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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.

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Introduction to 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.

1) Piracetam Helps the Brain in Stroke Patients

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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

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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

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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

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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).

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

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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

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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 will actually increase your addiction to cocaine (R).

Piracetam inhibits steroid synthesis in general in the body (R) This inhibition of actions applies to Aniracetam, Oxiracetam, and Pramiracetam (R,R2,R3)

Those who have had their adrenals removed will not have the benefit from Piracetam’s effects (R).

This learning inhibition is fully reversed when levels of corticosterone (animal version of cortisol) and aldosterone circulate at their optimum levels (R).

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

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

Dosing

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.

Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick

At SelfHacked, it’s our goal to offer our readers all the tools possible to get optimally healthy. When I was struggling with chronic health issues I felt stuck because I didn’t have any tools to help me get better. I had to spend literally thousands of hours trying to read through studies on pubmed to figure out how the body worked and how to fix it.

That’s why I decided to create tools that will help others cut down the guesswork:

  • Lab Test Analyzer – a software tool that will analyze your labs and tell you what the optimal values are for each marker — as well as provide you with actionable tips and personalized health and lifestyle recommendations to help you get there.
  • SelfDecode – a software tool that will help you analyze your genetic data from companies such as 23andme and ancestry. You will learn how your health is being impacted by your genes, and how to use this knowledge to your advantage.
  • SelfHacked Secrets – an ebook where we examine and explain the biggest overlooked environmental factors that cause disease. This ebook is a great place to start your journey if you want to learn the essential steps to optimizing your health.
  • SelfHacked Elimination Diet course – a video course that will help you figure out which diet works best for you
  • Selfhacked Inflammation course – a video course on inflammation and how to bring it down
  • Biohacking insomnia – an ebook on how to get great sleep
  • Lectin Avoidance Cookbook – an e-cookbook for people with food sensitivities
  • BrainGauge – a device that detects subtle brain changes and allows you to test what’s working for you
  • SelfHacked VIP – an area where you can ask me (Joe) questions about health topics

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8 COMMENTS

  • F

    I’ve got some strange experience with Piracetam, It was working about 45min up to 2h giving me a boost in clarity, but than I felt very tired and sleepy,almost unberable to going thrugh the day. But if I consumed suger or hyperventilate to give more oxygen to the brain, clarity was coming back for a brief moment.
    Very strange. I didn’t like it, it was impractical to eat all the time sweets. Also felt like it was altering my personality, it was not natural feeling, I felt I was on drug and it have characteristic body feeling too.

  • Ed

    Not everyone can feel the benefits of Piracetam. Some individuals can certainly benefit from the supplement while other will experience minor to zero effects. Human bodies are complex and unique systems. The effects of supplements differ from one individual to another. But:
    Did you use the piracetam continuously (for how long) or did you cycle it?
    Did you use bulk powder Piracetam? If yes, try oryginal product
    I would also recommend you to add any choline source: alpha-GPC or citicoline.
    Just try another racetam (ani/oxi) with a good choline source.

  • A.B.

    I’ve never felt any kind of effect from Piracetam no matter the dose. Does anyone have some idea why? Thanks

  • [email protected]

    I believe this is true. I also took piracetam and hydergine together and found the effect over time profuond.. if you take these drugs you owe it to yourself to get the most out of it when you do by studying something, something new, a language, maths or art. I took this combination when I went on a Buddhist insight meditation retreat. After all, I was training my brain in some deep concentration, a learning experience. I must say, that after 10 days I had a significant breakthrough which was one of the profoundest of my life!

  • Alba

    How does this compare to Dilantin? I see many of the same supposed benefits.

  • Prathapan

    Yes its realy effectvive……..for elderly people……..after a stroke recovery………..!!!

  • MaxWebXperienZ

    If your personality type involves both brain hemispheres [NT, SF] and you are male you are going to get huge benefits, if not you might not notice much at all. I’m an NT male and piracetam led me to poetry writing, recall of the names of kids in my second grade class, increased ability to comprehend and learn etc… Males lose the communication across the corpus collosum at puberty. Piracetam brings back a lot, believe me…

  • Abe

    Cool.

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