The most commonly seen and supplemented form of the “racetams” piracetam, is widely regarded as a nootropic that offers mental or cognitive benefits. It was available in dietary supplements up until 2012-2014 before becoming a banned drug in the USA. While piracetam is still wildly popular amongst nootropic fans, the science is beginning to show that it may be better to spend your money elsewhere.
What it does
Piracetam does show some positive results in studies, however not in the “traditional” sense that most dietary supplement users may envision. Healthy users will experience little to no effect, while those who suffer from medical issues may experience small benefits from its use.
One of the most studied aspects of this ingredient is its impact on cognitive decline. Certain studies have found improved cognition when compared to placebo, while larger meta-studies have shown effects which could not reach the statistical significance barrier. The cognitive decline appears to have been slowed in elderly persons (average age 73.2 years), however only with a large dose of 4,800mg.
Piracetam has been shown to help increase memory recall in healthy users, although the study featured only 16 participants, making it highly inconclusive.
How it works
Piracetam’s primary mechanism of action, along with the entire racetam family of drugs is not yet fully understood. The current and most accepted theory on its potential benefits rest in its ability to act on ion channels or ion carries, which can help increase neuron excitability.
Studies on piracetam show that high doses are necessary for any potential benefit. The lowest dose showing benefits was 1,200mg/day (taken in 400mg doses 3x/day), with more impressive results being found at 4,800-8,000mg/day.