What Is Piracetam?

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  • Written By: T. Broderick
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 26 July 2017
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Piracetam is a nootropic drug that has a variety of medicinal purposes. Discovered in the 1960s, the drug was the first synthesized compound that had a positive effect in boosting cognitive ability. Since that time, medical research has found a variety of other uses. The drug has few to no side effects, and it is popular among university students who wish to improve their cognitive abilities. As of the spring of 2011, Canada is the only country in which this drug cannot be sold.

Romanian scientist Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea discovered piracetam in 1964. Soon after, he discovered it increased blood flow to certain areas of the brain while simultaneously exciting brain neurons. Though the biological mechanism that caused these results was not uncovered for many years, Giurgea invented the term nootropic, a drug/compound that increases mental function, to describe the effects of his discovery.

Later research showed how piracetam affects the brain. The neurotransmitter acetylcholine, crucial to memory storage, becomes more efficient when exposed to the drug. As the drug also increases the brain's oxygen consumption, the formation of new memories requires less time.


Medical studies performed since the early 1970s have provided initial evidence that piracetam is effective in treating a number of medical conditions. For example, the drug has shown promise in slowing the progression of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Also, patients with schizophrenia report better cognitive ability after taking a course of piracetam. The drug has even shown some success when given to children with autism. These results, though, are preliminary and may require decades of further research before any consensus forms in the medical community.

Piracetam has very few side effects and no contraindications with other medications. Very rarely do individuals taking the drug report insomnia, nervousness, tremors or headaches. Physical dependence does not seem to develop, no matter the length of use. The relative safety of the drug has made piracetam a popular supplement around the world. Many college students in the United States and elsewhere use it to increase their academic performance.

Outside of Canada, piracetam is widely available from a variety of online retailers. Though the drug is not regulated in the United States, in 2010 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent a warning to retailers telling them to stop sales, as the drug is not a dietary supplement. Despite this letter, the availability has not significantly decreased.


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Post 2

Piracetam and the racetam family can be obtained online. It is important to find a recommended supplier.

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