A Nootropic is a form of supplement taken solely to boost brain function, a direct opposite when it comes to commonly used supplements for the body. Many nootropic supplement brands have similar claims when it comes to function such as boosting cognition, focus, alertness, and overall mood. Most are generic in use while others specialize in one function.
The Racetam Family
There are plenty of nootropics available in the market today and among them are Racetams, a group of synthetic nootropics that shows promise when it comes to boosting brain function. The first and arguably most popular nootropic sold racetam is called Piracetam, a compound that acted as the prototype (and now basis) for every other racetam after it.
Piracetam: The Father of All Racetams
As the title suggests, Piracetam is the first racetam introduced. It was made way back in 1964 by Hungarian chemist, Dr. Corneliu Giurgia. He was simply amazed at how this drug was able to provide benefits on memory, concentration, learning abilities, and other brain functions. He was so amazed that he coined the term “nootropic” to refer to these kinds of brain-boosting substances.
Piracetam is considered as a great beginner nootropic and has since been repeatedly synthesized with other substances to come out with other forms of racetams to cater to a specific market. Some of the most well-known racetams created are Aniracetam, Oxiracetam, and Pramiracetam, three of the most popular racetam nootropics known for greatly improving cognition and boosting brain power. They’re also among the most extensively studied racetams which further proves their effectiveness.
If they’re all so good, though, then what makes them different from one another? Which will give you the best bang for your buck? Let this article guide you to pick the one you should buy.
Functions and Dosages
These nootropics may come from the same racetam but they definitely have specific functions as well as different recommended doses taken.
Most Popular Racetams in Order from Weakest To Strongest
Aniracetam is fat-soluble and considered a step up from Piracetam since Piracetam is water soluble. Being fat-soluble gives it better blood-brain barrier permeability than its predecessor but it has to be taken with food, milk, or fish oil. Its function revolves around reducing levels of anxiety and depression, as well as promote creativity and holistic thinking. It’s also known to be the best when it comes to social situations, mood, and verbal fluency.
The only catch is it has shorter duration compared to Piracetam only in terms of presence in blood, lasting only up to 2.1 hours, but as for its effects, users say it can last up to 4.5 hours after ingesting.
Benefits of Aniracetam
- Aniracetam is thought to be capable of reducing anxiety and depression due to its mixed interactions with serotonin, dopamine, and choline.
- Aniracetam has been shown to help reduce depression both anecdotally and in rat subjects through the racetam’s unique combination of 2-pyrrolidinone and N-anisoyl-GABA, its main metabolites.
- Acetyl Choline
- Aniracetam is known to increase Acetyl Choline levels in the brain by promoting Acetyl Choline release.
Dosage for Aniracetam
The recommended oral doses range from 1,000 mg to 1,500 mg over the course of the day for the user to feel any effect. Since Aniracetam’s effects are slightly shorter, it would be smart to split the dosage every three hours. This will give your brain a consistent stream of the active ingredient and therefore sustaining the benefits.
Considered as the perfect racetam for students, Oxiracetam improves logical thinking, focus, and greatly prevents cognitive decline. It also gives you a good boost of energy, just enough to power through midnight review sessions. Because of its specific function, Oxiracetam has been noted to be five times more potent than Piracetam.
Some users note its side effects particularly fatigue, jitters, and “crashing”, side effects similar to what happens when taking energy drinks. It also does not share the mood-enhancing properties since it doesn’t have any effect on dopamine or serotonin unlike Aniracetam.
Benefits of Oxiracetam
- Cognitive Decline
- A group of 60 elderly patients were given oxiracetam supplements with doses of up to 2400 mg daily. The patients were then given tests to determine the effects of oxiracetam supplementation. Oxiracetam was then concluded to not only help alleviate symptoms of cognitive decline but also provide a statistically significant improvement in memory.
- Persons with dementia who took oxiracetam showed significantly better performances on several cognitive scales than with placebo.
- Verbal fluency
- Patients with multi-infarct dementia and primary degenerative dementia were shown to have improved word fluency after introducing oxiracetam in their system.
Dosage for Oxiracetam
Doses of 400 mg to 800 mg taken two to three times a day seems to be the standard dosage range. Some also recommend doing an “attack dose” or a “mega dose” especially if the user is well acquainted with nootropic usage.
An attack dose is defined as taking two or three times the recommended dose for a short period of time so they immediately start feeling the effects, usually within one or two days. A mega dose, on the other hand, is taking three to four times as much the normal dosage once a week which is useful if you’re prepping for a big exam.
Pramiracetam is greatly known for boosting concentration and cognitive performance while improving acetylcholine synthesis. It’s also known as the racetam to beat when it comes to long-term memory and laser focus. Because of its potency and benefits, Pramiracetam has earned the title of “most powerful racetam” ever made as its considered 30 times stronger than Piracetam.
It fetches a good price in the market but since it’s more concentrated, you’ll end up using less and actually saving money in the long term.
Benefits of Pramiracetam
- Volunteers were given scopalamine-induced amnesia and were then given psychometric tests which they all failed. The volunteers were told to take pramiracetam and retake the tests. The results showed a partial reduction in the amnesic effects of scopolamine both in you and old subjects.
- A daily dose of 1200 mg pramiracetam was able to improve cognition and memory of young males who suffered from cerebral injuries.
- Pramiracetam was able to increase objective memory formation in elderly persons suffering from memory complaints.
- Acetylcholine synthesis
- Free choline in the blood plasma is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and is usually taken up by a high-affinity choline uptake system or HACU. The HACU system makes sure cholinergic cells are prioritized when it comes to available choline before it turns into acetylcholine and this makes HACU the rate-limiting step when it comes to acetylcholine synthesis. Pramiracetam has been shown to increase HACU which then leads to increased acetylcholine production.
Dosage for Primiracetam
The studies show a dosage cap of 1200 mg daily which can be easily separated into 400 or 600 mg dosages. Users usually recommend one dose in the morning and another in the afternoon since the supplement’s half-life is at around 5 hours.
Exposing our bodies to alcohol and drugs repeatedly allows our body to build tolerance. This tolerance means we have to keep increasing the dosage or consumption of that same product to get the desired effect. It’s the same when it comes to nootropics.
Our bodies respond to repeated intake of exogenous substances such as nootropics via receptor attenuation. Receptor attenuation refers to the decrease in the body’s ability to bind to a receptor. The problem lies when you flood your receptors so much that they eventually become desensitized.
When receptor attenuation happens the first thing that comes to mind is to increase the dosage but often times increasing the dosage can lead to health problems. The right way to make your supplements “work” with the same dosage is to cycle them.
What is Cycling?
In the simplest definition cycling means taking time off from certain substances to allow the body to “reset” or go back to a state where the substance had the most potency. Basically a supplement’s potency is different when taken the first time vs when taken the nth time. It’s a lot like drinking coffee.
The more you drink coffee the less “kick” you get from each cup. This happens as you become a frequent coffee drinker as your body eventually builds a tolerance for caffeine.
As far as nootropics go, cycling is strictly personal. Your body reacts to nootropics differently to mine. What may be strong for you might actually be weak for me. While you’re building tolerance, I might just be getting started. Cycling can be a simple days on/days off approach while others completely stop supplementing for weeks to months on end. For the latter, they often supplement with other types of nootropics which work differently than the one they’re cycling off.
The best way to determine an ideal cycling period is to combine research and personal monitoring. By personal monitoring we mean you take down notes on how your body responds to the nootropic and how long it lasts without spiking the dosage.
Which one should you go for?
As we’ve discussed, each racetam has their own particular set of perks and quirks. If you’re simply curious as to what nootropics can do, Piracetam is always a good start. If you want to step it up a bit, feel free to take either Aniracetam or Oxiracetam. The former definitely helps you cope with stress and improves your mood while the latter should make thinking and memory enhancement easier.
If you have a good budget, and you want one of the best nootropics out there, Pramiracetam is definitely a great choice. It’s much more potent than its predecessor, has most of the benefits the other two has, and more.
Although not legally sold as a supplement in the US, a company called TruBrain has found a loophole. Read more about TruBrain here.