Evidence Based
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Noopept: Purported Uses, Side-Effects, and Risks

Written by Puya Yazdi, MD | Last updated:
Jonathan Ritter
Matt Carland
Medically reviewed by
Jonathan Ritter, PharmD, PhD (Pharmacology), Matt Carland, PhD (Neuroscience) | Written by Puya Yazdi, MD | Last updated:

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Noopept is widely touted as a “nootropic”, or “cognitive enhancer” drug which may have some key advantages over other common nootropic compounds, such as the popular piracetam. Many claims have been made about some of its potential effects on mood and cognitive functioning – but how much of this is hype, and what does the current science really say about it? Read on to learn more about this drug, its mechanisms, side-effects, and more!

Disclaimer: This post is not a recommendation or endorsement for the use of noopept. The FDA has not approved this compound for any specific medical or other use, and the available research on it is still in an early stage. We have written this post for informational purposes only, and our goal is solely to inform people about what science currently says about noopept’s potential effects, mechanisms, and side-effects.

What is Noopept?

Noopept is a purported “nootropic”, or “cognitive-enhancing” drug that is believed to be up to 1,000 times more potent than piracetam (meaning that it may have similar effect sizes with doses that are up to 1,000x smaller) [1].

While piracetam affects the early stages of memory processing, noopept is claimed to do this as well as improving the consolidation and retrieval stages of memory [1].

Noopept is also claimed to have anti-anxiety, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects, while also improving blood flow. Additionally, some claim that it may even protect the brain against certain forms of neurotoxicity (such as build-up of amyloid beta, which is believed to be the main cause of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease) [1].

At least, these are some of the claims that have been made about Noopept’s effects. Unfortunately, not much research has been done on this relatively new compound – and the data that is currently available paints a complex and often mixed picture regarding its general efficacy or safety for human use.

It is also important to note that while it is legal to purchase, like many so-called “nootropic” drugs, Noopept has not been FDA-approved for any particular medical (or other) use.

In other words, a lot of the information on Noopept that you might come across online often comes primarily from people who casually experiment with this compound, rather than from hard science or large-scale clinical studies.

How Does Noopept Work?

Noopept, like many so-called “nootropic” drugs, is a relatively new compound, and not much extensive research has been done on it yet.

For this reason, the exact mechanisms that it affects in the body and brain are not fully understood yet.

Based on some very early studies, a few potential mechanisms have been proposed – although these will still need to be confirmed by additional research.

According to preliminary results from a few animal studies (in rats), some researchers have suggested that chronic intake of Noopept may contribute to increased levels of nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) – particularly in brain areas such as the hippocampus and hypothalamus [2, 3]. However, there’s no guarantee that these mechanisms would be the same in human users, so follow-up studies on humans would definitely be needed to know for sure.

Others have proposed that Noopept may act by increasing the activity of HIF1A, a DNA transcription factor [4]. However, this notion is based solely on a single study done in cells (in vitro), and so this mechanism is speculative at best.

Early results from two animal studies (in rats) suggest that Noopept may have some effect on GABA activity in the hippocampus, a brain structure commonly believed to be highly involved in memory. However, the full significance of these changes is still unknown, and it’s not certain whether this particular mechanism plays any direct role in the purported cognitive or mood-related effects of Noopept [5, 6].

To make matters even more confusing, some of these early animal studies have even reported that Noopept’s effects only apply to certain animal strains, and not others [6].

According to one unusual animal study done on snails, Noopept was reported to suppress the voltage-gated calcium and potassium channels used in calcium balance [7]. Once again, however, the wider significance of this (with respect to potential cognitive or mood-related effects in other animals, including humans) remains unknown.

Finally, one other animal study reported that Noopept increased the activity of alpha and beta brain-waves throughout many areas of the brain in rats. While certain brain waves – such as “alpha” waves – have sometimes been associated with cognitive functions such as alertness and attention, the wider significance of these effects remains unclear [8].

All in all, there have been many suggested mechanisms involved in Noopept’s actions on the brain, but very little conclusive evidence to support any one over the others. Clearly, much more research work will be needed to understand what mechanisms are involved in Noopept use, and what connection they may or may not have to overall mood or cognitive functioning.

Purported Uses of Noopept

INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE:

While some preliminary studies have investigated a few potential uses and mechanisms of Noopept, much of this research is still in a very early stage, and in most cases, it is not yet possible to come to any firm conclusions about its relative efficacy and safety in human users.

Therefore, the potential effects listed below are still considered to have insufficient evidence, and these findings should be taken with a grain of salt until further research work – including large-scale clinical trials in healthy human users – is performed.

1) May Affect Mood / Emotional Balance

One of the more common claims made about Noopept is that it can supposedly improve mood, such as by alleviating anxiety and reducing stress.

While no hard evidence regarding its effects on mood in healthy human users is currently available, one very preliminary study in humans with specific medical or psychiatric conditions have reported some relevant results – however, these would still need to be followed up on by much larger-scale clinical trials before we can come to any firm conclusions about these effects in a typical user.

According to one early clinical trial of 53 patients who reported cognitive and emotional disturbances following brain injuries or strokes, treatment of 21 of these patients with 10mg of Noopept twice per day was reported to reduce general irritability and anxiety, as well as improve their overall emotional stability during the first week of treatment. Some of these patients also reported other perceived benefits, such as improved sleep and fewer headaches [9].

However, at the end of the full 56-day trial period, these effects were no longer significant, which raises doubts about just how long these potential effects might really last [9].

Furthermore, by the end of the study, several of the treated patients reported experiencing negative side-effects such as sleep problems, increased irritability, and increased blood pressure (hypertension) [9]. Although these problems could have simply been due to their underlying brain trauma, these reports do raise some questions about the safety of Noopept when used for even just a few weeks.

Finally, because this study specifically only involved patients with a pre-existing brain injury, it remains an open question whether any of the supposed “beneficial” short-term effects would even be seen in healthy human users as well [9].

All in all, the only study that supports this use suffers from several major flaws and limitations, making it quite difficult to come to any solid conclusions about this “potential use” of Noopept.

Animal And Cell Research (LACKING EVIDENCE):

The following potential uses of Noopept are based solely on animal- or cell-based studies, and are lacking evidence from any appropriate human trials so far. Therefore, these are only potential “launching-points” for future clinical studies in humans, and no solid conclusions can be made about these effects in human users until much more additional research is done.

2) May Affect Memory And Cognition

According to one animal study in rats, Noopept administration was reported to lead to improvements in their ability to learn (learning rate). Some rats showed these changes after only a single session, while others required several days of treatment before showing any noticeable effects [10].

However, on the basis of this single study, it’s impossible to conclude whether similar effects would be seen in healthy human users, or if the size of these potential effects would be noticeable.

3) May Affect Stress

Based on a couple of animal studies (in rats), Noopept has been reported to reduce the activity of certain stress-induced proteins, such as MAPK [3, 11].

However, it can’t be assumed that the mechanisms of stress are the exact same in humans as in rats, so this should be thought of only as “suggestive” evidence that will have to be followed up on by many additional studies.

Relatedly, Noopept has been reported to reduced “learned helplessness” – a form of behavior closely related to anxiety and depression – in mice [12, 13]. Once again, however, it’s unclear if this phenomenon would translate to more complex animals such as humans, and much more research would be needed to properly confirm this.

4) May Affect Alzheimer’s And Parkinson’s Disease

Some preliminary evidence suggests that Noopept may affect certain biological mechanisms involved in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, such as the build-up of amyloid beta in brain cells.

However, these studies were only done in cells (in vitro), and so this early evidence is at best only provisional until follow-up studies in living animals and humans are done.

According to one cell study, Noopept was reported to act as “neuroprotective” compound by preventing cell death from amyloid toxicity, which is believed to be one of the primary causes of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s symptoms [14].

One other cell study reported that Noopept may have prevented some oxidative damage and mitochondrial cell death, which are two factors that are believed to be of potential importance for fighting Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases [15, 16].

5) Other Reported Effects (Miscellaneous)

  • In rats with experimental type 1 diabetes, Noopept was reported to improve the production of incretin, a hormone that stimulates insulin secretion after eating food [17].
  • In rats with bacterial inflammation, Noopept was reported to reduce levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-alpha. While in mice, there are also other immune system benefits, such as an increased response to antigens and white blood cell growth [18, 19].
  • In a group of 127 healthy human volunteers, noopept was reported to improve the participants’ adaptation to hot or cold environments, and may have even increased their physical work capacity in hot climates [20]. The wider significance of this rather odd finding remains unclear, however.
  • Based on two animal studies, Noopept has also been reported to prevent blood clotting in rats. These preliminary results have led some researchers to propose that it may be potentially useful for preventing or treating strokes, although much more follow-up research would be needed to explore this more fully [21, 22].

Noopept Side-Effects

Like any drug, Noopept has the potential to cause adverse side-effects, some of which could be potentially quite serious.

Importantly, because this compound has not been well-studied, there is not much data available regarding how safe it might be for human users, or how frequently it might lead to negative side-effects.

For this reason, we would strongly advise against experimenting with this compound until more data about its safety is available.

If you do make the personal decision to experiment with Noopept, be sure to discuss it with your doctor first! Also make sure that he- or she is fully up-to-date about any other medications or drugs you may be taking, any pre-existing health conditions, or other lifestyle and dietary factors that could potentially impact your health. This is crucial because only your doctor has the appropriate medical expertise to help you properly manage the potential side-effects, adverse drug interactions, and other potentially negative outcomes from using relatively unknown nootropic compounds (although even then, its safety still cannot be guaranteed due to a lack of appropriate clinical and medical data).

With all that in mind, even just the relatively small amount of research on Noopept so far has already linked it to a number of potential adverse side-effects. Some of the ones that have been reported so far include headaches, dizziness, and tiredness.

Drug Interactions

Because Noopept has not been extensively studied, almost no hard evidence is available regarding its potential interactions with other medications or compounds.

Therefore, caution is highly advised if you decide to take it while taking any other medications or supplements, as the potential for interactions between them is almost entirely unknown.

Use During Pregnancy and/or Nursing

Relatedly, Noopept has also not been tested – at all – for its potential effects on pregnancy or breastfeeding. Therefore, it is highly advised to avoid this compound altogether while pregnant or nursing until more is known.

Noopept Dosage

Note: The information in this section contains information about the dosages commonly used by some of the early studies that have been done on Noopept so far. The information below is not intended as a guide for personal use of Noopept, as adequate data about its potency, safety, or overall effects in healthy human populations is not currently available.

The sole clinical trial that has been done on Noopept in humans used a dose of 20mg, with several of the study’s patients reporting adverse side-effects such as impaired sleep, irritability, and elevated blood pressure (hypertension). However, these patients had underlying brain damage from strokes or other physical traumas, so it’s unknown whether these were due to Noopept or to their pre-existing health condition [9].

According to reports from nootropics users online, “typical” doses tend to range between 10-30mg per day. However, these are unofficial reports, and should not be treated as hard evidence regarding the proper way to dose Noopept.

About the Author

Puya Yazdi

Puya Yazdi

MD
Dr. Puya Yazdi is a physician-scientist with 14+ years of experience in clinical medicine, life sciences, biotechnology, and nutraceuticals.
As a physician-scientist with expertise in genomics, biotechnology, and nutraceuticals, he has made it his mission to bring precision medicine to the bedside and help transform healthcare in the 21st century.He received his undergraduate education at the University of California at Irvine, a Medical Doctorate from the University of Southern California, and was a Resident Physician at Stanford University. He then proceeded to serve as a Clinical Fellow of The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine at The University of California at Irvine, where he conducted research of stem cells, epigenetics, and genomics. He was also a Medical Director for Cyvex Nutrition before serving as president of Systomic Health, a biotechnology consulting agency, where he served as an expert on genomics and other high-throughput technologies. His previous clients include Allergan, Caladrius Biosciences, and Omega Protein. He has a history of peer-reviewed publications, intellectual property discoveries (patents, etc.), clinical trial design, and a thorough knowledge of the regulatory landscape in biotechnology.He is leading our entire scientific and medical team in order to ensure accuracy and scientific validity of our content and products.

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