The racetams are an interesting set of nootropics. While it’s true they do share many common benefits, I’ve found each racetam has its own nuances and traits. I suppose a good analogy would be to compare the racetams to fine wine; while white, rose and red wine are all essentially fermented grapes, each has their own subtle taste differences that make them unique.

Each racetam (in my opinion) has strengths and weaknesses that make it more or less suitable as a nootropic for a particular situation. Some are stimulatory, some calmative, some focus enhancing and some more suited to creative “out of the box” thought.

In this article I will be citing research that highlights the differences, but I’ll also be adding my own anecdotes and subjective experience into the mix. Please don’t take my report as the only possible reaction. Everyone’s biochemistry is a little different and one man’s noopept may be another man’s oxiracetam.

Piracetam

  • The first racetam to be synthesized by Dr  Giurega in 1964 (1)
  • Found to mildly enhance verbal memory after 2 weeks use at 3.6g / day in healthy adults (2)
  • A modest increase (8.6%) in verbal learning during a 21 day trial of 1.6g /day in student volunteers (3)
  • Generally beneficial for cognitive decline associated with age (4)(5)
Where To Buy Piracetam?

USA and Worldwide: Pure Nootropics (Powder & Capsules)

Piracetam overview:  The first racetam to be synthesized and the chemical from which the term “nootropic” was born. For the young otherwise healthy individual, piracetam seems to provide moderate beneficial effects. While there is certainly some cognitive enhancement with piracetam, it’s not anything ground breaking. For individuals with cognitive decline, particularly related to aging, piracetam seems much more relevant.  For more detailed information on our piracetam page.

Typical Dose: 800mg-2400mg taken 1-2 times per day, with food or without food. Piracetam possesses a moderate half life (around 5 hours) and is best dosed 2-3 times per day.

My Mini Piracetam Review: My experience with piracetam has been generally positive. I typically dose 2400mg twice per day and experience greater clarity of thought and increased verbal fluidity. For me, piracetam is a mild but solid cognitive enhancer that forms the base of my stack. I tend to see benefits a few days after dosing, as opposed to pretty much all of the other racetams below where effects are felt within a few hours. As with pramiracetam (discussed below) I tend to find I’ve got less brain chatter to contend with.

Aniracetam

  • A fat soluble racetam derivative developed in the 1970s
  • Regarded as 2-5X more potent than piracetam
  • Possesses ampakine activity (6)(7)(8)
  • Enhances memory and learning in animal studies (9)
  • Shown to reduce scopolamine induced amnesia in young healthy humans (10)
  • Shown to reduce cognitive impairment in humans with cerebrovascular insufficiency (9)
Where To Buy Aniracetam?

USA and Worldwide:  Pure Nootropics (Powder & Capsules)

Aniracetam Overview: Aniracetam is a successor of piracetam that appears to be more potent and possess some anxiolytic effects. Anecdotal reports are littered through the internet of aniracetam being beneficial for anxiety, though firm research needs to be done before any conclusion can be made.

Responses to aniracetam seem highly individual, with most users reporting benefit and a few others reporting a brain fog / light-headed type feeling that persists for a few hours. Other reports suggest aniracetam is beneficial for creative “out of the box” thinking,  best described as problem solving. See more on our aniracetam page.

Typical Dose: 750mg taken 1-3 times per day, with food. Aniracetam possesses a short half life (around 1-2 hours) and is best frequently dosed.

My Mini Aniracetam Review: For me, aniracetam was such an effective anxiolytic, it bordered on making me feel fatigued and amotivational. I can imagine someone who suffers with anxiety issues finding aniracetam helpful, but for me personally, it was a little too sedating. On the few occasions I took aniracetam before sleep, I experienced some of my most vivid dreams to date. If I ever choose to revisit lucid dreaming, aniracetam will form part of my stack.

Oxiracetam

  • A water soluble piracetam derivative first reported in the literature in 1977 (11)
  • Increases cholinergic transmission in rodents (12)
  • Prevents scopolamine induced amnesia in humans (13)
  • Regarded as stimulating (increased sleep latency in rats) (14).
  • Clinically used to prevent cognitive decline in dementia (15) (16) (17)
Where To Buy Oxiracetam?

Pure Nootropics (Powder or Capsules)

Oxiracetam overview: Generally regarded as the “speedy” racetam that provides the most stimulating effects. Animal models show high affinity choline uptake is enhanced in the presence of oxiracetam. Anecdotal reports do seem hit and miss, with some users reporting vastly enhanced memory / learning ability for a short time and others reporting little/no subjective benefit.

Like all of the piracetam derivatives oxiracetam seems to modulate cholinergic transmission in some fashion. Interestingly research with rodents seems to somewhat validate the “stimulatory” effect users experience, as sleep latency was increased following oxiracetam administration. See more on our oxiracetam page.

Typical Dose: 750mg taken 1-2 times per day, with food or without food. Oxiracetam possesses a longer half life (8 hours) and stimulant sensitive individuals probably shouldn’t take it close to bedtime.

My Mini Oxiracetam Review: I initially started off small with oxiracetam, 2 doses of 400mg per day. I saw little / no benefit save for mild stimulation. After some reports of higher doses I decided to go for a 2-3 daily doses of 800mg, which had a pretty dramatic benefit. I found I was highly stimulated and able to focus, but I was also prone to irritability and became highly impatient. I would literally be talking to people, getting impatient and trying to finish their sentences in my head.

The effects of oxiracetam would typically last 4-5 hours after a dose. When it came time to sleep, I found it difficult to drop off and waking up started to become a chore. I summarized that oxiracetam was probably reducing sleep quality. Of all the racetams I’ve experimented with, oxiracetam is the most stimulant like. I enjoyed it and it’s something I occasionally turn to when the going gets tough.

Pramiracetam

  • A fat soluble piracetam derivative, first mentioned in the literature in 1978.
  • Enhances high affinity choline uptake (18) (19) and cerebral blood flow in rodents (20)
  • Prevents memory deficits induced by scopolamine in the young and old (21)
  • Memory enhancement in persons with cerebral injury (22) and elderly (23)
Where To Buy Pramiracetam?

USA and Worldwide: Pure Nootropics (Capsules)

Pramiracetam overview: Typically regarded as one of the stronger piracetam derivatives, pramiracetam (or pram, prami for short) is a potent alternative to piracetam that seems to posses some distinct effects (notably enhanced HACU in rodent models). On the whole, this racetam is largely understudied in humans and really needs more research before a firm comparison can be made. Anecdotal reports are generally favourable with focus and concentration frequently reported as improved. Learn more on our pramiracetam page.

Typical Dose: 300-500mg taken 1-2 times per day, with food. Pramiracetam possesses a moderate half life (around 5-6 hours) and is probably best dosed twice per day.

My Mini Pramiracetam Review: After initially reading reports about pramiracetam, I was perhaps expecting a little bit much as some users had indicated it was very motivation and cognition enhancing. While it was a little subtler then I expected I did notice a definite “change” in my cognitive function around an hour after dosing.

The main benefit I found was an enhanced ability to concentrate and focus, I’m far less likely to be distracted. Vague as it sounds, I notice a greater clarity with my thoughts and far less “chatter” going in my mind. A potential downside (depending on how you view it) is that with pramiracetam I become far less empathetic; I tend to become more “machine like” and somewhat overly pragmatic.

Noopept

  • First synthesized in 1996
  • Typically used in smaller doses (10-30mg) (24)
  • Rapidly converted to cyloprolylglycine after consumption (25).
  • Raises NGF and BDNF in rats (26)
  • Anti-amnesiac and in rats (27)
  • Reduces “learned helplessness” in rat models (28) (29)
  • Shown to reduce depressive symptoms in patients with brain injury (30)
Where To Buy Noopept?

USA and Worldwide:  Pure Nootropics (Powder & Capsules)

Noopept overview: Technically not a racetam, but a prodrug for an endogenous neuropeptide (cycloprolylglycine). Noopept certainly seems the most unique of the racetams listed and it seems to have a unique ability to enhance NGF and BDNF expression without apparent tolerance. Anecdotal reports suggest an anxiolytic effect with support for creative thought and problem solving. As with all of the racetams, more human studies with healthy individuals are required. Learn more on our noopept page.

Typical Dose: 10-20mg taken 1-2 times per day, with food. Noopept possesses a very short half life (around 30 minutes) however it’s likely rapidly converted to cycloprolylglycine for which the half life is unknown. Subjective benefits are 3-6 hours typically. Dosing twice per day seems reasonable.

My Mini Noopept Review: My experience with noopept has been generally negative. Around 20-30 minutes after dosing I’d notice a definite increase in color saturation and visual acuity went through the roof. I would then sort of “drift” off into a mild brain fog and get very little done, much like a daydream. I felt a definite calmness which was pleasant, but not productive.

The opposite of focus, I became more distractible and open to sitting and thinking about abstract ideas for a good few hours after dosing. I also feel a mild sense of detachment from the world around me, so much so I found myself staring at the palms of my hands and wondering if they were mine. During my first experience I started to wonder if I’d consumed some sort of mild psychedelic!  Of all my experiences with racetams, the subjective difference from “normal” I felt with noopept seemed the most dramatic.

The Best Racetam For Anxiety

Based on my experience, I’d look to try aniracetam for anxiety. For me personally, it wasn’t what I needed, but the numerous reports on reddit, longecity and social anxiety forums suggest aniracetam is beneficial for anxiety. Noopept could be a close runner up, due to cycloprolylglycine’s role in fear regulation and numerous anecdotal reports.

The Best Racetam For Study / Learning

I’d opt for oxiracetam in the short term. I certainly find it stimulating and notice an enhanced ability to learn. If oxiracetam is too stimulating or anxiety inducing, I’d probably look to good old piracetam.

Summary

On the whole, racetams are understudied nootropics in healthy humans with no cognitive deficit. While pretty much all of the racetams possess an anti-amnesiac ability, it’s unclear how far each can enhance cognition above normal. The limited human studies with piracetam look decent, showing a modest benefit. Stronger derivatives possess additional benefit and some unique effects such as HACU enhancment, NGF enhancement and anxiolytic or stimulatory effects.

There are conflicting experience reports littered across the internet which supports the idea that responses to the racetams are highly individual. Given the low toxicity, good safety profile and positive human trials, racetams look a promising future avenue for cognitive enhancement.

Questions or comments? Feel free to discuss this article below! I’ll do my best to respond.

References Used

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6660010
2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/826948
3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/116285
4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7865703
5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12006732
6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC53047
7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18221205
8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17504104
9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8199398
10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22281851
11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8061686
12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3594455
13. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7870912
14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8146219
15. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2781039
16. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2521069
17. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1414239
18. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3035858
19. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ddr.430030503/abstract
20. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2610714
21. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15374306
22. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1786500
23. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18653001
24. http://www.academia.edu/957372/Synthesis_and_antiamnesic_activity_of_a_series_of_N-acylprolyl-containing_dipeptides
25. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10977920
26. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19240853
27. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19145351
28. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14631499
29. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17369939
30. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11055-009-9128-4#page-1