9 Best Racetams: Boost Your Brainpower with These Nootropic Supplements

Written on January 12, 2024 by | Reviewed by William Gallagher, MNeuroSci

As someone who is always looking for ways to improve my cognitive function, I have tried many nootropics over the years.

One particular category of nootropics that has caught my attention is racetams. Racetams are a class of nootropic compounds that are particularly effective at enhancing memory, focus, and overall mental performance.

After extensive research and personal experimentation, I have compiled a list of the best racetams available on the market. Each racetam has its unique benefits, and some may be more effective for certain individuals than others.

However, all of the racetams on this list have been shown to be safe and effective for cognitive enhancement. If you are looking to improve your mental performance, racetams are definitely worth considering.

The best racetams according to the scientific literature, are

  • Piracetam
  • Aniracetam
  • Pramiracetam
  • Oxiracetam
  • Phenylpiracetam
  • Coluracetam
  • Nefiracetam
  • Etiracetam
  • Noopept

What Are Racetams?

best racetams nootropics

Racetams are a class of nootropic compounds that are known for their cognitive-enhancing effects. They were first discovered in the 1960s and are still being studied today.

The most well-known racetam is piracetam, which was the first nootropic ever discovered. It's been used for decades to improve cognitive function and memory. Other popular racetams include aniracetam, pramiracetam, oxiracetam, phenylpiracetam, coluracetam, nefiracetam, etiracetam, and noopept.

Racetams work by increasing the amount of acetylcholine in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that's involved in learning and memory. They also improve blood flow and oxygen uptake in the brain, which can enhance cognitive function.

One of the benefits of racetams is that they're generally safe and well-tolerated. However, like any supplement, they can have side effects.

How Do Racetams Work?

One theory is that racetams work by modulating the cholinergic system. This system is responsible for the synthesis and release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is essential for cognitive function. Racetams may increase the availability of acetylcholine in the brain, leading to improved cognitive function.

Another theory is that racetams work by modulating the glutamate system. Glutamate is the primary excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, and it is involved in learning and memory. Racetams may enhance the activity of AMPA receptors, which are involved in the release of glutamate.

Racetams may also affect the dopaminergic system, which is involved in motivation and reward. Some racetams may increase the release of dopamine in the brain, leading to improved mood and motivation.

Furthermore, racetams may affect the GABA system, which is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Racetams may enhance the activity of GABA receptors, leading to a calming effect.

Finally, racetams may affect the NMDA receptor, which is involved in learning and memory. Some racetams may enhance the activity of NMDA receptors, leading to improved cognitive function.

In conclusion, racetams work through a variety of mechanisms, including modulation of the cholinergic, glutamate, dopaminergic, GABA, and NMDA systems. While the exact mechanism of action is not fully understood, racetams have been shown to improve cognitive function in a variety of ways.

Benefits of Using Racetams

Let's take a look at some of the benefits of using the different racetams:

Cognitive Enhancement

Racetams are known to enhance cognitive function, which includes learning, memory, comprehension, and creativity. These supplements work by increasing the levels of acetylcholine in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that is involved in cognitive processes.

Improved Focus and Concentration

Racetams can help improve focus and concentration, which is essential for productivity and performance. They work by increasing cerebral blood flow and oxygen uptake in the brain, which improves energy levels and alertness.

Memory Enhancement

One of the most significant benefits of racetams is their ability to enhance memory retention and recall. They work by increasing the activity of the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for memory formation.

Anxiolytic Effect

Racetams have an anxiolytic effect, which means they can help reduce anxiety and stress levels. They work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that is involved in mood regulation.

Brain Health and Neuroprotection

Racetams have neuroprotective properties, which means they can help protect the brain from damage caused by aging, injury, or disease. They work by increasing the production of ATP, which is the primary source of energy for the brain.

In addition to these benefits, racetams have been shown to be effective in treating conditions such as ADHD, epilepsy, and dementia. However, it is important to note that racetams are not without negative side effects, and should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Racetams are an excellent choice for anyone looking to improve their cognitive abilities, combat brain fog, and enhance their mental energy. With their potent cognitive-enhancing effects and anxiolytic properties, racetams are an excellent addition to any nootropic stack.

Common Racetams and Dosages

As someone who has tried various racetams, I can tell you that finding the right dosage is crucial to get the desired effects. Here are some common racetams and their recommended dosages:

Piracetam

Piracetam is one of the first and most well-known racetams. It is commonly used to improve memory, focus, and cognitive function. The usual dosage for piracetam is between 2.4-4.8 g daily, divided into two or three doses. However, some people may require higher doses up to 8-10 g per day. It is generally well-tolerated and has few side effects.[1]

Aniracetam

Aniracetam is another popular racetam that is known for its anxiolytic effects. It is commonly used to reduce anxiety and improve mood, memory, and focus. The usual dosage for aniracetam is between 750-1500 mg taken two to three times per day. However, some people may require higher doses of up to 3000 mg per day. It is generally well-tolerated and has few side effects.[2]

Pramiracetam

Pramiracetam is known for its cognitive-enhancing effects. It is commonly used to improve memory, focus, and mental clarity. The usual dosage for pramiracetam is between 600-1200 mg taken two to three times per day. However, some people may require higher doses up to 2400 mg per day. It is generally well-tolerated and has few side effects.[3]

Oxiracetam

Oxiracetam is a racetam that is commonly used to treat cognitive deficits of cerebrovascular origins. It is used off-label to improve memory, focus, and mental energy. The usual dosage for oxiracetam is between 600-1200 mg taken two to three times per day. However, some people may require higher doses of up to 2400 mg per day. It is generally well-tolerated and has few side effects.[4]

Phenylpiracetam

Phenylpiracetam is a potent racetam that is known for its stimulating and neuroprotective effects. It is commonly used to improve memory, focus, and mental energy. The usual dosage for phenylpiracetam is between 100-200 mg taken two to three times per day. However, some people may require higher doses up to 400 mg per day. It is generally well-tolerated and has few side effects.[5]

Coluracetam

Coluracetam is a newer racetam that is known for its cholinergic effects. It is commonly used to improve memory, focus, and mental clarity. The usual dosage for coluracetam is between 10-20 mg taken two to three times per day. However, some people may require higher doses up to 80 mg per day. It is generally well-tolerated and has few side effects.[6]

Nefiracetam

Nefiracetam is a potent racetam that is known for its cognitive-enhancing effects. It is commonly used to improve memory, focus, and mental clarity. The usual dosage for nefiracetam is between 150-450 mg taken two to three times per day. However, some people may require higher doses up to 900 mg per day. It is generally well-tolerated and has few side effects.[7]

Etiracetam

Etiracetam, or Levetiracetam, is a newer racetam that is known for its cognitive-enhancing and antiepileptic effects. It is commonly used to improve memory, focus, and mental clarity. The usual dosage for etiracetam is between 800-2400 mg taken two to three times per day. However, some people may require higher doses of up to 4800 mg per day. It is generally well-tolerated and has few side effects.[8]

Noopept

Noopept (GVS-111 or omberacetam) is commonly used to improve memory, focus, and cognitive function. The usual dosage for Noopept is between 10-30 mg taken two to three times per day. However, some people may require higher doses up to 60 mg per day. It is generally well-tolerated and has few side effects.[9]

Finding the right dosage for each racetam is key to getting the desired effects. Start with the lowest effective dose and gradually increase as needed. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.

Side Effects and Precautions

As with any nootropic, it's important to be aware of the possible side effects and take precautions before using racetams. In my experience, racetams are generally safe and well-tolerated, but individual responses may vary.

One of the most common side effects of racetams is headaches. This is because racetams increase the demand for acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is involved in memory and learning. To prevent headaches, it's important to supplement with a choline source such as Alpha-GPC or Citicoline. This will help to replenish the acetylcholine levels in the brain and reduce the risk of headaches.

Another potential side effect of racetams is insomnia. This is because racetams can increase the levels of dopamine in the brain, which can lead to a state of heightened alertness. To avoid insomnia, it's best to take racetams earlier in the day and not before bedtime.

It's also important to note that racetams can interact with other medications and supplements. For example, racetams may increase the effects of GABAergic drugs such as benzodiazepines, which can lead to sedation and drowsiness. If you are taking any medications or supplements, it's best to consult with a healthcare professional before using racetams.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Which Racetam Is Best for Improving Focus?

Of all the racetams, phenylpiracetam is considered to be the most effective for improving focus and concentration. Phenylpiracetam is a potent stimulant that can increase mental alertness and enhance cognitive function.

Can Racetams Improve Cognitive Function?

Yes, racetams have been shown to improve cognitive function in a number of ways. They can enhance memory, increase focus and attention, and improve learning capacity. Racetams are also believed to have neuroprotective properties that can help prevent cognitive decline and improve brain health.

What Are the Differences Between Aniracetam and Phenylpiracetam?

Aniracetam and phenylpiracetam are both racetam supplements, but they have different effects on the brain. Aniracetam is known for its anxiolytic properties, which can help reduce anxiety and improve mood. Phenylpiracetam, on the other hand, is a potent stimulant that can increase mental alertness and enhance cognitive function.

Are Racetams Legal to Buy and Use?

Yes, racetams are legal to buy and use in most countries. However, it is important to note that the legality of racetams can vary depending on your location. It is always best to check with your local laws and regulations before purchasing and using racetam supplements. You can purchase different racetams online here.

My Final Thoughts on the Best Racetams

After a meticulous examination of the various nootropics, often dubbed smart drugs or cognitive enhancers, I've come to several conclusions about the most effective racetams.

These brain supplements, like piracetam, aniracetam, oxiracetam, and phenylpiracetam, are noted for their potential benefits in memory enhancement, akin to memory pills, and focus improvement, comparable to focus or ADHD supplements.

Piracetam, the pioneer in the racetam family and a staple in many a nootropic stack, has demonstrated cognitive enhancements in healthy individuals as well as those grappling with cognitive impairments. It has a well-established research background supporting its efficacy and safety.

Aniracetam appears to have a two-pronged effect as a cognitive enhancer and anxiety reducer. Although its potential for improving memory and easing anxiety is promising, more comprehensive studies are required to fully elucidate its impact and mechanism of action.

Oxiracetam, another member of the racetam lineage, holds potential in bolstering cognitive function and memory. While it has been lauded for its effects, more scientific research is necessary to firmly substantiate its benefits and any possible side effects.

Phenylpiracetam, though potent, comes with a caveat. While it could potentially provide cognitive benefits, it's also associated with certain side effects. Thus, it may not be a one-size-fits-all kind of supplement.

In the end, while racetams, these novel cognitive enhancers, offer promising benefits as memory, focus, and even mood supplements, it's crucial to remember that more research is needed to fully decode their potential benefits and side effects. As with all supplements, including those for energy and sleep, it's essential to consult a healthcare professional before incorporating these natural nootropics into your routine, to ensure they align with your individual health needs and circumstances.

References
  1. Winnicka, Katarzyna et al. “Piracetam--an old drug with novel properties?.” Acta poloniae pharmaceutica vol. 62,5 (2005): 405-9. 
  2. Lee, C R, and P Benfield. “Aniracetam. An overview of its pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties, and a review of its therapeutic potential in senile cognitive disorders.” Drugs & aging vol. 4,3 (1994): 257-73. doi:10.2165/00002512-199404030-00007 
  3. Corasaniti, M T et al. “Systemic administration of pramiracetam increases nitric oxide synthase activity in the cerebral cortex of the rat.” Functional neurology vol. 10,3 (1995): 151-5. 
  4. Li, Wan et al. “(S)-Oxiracetam is the Active Ingredient in Oxiracetam that Alleviates the Cognitive Impairment Induced by Chronic Cerebral Hypoperfusion in Rats.” Scientific reports vol. 7,1 10052. 30 Aug. 2017, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-10283-4 
  5. Zvejniece, Liga et al. “Neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory activity of DAT inhibitor R-phenylpiracetam in experimental models of inflammation in male mice.” Inflammopharmacology vol. 28,5 (2020): 1283-1292. doi:10.1007/s10787-020-00705-7 
  6. Bessho, T et al. “Effect of the novel high affinity choline uptake enhancer 2-(2-oxopyrrolidin-1-yl)-N-(2,3-dimethyl-5,6,7,8-tetrahydrofuro[2,3-b] quinolin-4-yl)acetoamide on deficits of water maze learning in rats.” Arzneimittel-Forschung vol. 46,4 (1996): 369-73. 
  7. Nomura, T, and T Nishizaki. “Nefiracetam facilitates hippocampal neurotransmission by a mechanism independent of the piracetam and aniracetam action.” Brain research vol. 870,1-2 (2000): 157-62. doi:10.1016/s0006-8993(00)02417-3 
  8. Carreno, Mar. “Levetiracetam.” Drugs of today (Barcelona, Spain : 1998) vol. 43,11 (2007): 769-94. doi:10.1358/dot.2007.43.11.1136902 
  9. Ostrovskaia, R U et al. “Original'nyĭ nootropnyĭ i neĭroprotektivnyĭ preparat noopept” [The original novel nootropic and neuroprotective agent noopept]. Eksperimental'naia i klinicheskaia farmakologiia vol. 65,5 (2002): 66-72.