Oxiracetam is a nootropic with mild stimulating activity and nearly no negative side effects. The clinical studies, however, are still limited. Read on to discover more about oxiracetam and how it might help you improve memory and focus, especially if you suffer from mild cognitive impairment.
What is Oxiracetam?
Oxiracetam is a member of the racetam family of molecules. These drugs were designed to treat memory loss and the decline in intellectual abilities due to age or disease. All racetams are nootropics, known for their ability to help with memory and other learning processes. Oxiracetam is also a nootropic GABA derivative [R, R].
Oxiracetam is one of the first derivatives of piracetam. Despite this, clinical studies about oxiracetam are lacking. Available studies suggest it’s a safe nootropic, especially in people who already suffer from cognitive decline, dementia, or poor brain blood flow.
Although students often use oxiracetam to boost intellectual capacities, no clinical studies are available to shed some light on its effects in young, healthy people. Still, oxiracetam appears to be safe (even in higher doses) and is sold as a dietary supplement in the US.
Mechanism of Action
Increases Neurotransmission Speed
Oxiracetam increases the concentration of calcium ions that enter brain cells by increasing the number of binding sites for the neurotransmitter glutamate (in an AMPA receptor, rat brain study). Glutamate, opposite to GABA, is the main excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. This way, oxiracetam helps create an electrical current for the fast transmission of impulses between neurons, which improves brain plasticity [R].
Increases Energy Production in the Brain
Oxiracetam helps increase brain energy production, by increasing the synthesis of molecules that build brain cell membranes (phosphorylcholine and phosphorylethanolamine), including phospholipids, proteins, and nucleic acids. It also increases the use of glucose, oxygen, and the neurotransmitter acetylcholine [R, R, R].
Uses of Oxiracetam
1) Enhances Memory
Oxiracetam helped improve memory better than piracetam in a clinical trial with 60 patients with moderate dementia, and in another trial of 58 patients with several forms of dementia. The dosage varied between 400-2,400 mg/day [R, R].
Oxiracetam up to 1,200 mg/day slightly improved overall symptoms in most of the 12 people with post-stroke dementia included was seen in another clinical trial. It didn’t improve cognition directly, but instead probably helped revitalize the brain areas affected by stroke [R].
Oxiracetam (2,400 mg/day) helped improve short-term and verbal memory in a clinical trial in 40 elderly people with poor cognitive and intellectual function and in a 1-year trial of 29 moderate dementia patients (1,600 mg/day) [R, R].
It also improved verbal memory in a clinical trial of 73 people with post-stroke or degenerative dementia [R].
However, oxiracetam given for a month to 24 patients with Alzheimer’s disease in one clinical trial had no memory benefits, while it did improve sleeping and reduced anxiety and tension in another trial with 30 Alzheimer’s disease patients [R, R].
2) Increases Focus and Attention
Oxiracetam increased alertness while decreasing anxiety and tension and helped improve some intellectual functions in a clinical trial with 289 patients with various forms of dementia [R].
3) May Prevent Memory Decline
Oxiracetam prevented a drug-induced decline in memory and attention in a clinical trial in 12 healthy people. Doses of 1,600-2,400 were enough to protect from memory loss. It was especially beneficial for semantic memory, which processes general ideas, concepts, and facts we acquire over time [R].
Oxiracetam helped protect against cognitive impairment in high altitudes (at 4,000 meters) in a clinical trial with 60 healthy people. Cognitive impairment is common in people when traveling to high altitudes, due to very low oxygen levels the brain needs to adapt to. Oxiracetam may help prevent cognitive problems in people when they arrive at high altitudes [R].
4) May Improve Poor Brain Blood Flow
Oxiracetam helped reduce damage to neurons and white matter, restore blood flow, and block the activation of the cells that scar the brain and spinal cord rats with decreased brain blood flow. It had strong nootropic effects, improving spatial learning and memory probably by boosting brain circulation [R].
Oxiracetam used in combination with nerve growth factor helped with brain recovery and increased survival in a clinical trial with 140 patients who had suffered brain bleeding due to high blood pressure. It reduced inflammation and improved muscle strength, important for rehabilitation after brain damage [R].
- Sleep disturbance
- High blood pressure
- Constipation or diarrhea
The simultaneous use of the anti-epileptic drugs carbamazepine or valproic acid with oxiracetam decreases the time oxiracetam spends in the body. This means oxiracetam would need to be taken more frequently to maintain the same effects [R].
The drug of abuse, methamphetamine, increased the learned response to undesirable, fearful stimuli in mice. This may potentially provoke panic, paranoia, or psychosis in people. Methamphetamine use carries many other risks on its own too [R, R].
Forms and Dosage
Oxiracetam is available as capsules or powder for oral use.
Oxiracetam falls under the category of dietary supplements in the US and is not approved by the FDA for medical use.
The effective daily Oxiracetam doses in clinical trials ranged from 1200 to 2400 mg/day, split up into 2-3 doses throughout the day. In some studies, oxiracetam was started at lower doses (400 mg/day) and gradually increased. No serious side effects were noted at these doses [R, R].
- 2,400 mg/day was most commonly used in clinical trials
Limitations and Caveats
Oxiracetam is currently not approved by the FDA for the treatment of any disease.
No studies confirmed the effectiveness of oxiracetam for improving memory in young, healthy adults.
- Users report using oxiracetam helped them improve their mood, energy and to better focus at school and at work. It also helped some of with anxiety control.
- Several users shared that oxiracetam increased their enjoyment in listening to music.
- Some users experienced nausea and headaches when using oxiracetam, which usually disappeared by lowering the dose.
- Other users felt irritable and anxious when taking oxiracetam.
- One user recommends not mixing oxiracetam with alcohol since it caused them an uncomfortable rise in blood pressure.
Users recommend the following combinations: