Piracetam is one of the most popular nootropic supplements in the world.
It has a good reputation for providing a number of brain-boosting benefits including improved levels of focus and concentration, enhanced learning abilities, better memory, and increased motivation. It is also believed to be a mood enhancer.
Although science has failed to reveal all the secrets behind the way such effects are achieved, it is generally believed the compound can act on the central nervous system and trigger increased neuron activity. Some experts believe it can also optimize cerebral cortex function to provide improved communication.
A Brief History
Piracetam (2-oxo-1-pyrrolidine-acetamide) was first synthesised by Belgian scientists at UCB Pharma in 1964. It was the first racetam supplement created and was so unlike anything else available that a new term was required to classify it. The scientists invented the term “nootropic”.
Throughout the years Piracetam has been distributed under a number of names, including Stimucortex, Cerebrospan, Nootron, Encefalux, Nootropil and Psycotron.
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How it Works
Although scientists remain unsure of all the mechanisms involved, Piracetam is generally believed to work by improving the absorbency of cell membranes and providing the brain with an increased supply of oxygen molecules.
Piracetam also appears to be capable of ensuring neural tissues benefit from an improved circulation. This allows the tissues to receive an increased amount of nourishment, making them stronger and more capable of resting disease and decay.
Supplementation with Piracetam can also increase glucose metabolism and, in theory, this should result in an increase in mental energy and levels of alertness.
Working on another level, Piracetam has been shown to increase levels of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and this, in turn, supports improved mitochondria function, which can help revitalize ageing brains.
Regular supplementation with Piracetam has been linked to:
- Better memory function
- Improved learning capabilities
- Improved concentration and focus
- Enhanced sensory perception
- Increased motivation
- Positive changes in mood
Some studies suggest Piracetam can also improve reasoning and comprehension abilities by an amount that is sufficient to improve the reading abilities of people who suffer from dyslexia. Other studies indicate it may have the potential to help control the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
Piracetam doses generally range from 400mg to 800mg and can be taken up to three times per day. However, new users may need to begin with a higher dose to reap the full benefits.
This can be achieved in two ways:
- By starting with a “loading dose: The normal dose is initially doubled or tripled for a short space of time and is then dropped down to the more usual level (400mg to 800mg).
- By allowing the benefits to build-up: Doses of 1200mg to 1600mg are consumed each day for a period of 3 weeks.
Piracetam is available as a powder or a pill. It is renowned for its bitter taste, so it is unwise to chew on the pills. People who opt for the powder form can counteract the flavour by mixing it with fruit juice or the (sweet) liquid of their choice.
The benefits generally take between one and four hours to kick-in.
Potential for Side Effects
Piracetam is non-toxic and its water-soluble nature ensures any excess amounts are purged from the body via the urinary tract. This should make it next to impossible to overdose. In fact, Piracetam is said to have a lower toxicity level than coffee or table salt.
Less than 10% of users report experiencing negative issues and the most common side effect, headaches, can often by remedied by introducing a choline-providing supplement to the diet (protects acetylcholine levels in the brain).
Other possible side effects include:
- Mild anxiety
- Feelings of agitation
However, side effects such as these tend to be short-lived.
Piracetam is known to interact badly with certain drugs, including blood thinners and stimulants, so people who are taking medication(s) should always err on the side of caution and check with their GP prior to commencing supplementation.
The consumption of alcohol can also lead to problems because Piracetam can reduce feelings of intoxication, which could then result in alcohol poisoning. Heavy drinkers who take large doses of Piracetam may also experience impaired motor function, so it is generally best to use one or the other and never to combine the two.
There's no doubt Piracetam has a nootropic effect, but it's also kind of a dinosaur in this world now.
It also has a few side effects and interactions with other drugs and medications that might make it less than desirable to most people nowadays.
In Piracetam's wake came a flurry of other racetam compounds, but they are also far from perfect.