The Basics of -Racetams
by: Good Looking Pharmacist (w/ Good Looking Loser)
Although Good Looking Pharmacist is a licensed pharmacist in the country where he resides - this is not to be considered medical advice or a suitable replacement for advice from a physician. It is subject to our Medical Disclaimer.
Introduction by Good Looking Loser
I have a fair amount experience with the compounds we are about to discuss - I've used them on and off since 2006 (originally to study for the LSAT, squat day at the gym and to enhance Phenibut).
I've haven't had the dire need to use them since high-quality Kratom, rotated correctly, often gives me more cognitive desire/endurance than I possibly need.
Initially, I thought the Racetams were 'pretty good' or 'decent' but nothing compared to stronger compounds such as Ritalin or Modafinil.
Yet, as I've gotten older and wiser, I believe these dietary supplements definitely have their place for the ambitious man, gym rat or committed student.
Racetams aren't as powerful as Ritalin or Modafinil but that is precisely why they can be more useful and more practical.
They don't require a prescription.
You don't have to worry about dependency, side effects, tolerance or addiction.
You don't have to alter your entire day/night or plan on being awake for 20+ hours.
You can take them around your normal hours and activities rather than having to dedicate an entire day to long-acting stimulants.
Like a lot of cognitive enhancers, even the ones that work, there will be a trial and error period and you'll just have to see how your mind reacts to it.
If you are looking for a safe 'edge', these might be worth looking into.
You might be a hyper-responder and find a new best friend.
If not, you won't be too bummed out - Racetams are pretty inexpensive.
What Are Racetams?
The first thing most people think of when they hear the name Racetams are “smart drugs”.
While this isn't entirely wrong, Racetams are basically just the chemical classification of all these drugs, which help to improve brain capacity.
All Racetams share a central core referred to as the pyrrolidone nucleus.
What Are Nootropics?
Nootropics, on the other hand, refers to a wider array of many compounds, that show promise in improving cognition, brain capacity or focus to name a few. While all the Racetams are Nootropics, not all Nootropics are Racetams.
There are many other compounds outside this group that are also Nootropics, such as ginkgo biloba; which has been used for hundreds of years in china, as opposed to everyday caffeine.
Generally, when seeking an ideal Nootropic, it should possess a few characteristics, although only the newer ones have been modified to actually include characteristics that are typically unwanted (such as relaxation, and anxiolysis)
- Should augment the brain’s ability to store and retrieve memories
- Should have a wide accepted margin of safety
- Should ideally improve oxygen flow to the brain
Basically - Racetams (and Nootropics) make your brain more efficient.
How Do Nootropics Work?
No one is entirely sure yet.
The verdict is still out when it comes to actually pinpointing a mechanism of action behind the Racetams. Or, it could be because the actual mechanism may be composed of several smaller “mechanisms” bunched together. But what is agreed by most experts include[i]
- Makes the neurons in the brain more pliable and permeable- what this means in a nutshell is that the neurons pick up nutrients more readily, get rid of wastes, and are more easily interactive with fellow neurons in the brain. These interactions and linkages between the neurons is strongly believed to be an aspect of memory.
- Modulate primarily the effects of ACH (acetylcholine) in the brain- ACH is a neurotransmitter (or brain hormone if you like), which acts as the mediator for signals involved in memory and concentration. This modulation of ACH plays an important role in explaining the short term memory boosts associated with use of the Racetams.
- They also mildly have an effect of AMPA receptors in the brain, which are a particular type of cholinergic receptor responsible for LONG TERM memory retention.
- Miscellaneous- via anti-oxidative, vasodilatory and anti-coagulatory (blood thinning) properties which play a small role in their overall efficacy.
But Are They Really Effective?
This is a bit touchy for some folks, since anything this good, but without FDA approval, probably needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
In our opinion though - Yes.
It's important to have reasonable expectations for what they do and how strong they are.
They are not as strong as prescription ADHD compounds such as Adderal or Ritalin.
But that is why they are available over-the-counter and can be used on a frequent, if not daily, basis.
Can Racetams Be Used Every Day?
While there is no definitive yes or no answer to this question, there have been plenty of anecdotal observations that may lead to a conclusion.
For instance, the Racetams are safe for very long term use[ii], leading to the conclusion that if you were worried about safety or toxicity, the answer is a resounding yes; they can be used very frequently or for very long periods of time.
On the flip side, however, is the question of their efficacy.
Based on reports, initially most users experience a “wow” effect, which may quickly abate after about two weeks to a state of “controlled enhancement”. What this means is that there likely is tolerance at play; tolerance being the reduced efficacy of a drug/supplement after a short period of consecutive use.
(for the record: neither of us experienced any sizable tolerance whatsoever; some guys report a 'negative-tolerance' where the compound gets stronger, the more they use it)
Given the the mechanism of their action, receptor desensitization, among other factors, there may be a decreased potency of them. That’s not to say that they aren't still remarkably effective, they just lose their initial kick.
So based on that conclusion, once again, yes, they are suitable for long term use- just don’t always expect the same magnitude of effect as when used early on.
Notably, many students or athletes using the Racetams for a mental edge, take weekends off, or a few days here and there as a bare minimum.
Side Effects of Racetams
The side effects of Racetams are few and far apart, however, that’s not to say they are totally devoid of any.
By far, the most frequent side effect seems to be headaches, which are attributed to reduced levels of choline in the brain (as a result of its enhanced use for facilitating transactions between neurons)
In addition, other minor and infrequent side effects may include
- Tremors or palpitations
- Profuse sweating
Neither Chris or I have experienced anything like this however.
Specific Uses of Racetams
It is important to remember that Racetams fall under the broader class of supplements called 'Nootropics', which act primarily to improve cognition or concentration and memory. However, this does not mean that they are all created equal. In fact, after reading this article, you will see the differences as clearly as night and day.
(Cognitive Processes/Comprehension, Memory Retention)
Best Choice: Piracetam
This is the gold standard by which all other Racetams are measured, being the first one discovered and the most popular choice by many new and seasoned users alike. While its potency may be a bit weaker than the newer compounds developed, make no mistake that it is still extremely effective as a study aid. It is backed by years of scientific studies, proving its safety and efficacy. Users of Piracetam typically experience
- Improved focus and concentration
- Reduced flow of random thoughts (keeps train of thought clear)
- Enhanced ability to recall at will (memory improvement)
Piracetam is the Nootropic that we suggest you first try out.
Use as directed - which is usually 2 grams every 3 to 5 hours.
Best Choice: Aniracetam
Although not immediately apparent, a few Racetams are also effective for helping overcome social awkwardness or withdrawal. They can keep you in the moment and keep your brain from stalling out.
In this case, hands down the best Racetam for this is Aniracetam.
It is not the strongest in terms of cognitive enhancement, but can be a good add on if you find it difficult on the social scene.
Good Looking Loser says: I haven't used this one yet. I'm going to though. I'm not expecting it to be anything close to GHB or even Phenibut. It's probably closer to this over-the-counter dietary supplementment.
Best for Gym/Physical Activity
(Mind and Muscle Connection, Mental Endurance)
Best Choice: Phenylracetam and/or Oxiracetam
In theory, most of the Racetams should be able to exert a stimulatory effect, at least to get you amped up for your workout. However, things can get a lot more interesting than that. In fact, there are two, specifically, which have been shown to improve exercise capacity, and increase motility and locomotive capacity.
These two Racetams are known as Phenylpiracetam, and Oxiracetam respectively.
Most Common Racetams
The most popular Racetam in the world, normally the base upon which stacks are built. Has very balanced efficacy profile, delivering memory, focus and mild anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) benefits in one.
Piracetam goes incredibly well with Phenibut.
Take 2 grams every 5-6 hours to enhance your Phenibut experience.
What is Phenylpiracetam?
It's basically a stronger version of Piracetam. It's quite strong. Consider it like a Piracetam "extract" and has a great stimulant-like effect.
- Interestingly enough, it's actually clinically proven to lower anxiety.
Much more potent than Piracetam, with more pronounced effects on recollection, focus and learning ability. It has also been touted to prevent ischemic brain episodes or strokes, anxiety, and is the fastest acting Racetam.
Considered the most fitting “smart drug”, since it affects specifically thinking processes, and not particularly anxiety. It particularly helps with long term memory, since it facilitates the healthy development of neuronal networks in the brain. It is water soluble, and hence does not need to be taken with meals.
- Oxiracetam is clinically proven to increase 'quality of life' and feeling of well-being.
One of the strongest Racetams available, this potent Nootropic is fat soluble and must be taken with food to maximize absorption. This effect, when harnessed properly, results in Pramiracetam having a potency of up to 3000% more than Piracetam. Besides possessing the normal effects, what is unique about Prami is its ability to potentiate other Racetams, when used in “stacking” fashion.
This Racetam related compound was developed in Russia, and unlike other Racetams readily available in the USA, is a prescription drug in many Eastern European Countries (including Russia). Noopept is believed to be approximately 1000 times more potent than Piracetam, and is sometimes referred to as the “original” Nootropic[iii], making it on a per weight basis, the strongest of them all. However, there have, and will always be individual differences when taking this supplement.
Pour Conclure by Good Looking Loser
I'm going to experiment some more, especially the newer Racetams and see how it goes.
I encourage you to do the same and report back to us.
We have an entire sub-forum devoted to Nootropics.
The only one I have really extensive experience with is Piracetam.
I've used it hundreds of times.
It improves studying - particularly reading comprehension and memory.
It makes Phenibut even better.
It seems to have a slight anti-anxiety effect.
The best way I can describe it is -
Since you are focused, your mind isn't wandering and your thoughts aren't scattered.
(it's not going to help if you have large amounts of chronic anxiety however)
It's cost effective if you buy it as a powder. Most find it tastes absolutely hideous though.
It seems that expectations are key in liking/appreciating or not liking/appreciating Racetams.
You should be aware of what to expect.
Racetams are not meant to deliver everlasting energy or laser-like focus like ADHD stimulants do.
They are meant to safely and moderately increase your current cognitive abilities.
It can be subtle at times but most feel that they work.
Like I said though, Kratom gives me all the productivity I need.
I don't recommend Kratom for studying or anything that requires a significant amount of memory retention however.
It seems to work great for building a website though.
Where to Get Them?
I don't actually have a specific suggestion on a product to use.
I'm sure quality matters to some extent but everything I've used has been about the same.
Amazon.com sometimes has some Racetams but they seem to get taken down often.
(I don't know for what reason, they are completely legal)
Additional Resources to Check Out
- PillScout.com - Exploring Nutrition, Herbs and More (Reviews of Each Racetam)
- Danger & Play (Mike's Suggested Stack)
- Examine.com (By Far World's Best Unbias Dietary Supplement Resource)
[iii] Ostrovskaia RU, Gudasheva TA, Voronina TA, Seredenin SB. The original novel Nootropic and neuroprotective agent noopept. Eksp Klin Farmakol. 2002 Sep-Oct;65(5):66-72
Do you have any experience or thoughts on Racetams?
I encourage you to write in below and tell us about it.