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Piracetam: Wikis


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CAS number 7491-74-9 Yes check.svgY
PubChem 4843
ChemSpider 4677
ATC code N06BX03
Molecular formula C6H10N2O2
Molar mass 142.16 g mol−1
Appearance Fine white crystalline powder
Bioavailability ~100%
Routes of
Oral and parenteral
4 - 5 hr
Excretion Urinary
Legal status


 Yes check.svgY (what is this?)  (verify)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Infobox references

Piracetam (sold under many brand names) is a nootropic supplement. In many clinical trials, it enhances cognition and memory, slows brain aging, increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain, aids stroke recovery, and ameliorates Alzheimer's, Down's syndrome, dementia, and dyslexia, among other diseases and conditions.[citation needed] Piracetam's chemical name is 2-oxo-1-pyrrolidine acetamide; it shares the same 2-oxo-pyrrolidone base structure with 2-oxo-pyrrolidine carboxylic acid (pyroglutamate). Piracetam is a cyclic derivative of GABA. It is one of the racetams. Piracetam is prescribed by doctors for some conditions, mainly myoclonus,[1] but is used off-label for a much wider range of applications.



There is very little data on piracetam's effect on healthy people, with most studies focusing on those with seizures, dementia, concussions, or other neurological problems.[2]

In 2008, a committee of the British Academy of Medical Sciences noted that many of the clinical trials of piracetam for dementia were methodologically flawed.[2] However, numerous positive individual studies support the use of piracetam in people suffering from a wide range of cognitive disorders,[3][4] and a 2002 meta-analysis concluded that piracetam had a therapeutic effect in older patients with cognitive impairment.[5]

Several meta-reviews of literature on piracetam indicate that piracetam increases performance on a variety of cognitive tasks among dyslexic children, though this may reflect its enhancement of cross-hemispheric communication and of cognitive function in general, rather than a specific improvement in whatever causes dyslexia. Piracetam also seems to inhibit brain damage caused by a variety of factors including hypoxia and excessive alcohol consumption.[6][7]

Piracetam has been studied in an extensive number of clinical experiments, and has shown positive results in the treatment of post-stroke aphasia, epilepsy, cognitive decline following heart and brain surgery, dementia,[5] and myoclonus.[8][9] Its peripheral vascular effect has indicated its use for vertigo, dyslexia, and sickle cell anemia as well.[3]

Anecdotes suggest that taking piracetam soon (30–60 minutes) before psychedelic drugs magnifies the effects of psychedelics.[10]

Piracetam appears to increase communication between the two hemispheres of the brain, and increases activity of the corpus callosum.[11][12]

Mechanisms of action

Pack of piracetam

The mechanism of action of piracetam, as with racetams in general, is not fully understood, but it influences neuronal and vascular functions and influences cognitive function without acting as a sedative or a stimulant.[3] It is hypothesized to act on ion channels or ion carriers[citation needed], thus leading to non-specific increased neuron excitability, while explaining its lack of agonistic or inhibitory effect on synaptic action (quite unlike most neurotransmitters), and its low toxicity.[13] It has been found to increase blood flow and oxygen consumption in parts of the brain but this may be a side-effect of increased brain activity rather than a primary effect or mechanism of action for the drug.[14]

Piracetam improves the function of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine via muscarinic cholinergic (ACh) receptors which are implicated in memory processes.[15] Furthermore, Piracetam may have an effect on NMDA glutamate receptors, which are involved with learning and memory processes. Piracetam is thought to increase cell membrane permeability.[15][16] Piracetam may exert its global effect on brain neurotransmission via modulation of ion channels (i.e., Na+, K+).[13] It has been found to increase oxygen consumption in the brain, apparently in connection to ATP metabolism, and increases the activity of adenylate kinase in rat brain.[17][18] Piracetam appears to increase the synthesis of cytochrome b5,[19] which is a part of the electron transport mechanism in mitochondria. It also increases the permeability of the mitochondria of some intermediaries of the Krebs cycle.[17]


Piracetam was first synthesized in 1964 by scientists at the Belgian pharmaceutical company UCB led by Dr Corneliu E. Giurgea; struck by its apparent ability to boost mental functioning in even healthy individuals and by its safety, Giurgea coined the term nootropic to describe it and other substances. Nootropil was launched clinically by UCB in the early 1970s.[citation needed]

Approval and usage

Piracetam is primarily used in Europe, Asia, South America and the US. Piracetam is legal to import into the United Kingdom for personal use with or without prescription, and is unregulated in the United States[20]. As of July 2008, piracetam has no DIN number in Canada, and thus cannot be sold but can be imported for personal use in Canada.[citation needed] A two week regimen of piracetam was found to enhance verbal memory in healthy college students in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.[21] It has become popular as a cognitive enhancement drug among students[22]. It is used by parents as a treatment for childhood autism,[citation needed] though no study has yet produced results which would support such a use.


Piracetam appears to reverse the effects of aging in the brains of mice.[23][24]

Piracetam appears to reduce levels of lipofuscin in the rat brain.[25] (Lipofuscin accumulation is a common symptom of aging and alcoholism).


Piracetam appears to be effective in treating cognitive impairment in alcoholism.[26][27][28][29][30][31]

Alzheimer's and senile dementia

Piracetam appears to be effective for improving cognition in Alzheimer's disease and senile dementia patients.[32][33][34][35][36]

Clotting, coagulation, vasospastic disorders

Piracetam is useful as a long-term treatment for clotting, coagulation, and vasospastic disorders such as Raynaud's phenomenon[37] and deep-vein thrombosis[15][38] It is an extremely safe anti-thrombotic agent that operates through the novel mechanism of inhibiting platelet aggregation and enhancing blood-cell deformability.[15] Because traditional anti-thrombotic drugs operate through the separate mechanism of inhibiting clotting factors, co-administration of piracetam has been shown to highly complement the efficacy and safety of traditional Warfarin/Heparin anti-coagulation therapy.[39] The most effective treatment range for this use is a daily dose of 4.8 to 9.6 grams divided into three daily doses at 8 hours apart.[38] Piracetam was investigated as a complement or alternative to Warfarin as a safe and effective long-term treatment for recurring deep-vein thrombosis.[38]

Stroke, ischemia and symptoms

Piracetam has been found to improve cognition after stroke, and reduce symptoms, such as aphasia.[33] It also improves cognition in cases of chronic ischemia.[40][41]

Dyspraxia and dysgraphia

Due to its supposed effect on nerves and muscles it is sometimes prescribed as an aid to muscle or dexterity training, particularly in cases of dysgraphia and dyspraxia. There has not been a specific study as to whether it is beneficial in this aspect. Vinpocetine, another purported nootropic with which piracetam is indirectly synergistic, is confirmed to help with these conditions to a certain degree.[citation needed]


Piracetam improves cognitive performance of schizophrenics as it does with non-schizophrenics, but does not improve or worsen the chronic schizophrenia disease state.[42]

Closed craniocerebral trauma

Piracetam had positive therapeutic effects on adolescents with closed craniocerebral trauma (CCT). Treatment with piracetam was initiated 1.5 to 5 years after trauma. Compared to controls, after one month of daily treatment with 1600-2400 mg of piracetam there were meaningful and statistically significant improvements in the higher mental functions (visual memory, attention and executive), motor functions (gait, balance and sequential limb movements) and in the rates of cognitive and motor operations.[43]


Piracetam is usually supplied in 800 mg tablets or capsules. Some bulk or nutritional suppliers supply it in a powder form. The recommended dosage varies based on the indication, usually ranging from 1.6–9.6 grams daily (2–12 pills daily). Some people report faster results when taking 1–2 pills every hour for 4–6 hours or taking 4–8 pills at once for the first few days to notice an effect.[citation needed]

For blood coagulation, clotting, and vasospastic disorders such as Raynaud's phenomenon or deep-vein thrombosis, the most effective treatment range is a daily dose of 4.8 to 9.6 grams divided into three daily doses at 8 hours apart.[15][37][38]

The LD-50 for oral consumption in humans has not been determined.[13]

Side effects

Piracetam has been found to have very few side effects, and those it has are typically "few, mild, and transient."[44] A large-scale, 12-week trial of high-dose piracetam found no adverse effects occurred in the group taking piracetam as compared to the placebo group.[45] Many other studies have likewise found piracetam to be well-tolerated.[44][46][47]

Symptoms of general excitability, including anxiety, insomnia, irritability, headache, agitation, nervousness, and tremor, are occasionally reported.[48][49] Headache from large doses of piracetam may be alleviated by coadministration of an acetylcholine biosynthetic precursor, or a drug with cholinergic effects, such as choline bitartrate, choline citrate, choline alfoscerate, lecithin, cyprodenate or centrophenoxine.[48][49]


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