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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 super popular ‘smart drug’.

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.

What is Piracetam?

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.

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.

The Most Popular Study On Healthy People

In one of the most widely discussed studies on Piracetam, 16 healthy university students were given 1600mg 3× a day (DB-RCT). 8 people were given piracetam and 8 people were given the placebo. The study concluded that no effects were observed after 7 days but after 14 days verbal learning had significantly increased [R].

Here are some flaws with this study:

  1. This was a very small trial.
  2. There was no significant effect the first week and they continued the study just until the effect became significant at the second week and then stopped it.
  3. It hasn’t been replicated.
  4. This isn’t a long-term trial.

1) Piracetam Helps the Brain in Stroke Patients

Piracetam showed positive effects on intellectual functionmemory and concentration in patients with progressive and chronic lack of blood flow to the brain (cerebrovascular disorders) (R).

This study showed no post-stroke language benefit from taking 4.8g of Piracetam for 6months. The languages test used however did not include brain imaging (R).

This earlier study, however, which does include brain imaging ((MRI & PET) showed increased blood flow in three regions of the brain associated with sensory processing and linguistic ability (left hemisphere) as well as improvement in six language functions. Dosing was 2,400mg 2x/day (R).

Using an EEG, piracetam after six weeks showed a significant shift in alpha-waves from the frontal to back lobes (occipital regions), which is most likely due to repair in the thalamus-cortex circuits (R). Dosing was not listed.

2) Piracetam Helps the Brain With Heart Surgery Patients

12gram injection of piracetam prior to, and/or post surgery has been shown to help with cognition and prevent neurodegeneration in bypass patients (R ,R2,R3).

However, in open heart surgery piracetam does not help against cognitive decline (R).

3) Piracetam Helps Prevent Neurodegeneration in Alcoholism.

Piracetam impedes neuron loss in the hippocampus of rats going through alcohol withdrawal (R).

Piracetam has been shown to increase synapses and synaptic reorganization in the brains of alcohol withdrawn rats (R).

4) Piracetam Helps Against Cognitive Decline in The Elderly

A large meta-analysis of over 30 years of research, the efficacy of Piracetam in the treatment of cognitive impairment in diverse groups of older subjects is highly substantiated (R).

Piracetam has been shown to increase short-term memory significantly after 14 days of treatment in healthy older patients. The dose was 400mg/day divided (R).

5) Piracetam Can Help with Depression

Patients self-reported less depression, and also showed improvement in spontaneous activity, and speed of activity. The most effective dose was 2,400mg/day for 2months (R).

Piracetam has been shown to reduce depression in patients with restricted blood flow to the brain (Cerebrovascular disorders) (R).

Piracetam was better than oxiracetam at reducing symptoms of paranoia and agitation in patients with organic mental disorders (R).

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6) Piracetam Helps With Schizophrenia

Piracetam reduced symptoms of involuntary movement (tardive dyskinesia) in patients with schizophrenia (R).

Piracetam may have a protective effect upon glutamatergic receptors in the hippocampus (R) .

7) Piracetam Helps the Brain in Patients with Dyslexia

Over a 21 day trial, piracetam increased verbal learning 8.6% over placebo in healthy student volunteers. In dyslexic patients, verbal learning increased by 15% (R).

Piracetam can help children with dyslexia.  In tests where children were to analyze letters, 3.3gm/day over 36 weeks showed an increase reaction time and ability to recognize language related test prompts (R).

8) Anti-Inflammatory/Pain Reducer

Piracetam reduces pain in mice, and pain sensitivity dose-dependently by lowering cytokine production (IL-1b(R).

Piracetam can prevent toxin-induced reduction of glutathione (R).

9) Piracetam Can Protect Against Hearing Loss

With immediate treatment of Piracetam + Prednisone, 65% of Soldiers exposed to ear-damaging gunfire (Acute Acoustic Trauma) were able to preserve their hearing. 23.3% were able to preserve hearing if treated under 24hrs (R).

10) Piracetam Helps Those With Epilepsy

Patients suffering from (myoclonus) epilepsy show significant improvements in the 1st, 6th and 12th month of use (R).

11) Piracetam Helps Children in Breath Holding Spells

Piracetam also appears to have clinical usage (and a lack of side effects) when used in youth for the purpose of Breath Holding Spells at oral doses of 50-100mg/kg bodyweight in children aged 5-60 months (R,R1,R2)

12) Piracetam is Antithrombotic

Piracetam has anti-blood clotting effects(R).

In hamsters: Piracetam reduced thrombus formation in crushed legs at 8mg/kg.  200mg/kg reduced thrombus formation in rats.

Piracetam prevents blood clotting indirectly through four sites of action: the vessel wall, platelets, plasma and cell membranes (RBCWBC)(R),(R)

In humans, Piracetam dose-dependently increases template bleeding times after 1 week of treatment (R).

Technical Mechanisms of Piracetam

Racetams are typically supplemented alongside cholinergic compounds (Alpha GPC) as their mechanisms are highly interrelated (R).

Piracetam + choline have been noted to increase memory and cognitive effects when taken together (R,R2)

These effects seem to be greatest in models of slight cognitive impairment, such as aging (R).

Administration of Piracetam causes a decrease in acetylcholine levels in the hippocampus (R)

Aniracetam (100mg/kg) failed to significantly modify by direct action acetylcholine or choline concentrations in any tested brain region (R).

Aniracetam did, however, did slow scopolamine drug decrease of acetylcholine in the hippocampus (100mg/kg) (R).

Repeated daily doses of oxiracetam were noted to increase acetylcholine utilization by 31% relative to control and appears to be more potent and prolonged than Piracetam (R).

Injections of piracetam increase HACU (high-affinity choline uptake in the hippocampus (R).

IV injections of piracetam however only lasted 3hrs. Oxiracetam at the 3hr mark still caused 40% HACU rate (R).

Piracetam is a cyclic derivative of GABA (R).

Downsides and Adverse Effects

Adverse effects, although rare and of short duration are limited to anxiety, insomnia, drowsiness and agitation (R).

Because of piracetam’s anti-clotting abilities, there is an advisement to stay away from Piracetam if already on blood thinning drugs.

Piracetam was associated with more cocaine use in a pilot trial (R).

If you experience a headache, fatigue or foggy thinking, then stop taking them and try something else.

Studies That Did Not Find a Significant Effect

Studies on Alzheimer’s with oxiracetam have not found a significant effect (R)


In general, the racetam class I; Pi-, Ani-, and Oxi-, have little side effects and toxicity with doses up to 12g for 8 weeks (R,R2).

The standard piracetam dose for adults is between 1,200-4,800mg a day. The largest effective dose is 1,600mg, taken three times a day for a total of 4,800mg.

Children have also been dosed in certain instances (breath holding spells). Save effective doses are Dose has proved safe for children with breath-holding spells for 40-100mg/kg (R,R2,R3).

Piracetam is considered the safest of all the Racetams.


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