Let’s be generous and call this serendipity


Pramiracetam is thought to be the strongest in a class of nootropics called racetams. Some people suggest it’s up to 30 times stronger than Piracetam. We’ll talk about what this means for dose a bit later.
It was developed in Belgium by Parke-Davis pharma in the 1970s and like all racetams, it was derived from Piracetam. But also like other racetams, various drug companies tweaked the molecule and patented their own versions, claiming “Ours is the best, chuck out the rest.”

Parke-Davis originally developed it to treat Alzheimer’s, but with mixed results. So they changed tack and looked at its use as an adjunct to electroconvulsive therapy and in treating major depressive episodes. Once again a classic pharma tactic of developing a product and then going in search of other positive correlations that point to a new market. Let’s be generous and call this serendipity.

More recently it’s been used to treat dementia and to restore cognitive function after stroke and brain injuries. What is clear is that it has a range of effects on the brain.

Reclaims rare earth minerals from elephant shit

Broadly speaking, Pramiracetam works by enhancing brain function, but nobody’s quite sure how. Instead scientists have observed restored brain function indirectly through EEG’s of aged rats, reflecting those of their younger counterparts. They do know it has high affinity choline uptake effects. Choline is a precursor of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which regulates a whole slew of brain functions. This is the best explanation they have for its positive cognitive effects. It also means that a lot of users supplement Pramiracetam with a Choline dose to ensure adequate levels of choline are available to be converted into acetylcholine.

Another chemical bonus with this nootropic is that ti does not appear to modulate the dopamine, serotonin, and GABA systems. This decreases the chances of anxiety or other negative mood related side effects.
So what does acetylcholine regulate? Well a vast array of claims are made from better concentration and focus, increased sensory perception, improved creative and logical thinking and enhanced long term memory consolidation and recall. But If I’m breaking my 2 day power fast with a soylent smoothie at a toast bar, then popping a couple of Pramiracetam and listening to a Tim Ferris podcast on the way to pitching Andreessen Horowitz on an app that reclaims rare earth minerals from elephant shit…then the placebo force is strong in this one.

What we do know is that acetylcholine plays an important role in memory formation (By the way acetylcholine wa the first neurotransmitter discovered by scientists in 1914. Pretty cool eh?) It influences the frequency and quality of signaling between neurons and promotes the growth of synapses, potentially enhancing brain plasticity. It also affects our arousal, reward, attention and motivation functions. So all of this points to better long term memory, better cognition and maybe a positive effect on motivation and focus.
Studies suggest it has no positive effects on short term memory. So it won’t help you remember where you left your keys, but it might help you understand and remember more important stuff. There is also fairly solid evidence for its neuroprotective effects, protecting you from memory loss and and improving the cognitive ability of people with brain trauma.

Fart marinated lemon peel

Pramiracetam is taken orally and is fat soluble, so as usual, take it with a fish oil tablet or after a meal. Nootronauts regularly dose at 300 mg-800 mg one to two times per day, but because it is so powerful, others recommend you start at around 100 mg once per day and see how you go. The prevailing wisdom seems to be that you should not exceed 2400 mg per day.

It has a half life of about 4-7 hours and takes maybe 1-2 hours for it’s effects to be felt. Some nootronauts have reported its effects build up over several days. But interestingly there is a fair bit of variability reported in how quickly it comes on and how long it lasts. This reinforces my point above. Start with a small dose once per day and cycle off it regularly.

It’s a bit more expensive than many other nootropics and like a lot of them, tastes like the fart marinated lemon peel from Heston Blumenthal’s christmas puddings. So if that’s not your thing, stick with the pills over the powders.

The biggest reported side effect of Pramiracetam is headaches. No surprise here given it targets the Choline system which seems to play a role in regulating brain inflammation. I’d definitely be taking a Choline supplement with this one.

Beyond that there seem to be very few side effects. In fact on the Lethal Dose scale, a measure scientists use to work out how much of something will kill you (I know right? Scientists are such fun!), Pramiracetam is rated at 5434 mg/kg, while table salt is around 3000 mg/kg.

To me it’s a no-brainer (pun intended;)

In Australia, Pramiracetam is also known as Nootropil. It’s a schedule 4 drug and requires a prescription. Many people have had success ordering racetams without a prescription from overseas sites, claiming that it’s legal under the personal importation scheme. Others argue that it’s covered by the analogue drug and psychoactive substances legislation and is therefore prescription only.

The whole world of smart drugs is a legally gray area and I’m not going to offer any advice on getting hold of them. My personal view is that people should be free to experiment with these classes of drug. They don’t cause socially irresponsible behavioural choices (like ice, smack, alcohol et al) and seem to be fairly safe. Heaps of other countries allow their citizens to take these without prescription.

Pramiracetam seems to be an extremely potent and safe smart drug that side steps some of the scarier potential side effects of other nootropics. Also there is pretty solid evidence of its neuroprotective effects, which may translate to fewer people in dementia wards down the track. To me it’s a no-brainer (pun intended;).