What Is Piracetam?

Piracetam is it the first synthetic smart drug ever developed and is the compound that inspired the creation of the word nootropic.

It’s one of the most extensively researched nootropics, with thousands of research documents and hundreds of clinical trials posted on PubMed, the National Library of Medicine’s public archive.

Piracetam has been a safe, popular, and reliable brain booster for more than 50 years with new uses and potential benefits still being discovered today.

Piracetam was invented in 1964 by Romanian psychologist and chemist Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea, whose purpose was to synthesize a compound that could safely enhance memory and the ability to learn. He coined the word nootropic – a combination of the Greek words Greek words noos, which means “mind,” and tropein, which means “to bend or turn” – to describe his creation.‍[1]

Piracetam is a cyclical derivative of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, but the body does not produce piracetam nor does it occur naturally in any plant or food source.‍[2]

The legal availability of piracetam varies from nation to nation. Though it cannot be legally marketed in the US as a dietary supplement, it can be sold for research purposes and may be legally purchased and posessed without a prescription. In Canada, it cannot be legally sold, but it can be legally imported for personal use. In the UK and Australia, piracetam is available by prescription only, though small amounts for personal use may be legally imported into either country.‍[3]

In Europe, Russia, South America, and Asia, piracetam is used to treat myoclonus (involuntary muscle twitching) and is legally available by prescription only.

Benefits and Effects of Piracetam

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

Cognitive Enhancement

Piracetam was developed as a cognitive enhancer and it’s definitely best known and most widely used for that purpose. Both anecdotal evidence‍[4] and clinical trials suggest that piracetam is an effective brain booster, particularly in the areas of memory, concentration, and psychomotor speed.‍[5]

Studies show that while piracetam’s effects on cognition are measurable among all ages, they’re most significant in populations of older older adults who are experiencing the organic cognitive decline typically associated with normal aging.

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.‍[6]

Studies support these self-reports, showing that piracetam significantly increases verbal learning in both healthy students and students who suffer from dyslexia.‍[7]

Memory Enhancement

Piracetam has been proven to act as a powerful memory enhancer, particularly when taken in combination with choline.‍[8]

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 been shown to improve memory in subjects of all ages, including children who have received a general anesthetic‍[9] and even healthy young adults.‍[10]‍[11]

Depression Treatment

Studies show that piracetam is capable of relieving the symptoms of depression, including impaired coordination, stress and anxiety.‍[12]‍[13]

It also proved to be a valuable adjunct therapy for drug-resistant depression in patients with a variety of psychotic conditions, providing rapid and significant clinical improvement.‍[14]

Neuroprotective Properties

Piracetam has been conclusively shown to have powerful neuroprotective properties, effectively protecting the brain against age-related cognitive decline.‍[15]

Piracetam has also been successfully used as a neuroprotectant in stroke patients,‍[16] and in the treatment of cognitive disorders caused by cerebrovascular issues or trauma.‍[17]

Anticonvulsant Properties

Piracetam’s well-documented anticonvulsant properties make it a valuable adjunct therapy in the treatment of epilepsy and other seizure disorders.‍[18]

Treatment for a Variety of Disorders

Ongoing research on piracetam indicates that it’s useful and effective in the treatment of a number of physical and mental maladies, including schizophrenia,‍[19] alcoholism‍[20], neuroinflammation,‍[21] and age-related cognitive decline.‍[22]

An innovative 2017 study even looked at the potential positives of piracetam’s use as a heroin adulterant. The study authors said drug trafficking organizations in Asia and Europe have been adding piracetam to heroin because it provides a more intense experience and decreases hangover, effects that are attributable to piracetam’s neuroprotective effects. The study investigated piracetam’s ability to prevent heroin-induced apoptosis or cellular death as a potential means of helping users kick the habit by reducing withdrawal symptoms.‍[23]

Piracetam is also being studied as a treatment for binge eating disorder or BED, a stress-related disorder characterized by acute episodes of excessive food intake. BED is known to compromise acetylcholine levels and lead to anxiety and cognitive deficits. A 2018 animal study showed that piracetam regulated acetylcholine levels, alleviated BED-related cognitive deficit, and significantly decreased binge eating behavior and associated body weight.‍[24]

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.‍[25] 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 it is thought to enhance blood flow 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.‍[26] This in turn creates a higher demand, which may play a role in triggering increased cerebral circulation.

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.‍[27]

Modulating Neurotransmitter Production and Activity

Piracetam 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 a primary 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 its positive effects on memory.‍[28]

It may also upregulate the production of acetylcholine.‍[29]

While these actions can enhance cognition, they 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, an excitatory neurotransmitter that is involved in 90% of all synaptic connections. Glutamate is particularly vital for synaptic plasticity, which is the ability of synapses to strengthen or weaken over time. Synaptic plasticity is crucial to cognitive functions such as learning and memory, and by increasing glutamate receptor sensitivity, piracetam may significantly enhance memory and learning ability.‍[30]

Dosage

The standard piracetam dosage for cognitive enhancement effects for healthy adults is 4800 mg a day, sometimes split into three doses.

A research study evaluating different dosages of piracetam for cognitive enhancement for healthy adults found that a single dose of 4800 mg was most effective.‍[31] Another study concluded that 1200 mg of piracetam, taken three times per day, had measurable positive effects on cognition.‍[32]

Piracetam is rapidly and extensively absorbed, reaching peak plasma concentration is within 60–90 minutes after dosing. It has a half-life of approximately 5 hours.‍[33]

Positive effects may be observable immediately, but it may take up to two weeks of daily supplementation for the full effects to be experienced.

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.

Stacking

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, your brain may need more acetylcholine 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

Piracetam is generally considered safe and well-tolerated. Adverse effects are typically minor and transitory, and include headache, anxiety, and insomnia.‍[34]

Headache is the most widely reported side effect and 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 PureNootropics.net as they specialize in high-quality nootropics and all their batches tested for purity by 3rd party laboratories.

Closing Thoughts

Piracetam is the oldest synthetic nootropic and one of the most extensively studied brain boosters available.

Its ability as a cognitive enhancer is thoroughly documented, with literally thousands of related research papers, studies, and clinical trials available to the public.

It’s also a proven neuroprotectant that’s useful in the treatment of a variety of conditions, and though it’s been available for more than 50 years, new uses for it are still being discovered.

It has very low toxicity, few side effects, and is generally well tolerated.

If you’re interested in maximizing your cognitive abilities with a compound that’s been proven both safe and effective, piracetam could be worth your consideration.

References   [ + ]

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

This page was last updated on April 8, 2019.