that are not a part of this family of compounds.
Developed in the 1970s, this successor of piracetam is thought to be up to five times more potent. It is used to improve memory, cognition, and overall function. It does have a mild stimulatory effect, unlike piracetam.
Also known as: 1-p-anisoyl-2-pyrrilidinone, Ro 13-5057, CAS 72432-10-1, 1(4-methoxybenzoyl)-2-pyrrolidinone, aniractam, anracetam, aniracetm
Limited studies indicate that oral doses in the 1,000-1,500 mg range (daily divided) are effective.
Piracetam provides a cognitive boost, without stimulation, Oxiracetam produces cognitive and physical stimulation.
It has been used and studied in the elderly for the treatment of dementia, and for its ability to increase focus and attention. Social reports indicate that users report improvements in memory both storage and retrieval, and better focus. Users say they achieve success if they take it one hour before an exam or other intense mental activity.
Oxiracetam has a half-life of 8-10 hours, but users still report needing to dose up to 3 times a day.
First compounded in 1996, it is thought to be 500 times more potent than piracetam. Limited human studies are available. Helps with:
- Improving memory
- May reduce learned helplessness
- Reduces depression associated with brain injury
Also known as: N-phenylacetyl-L-prolylglycine ethyl ester
Typically used in smaller doses (10-30 mg) taken 1-2 times per day, noopept should be taken with food. Noopept as a short half life of around 30 minutes. However, it’s rapidly converted to cycloprolylglycine for which the half-life is unknown, but substantially longer.
Coluracetam is often used for its memory boosting abilities, as well as, the effects in treating manic depression and anxiety.
It has also been reported to boost visual clarity and acuity. There are no studies available that identify the exact mechanism of action that creates this effect.
Coluracetam, invented in Japan by the Mitsubishi Pharma Corp. in 2005, is currently used there as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. It has recently been acquired by BrainCells, Inc for further research into its nootropic benefits.
Like most racetam compounds, coluracetam improves the uptake of choline. However, it also increases this uptake in previously damaged neurons.
It is thought to interact with the HACU, the prices responsible for absorbing choline during the synthesis of acetylcholine. This action probably results in improved memory, increased attention, and alertness, for people who have experienced some degree of brain damage.
There are no human trials to determine dosage. However, social proof suggests that the range of 3-35 mg per day divided into three doses is effective with few side effects. Generally, it is advised to start dosage at the lower end of the range and work up from there.
Racetams have great potential as nootropic supplements. More scientific studies are needed for many of these compounds.
However, the parent compound piracetam is well studied and appears to be helpful in improving longevity.
The effects on depleting the brain’s stores of choline are known, and supplementation is advised for anyone taking a racetam compound.
Which Racetam Compound Is Right for You?
The racetam family is considered by many as key components in nootropics. The original racetam, piracetam, was an important early nootropic that has been well studied and produces reliable results with few side effects.
While the effects and potencies of the other racetams vary wildly, they all share the similar traits. It is true that there are many other compounds available for nootropic support.
However, the racetams are a staple to many in the community and an important component of many using nootropic stacks.