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A Comparison Among 4 Racetams and Their Effects

Written by Joe Cohen, BS | Reviewed by Selfhacked Science Team | Last updated:
Medically reviewed by
Jonathan Ritter, PharmD, PhD (Pharmacology) | Written by Joe Cohen, BS | Reviewed by Selfhacked Science Team | Last updated:

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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 to experiment with the racetam family.

Since the discovery of piracetam, several more potent and arguably more effective derivatives have been created. Each one varies slightly in its mode of action and the exact mechanisms of how each racetam works is not completely understood. Much of what we know about the racetam comes from animal studies.

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.

This article is an attempt to let you see BOTH user reported effects (what is found colloquially on the internet) alongside published research. The racetams are NOT ranked.

1) Aniracetam and the Brain

In rats, aniracetam encourages acetylcholine release [1].

Another study in rats showed that aniracetam also releases serotonin and dopamine in the brain via cholinergic pathways in the prefrontal cortex [2].

Aniracetam, although not clinically proven in humans, is the best of all the racetams for reducing anxiety and depression in animal models [3].

Aniracetam is able to alleviate memory damage and learning impairments due to various traumas [4].

Aniracetam appears to inhibit the effects of cortisol via GABA [5].

2) Oxiracetam and the Brain

In 60 elderly patients with mental disorders, oxiracetam exhibited more statistically significant improvement in “the memory factor” [6].

In animals, oxiracetam increases long-term potentiation (LTP) in the hippocampus, similar to aniracetam [7].

Oxiracetam increases memory test scores in mice. It was dosed at 25 – 50 mg/kg and taken five days before training [8, 9].

Oxiracetam (100 mg/kg) given immediately after a learning experience ‘post-trial’ can effectively facilitate the formation of long-term memory in mice detectable up to 4 months after dosing [10].

This study brings to light the fact that many nootropics, including oxiracetam, show evidence of memory retention after 16 – 24 hrs, which may explain the negative response in tests performed before this 24 hr window has lapsed [11].

Oxiracetam reduces drug-induced amnesia when given to mice 30 minutes before drug administration [12].

Oxiracetam also slowed the decrease of acetylcholine in the cortex and hippocampus, in the drug-induced amnesia [12].

The same test performed in humans showed that oxiracetam improved overall test performances in drug-induced amnesia [13].

Oxiracetam activates a critical enzyme underlying learning and memory processes (Protein Kinase C) [14, 15].

In mice, Oxiracetam improves scores in maze memory tests but appears to help only untrained mice [16].

Interestingly, improved performance was seen in doses of 25 mg/kg and 100 mg/kg but not at the midline 50 mg/kg mark [17].

Oxiracetam Can Prevent Neurodamage in Dementia

Oxiracetam is able to improve dementia in elderly patients [6, 18].

In patients with multiple forms of dementia, and those suffering from multiple strokes, 1,600 mg/kg Oxiracetam taken daily for 12 weeks significantly improved ‘quality of life’ as well as scores in neuropsychological tests [19].

Oxiracetam is able to improve dementia in elderly patients in several major rating scales [6, 18].

In stroke and primary dementia patients, Oxiracetam dosed 1,200 mg/kg improved social function, and verbal fluency [20, 21].

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 [22].

Oxiracetam may help with Energy Production

In test tubes, oxiracetam has been shown to increase the production of ATP [23].

Oxiracetam Does Not Effect Sleep Once Asleep

Oxiracetam through EEG testing does not impair sleep quality, although it may prolong the ability to actually fall asleep dose-dependently (doses ranging from 25 mg – 50 mg/kg) [17].

Pre-Natal Supplementation

Oxiracetam significantly improved the performance in the offspring of mice when the mothers were supplemented with 50 mg/kg as a prenatal injection over control [24].

Oxiracetam and Nicotine has a Synergistic Effect

The combination of nicotine and oxiracetam have a synergy in learning tasks.

Nicotine and oxiracetam had a 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) [25, 26].

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 [27].

Oxiracetam also prevented slight depressive behavior by mice when given high doses (1 mg/kg) of nicotine insomnia, drowsiness, and agitation [27]. Because of piracetam’s anti-clotting abilities, there is an advisement to stay away from piracetam if already on blood thinning drugs. Headache, fatigue, foggy thinking are all symptoms of the racetams that you should either stop or have dosed too high.

Mechanism of Oxiracetam in the Brain

Oxiracetam increases signaling efficiency in hippocampal cells [7].

Oxiracetam increases neuron signaling efficiency by increasing the release of glutamate and D-aspartic acid in the brain [28].

Oxiracetam is a positive modulator of AMPA sensitive glutamate receptors in neurons [29].

Oxiracetam selectively increases the release of glutamate and acetylcholine in the hippocampus [30].

Injections of both piracetam and oxiracetam increase choline uptake in the hippocampus [31].

3) Pramiracetam and The Brain

Pramiracetam, 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 [32].

Studies also show that pre-administration of pramiracetam is also effective at suppressing drug-induced amnesia [33].

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 [34].

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 [35].

Pramiracetam significantly improves objective memory in non-depressed, non-demented healthy elderly [36].

In healthy elderly with memory loss, supplementation with pramiracetam proved more beneficial than memory training [36].

4) 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 Helps in brain injuries, stroke, and epilepsy.

Phenylpiracetam daily for one year was able to improve both functional and cognitive parameters in stroke patients (dose was 400 mg) [37].

Phenylpiracetam dosed 200 mg improved both neurological and psychological symptoms over the control group in individuals with diseases of the brain [38].

Epilepsy patients dosed with 100 mg 2x/day phenylpiracetam improved by 12% in cognitive performance tests [39].

In individuals suffering from diseases of the brain (brain tumors or natural lesions), 200mg phenylpiracetam showed improvements in cognitive decline [40].

Anxiety and Depression

In individuals suffering from diseases of the brain (brain tumors or natural lesions), 200 mg daily phenylpiracetam resulted in improvements in depression and anxiety [40].

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 [41].

Note: Most of the information that you will find below are internet hearsay. It’s not science-based.


  • Used for cognitive enhancement
  • Appears to have 1/10 of the potency of aniracetam [42].
  • 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) [41].
  • 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 – 5 X 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 [6].
  • Using oxiracetam short term doesn’t seem to show long term effects; however, long term usage does [43].
  • Oxiracetam 25 – 50 mg/kg outperformed piracetam 100 mg/kg in memory tests in mice. Positive results on the tests were only evident in groups taking the drug five days before training [8, 9].
  • Oxiracetam and aniracetam increase Long-term potentiation in the hippocampus [7].


  • 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 [44, 45].


  • 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

How to Use Racetams


In general, the racetam class I; Pi-, Ani-, and Oxi-, have little side effects and toxicity with doses up to 12 g for 8 weeks [46, 47].

 Aniracetam: 100 mg – 1,500 mg/day. Average dose 750 mg 3 X per day.

Aniracetam is rapidly absorbed and seems to be quickly metabolized by the body, making dosing throughout the day more beneficial [48].

It also appears to be taken up in fasted states although it is fat soluble.

Typical dosage seems to be in the 100 – 1,500 mg range.

 Oxiracetam: 1,200 – 2,400 mg

Supplementation of oxiracetam tends to be in the dosage range of 1,200 – 2,400 mg taken over the course of a day, either in two to three evenly spread dosing periods (such as three doses of 400 mg or 800 mg).

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 [49].

Pramiracetam: 1,200 mg/day

Currently, the evidence using pramiracetam in humans uses either 400 mg 3 x/day, or 600 mg 2 x/day.

Phenylpiracetam: 200 – 600 mg/day

Phenylpiracetam is taken at a dosage of 100 – 200 mg at high doses. It is recommended to start with 50 mg first.

The dose of 100 – 200 mg/day is usually dived throughout the day totaling somewhere between 200 – 600 mg/day.

Effects on Acetylcholine

While both oxiracetam and aniracetam (100 mg/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 [12].

Independent of increasing acetylcholine concentrations, oxiracetam appears to increase acetylcholine utilization in the cortex and hippocampus at 100 – 300 mg/kg injections [31].

Repeated daily doses of oxiracetam were noted to increase acetylcholine utilization by 31% relative to the control, and appears to be more potent and prolonged than Piracetam [31].

Injections of both piracetam and oxiracetam increase choline uptake in the hippocampus [31].

Oxiracetam does not have an effect on GABA or Serotonin levels in the brain [30].

Side Effects

Piracetam inhibits steroid synthesis in general in the body [44] This inhibition of actions applies to Aniracetam, Oxiracetam, and Pramiracetam [45, 50, 51].

Those who have had their adrenals removed will not have the benefit from Piracetam’s effects [50].

Studies on Alzheimer’s with oxiracetam have not found a significant effect [52].

Oxiracetam does not impair sleep quality, although it may prolong the ability to actually fall asleep which is dose-dependent [17].

Although Aniracetam is known to reduce depression, it has been shown ineffective in reducing depression in younger mice [53].

Phenylpiracetam is excitatory and may disturb your sleep.

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About the Author

Joe Cohen, BS

Joe Cohen won the genetic lottery of bad genes. As a kid, he suffered from inflammation, brain fog, fatigue, digestive problems, anxiety, depression, and other issues that were poorly understood in both conventional and alternative medicine.Frustrated by the lack of good information and tools, Joe decided to embark on a journey of self-experimentation and self-learning to improve his health--something that has since become known as “biohacking”. With thousands of experiments and pubmed articles under his belt, Joe founded SelfHacked, the resource that was missing when he needed it. SelfHacked now gets millions of monthly readers.Joe is a thriving entrepreneur, author and speaker. He is the CEO of SelfHacked, SelfDecode and LabTestAnalyzer.His mission is to help people gain access to the most up-to-date, unbiased, and science-based ways to optimize their health.
Joe has been studying health sciences for 17 years and has read over 30,000 PubMed articles. He's given consultations to over 1000 people who have sought his health advice. After completing the pre-med requirements at university, he founded SelfHacked because he wanted to make a big impact in improving global health. He's written hundreds of science posts, multiple books on improving health, and speaks at various health conferences. He's keen on building a brain-trust of top scientists who will improve the level of accuracy of health content on the web. He's also founded SelfDecode and LabTestAnalyzer, popular genetic and lab software tools to improve health.

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