The Ultimate Guide to Racetams | Nootropics Review
Racetams are a family of drugs, commonly used as nootropics to boost brain power.
Are they any good, however? And how do they stack up compared with other nootropics?
Find out by reading below.
If you'd like more information about nootropics or smart drugs, check out our 2019 review of popular nootropics.
Table of Contents
What are racetams?Racetams are a class of drugs that are grouped together due to the shared feature of having a 2-pyrrolidone nucleus:
A 2-pyrrolidone nucleus is an organic compound which is found in multiple drugs.
When talking about nootropics or researching cognitive enhancers, racetams will come up sooner or later.
This is due to racetams being known to boost brain performance, at least in the short run.
However, ‘racetam’ as a class acts as an umbrella term and includes different drugs with differing features.
The two main fields associated with racetams are nootropics and anticonvulsants, which are drugs used to treat epileptic seizures.
The most commonly known nootropic of the racetam class is piracetam which was one of the first nootropics to be developed and was made from the neurotransmitter GABA.
GABA is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter which sounds like piracetam might have a calming effect.
In fact, it does the opposite and stimulates the brain. Other racetams used to improve cognitive performance include aniracetam, oxiracetam, pramiracetam, and phenylpiracetam.
All of these are structurally similar to piracetam, however, some of the newer ones have higher potency and stronger and/ or different effects.
Racetam to improve concentration?How exactly the different types of racetams actually work is still part of ongoing research.
There does not seem to be one universal mechanism on which researchers agree at this point.
However, there seems to be agreement about racetams working by impacting receptors in the nervous system.
Receptors of neurotransmitters in the nervous system are an essential part of the transmission of information that travels from neuron to neuron via the synapses.
Put simply, racetams affect the type of glutamate and cholinergic receptors that react to glutamate and acetylcholine, which makes these receptors more active.
While racetams today are commonly known in the context of nootropics or study drugs, many were originally created to treat varying disorders.
Aniracetam, for example, was created to treat cognitive disorders, allowing for more focus and concentration.
The effect usually lasts for 1.5-2 hours only.
Moreover, it is recommended to not just simply take a pill. Instead, it is suggested to take it with yoghurt or something sweet to cover the unpleasant taste of aniracetam.
Aniracetam binds to acetylcholine receptor as well as dopamine and serotonin receptors.
This leads to higher concentration and a potential mood lift during the short-term period of its effectiveness.
While racetams clearly work, they are also associated with a range of side-effects.
Racetam side-effectsAniracetam, for example, is commonly associated with headaches.
Therefore, getting the dose right is crucial and getting it wrong might mean that you won’t benefit from aniracetam as the headache will prevent you from making the most of your boosted concentration.
There are various more side-effects associated with racetams.
Piracetam, one of the most commonly used racetams, is associated with insomnia, diarrhoea, hyperactivity, even muscle spasms, and dizziness.
Seemingly surprisingly, in some cases, it has also been associated with memory loss.
Depending on what member of the racetam family you are interested in and where you live, these regulations will differ.
The changing legal status of racetams indicates that they are associated with potential dangers and long-term harm.
In all cases, caution is necessary when using racetams to boost performance.
Attitudes towards racetams
Many people enjoy the short, but sweet effect when hoping to boost focus and concentration.
When used in a medical setting and prescribed as a drug to treat conditions, racetams can also be very helpful.
Negative attitudes towards racetams usually arise in the context of self-medication and trying to boost long-term performance.
If you are interested, please feel free to read the blog posts on boosting energy, meditation, vitamins for energy as well as the posts on time management and study techniques.
Why use brain drugs like racetams?The reason people are still interested in racetams is that they are effective in the short-run.
However, that does not make it advisable to use them as cognitive enhancers. Indeed, caution is needed when using these drugs.
If you are struggling with energy and focus it may, in fact, be advisable to speak to a health professional.
Indeed, before self-medicating with racetams, please get your GP’s advice and ask for information about alternative cognitive enhancers.
Whilst racetams are a popular nootropic, many users report that the side-effects you get from them make you less-productive in the long-run.
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- Piracetam. (2019). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Piracetam&oldid=883947121
- Piracetam: Side Effects, Dosages, Treatment, Interactions, Warnings. (n.d.). Retrieved 7 March 2019, from https://www.rxlist.com/consumer_piracetam_myocalm/drugs-condition.htm
- Talih, F., & Ajaltouni, J. (2015). Probable Nootropicinduced Psychiatric Adverse Effects: A Series of Four Cases. Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, 12(11–12), 21–25. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4756795/