The Racetam Family: An Introduction
The racetam family of nootropics is an extremely varied and interesting group of chemicals. By now, I assume if you’ve reached this page you know what nootropics are and have heard of piracetam, the “original” racetam. While piracetam is the first and most researched racetam, newer and more potent derivative nootropics have been created.
Piracetam is not the strongest of the racetams, and many would argue that there are better options for increasing cognitive performance. Since the advent of piracetam, there are now many different variations to its original chemical structure that have produced stronger, more potent, racetams with varied effects on cognition, memory, and learning in the brain.
Some of them, like aniracetam, have anxiolytic effects, reducing anxiety and increasing confidence, some of them enhance your sense of sound and make music sound amazing like oxiracetam, and some of them have slight stimulant-like effects like pramiracetam.
Piracetam is still a highly recommended racetam, especially for just starting out, or part of a stack, but once you are ready to explore beyond it, another racetam is a logical next step. That’s why, for the sake of this guide, we won’t be focusing on piracetam but instead will explore some other more exciting racetams.
How Racetams Work
- Enhanced Brain Metabolism – Enhancing brain metabolism through stimulation of oxidative catabolism, improving ATP, turnover and cAMP levels which increases the efficiency and levels of energy, and enhancing phospholipid metabolism while also increasing protein synthesis in the brain. The hippocampal portion of the brain that is involved with long-term memory potentiation and spatial navigation, along with a release of dopamine and acetylcholine, however, there is no inhibition or modulation of neural release. The majority of action does not occur within the hippocampus because of racetams, but other supplements like ginkgo biloba do increase the memory recall effectiveness in the hippocampus.
- Better Communication Between Right and Left Brain Hemispheres – Racetams increasing communication across the corpus callosum, the part of the brain separating it into two hemispheres. The current hypothesis is that by increasing the amount of communication between the right and left side of the brain, you will encourage a higher level of idea formation. This results in more efficient memory, with a higher volume. The increased communication of left and right brained thinking leads to a higher level of cognitive function.
Clinical uses of Racetams
- Improving and slowing deterioration in senile dementia (i.e. Alzheimer’s).
- Enhanced alertness, cooperation, socialization, and IQ in elderly patients.
- Improved reading and accuracy in dyslexia, as well as the speed of reading, writing, and spelling.
- Boosting mental performance in “aging, non-deteriorated individuals” suffering only from “forgetfulness.”
Which Racetam is Best?
Today, the three we are going to cover are aniracetam, oxiracetam, and pramiracetam, as they are three of the most prominent and (mostly anecdotally) studied racetams. These are the three that people are often asking on forums “which racetam is best?” because they all have similar but slightly different benefits and sometimes people are left a little unsure which to try.
Given that they all have different and unique chemical structures, this means they all produce different metabolites and will affect the brain in slightly different ways.
They each have potent nootropic effects with the ability to increase memory and learning capacity, but they each have slight differences in their effects.
Aniracetam, Oxiracetam, and Pramiracetam: How Do They Compare?
- Aniracetam – Aniracetam increases cognition and memory. Aniracetam is also unique in the fact that it is an anxiolytic, meaning it has anti-anxiety properties. People often choose aniracetam for its ability to decrease anxiety and enhances mood. On the downside, its effects last for less time than some of the other racetams, usually not lasting more than 4 to 5 hours which means you may need to dose several times per day for sustained effects. Of the three, along with general cognitive enhancement, aniracetam is the best racetam for mood, anxiety, social situations, and verbal fluency.
Learn more about aniracetam.
- Oxiracetam – Oxiracetam is often characterized as a logic booster. It’s excellent for math and other tasks that require advanced logic. Not only does it provide cognitive enhancements but it is one of the few racetams that has a slight stimulatory effect meaning it should give you a little boost of energy too. Most people respond very well to oxiracetam. It is a well-rounded choice. Of the three, along with general cognitive enhancement, oxiracetam is the best racetam for math, logic, and an energy boost.
Learn more about oxiracetam.
- Pramiracetam – Pramiracetam is hailed as one of the most effective nootropics for its ability to increase memory and focus. Its effects are often compared to Ritalin because of its powerful effects. Of the three, along with general cognitive enhancement, pramiracetam is the best racetam for increasing focus and improving long-term memory.
Learn more about pramiracetam.
The Bottom Line
There’s no simple answer to which racetam is best. They’re all good in their own ways.
They each have robust nootropic effects, but the individual nuances in their effects may help you decide which one you want to try.
Many people take aniracetam for its mood-enhancing properties. Oxiracetam is a favorite of the nootropic community for its logic and energy boost. Finally, pramiracetam is regarded as one of the most effective nootropics for focus.
If you really want to find out which one is the best for you, the best way to proceed is to experiment and try them out yourself. We all have a unique biochemistry, and the perceived effects may also be somewhat subjectively more or less pleasing to you depending on your personal preferences.
There are other racetams that you may want to explore once you’ve experimented with these more common choices. Other racetams, such as phenylpiracetam and coluracetam are very interesting, but it is recommended to consider these more exotic options once you’re already familiar with the more commonly used racetams.
You can’t really go wrong when picking any of these racetams as they all boost memory when dosed correctly, especially when taken in conjunction with choline supplementation and as a part of a well-designed stack.
If you still haven’t decided which racetam is best for you, test them out, one at a time, for a week or two in order to find out what works best for you.
Planning to start a new supplementation regimen? See our medical disclaimer.