Thursday, July 2, 2009

Nootropics 4: Racetams


As I said last time, Racetams are the most outstanding members of the Nootropic family. Many believe the Racetam genius kick-started the entire Phyla of agents we call Nootropics. It is fitting that I begin with the Racetams.

The first thing that must be understood about the the Racetams is that they are not stimulants. They do not increase your heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, body temperature, or adrenaline levels. Ergo, they cannot be classified as stimulants. Racetams will not wake you up in the morning if you are having a bit of trouble summoning the energy to get out of bed.

How do they work? The mechanism of the racetams is not completely understood. We believe they work by modulating the most important neurtransmitters in the brain; particularly acetylcholine and glutamate. Some strongly interact with glutamatergic AMPA receptors on your neurons. Because AMAP receptors are in the same location as cholinergic receptors they increase the firing rate of cholinergic receptors. This increases memory capacity. Racetams also optimize communication across the corpus collosum, the neuro synapse that allows the right brain and left brain to communicate and cooperate.

When taken, the user feels enhanced mental clarity, focus, calmness, recall of facts and techniques, an easier time identifying patterns in data, or drawing distinctions between points of data. You simply feel an enhanced capacity to deal with mental work, analyze problems, and work out solutions. I would say it easier to combine analysis and creative work at the same time, due to a better functioning neuro synapse.

I should mention, in passing, that programmers usually get pretty excited when I tell them this. It would appear to be the perfect thing for us.

There are many members of the racetam family. Among them, four stand out for their Nootropic effect. In order of age and power (lowest power first, strongest power last) these four are:

  1. Piracetam: The Granddaddy of them all.
  2. Oxiracetam: The second generation water soluble improvement.
  3. Aniracetam: The third generation fat soluble improvement
  4. Pramiracetam: The fourth generation fat soluble improvement.

As you can surmise, the Racetam family has been getting more powerful with each new generation. The newest agent, Pramiracetam is the most powerful member of the family

All four of these agents are unique and distinct. All are similar in most ways. Broadly speaking, these four agents break down into two categories: water soluble and fat soluble. Piracetam and Oxiracetam are water soluble. Aniracetam and Pramiracetam are fat soluble.

Water soluble racetams have a shorter half-life, and a weaker effect. Fat soluble racetams have a longer half-life and a more powerful effect. It is not just a longer effect, it is a more powerful effect. We'll discuss ampakines in a moment. Water solubles are processed out of your system by your kidneys and excreted in your urine. Fat solubles are processes out of your system by your intestines, and excreted with your feces. The urine cycle is faster than the feces cycle. This is the key reason for the shorter and longer half-life.

Piracetam has a stated half-life of approximately 4 hours. This means you will need to take it twice during a standard 8 hour work day. Oxiracetam has a stated half-life of 3 hours. I found it to be shorter than that. You might need to take it three times per standard 8 hour work day. The half-life for Aniracetam is stated at 2.5 hours. That figure was computed in rat studies, not human studies. I say that figure is absolute rubbish. I have found that a single 800mg dose of Aniracetam can sustain the Nootropic effect all day long. Pramiracetam has the longest stated half-life of 4.5 to 6.5 hours. Based on personal use, I find this figure to be reasonable.

The power of each Racetam agent is usually measured in terms of dossage necessary to achieve the Nootropic effect. Piracetam, the granddaddy, is used as the benchmark, or the reference point.

Most authorities believe a dosage of 2.4 grams of Piracetam is necessary to trigger a substantial Nootropic effect. Folks often take 3x800mg tablets of Nootropil (Piracetam) and this will work. Piracetam is both the oldest and the weakest of the four agents. It is better than nothing, and its effect is measurable. However, it is the least desirable of the four. It is still favored by many. I regard it as an out-dated and outmoded technology.

Oxiracetam is rated at 2 to 4 times the power of Piracetam, meaning that a single gram should trigger the Nootropic effect. People often take just one 800mg capsule of Oxiracetam. This produces an excellent effect. Allowing Oxiracetam powder to dissolve under the tongue is much better still. It is water soluble, will dissolve in your saliva, and does not taste bad. When absorbed sublingually, the effect is felt almost immediately. There is powerful and pleasant calming and focusing effect that takes hold within a minute or two of sublingual administration. For my money the calming effect is a bit too strong, and the Nootropic effect is too short. Oxiracetam is still favored by many. I regard it as an out-dated and outmoded technology.

Aniracetam is rated at 4 to 8 times the power of Piracetam. This should indicate that you need no more than 300-600mg to trigger the Nootropic effect. For reasons unknown, Aniracetam is usually shipped in 800mg capsules. {It was also offered in a bulk powder form, but no more.} This dossage is more than sufficient to trigger the Nootropic effect. For more than a year, I considered Aniracetam to be the most desirable member of the Racetam family. It had the longest effect, and the most impressive effect of the three I had tried, thus far. Most other experianced users felt the same.

Pramiracetam is rated at 8 to 30 times the power of Piracetam. This should indicate that you need no more than 300mg to trigger the effect. You might be able to get by with as little as 80mg. Pramiracetam is commonly sold in 300mg and 400mg tablets and capsules. Pramiracetam is the newest agent of the four. It has been available on the market for less than 1 year. It has been readily available for less than 4 months. I have only been using it now for approximately 2 months. I am still evaluating this substance.

I am not prepared to issue a final verdict on Pramiracetam, however I will give you a few pointers. As stated, Pramiracetam is extremely powerful. Due to the recession, we are going through a slow cycle here at my company. I have not been challenged to do anything substantial at work in some 6 months. Ergo, I have not tested this agent under combat conditions.

However, when given minor challenges {like setting up a full Java web application server and JTrac for the first time} I have been shocked by how easily I have risen to meet the challenge, and how quickly it all came together. The focus and brain power has been there when I have needed it. On the downside, Pramiracetam produces a nervous anxiety which is quite the opposite of the Oxiracetam effect. Whereas Oxiracetam has a pleasant calming effect, Pramiracetam did create a form of nervous anxiety during the first week or two. This seems to have been tapering off lately.

If you are prone to anxiety, you will prefer Oxiracetam or Aniracetam. If you are not naturally anxious, you will probably like Pramiracetam. I am borderline. Often enough, I am calm. Occasionally, I have anxiety. Pramiracetam can tip me over into an worried and nervous state, if I don't have something good and challenging to focus on.

There is another dimension to the Racetam family that must be addressed. That is the ampakine effect. The minority report states that all Racetams are ampakines. The majority report states that the fat-soluble Racetams are ampakines, and the water soluble Racetams are not ampakines. This much is certain: Aniracetam and Pramiracetam are ampakines. Piracetam and Oxiracetam are very doubtful.

So just what is an ampakine anyhow? According to Wikipedia, Ampakines are a new class of compound known to enhance attention span, alertness, while facilitating new learning and memory. Amapakine agents strongly interact with glutamatergic AMPA receptors on your neurons. Ampakines are being used against Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Schizophrenia, and ADHD. They are also being researched by DARPA, where it is believed they could enhance the combat readiness of soldigers.

At this moment in time, July 2009, Pramiracetam is the king of the Ampakine hill. A newer agent called CX717, invented in 1996, is currently in phase II of FDA clinical trials. It should eventually dethrone Pramiracetam, and become the new king. Funding for CX717 research & FDA trials has been provided by DARPA, a fact I find very interesting.

I think the defense department has high hopes for a CX717 powered military machine. This would be a military where commanders and troops make better decisions in combat, under duress, because their brains are functioning better and faster than those of the enemy. This is the power amplifier of intelligence, initiative and strategy. Peace advocates can hope they will do fewer stupid things, and get it over with faster, due to better brains.

In conclusion

The Racetam family is known for its super-low toxicity level. Even large over-doses are tolerated well by the body. The most negative consequence of Racetam overdose is gastro-intestinal upset, gas, and diarriah. In other words, you get an upset tummy, and possibly the runs. This is nothing in comparison with the ghastly consequences of over dosing on numerous other drugs.

For this reason, the FDA has chosen not to regulate access to members of the Racetam family. No perscription is necessary to purchase any Racetam family member in the United States. It is perfectly legal to buy through the internet here in the U.S. Buy from an English or Canadian pharmacies if you like. They can ship it straight to you via plain old USPS with no issues.

I did experiance a bit of gas-pressure and a bit of constipation when I first began using Piracetam, but that went away after a few short weeks. Even large dossages don't upset my tummy anymore.

So where can you buy these things? Well, I am not paid to make endorsements, so I won't make any endorsements. But if you were to do a google shopping search or an ebay search for these names, you will find what you are looking for. I purchase through ebay.