In this article, I will be talking about my experience testing piracetam, the original Russian nootropic. Initially It was greatly stimulating, such that I couldn’t go to sleep at night. And later on it was sedating, such that I would start nodding off. I had to theorize & research what was exactly occurring in my body when I took the piracetam, going down the rabbit hole of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, undermethylation, and the cholinergic system of the body. But despite my odd experience, I believe that for most people piracetam can be an effective nootropic for consistently boosting one’s base-line cognition.
At the very least, I can say that not everyone responds the same to piracetam. For some like u/sirsadalot, it is a life changing elixir for improving quality of life & productivity. For some, it is a nice mild cognitive booster that goes along with a cup of coffee and eggs. For others, they are either non-responders or like me need to cycle piracetam to maintain its effectiveness.
So my initial experience with using piracetam was awesome, and is what I imagine most people using piracetam will experience consistently. But for me the initial experience did not last, such that after a week or 2 of consistent administration I started experiencing fatigue issues with chronic intake of piracetam due to what I believe is a methylation disorder in my genetics. I don’t expect everyone to share this problem, and drugs act uniquely depending on the individual.
For this reason, I will not only share my initial experience, but also u/sirsadalot’s experience below, given that it consistently acted as a reliable nootropic for him. That way you can get a better picture of what piracetam could possibly have to offer.
Table of Contents
My Initial Experience
On June 17th, 2021, I decided to take piracetam for the 1st time, dosing it at 1,300mg. When I dropped the powder in my mouth, it dissolved and felt cool like oxiracetam. But it doesn’t have its sweetness, rather piracetam was bitter in taste with a worse flavor than noopept. Noopept was pretty delicious in comparison.
I found that piracetam greatly improved my willingness to work. Internally I felt an urge to keep working faster. I felt an almost speedy feeling like I had drunk several cups of coffee without the associated jitters, and indeed my working speed did increase. Piracetam also caused me to quickly entering the “in the zone” focus when someone does a task that requires high levels of concentration. Like with twitch action video games, fast-paced sports, or driving at high speeds. Except this was going towards knocking out items from my to-do list.
When I took the piracetam, I did experience some mild head pressure. I didn’t feel much physical stimulation but I found piracetam to be a strong mental stimulant. I found that piracetam improved my working memory and visual awareness, and also made me feel more awake. Piracetam was less anxiety inducing than coffee, and in terms of body load it felt milder than coffee. But piracetam was a stronger mental stimulant than coffee if you have a tolerance to caffeine. If you don’t have a tolerance, then caffeine can be stronger than piracetam in terms of stimulation.
I also found that piracetam enhanced my reflexes, increased my typing speed, and reduced sleep deprivation fatigue. With piracetam I felt like I was in a state of constant inspiration with my article writing such that writer’s block was unlocked for me. My writing became very prolific. Additionally, piracetam improved my social confidence or sociability. I found myself agreeing with a friend to go to a social gathering where normally I would have said no.
Piracetam VS Noopept
In my experience, piracetam feels different to noopept. Like noopept, it helps me stay focused and in a state of flow. But piracetam lasts longer. Another difference is that I “feel” and act more intelligent on noopept, whereas that is absent in piracetam. Noopept drastically improves my chess game, I win a lot more and I can quickly analyze movements & counter movements of the chess pieces. But I don’t have that depth and speed of critical thinking with piracetam.
However, where piracetam excels at is as a productivity enhancer. It helps me get work done and not procrastinate on it. So I find that just piracetam itself is a good substance to use when you are cycling off noopept. With noopept I need to take breaks occasionally, or I start to develop tolerances to its acute effects by the 2nd month of sublingual dosing at ~10mg daily.
Another difference is that with piracetam there is no short-term memory loss effect that you can get when you overdose on noopept. In fact, I do notice short-term memory improvement on piracetam. Noopept can also have this effect, but you have to get the dosage right.
So to summarize, piracetam is a productivity enhancer. Whereas noopept is more of an intelligence enhancer.
One of the primary benefits of piracetam is that it greatly improves my executive function. Meaning that it helped me stay engaged on the task that I started, and greatly reduces procrastination tendencies and distracting ruminations. So my mind stayed focused on what I am doing, and not engaging into every scattered thought I have about taking a break.
And even when I took a break, I was able to reach satiation very soon. With piracetam I can actually disengage. I can read a chapter of manga or browse Reddit for a bit, and then I can actually let it go. I’m satisfied, and not insanely obsessed to go further. But normally without piracetam I don’t find that satiation and keep going with my “break”.
For example without piracetam, I quickly feel “bored” with the work that I am doing, and I feel like I have to take a “break” by either browsing Reddit, Gmail, and YouTube. Binging on anime, manga, video games, literature novels etc. These breaks add up, and I end up spending 2-3 hours or the whole day doing that.
Day after day, that adds up. To me time is a finite, therefore, invaluable resource that I will never get back. With that time that I lost, I could have completed many personal projects, learned new skills and languages, or simply spent more time with my family.
I also found that piracetam acted as a antidepressant for me. Which is important because my mood makes a huge difference to productivity such that if I am even slightly depressed or severely sleep deprived, I end up spending more time procrastinating to kind of “re-charge” my mood. I may end up procrastinating for the whole day if my mood is off, which is deadly for someone like me who is self-employed and trying to pass his college classes.
For me personally, I found that the threshold dose that allowed me to notice the effects of piracetam was around 400mg. And an effective dose is around 1 gram. I have read that some people take a large attack dose of piracetam in the very beginning, which indicates to me that for some people the effects of piracetam accumulate with consistent dosing. So in theory you would have to take less and less to feel the effects of piracetam, but I will have to see later on if that is indeed the case.
Another consideration for dosing piracetam is its half-life. It lasts a long time in the body, being eliminated by the kidneys, and has a half-life of about 4-5 hours.
It takes about 10-15 minutes to notice the onset of piracetam. And it seems to peak after an hour. But if it is taken with food, the time to reach peak concentration of piracetam may be delayed as the absorption rate may slow down. Theoretically, you could make the piracetam last longer by taking it with food, although the onset of the drug may take more time.
How Piracetam Affected My Sleep
If I take piracetam too late in the day, it causes me to have a bit of difficulty falling asleep. Additionally, piracetam reduces the amount that I sleep at night, helping me to wake up earlier in the morning. This is a kind of a double-edge sword. Waking up early in the morning IS the best time for me to be productive. And I actually do get a ton of work done if I can wake up that early. If I start the day late, I find that I barely get anything done. I tend to procrastinate more and get distracted by various things I have to take care of and social obligations.
But the downside of sleep reduction is that you do need sleep for proper cognitive function. Reducing the amount that you sleep may also mean reducing the amount of time your body and your brain spends on restoration and memory consolidation at night.
So considering that half-life of piracetam is about 4-5 hours, it should not be dosed too late in the day if it gives you a stimulating effect. Otherwise, you will find yourself unable to fall asleep at night. I personally liked taking about a gram of piracetam first thing in the morning. I believe Piracetam’s action lasted for about 3/4 of the day, allowing me to fall asleep just fine given that after 15 hours, the piracetam would have halved 3 times. So for 1000mg, after 15 hours I would theoretically have about 125mg of piracetam left in my system. Which is not enough for me to perceive a significant disturbance to my sleep.
But I did try re-dosing with 300mg of piracetam near the middle or end of the day. Even with such a small amount, I found that it boosted my focus and helped me maintain my productive flow state. So if it doesn’t disturb sleep, then re-dosing a smaller amount of piracetam would be a good technique to maintain productivity.
But if you missed out on sleep at night due to other reasons, I do find that piracetam somewhat ameliorates the cognitive deficits from sleep deprivation. It does make me feel more “awake”, but the only problem is that it takes a little while for the effects to kick in. Its not instantaneous like several shots of espresso shots.
Experience of a Hyper Responder
But some people respond very well & consistently to piracetam. One such individual is our bromantane bro u/sirsadalot. He was kind enough to share his experience with me, and this is what he had to say about piracetam:
After trying over 100 nootropics, and most -racetam derivatives, I’ve concluded Piracetam is one of the few substances to bring me beyond baseline cognition. Upon dosing 4-5g I experience a mental and physical stimulation that leaves me feeling more awake, motivated and focused. Works wonders for fatigue. It feels like a mood boost, though a rational one. If I take another 4-5g later in the day, the effect continues. At 8-10g Piracetam I experience more addictive tendencies (not in relation to the substance, but life) and mania that make me approach dose frequency with caution. Still I use it most days of the week, but I prefer to take days off here and there. Piracetam’s children (i.e. Oxiracetam, Aniracetam, Noopept, etc.) aside from Phenylpiracetam paled in comparison to Piracetam itself, which is ironic because I ordered Piracetam last, as I expected it to bore me. I do not use a Choline source, though I did with some of the other -racetams. My opinion has become that needing a choline source is practically a myth.
There is a slight tolerance but no harmful withdrawal.
I feel more normal when sleep deprived after the addition of Piracetam, though cognition remains noticeably below baseline until I’ve slept normally. Piracetam has under no circumstance improved my memory, besides maybe thoughts I want coming to me at a faster speed. The verbal fluency enhancement is apparent and comes with a sense of superiority that helps social anxiety.
Piracetam’s reputation has been tarnished by a few platforms, and it is commonly sold under-dosed, but still I recommend you give it a try. It is the father of the term “nootropic” and should be treated with respect.
Piracetam Fatigue & Sedation
Initially I didn’t experience any fatigue from piracetam. Quite the opposite, I had some mild insomnia the 1st 2 days that I took piracetam. At that time, I was not using piracetam stacked with anything. I was using it alone to observe its individual effects. I got a mild headache once, but otherwise I was fine administering the piracetam alone.
But after about a week or 2 of taking piracetam, and with testing heavier and heavier doses, I found myself feeling fatigued and falling asleep during my work sessions. In fact, when I went out for a run, I found that my running capacity had in fact decreased. This indicated to me that piracetam was depleting a nutrient or over-stressing a system in my body.
Oddly enough, I start experiencing a similar but much milder sort of fatigue when I consistently drink really dark roasted coffee for a long period of time. Before I thought it had something to do with placing stress on my liver to process some of the chemicals produced through excessive roasting of the coffee beans.
Anyways, one of the systems that piracetam could overstress is the Kennedy Pathway, which is the process in which choline is converted to cell membranes. But for us, we are interested in Phosphatidylcholine. Phosphatidylcholine is not only required for the construction of cell membranes, but also used to produce the precursors to acetylcholine. An insufficiency in phosphatidylcholine will cause an insufficiency in acetylcholine. So to strengthen this pathway, you can supplement with choline (e.g. eggs yolks, lecithin, meat, choline bitartrate), Uridine, and Omega-3 fatty acids. You probably don’t need to supplement choline if you have a good diet, but acetylcholine availability is a different story.
In some cases, a person’s body does not efficiently produce acetylcholine. Their body may not be able to ramp up production of acetylcholine properly to keep up with piracetam’s increased acetylcholine requirement.
One side-effect of an inefficiency in this system could be fatigue & sleepiness.
It could also be that I am an undermethylator, and that I cannot absorb vitamins properly that consume methyl groups, such as folic acid and perhaps cyanocobalamin. To test this theory, I tried taking methylfolate and methylcobalamin individually.
It seems that methylfolate is more relevant since folate is involved the transformation of choline into acetylcholine. In fact, those with the MTHFR gene mutation have trouble converting folic acid (man-made) into methylfolate, which is a biologically active form.
Now if piracetam makes you sleepy, it’s probably better not to play a guessing game like I did. A better method would be to get your blood work done, get your homocysteine level checked, get your thyroid checked out, and even get your genes checked using 23andMe. That way you can exactly pin point what the problem could be. But because I don’t have the funds for all of that, I instead tested a list of supplements that relate to the the cholinergic and methylation systems of the body:
- Nature’s Made B-Complex
- Coenzymate B-Complex
I tried taking 1 gram of ALCAR with 2 grams of piracetam. Oddly I found that I actually felt kind of “off” for the whole day, feeling anhedonia, low mood (depressed), and unmotivated. I think these are symptoms of having too much acetylcholine in the brain, meaning 1 gram of ALCAR may have been too much for me.
But the funny thing is that after I stopped using piracetam and kept using about 1 gram of ALCAR a day, its especially good right before a workout. It gives me a bit more stamina for my daily run and weightlifting session.
So I’ve been trying Alpha-GPC with piracetam. I didn’t find that supplementing Alpha-GPC a while before piracetam to be effective. Rather Alpha-GPC kind of works after administering the piracetam. On a normal dose (1800mg) of piracetam, I would take about 300mg of Alpha-GPC, and I would feel a burst of excitation & awareness, and then slowly go back to feeling fatigued. When I tried a lower dose of piracetam (400mg) and then dose the Alpha-gpc an hour later, the fatigue from the piracetam almost vanished.
But it didn’t seem like the answer should be to take enormous amounts of Alpha-gpc when microdosing piracetam. This fatigue problem wouldn’t be an issue if my body was properly producing acetylcholine.
This may be a clue. I’ve tried a normal B vitamin before, but that didn’t alleviate piracetam fatigue. Then either my body is not getting enough choline, which I doubt because I eat enough meat in my diet. Or there is a weakness in my choline metabolism such that my body cannot respond to a higher choline demand, that is not related to a normal vitamin B deficiency. Maybe I am an under-methylator?
Normally, if I take a Nature’s Made Super B-Complex once in a while or while I am sick, I find that it gives me a small but noticeable boost in energy. But I didn’t notice any alleviation of racetam fatigue when taking it along with piracetam. On the bottle, they mention using folic acid and cyanocobalamin to supply the B9 and B12 vitamins. If I am an under-methylator, or if I don’t absorb un-methylated vitamins, then most likely I will find little to no benefit in taking these variants of B9 and B12.
Given that this B-Complex didn’t work, I should see if the methylated forms of these B vitamins alleviate the fatigue. Particularly methylfolate, given that folate is involved in the transformation of choline into acetylcholine.
Methylfolate as a Calcium Salt
Next, I tried supplementing L-Methylfolate in the form of (6S)-5-Methyltetrahydrofolate as a calcium salt by . There is another form as a glucosamine salt, but the brand that I used here provided the calcium variant.
Astonishingly, I did find that methylfolate help to reduce most of the fatigue from the piracetam. But I weird side effect was that it caused me gastrointestinal distress. I suppose it increased acetylcholine levels not only in the brain but also for the GI tract, so this wasn’t a viable solution for me.
I even tried half a tablet (1/2 of 1700mcg) of methylfolate sublingually. Definitely I felt its effects quicker and faster. It felt like a knot in my head disappeared along with the sleepy feeling I had this morning. This occurred within 1 minute of sublingual administration. My reading pace & comprehension of my algorithm text’s reading material was improved. It potentiated the piracetam I took before (800 mg), and I had to reread the text a lot less to understand it. But only problem is that within 15 minutes I would have gastrointestinal distress and have to visit the bathroom. This sucks.
So it seems to have “worked”. For other people it may be a viable solution, but not for me due to my oddly sensitive GI tract.
MisterYouAreSoDumb’s Method for Combating Fatigue
While reviewing the anecdotes on Reddit for addressing the fatigue caused by racetams, I found a 7 year old post by u/MisterYouAreSoDumb which addressed his method for eliminating racetam fatigue. Here’s his quote:
I no longer get any racetam fatigue like I used to. That is because I am supplementing methyl donors, coenzymated B complex, EPA/DHA, vitamin D, ALCAR, rhodiola, and a couple eggs every morning. I have not had a single bit of fatigue from racetams in a long time, and I used to get SERIOUS fatigue around 1pm every day that I took them. Improving my methylation cycle has drastically improved my life.
Piracetam is counted as one of the first nootropics. It is a staple nootropic used by many- as an older drug it has many clinical trials to test for negative side effects, efficacy, & safety. It is well tolerated by most people, and it is effective for improving cognition over the baseline.
Piracetam is also one of the best nootropics for productivity if your body responds to it properly. When my body was responding to piracetam properly, I was getting more work done than on noopept.
But in the end, I decided to take piracetam only occasionally so I don’t have to deal with fatigue issues. And instead keep noopept a part of my daily stack because it is more consistent & effective for me.
But piracetam might be just the number one nootropic for someone else.
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