Racetams are a group of synthetic Nootropics which are known to be among the most popular compounds used for cognitive enhancement. This family includes many types of popular compounds such as Piracetam, Aniracetam, Oxiracetam, and many other variations. Each of the compounds found in this ‘family’ of Nootropics are related through their common Pyrrolidone nucleus, which is a type of compound know as a Lactam. Each member of the Racetam family has its own unique qualities, and is known to provided uniquely different experiences. Racetams are generally regarded as being best stacked with a Choline compound, to help maintain levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine during use.
Types of Racetams
First, it’s important to recognize that much of what is known about Racetams, and Nootropics in general, is related to anecdotal evidence. Piracetam, one of the most-popular Nootropics, is reported by many to offer a calming and holistic-enhancing effect. This focused calm is described by many as being experienced in the form of being more fluid in conversation, more socially-relaxed, and able to retain new memory better. Other Racetams, such as Oxiracetam are regarded more as mental stimulants, and are less affective towards overall mood and emotion. These compounds offer a rush of mental energy that many find preferable to other slightly comparable compounds like caffeine.
Two of the primary neurotransmitters thought to be affected by Nootropics in the Racetam family are acetylcholine and glutamate
There is a distinct lack of clinical data to offer explanation on how exactly Racetam compounds are able to affect such experiences in the mind. It is generally accepted that these molecules act by the modulation of certain neurotransmitters, though much of that premise has been assumed from anecdotal accounts. Two of the primary neurotransmitters thought to be affected by Nootropics in the Racetam family are acetylcholine and glutamate. Acetylcholine is used in a wide range of applications including muscular movements, memory formation, attention, arousal, and even motivation. By acting on these types of neural pathways, it’s believed that the Racetam family can contribute considerable cognitive-boosting effects when taken.
Effect of Racetams
Most of the research on Racetams comes from the original research done by a Romanian psychologist known as Dr. Giurgea. Through his attempt at discovering a neurological relaxing agent acting on the GABAergic neural pathways, he discovered Piracetam. While this compound didn’t demonstrate the relaxing and sleep-aiding benefits he set out to discover, it did show remarkable cognitive enhancing properties. Beyond this research, much of the data surrounding the benefits of Piracetam, Aniracetam, and other Racetam compounds stems largely from anecdotal evidence from shared personal experiences.
There is some clinical data that suggests Racetams may offer beneficial neuroprotective, and properties, and have been shown to benefit some patients with dementia
Much of the modern clinical research done regarding Racetam compounds has been conducted on rats and in vitro neural samples. One study found that Piracetam was able to inhibit severe cramp-like seizing of the muscles to do medically-induced reactions or genetic deformity, known as a Dystonic reaction 1. In another study, Piracetam, Oxiracetam, and Aniracetam were all shown to positively modulate AMPA receptor sites within neural tissue samples 2. AMPA receptor sites are areas of the brain which are able to make use of Glutamate, one of the most prevalent neurotransmitters and responsible for quick synaptic responses.
Aniracetam is a cholinergic compound, and is regarded to be a positive modulator of AMPA receptor sites throughout the brain. This Nootropic compound not only positively modulates AMPA receptor sites, but also acts to maintain sensitivity levels of the AMPA receptor sites as well. During periods of positive stimulation, AMPA receptor sites begin to become desensitized, thus affording a less profound effect as time increases. Many users of Aniracetam regard it as enhancing communication ability, creating a more ‘collective’ sense of thought, and also allowing for more fluid discussion and recollection of complexity. Aniracetam should be regarded as a mood-affecting compound, with the ability to create a more positive outlook in most. Aniracetam is a popular choice among Nootropics enthusiasts that are not able to experience effects from Piracetam, but want more of a social experience than that offered by Oxiracetam.
Piracetam has been noted by users to induce a deeper sense of memory recall, better learning, and an increased sense of social ease. Many of these experiences are underlined by the general sense of being on a ‘peak’ energy level, which can be unsettling for some. One interesting aspect of Piracetam is that may be integrally dependent on adrenal function to exhibit full effect. One study found that the removal of adrenal function (adrenalectomy) completely eliminated the memory-enhancing effects of Piracetam in mice 3. This research suggests that the effects of Piracetam might be able to be more fully optimized when stacked with compound such as Phosphatidylserine, which has been shown to help maintain adrenal balance during period of physical stress such as exercise 4. This would suggest that the use of supplements such as Phosphatidylserine with Piracetam might help increase the magnitude of Piracetams effects. Piracetam is regarded as the first Nootropic compound every to be synthesized with the intent of affording cognitive enhancements. It’s long history among users has lead most to regard it as completely safe, although less potent than many other compounds.
Oxiracetam is a bit different from other members of the Racetam family chemically-speaking, but is still centered about a Pyrrolidone molecule. This Nootropic compound is one of the few Racetams that has a fair amount of clinical data to support ideas of how it may function, and the benefits it may offer. Oxiracetam positively modulates AMPA receptor sites similar to Aniracetam and Piracetam, but is thought to increase the overall release of glutamate and acetylcholine. This type of increase in activity ultimately works to increase the overall metabolic rate of neural pathways. Oxiracetam offers many benefits, but one of the most-notable is it’s ability to help treat the neurodegenerative effects of dementia. One study found that Oxiracetam was able to significantly increase the quality of life for patients that were suffering from dementia 5. Oxiracetam has more clinical data to support the ideas of it’s benefits and action, but would still benefit from further investigation—as would most Nootropics.
Very Established Nootropics
All the Nootropic compounds found in the Racetam family share a similar chemical structure, and tend to offer similar benefits. While each compound differs in the exact nature of how it may affect the brain, most users tend to report a moderate increase in learning ability, memory retention, and overall sociability. There is some clinical data that suggests Racetams may offer beneficial neuroprotective, and properties, and have been shown to benefit some patients with dementia. The compounds in this group are regarded by many as being the original Nootropics, and have been used fondly by many throughout the years. Piracetam is the oldest member of this family, and has the most established account of its applications and effects. Newer members such as Aniracetam have been known to exhibit more energetic and potent effects, and are often preferred by many users.
The Racetam family is full of unique and energetic members
Many of the compounds found in this family of Nootropics have been experimented with recreationally for decades, while others are just now being fully recognized as offering potential benefits. The lack of clinical data suggests that caution should be used when experimenting with any of these compounds. That said, the internet is full of anecdotal accounts of these compounds which paint them as relatively safe. Any compound that is taken with the intent of altering brain function and mental perceptions should be done so with a heightened intent—being cognizant that negative effects will pass eventually. Having your balance of perception shifted can be unsettling if you’ve never experienced such shifts, and for those new to these types of compounds its very much recommended to start small, and work your way up. The Racetam family is full of unique and energetic members, each with the potential to afford you great benefit when used effectively.