Piracetam was developed by Romanian chemist, Corneliu E. Giurgea in 1964. It was created by converting 2-pyrrolidinone into an amide. Piracetam was the first racetam developed and has a long history of use in the medical field. Although it has been observed to have medical benefits, it is not registered in North America and is used off label as a nootropic.
Mechanism of Action Piracetam’s mechanism of action is not fully understood. It is a cyclic derivative of GABA, yet GABA receptors and metabolism appear to not be affected. It is neither, a sedative or a stimulant but is known to influence cognitive ability. Piracetam is also believed to be a vasodilator and a circulatory agent but this is not believed to be its main nootropic action.
The general consensus is that Piracetam influences the AMPA and NMDA receptor sites. These receptors are very important in learning and memory processes. It is also known that it affects the Acetylcholine neurotransmitter and the ACh receptor sites. Overall Neurotransmission seems to be improved and this is believed to be caused by modulation of ion channels or carriers.
Piracetam Uses (Medical) Piracetam is used in some countries as a medical agent and is administered for a wide range of purposes. Its primary medical use is as a neuro-protective agent before or after stroke. The substance is believed to reduce the risk of ischemic stroke as well as minimize post-stroke damages to the brain. It is also an anti-coagulant and anti-thrombotic agent which is often used safety in conjunction with other therapies.
There have been many studies on treatment with Piracetam for neurological disorders. Many of these studies have shown positive results but not enough to approve them as treatments in the medical field. For instance, there has been evidence in studies for effectiveness in improving symptoms in Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients. Although, symptoms for these patients were often improved, it is not an approved therapy because it has not been shown to fully reverse the conditions or take the place of other approved drugs and therapies.
For these reasons, Piracetam is used mainly off-label. It has proven to be fairly safe, with low toxicity, side effects and drug interactions. Evidence shows it may have validity in treating symptoms of Dyslexia and a host of learning disabilities and neurological disorders but this should not be relied on as therapy without consultation of a licensed medical practitioner.
Piracetam Benefits Piracetam has been used for decades as an off label nootropic agent. It has been observed to be effective in increasing: cognition and memory, learning, focus and reaction times but these results seem to vary. Below are some of the benefits that have been reported off label and in medical studies.
Heightened Sensory Function
Reduced Brain Trauma
One benefit that has been widely reported is an increase in sensory perception. This is likely due to the Increase in the Acetylcholine neurotransmitter and receptor efficiency. Some people say Piracetam is effective as an anti-depressant agent but has not been approved as a treatment. It may have anti-anxiety and depressant benefits in some users.
Piracetam, as well as other racetams have been cited to act as a brain protectant but should not be used as a primary protective agent. These results may or may not be caused by improved vasodilation. Piracetam is believed to reduce free radicals in the brain that caused oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can be a cause of cholinergic damages that can lead to Alzheimer’s and Dementia as well as other neurological disorders.
Piracetam Safety, Tolerance & Drug Interactions Piracetam has been shown to have very limited side effects and drug interactions. Side effects can occur but this is usually common in higher doses or in individuals who are sensitive to the substance. There has been limited data to suggest Piracetam has led to fatalities or serious health complications. Below are some of the common side effects that can common in higher dosages.
Some of these common cognitive side effects have been theorized to be caused by ACh receptor site “burn out”. This is said to be reduced by supplementation with a choline source, like Alpha GPC or CDP Choline. This is just a theory and if you experience these side effects it is best to discontinue use and seek medical counsel advice.
Drug interactions with Piracetam seem to be limited. If you are on any other medication, always consult with a doctor before use and avoid using higher than recommended dosages. Piracetam should not been relied on as a treatment for any serious medical condition.
Tolerance with the substance seems very low. Often, the substance can be taken for months without any notice of tolerance build up but this can vary. Tolerance has not been shown to lead to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms but this can vary as well and should always be evaluated. Some racetam users will “cycle” Piracetam to reduce tolerance.
Piracetam has not been evaluated by Health Canada or the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, cure or treat any disease. Use nootropics at your own risk.