Piracetam Uses & Side-Effects

Piracetam is the original member of the racetam family of synthetic nootropics, or “cognitive-enhancing” compounds. Although much less potent than some other racetams, piracetam is widely used mainly to enhance cognitive function. Unfortunately, there are only a few studies that have been done on its effects in healthy individuals, and its overall role in enhancing cognition is not completely certain. Read on to learn more about this popular nootropic, its potential uses and mechanisms, and side-effects!

Disclaimer: This post is not a recommendation or endorsement for the use of piracetam. The FDA has not approved this drug for any specific medical or other use, and the available research on it is still in a very 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 piracetam’s potential effects, mechanisms, and side-effects.

What is Piracetam?

Piracetam is the “original” racetam, and is believed to be much less potent than other compounds in the “racetam” family.

The racetam family of synthetic compounds are characterized by their chemical structures, which contain a pyrrolidone lactam ring. Piracetam and other racetams – such as oxiracetam and aniracetam – are considered cognitive enhancers or nootropics, while others – like levetiracetam – are used to as anticonvulsants to treat some forms of epilepsy.

Unfortunately, despite its popularity among the “nootropics” community, there appears to be little well-controlled, clinical research on the effects of piracetam in young, healthy human users.

However, there is a decent amount of research on the use of piracetam in elderly populations with dementia, as well as in schizophrenics, and those suffering from neurodegenerative disorders caused by head trauma, stroke, and alcoholism.

Mechanism of Action

How piracetam exactly works is not fully understood. However, according to some preliminary research, it has been proposed to have several actions in the brain, such as [1]:

According to reports from many of its users, racetams are often supplemented alongside choline donors (such as alpha-GPC and citicoline), as their mechanism is thought to deplete choline stores in the brain [2].

For example, administration of piracetam has been reported to cause a decrease in acetylcholine levels in the hippocampus of animals. Piracetam and choline taken together have