Piracetam – The Nootropic That Started It All

piracetam chemical structure

If you’re a fan of nootropics like we are, you’re probably stoked to learn all that you can about them.  We find the history of nootropics fascinating too, and although the history of ingesting compounds into our bodies and seeing how they affect us mentally is as old as being human, the history of nootropics in a stricter sense began with the invention of Piracetam. 

This nootropic substance was invented in 1964 in Belgium but didn’t really take off in popularity until the early 1970’s when it came available over the counter all across Europe.  In addition, it didn’t really become popular in the states until nootropic supplements hit the main stream in the early part of this century; what can you expect from the land of pharmaceuticals, right?  Yes, certain fringe people have know about nootropics for decades, but it’s only in the last decade or so with the explosion of the internet and self diagnosing that these compounds have really come into their own. 

Piracetam is the first nootropic ever invented and it’s still a popular one to boot.  It has years and years of testing and of personal use by thousands, so lots of folks know that it is safe and that it works very well.  Other newer nootropics are untested and that does leave doubt in the minds of some people. 

And one of the main reasons for popularity of this compound is simply that it works and that it is mild, with very few side effects.   The only major side effect that effects a small subset of people that is of any real significance would be headaches.  But this can usually be managed by lowering the dosage, it’s just that some people are very sensitive to it or they may need to remove excess choline from their diets (very rare). 

Any good nootropic will have few side effects, however the definition of the word nootropic is often twisted and stretched in ways not originally meant for it’s meaning.  The future of nootropics is also rooted in the fact that future compounds will be even safer than the original first class of compounds, without safety and the ability for the masses to use them they aren’t really very useful, in our opinion.  (Adderall is not a nootropic really, it is a drug, and can have huge side effects, as an example of something considered a nootropic but which is in reality a very crude stimulant). 

There is generally no tolerance build up either with Piracetam, as you will find with stimulant type “nootropics” and smart drugs.  This makes it popular but quite frankly we think it should make it even more popular, though some younger people seem to enjoy pushing boundaries.  It’s just the way of the world today.  Piracetam is something that is very subtle and something that tends to build up over time, it doesn’t always feel like a drug, which is something that young people tend to not like, they want to feel some sort of rush.  Well that rush is almost always excessive dopamine being pushed through the brain, and it is the very thing that leads to addiction and negative effects, so we would do well to remember that. 

Piracetam has an extremely low LD50, which means that it is highly non-toxic.  It would take incredibly high doses to have adverse effects, dosages that truly no one would rightly take.  It’s also highly affordable at the recommended dosages.  (Noopept, is another racetam that is supposedly 1,000 times the potency of Piracetam and is extremely affordable, we note it in case you’re looking for something more price effective.  You can get a year’s supply for very, very cheap, but we recommend you be very wary of unscrupulous vendors.  Only deal with people you trust and don’t cut corners with suppliers.  Unfortunately in many countries it can be difficult to obtain good products, and this is something that needs to change and is changing). 

Because of all of these many different factors Piracetam is still widely used today, and we believe that will also be the case for many years to come.  There are other racetams that have been invented, different derivatives, but that doesn’t not necessarily make them better. 

Mechanism Of Action – Action On The Acetylcholine Receptors 

Interestingly enough Piracetam is a cyclic derivative of GABA, but it doesn’t work on the GABA system at all.  In fact, it’s not entirely understood even today how this unique substance works to promote higher cognitive abilities.  Perhaps if more funding were freed up to study things like this we would come to an answer, but funding for anything outside of exorbitant pills seems to be in short supply.  We don’t expect that to change any time soon unfortunately, however thankfully there are a good number of dedicated folks doing research right now. 

It’s thought by most that Piracetam works though the acetylcholine neurotransmitter pathways.  Having higher levels of acetylcholine within the brain leads to faster processing ability, more and better neural connections, as well as better over all memory.  There could be other things at work here though, but this is most likely the main mechanism at work.  As stated earlier, how the brain functions is extremely complex and we are discovering things every single day.  It should also be noted that many drug companies don’t understand exactly how the drugs they manufacture work even after years of selling them on the open market. 

Now, having too high acetylcholine levels inside the brain can backfire on us and actually dampen our mental system, so more is definitely not necessarily better when it comes to this and many other nootropics.  Always begin with a lowest dosage and raise the dosage according to how it makes you feel and how it makes your brain feel.  We can’t stress this enough, there will be plenty of time for higher dosage experimenting later, first you just want to see if it works well for you, and that it doesn’t have any negative effects. 

Increasing and decreasing the dosage and pairing with other nootropic substances is a wide practice, so we advise that you continue to experiment, but do so in a more scientific way.   

Do not add or take away mass amount of different nootropics while running experiments on yourself (yes it seems to go without saying, but plenty of fools rush in).   Piracetam can be stacked with other nootropic stacks and this will skew your results, it may improve them and it may detract from them.  But, you won’t know what is doing what if you’re doing too many things all at once, so keep that in mind.  When you’re are experimenting only remove or add one variable at a time and give it a few weeks before you make any judgments.  If you do things this way you will gain very valuable information about how things are working within your brain subjectively. 

Anyway, the main point to remember is that you have to find the right dosage that works for you, it will be different than what works for someone else.  Start low and go slowly that is our mantra for today and it will be going forward, think of it as an immutable law of nature. 

Dosage Ranges Of Piracetam 

1600–2400 mg is where the typical daily dose starts, but you can definitely begin at a lower dosage and it might be a good idea because everyone’s optimal dosage is different.  We might suggest starting at perhaps 400 to 800 mg per dose, once per day and see how you feel.   You may not feel a darn thing, but at least the overwhelming majority of people wont’ experience anything negative at these low dosages.  Caution is always a good thing, even with safe substances like this one. 

Some people can and will dose two to three times per day, with two doses per day being very commonplace.  Work your way up to that, and experiment with taking this at different times of the day and on varying dose schedules. 

There are people that take many grams of Piracetam per day with no negative consequences whatsoever, and the highest dosage that we’ve heard about was about 24 grams per day.  And yes, studies have been done to demonstrate the efficacy of the substance at that dosage.  Though most people will not need anywhere near that amount in order to get fantastic cognitive benefits. 

Let’s be honest about this and all other nootropics, there are what we call non-responders to any and every substance out there.  So, Piracetam might just not work well for you that is a fact.  If it doesn’t have an effect on you at all or has negative effects then you will quickly realize that and you should move on to a different compound or combination of compounds.  These compounds are very safe and you’re not risking anything but a mild headache if it doesn’t work for you, so don’t let it scare you or deter you, especially if you respect the compounds and start at a very low dosage. 

Give any nootropic at least a few weeks before deciding that it’s not working, perhaps even a full month.  However, if you’re not seeing any benefits after that time period it’s time to move on.  You’ll know without a doubt when it’s time to move on, but give it time because the effects can be subtle and can grow over time.  Good nootropics are like that, gradual, with the benefits increasing over time. 

Typical negative effects from Piracetam will include things like headaches, irritability, and even brain fogginess (the exact same thing that it is supposed to alleviate).  If you’re noticing these kinds of things, then you can lower the dosage, discontinue with it, or add a choline source.  Using Piracetam or any other racetam is thought to use up excess choline stores. 

With Choline Or Without? 

Since Piracetam is supposed to work on the acetylcholine system it makes sense that choline is involved in the mechanism.   Many people will need to take a choline supplement in order to get the full benefits or even partial benefits from Piracetam.  Therefore it is a good idea to purchase a choline supplement like citicholine or alpha gpc. 

Getting headaches from taking Piracetam can be a sign that the compound is eating up all of your choline.  If you’re too cheap to spring for a choline supplement then it’s possible that you could get away with eating a few eggs and portion of liver each and every day, as these foods are extremely rich in choline.  If you’re a vegetarian then you can supplement with lecithin, however it would be best to skip GMO soy stuff, sunflower lecithin is a great source of choline that shouldn’t be GMO. 

Depression & Anxiety Treatment 

People are perhaps wondering if taking Piracetam will help with depression or anxiety issues.  Well the fact of the matter is that it can and has worked in this regard for some people and it definitely worth a shot. 

In fact nootropics supplements should be a first line of defense against depression and anxiety and not pharmaceutical medications.  Sure, that probably goes against everything you have heard, but those sources of information are really only interested in getting you hooked on pharmaceuticals.  Anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications come wit ha host of side effects and can be extremely addictive, whereas good nootropics are non-toxic and can work just as well or better. 

Piracetam may have a better statistical chance at treating depression just because it has the ability to make some people on edge and anxious.  It improves cognition, mood, and is involved in encouraging brain health.  Brain health is really the missing picture when it comes to treating mood disorders, sure neurotransmitter levels with regards to serotonin and dopamine is involved, but it’s more about protecting and promotion neuronal connections in specific parts of the brain. 

This new model of depression and anxiety is much more up to date and complete than the older neurotransmitter deficiency model.  Anything that inflames the brain or causes brain inflammation or neuronal death contributes to mood disorders.  This can be from things such as food allergies, chemicals in the environment, viruses, parasites, drugs, alcohol, and other additive behaviors. 

Needless to say depression and anxiety are highly complex, but things like Piracetam are much safer, milder than pharmaceutical chemicals and should be tried first.  If you really need medication then it will be become apparent, but you may not need them, and science is pointing to the fact that brain inflammation is the real lynchpin.  Anything that promotes neurogenesis and a healthier brain will treat anxiety and depression, and likely better than a pill. 

Prevention Of Cognitive Decline 

Studies show that Piracetam is neuroprotective and makes the brain work better.  Anything that accomplishes these two things will be highly preventative with regards to cognitive decline due to aging.  Although it hasn’t been proven that nootropics like Piracetam can completely prevent things like dementia and Alzheimer’s, that doesn’t mean that they don’t help, lots of further research is needed. 

We have to remember that big pharmaceutical companies cannot patient nootropic supplements.  Therefore these substances will be studied less and promoted less.  Yes, it’s a fact that nootropic supplement companies can and will do studies, but do you think that these companies are getting federal funding?  Do you think they are getting grants at universities to study nootropics?  Again, the answer is mostly no.  Unless a big price tag can be attached to something it tends to get less funding, sad but true. 

The current medical system exists to push pharmaceutical medications at people.  And although that is changing and rapidly changing, that is still the system that we live within.  We hope for better days ahead. 

Head Trauma Recovery 

There have been studies showing that Piracetam is effective in increasing cognitive abilities in those who have had head traumas.  Although treating sooner rather than later is probably the best treatment option, the studies that we found treated the victims one to five years post traumatic event. 

Needless to say this is extremely encouraging data.  Many people have received concussions over the years and simply sent home with no real treatment options.  Today we know better, and yes you can rebuild your neuronal structures better and faster with nootropics. 

Piracetam is an older compound and there have certainly been advancements within the field, but that does not make piracetam obsolete in any way or shape of form.  In addition, it is not the end all be all of nootropics either. 

However, it is highly effective and has been used successfully by thousands of people for many decades, it’s extremely safe, and it is easy to obtain.  The costs are reasonable. 

If you do not get a good effect from Piracetam that doesn’t mean that you’re experimentation avenues with ractams is necessarily over.  You can experiment with things like aniracteam or noopept, among others.  Everyone’s brain has different pathway strengths and weaknesses.  And unfortunately at this time there is nothing that really works for us like trial and error. 

Piracetam, or piracetam + choline can be stacked with other compounds to create an even richer, and shaper brain, but we will leave that topic to other posts.