Piracetam was first invented by the Romanian psychologist and chemist Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea, over 50 years ago, with the purpose of creating a compound that could safely enhance memory and the ability to learn.

Piracetam’s cognitive enhancing effects have been studied extensively, making it a popular choice for individuals that want to boost their cognitive abilities. It is known to allow your creative and logical thoughts to run together into a stream of higher level thinking and can increase the amount of knowledge that your brain can retain for later access.

It is used medicinally in Europe, Russia, South America, and many other places to treat myoclonus; however, because of its nootropic effects, it is used off-label for many other applications. Some believe it can even be used to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia in the elderly. There is also evidence that it can prevent brain damage caused by excessive alcohol intake or hypoxia.

Benefits and Effects

Piracetam’s extensive list of proven benefits and positive effects make it one of the most popular and widely-used nootropics.

Not only is it a powerful cognitive enhancer, it’s also a useful and effective treatment for a number of physical maladies, ranging from depression,‍[1]‍[2] schizophrenia,‍[3] alcoholism‍[4] and age-related cognitive decline.‍[5]

Cognitive Enhancement

Both anecdotal evidence and clinical trials suggest that piracetam is an effective tool for cognitive enhancement, particularly in the areas of memory, concentration, and psychomotor speed.‍[6]

By improving blood flow within the brain and boosting the production and function of crucial brain chemicals, piracetam increases synaptic plasticity, or the creation and maintenance of new connection between neurons, which is crucial to learning.

Users report that piracetam can increase energy, improve focus, and enhance both verbal fluency and creativity, particularly when taken in combination with choline.‍[7]

Studies support these self-reports, showing that piracetam significantly increases verbal learning in both healthy students and students who suffer from dyslexia.‍[8]

Memory Enhancement

Piracetam has been proven to act as a powerful memory enhancer, particularly when taken in combination with choline.‍[9]

In the case of elderly subjects (both animal and human), much of piracetam’s memory benefit may be attributed to the fact that it improves blood flow to and within the brain and enhances cellular membrane fluidity. However, piracetam has also been shown to improve memory in subjects of all ages, from children who have received a general anesthetic‍[10] to healthy young adults.‍[11]

Depression Treatment

Piracetam has been shown to be capable of relieving the symptoms of depression, including impaired coordination, stress and anxiety.‍[12]‍[13]

Neuroprotective Properties

Piracetam has been conclusively shown to have powerful neuroprotective properties, effectively protecting the brain against age-related cognitive decline.‍[14]

Piracetam has also been successfully used as a neuroprotectant in stroke patients.‍[15] Not only does Piracetam protect healthy aging brains from cognitive decline, it has been shown to increase cognition in dementia patients.

Anticonvulsant Properties

Piracetam’s well-documented anticonvulsant properties make it a valuable adjunct therapy in the treatment of epilepsy and other seizure disorders.‍[16]

How It Works

Though Piracetam’s precise mechanisms of action are not fully understood, it is widely believed to work by increasing cerebral blood flow and by acting on various crucial neurotransmitters.

Improved Cerebral Circulation

One of the primary means by which piracetam is believed to enhance memory, verbal fluency, focus, and other cognitive factors is by improving blood flow within the brain itself.‍[17] Cognition is dependent on sufficient cerebral circulation, which delivers the oxygen and crucial nutrients brain cells need to function efficiently.

The exact method by which piracetam increases cerebral circulation is not thoroughly understood, but some believe it enhances blood flow, at least in part, by promoting the production of red blood cells and at the same time reducing their tendency to adhere to cell walls. Piracetam has also been shown to have a positive effect on brain metabolism, causing the brain cells to use oxygen and nutrients more rapidly and effectively.‍[18] This is turn creates a higher demand, which may play a role in triggering increased cerebral circulation.

While piracetam is not a stimulant, it is believed to also effect vascular and neuronal functions once it enters the central nervous system. Research has shown that piracetam also increases the permeability of neurons in the brain, making it easier for nutrients to enter and for waste to be eliminated.‍[19]

Though the mechanisms by which piracetam increases blood flow within the brain are still being studied, it’s clear that it does increase brain circulation and in so doing, enhances cognition.

Patients with artificial pacemakers who were treated with piracetam showed a higher, more desirable heartbeat rate than a control group of patients who did not take piracetam, and they also scored higher on reaction time and visual acuity tests.‍[20]

A similar study involving post-stroke patients showed that those taking piracetam had increased cerebral blood flow, and showed substantial improvement in a variety of language functions.

Modulating Neurotransmitter Production and Activity

Piracetam is known to exert an effect on several crucial neurotransmitters, brain chemicals that influence learning, focus, mood, memory, and energy levels. It actually appears to have several neurotransmitter-related mechanisms of action within the brain, all of which work together to boost cognition.

Increases Acetylcholine Activity

Acetylcholine is one of the most important neurotransmitters and plays an enormous role in learning, memory, concentration, and all aspects of cognition. Piracetam has been observed to increase the density of the acetylcholine receptors in aged rodent brains, which may explain the positive effects on memory.‍[21]

Piracetam may also upregulate the production of acetylcholine. While this action can enhance cognition, it can quickly deplete the brain’s store of choline, which is essential to the neurotransmitter’s creation. For this reason choline is frequently recommended as a complimentary supplement for anyone taking piracetam.

Modulates Glutamate Receptors

Piracetam is also believed to modulate the brain’s receptors of glutamate, the most abundant of all neurotransmitters. Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter that is involved in 90% of all synaptic connections, and it is particularly important for synaptic plasticity, or the ability of synapses to strengthen or weaken over time. This synaptic plasticity is crucial to cognitive functions such as learning and memory, and by increasing glutamate receptor sensitivity, piracetam can significantly enhance memory and learning ability.‍[22]


Based on scientific research, there have been studies that conclude that the optimal single dose size of piracetam for an increase in cognition for adults has been shown to be 4800 mg.‍[23] The dose is often recommended to be taken two or three times a day, as needed.

Other studies used smaller dosages that also had measurable positive effects on cognition. For example, one study found improved cognition after 14 days of supplementing 1200 mg (split into three doses) per day.‍[24]

Nootropics users self-report very broad dosage ranges, but it is recommended to start low and build up slowly to see how your unique biology responds to piracetam.

Keep in mind that these recommended dosages are for when piracetam is taken on its own without being stacked with other nootropics.

You may notice positive effects the first time you take piracetam, but it may take up to two weeks of daily supplementation for the full effects to be experienced. To speed up the process, some people claim that you can take an “attack dose” of double or triple the size of the regular dose for a few days before reducing intake to normal daily dosages, however, there is limited evidence that this is effective.

Even though piracetam is considered to be one of the safest nootropics on the market, it’s always wise to start with a smaller dose to ensure you react well to it.


Piracetam can be taken on its own but is most effective when combined with other supplements.

Piracetam and Choline Stack

Choline supplementation is essential if you are going to take piracetam because of the way it affects acetylcholine in the brain. When supplementing piracetam, you are using more acetylcholine due to the increased communication between neurons in the left and right hemispheres of the brain and, without choline supplementation, it’s possible to reach depleted levels of acetylcholine in the brain, leading to a foggy feeling and headaches.

Stacking piracetam with choline not only mitigates negative side effects but allows the piracetam to be even more effective than without it.

There are various choline sources, but we recommend alpha GPC or citicoline. When using a high-quality choline source such as those, a good starting point is 1 part choline for 8 parts piracetam.

1x per day

Piracetam and Aniracetam Stack

Piracetam is also commonly stacked with other racetams. When combined with other nootropics, the results are usually synergistic.

Aniracetam known for its excellent effect on memory, mood, and creativity, is commonly taken with piracetam.

The commonly recommended ratio is 4:1 of piracetam to aniracetam. Remember, when stacking, the potency of each individual nootropic increases, therefore, it’s important to adjust dose sizes accordingly.

1x–2x per day

Side Effects

Side effects from piracetam are considered very rare.

The entire racetam family of nootropics has been shown to be extremely safe with low toxicity rates.

The few reported adverse effects include headache, anxiety, and insomnia. Headache is the most widely reported side effect which can often be remedied by stacking with a choline supplement.

Piracetam has been observed in clinical studies including Alzheimer’s patients taking 8 grams per day without any reported side effects.

Where to Buy

Piracetam is not typically found in regular stores and instead can be purchased online from specialty vendors.

We recommend that you buy piracetam from as they specialize in high-quality nootropics and all their batches tested for purity by 3rd party laboratories.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, piracetam is one of the most well-researched brain boosting nootropics on the market. It’s ability to increase memory and learning capability is well documented.

References   [ + ]

Planning to start a new supplementation regimen? See our medical disclaimer.

This page was last updated on November 21, 2018.