Evidence Based
4 /5

6 Potential Uses of Coluracetam + Side Effects

Written by Dr. Lisa Valent, ND | Last updated:
Medically reviewed by
Evguenia Alechine, PhD (Biochemistry), Jonathan Ritter, PharmD, PhD (Pharmacology) | Written by Dr. Lisa Valent, ND | Last updated:

SelfHacked has the strictest sourcing guidelines in the health industry and we almost exclusively link to medically peer-reviewed studies, usually on PubMed. We believe that the most accurate information is found directly in the scientific source.

We are dedicated to providing the most scientifically valid, unbiased, and comprehensive information on any given topic.

Our team comprises of trained MDs, PhDs, pharmacists, qualified scientists, and certified health and wellness specialists.

Our science team goes through the strictest vetting process in the health industry and we often reject applicants who have written articles for many of the largest health websites that are deemed trustworthy. Our science team must pass long technical science tests, difficult logical reasoning and reading comprehension tests. They are continually monitored by our internal peer-review process and if we see anyone making material science errors, we don't let them write for us again.

Our goal is to not have a single piece of inaccurate information on this website. If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please leave a comment or contact us at [email protected]

Note that each number in parentheses [1, 2, 3, etc.] is a clickable link to peer-reviewed scientific studies. A plus sign next to the number “[1+, 2+, etc...]” means that the information is found within the full scientific study rather than the abstract.

Coluracetam is a nootropic used to help memory and learning, depression, anxiety, as well as to improve vision. What we know about it has been pieced together from animal studies and user experiences, since the few human trials of this drug have never been published. Keep reading to find out its potential uses and side effects.

Note: By writing this post, we are not recommending this drug. Some of our readers who were already taking the drug requested that we commission a post on it and we are simply providing information that is available in the clinical and scientific literature. Please discuss your medications with your doctor.

What is Coluracetam?

Coluracetam, also known as BCI-540 or MKC-231, is a nootropic of the racetam class.

Coluracetam was originally studied in Japan in the mid-’90s for Alzheimer’s treatment. These studies showed coluracetam’s ability to repair memory and learning in mice with damaged nerve cells. However, none of the research on Alzheimer’s has ever been published [1].

Coluracetam’s second round of research, by Brain Cells Inc., on more than 100 people with major depression and anxiety, revealed benefits for major depressive disorder (MDD). These trials have never been published either.

Mechanism of Action

Coluracetam is unique among brain enhancers in that it improves choline uptake in the nerve cells via the choline uptake system (HACU). This choline uptake system increases the amount of acetylcholine in the brain. Coluracetam can restore this choline uptake system after nerve cell damage [2, 3, 4].

Coluracetam also protects the NMDA receptors from glutamate toxicity. Damage to these receptors is involved in stroke, Alzheimer’s, traumatic brain injury, and other brain diseases [5].

Effects of Coluracetam

1) May Improve Memory and Learning

Coluracetam improved memory and learning in rats treated with a nerve toxin that damages the choline uptake system in the brain. This improvement surprisingly lasted beyond treatment. However, these benefits in learning and memory were not seen in rats who were not exposed to the nerve toxin [2, 3, 4].

Acetylcholine levels are often lower in those with Alzheimer’s. By boosting acetylcholine in the hippocampus, coluracetam may improve some Alzheimer’s symptoms, such as poor memory and learning [6].

In rats that were given the recreational drug PCP (which inhibits ChAT, the enzyme that creates acetylcholine), coluracetam repaired the damage to the learning function by increasing ChAT [7].

2) May Reduce Treatment-Resistant Depression

In a study (double-blind randomized controlled trial) of 101 people with depression who had failed treatment with 2 antidepressants and also had anxiety, coluracetam had a positive effect on depression scores at doses of 80 mg 3 times daily [8].

Unfortunately, this is the only human study on coluracetam.

Coluracetam’s mechanism to decrease glutamate toxicity may be responsible for its benefits in treating depression [5].

3) May Improve Anxiety

In a rat study, dosing 21 days of coluracetam led to a 20% improvement in anxiety, which was greater than the 12% effect valium had in a single dose in the same study [9].

4) May Promote Neurogenesis

Patents state that coluracetam promotes nerve cell growth (neurogenesis). The mechanism is unknown, yet is thought to be related to the increase in hippocampal acetylcholine when coluracetam is dosed daily for a few weeks [10].

5) May Help with Schizophrenia

The enzyme that helps make acetylcholine (ChAT) is impaired in schizophrenia [11].

Coluracetam increased the activity of ChAT in rats with nerve cell damage. This suggests coluracetam may benefit patients with schizophrenia through this same enzyme. More research directly on people with schizophrenia is needed [7].

6) May Improve Vision

In degenerative disease of the retina, coluracetam may promote nerve growth [9]. Numerous user reports describe sharper eyesight and enhanced color vision; however, no scientific research supports these effects.

Side Effects, Interaction, Supplementation, Dosage

Side Effects

Users report brain fog, low mood, suicidal thoughts, and changes in response to coluracetam based on their sleep levels.

An unpublished study of levels up to 240 mg daily did not report major side effects in humans [8].

Drugs Interactions

Coluracetam may counteract the effects of anticholinergic drugs, such as Benadryl, Parkinson’s medications, and some antipsychotics.

Coluracetam may also increase the effects of cholinergic drugs, such as some medications for glaucoma and Alzheimer’s, and nicotine.

It may also interact with drugs that act on the NMDA receptor, such as cough suppressants and anesthetics.

Forms of Supplementation

Coluracetam can be taken:

  • Orally – capsule or power
  • Under the tongue

Eat choline-rich foods to support the effects of coluracetam to create acetylcholine. Choline can be found in:

  • Eggs
  • Beef & beef liver
  • Scallops
  • Chicken
  • Salmon
  • Cod
  • Shrimp
  • Broccoli

Many people who take coluracetam also take choline as CDP-Choline or Alpha-GPC to enhance coluracetam’s effects and reduce possible side effects.


In research, doses ranged from 10 mg daily to 80 mg 3 times daily, for a total of 240 mg daily, which did not show side effects [8].

Limitations and Caveats

The only research on coluracetam that has been published is in rats and mice, whereas human research has not made it to publication. As of January 2014, the company BrainCells Inc, the last company to research coluracetam, is closed.

With the numerous side effects listed from users and no long-term studies, coluracetam should be used with caution.

User Experiences

While not being studied extensively, nootropics users say coluracetam:

  • Brightened color vision
  • Improved visual clarity
  • Improved mood
  • Improved memory
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Increased focus
  • Increased energy
  • Improved visual imagination

However, users also reported these side effects:

  • Brain fog
  • Increased depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Irregular results
  • Varied results depending on the duration of sleep

Where to Buy Coluracetam

Coluracetam is available online.

This section contains sponsored links, which means that we may receive a small percentage of the profits from your purchase, while the price remains the same to you. The SelfHacked marketing and content department are purposely kept separate so that our scientists are not influenced by any pressure to write about a substance in a positive light. The proceeds from your purchase support our research and work. Thanks for your support!

Want More Targeted Ways to Enhance Brain Function?

If you’re interested in improving your cognitive function, we recommend checking out SelfDecode’s Limitless Mind DNA Protocol. It gives genetic-based diet, lifestyle and supplement tips that can help improve your cognitive function. The recommendations are personalized based on your genes.

SelfDecode is a sister company of SelfHacked. The proceeds from your purchase of this product are reinvested into our research and development, in order to serve you better. Thanks for your support!

About the Author

Click here to subscribe


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
(5 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.