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I personally don’t do well with racetams in the long term and don’t take them. I’ve seen some negative effects with racetams, which I’ve written about, mainly to combat the hype.
This post explores some of the benefits for those who do well with it and want to take it. I thought it would be beneficial to see what the research actually says about this class of super popular smart drugs.
I think the important thing is to ‘Self Hack’ and see if you benefit from it, especially if you have a condition that is helped by the racetams. If you don’t notice clear benefits, I would stop taking them.
I think it’s important at Selfhacked to not allow my individual experience corrupt objective benefits of some treatment modality.
What are Racetams?
Racetams are cognitive enhancers also known as Nootropics. Piracetam is the “original” racetam. It is the least potent although still highly recommended, especially for those just beginning experimentation with the racetam family.
Since the discovery of Piracetam, several more potent and arguably effective derivatives have been found on the market. Each one varies slightly from each other in its mode of action. So this is an attempt to let you see BOTH user reported effects (what is found colloquially on the internet) alongside published research.
Unfortunately, there appears to be little research on young, cognitively healthy volunteers.
There is, however, research on the elderly, demented, schizophrenic, and those suffering from neurodegeneration caused by head trauma, stroke, and alcoholism.
Aniracetam and the Brain
Aniracetam is able to alleviate memory damage and learning impairments due to various traumas (R).
Oxiracetam and the Brain
Oxiracetam increases Long term potentiation in the hippocampus, similar to Aniracetam (animals) (R).
In 60 elderly patients with mental disorders, Oxiracetam exhibited more statistically significant improvement in “the memory factor” (R).
Oxiracetam (100mg/kg) given immediately after a learning experience ‘post-trial’ can effectively facilitate the formation of long-term memory detectable up to 4 months after dosing (R).
This study brings to light the fact that many nootropics, including oxiracetam, show evidence of memory retention after 16-24hrs (R), which may explain the negative response in tests preformed before this 24 hr window has lapsed.
Oxiracetam reduces drug induced amnesia, when given to mice 30 minutes before drug administration (R).
The same test performed in humans showed that Oxiracetam improved overall test performances in drug-induced amnesia (R).
In mice, Oxiracetam improves scores in maze memory tests, but appears to help only untrained mice (R).
Interestingly , improved performance were seen in doses of 25mg/kg and 100mg/kg but not at the midline 50mg/kg mark (R).
Oxiracetam Can Prevent Neurodamage in Dementia
In patients with multiple forms of dementia, and those suffering from multiple strokes, 1,600mg/kg Oxiracetam taken daily for 12 weeks significantly improved ‘quality of life’ as well as scores in neuropsychological tests (R).
Oxiracetam can prevent Neuron Damage from Chemical Exposure
Oxiracetam, as a pre-treatment to exposure, can prevent neuron damage from TBT (organotin trimethyltin) – a toxic biocide (R).
Oxiracetam may help with Energy Production
Oxiracetam Does Not Effect Sleep Once Asleep
Oxiracetam significantly improved the performance in the off-spring of mice when the mothers were supplemented with 50mg/kg as a prenatal injection over control (R).
Oxiracetam and Nicotine has a Synergistic Effect
The combination of Nicotine and Oxiracetam have a synergy in learning tasks.
Nicotine and Oxiracetam had synergistic effect in mice tested in both passive and active avoidance tests (active test – are tests aligned for depressive symptoms. Passive tests – are a short and long term memory assessment) (R,R2).
The combination of the two drugs improved passive avoidance more than either drug separately, and in the active avoidance test the combination (with low dose nicotine) showed improved effects never observed with nicotine alone (R).
Oxiracetam also prevented slight depressive behavior by mice when given high doses (1mg/kg) of nicotine insomnia, drowsiness and agitation (R). Because of Piracetams to anti-clotting abilities, there is an advisement to stay away from Piracetam if already on blood thinning drugs. Headache, fatique, foggy thinking are all symptoms of the Racetams that you should either stop, or have dosed too high.”>(R).
Mechanism of Oxiracetam in the Brain
Oxiracetam increases signaling efficiency in hippocampal cells (R).
Oxiracetam is a positive modulator of AMPA sensitive glutamate receptors in neurons (R).
Pramiracetam and The Brain
Pramiracitam, similar to piracetam, has been tested in drug induced amnesia studies.
In healthy volunteers, Pramiracetam has been shown to reduce drug induced amnesia in both young and older subjects (R).
Studies also show that pre-administration of pramiracetam is also effective at suppressing drug induced amnesia (R).
Pramiracetam increases exploratory activity in mice when dosed at 15mg/kg, and is suppressed at 60mg/kg with the middle range 30mg/kg having no effect (R).
Pramiracetam has been shown to increase cognitive abilities and memory in young men suffering from head trauma. This improvement was maintained even after pramiracetam was discontinued (R).
Pramiracetam significantly improves objective memory in non-depressed, non-demented healthy elderly (R) .
In healthy elderly with memory loss, supplementation with pramiracetam proved more beneficial than memory training (R).
Phenylpiracetam and The Brain
Phenylpiracetam is thought to cross the blood brain barrier because of the additional phenyl group, although there is no research to validate this.
Phenylpiracetam daily for one year, was able to improve both functional and cognitive parameters in stroke patients (dose was 400mg) (R).
Phenylpiracetam dosed 200mg improved both neurological and psychological symptoms over the control group in individuals with diseases of the brain (R).
Epilepsy patients dosed with 100mg 2x/day phenylpiracetam improved by 12% in cognitive performance tests (R).
In individuals suffering from diseases of the brain (brain tumors or natural lesions), 200mg phenylpiracetam showed improvements in cognitive decline (R).
Anxiety and Depression
While both oxiracetam and aniracetam (100mg/kg) didn’t modify choline concentrations in any tested brain region, they did slow a scopolamine drug-induced decrease of acetylcholine. Oxiracetam did so in the hippocampus and cortex (but not striatum) at doses of 50 and 100mg/kg. Higher and lower doses were ineffective. Aniracetam (100 and 300 mg/kg) reduced acetylcholine decrease in the hippocampus only (R).
Independent of increasing acetylcholine concentrations, oxiracetam appears to increase acetylcholine utilization in the cortex and hippocampus at 100-300mg/kg injections (R).
Repeated daily doses of oxiracetam was noted to increase acetylcholine utilization by 31% relative to control, and appears to be more potent and prolonged than Piracetam (R).
Injections of both piracetam and oxiracetam increase choline uptake in the hippocampus (R).
A Comparison of the Most Well Known Racetams
All five drugs have shown an ability to increase learning, particularly in stressful situations (shock test).
The pituitary-adrenal axis is essential to the activity of the drugs (R).
Note: most of the information that you will find below is internet hearsay. It’s not science-based.
- Used for cognitive enhancement
- Appears to have 1/10 of the potency of Aniracetam (R).
- Water Soluble
- Helps learning and memory retention
- Enhances sensory perception and awareness
- Benefits focus and concentration
- Piracetam tends to be the weakest on learning (when comparing oxiracetam, aniracetam, and pramiracetam) (R).
- Piracetam has been shown to work better than oxiracetam in the treatment of paranoia and agitation.
Read more about Piracetam.
- Memory and cognition booster
- 2-5x more potent than Piracetam
- Fat Soluble
- Has an effect on dopamine and serotonin receptors. Will decrease anxiety.
- Potentially enhances mood
- Can help with Verbal Fluency
- Does not have a long lasting effect in the body making supplementation spaced out throughout the day more effective.
- Stimulates AMPA receptors more effectively than Piracetam
- Increases right brain thinking
- Enhances logical thinking. Is faster acting and stronger than both Piracetam and Aniracetam
- Water Soluble
- Slightly stimulatory, giving a little bit of energy
- Helpful for advanced logic thinking tasks such as math
- Stimulatory but will not disrupt your sleep
- Helps with motivation
- Unlike Aniracetam, Oxiracetam doesn’t offer mood enhancement
- Oxiracetam has been shown to exhibit more improvement in memory than piracetam (R).
- Using Oxiracetam short term doesn’t seem to show long term effects, however long term usage does (R).
- Oxiracetam 25-50mg/kg, outperformed piracetam 100mg/kg in memory tests in mice. Positive results on the tests was only evident in groups taking the drug five days before training (R,R2).
- Oxiracetam and Aniracetam increase Long-term potentiation in the hippocampus (R).
- Considered the strongest of all the Racetams. Overall brain enhancement.
- Fat soluble
- Often compared to Ritalin for increased memory and focus.
- Enhances general cognition
- Helps with long term memory
- Improved Sensory Perception
- Best of all for extremely sharp focus
- Pramiracetam outperforms piracetam and compares equally or outperforms aniracetam in memory enhancement tests (R,R2).
- Structurally similar to Pramiracetam just with a phenyl group added.
- Increases memory & problem solving skills
- Suppresses anxiety and fear response
- Supposedly increases cold tolerance (haven’t seen the study) but people on the internet claim it helps
Aniracetam: 100mg – 1,500mg/day. Average dose 750mg 3x per day.
Aniracetam is rapidly absorbed and seems to be quickly metabolized by the body, making dosing through out the day more beneficial (R).
It also appears to be taken up in fasted states although it is fat soluble.
Typical dosage seems to be in the 100-1,500mg range.
Supplementation of Oxiracetam tends to be in the dosage range of 1,200-2,400mg taken over the course of a day, either in two to three evenly spread dosing periods (such as three doses of 400mg or 800mg).
Oxiracetam seems to be about as strong as Aniracetam. However, Oxiracetam is more bioavailable and therefore stays in the body longer, so you don’t have to take it as often. Oxiracetam’s bioavailability ranges from 68 to 82 percent (R).
Currently, the evidence using pramiracetam in humans uses either 400mg 3x/day, or 600mg 2x/day.
Phenylpiracetam: 200 – 600mg/day
Phenylpiracetam is taken at a dosage of 100-200mg at high doses. It is recommended to start with 50mg first.
The dose of 100-200mg/day is usually dived throughout the day totaling somewhere between 200-600mg/day.
Downsides and Adverse Effects
Those whom have had their adrenals removed will not have the benefit from Piracetam’s effects (R).
Oxiracetam does not impair sleep quality, although it may prolong the ability to actually fall asleep which is dose-dependent (R).
Although Aniracetam is known to reduce depression, it has been shown ineffective in reducing depression in younger mice (R).
Phenylpiracetam is excitatory and may disturb your sleep (R).
Buy Racetam Products
Although I personally don’t do well with racetams in the long term and don’t take them, if you are interested in trying them for yourself, you can buy them here: