With thousands upon thousands of people searching for ways to improve their performance at work and at home, it’s no wonder that so many individuals are exploring and experimenting with substances known as nootropics. These substances are believed to boost brain power, mental alertness, memory, recall, concentration and other cognitive skills. 

As Forbes contributor Mike Montgomery has observed, nootropics are big business, and the market is only growing. In fact, it may even be the next major growth industry opportunity for savvy investors, venture capitalists and users alike.

The explosive popularity may be due in part to Silicon Valley, which has seen increasing use among tech startup officers and founders. These individuals, as Zoe Corbyn states, are eagerly trying out and “stacking” combinations of nootropics to help increase their attention spans, creativity, and mental acuity in order to meet the challenges and demands of today’s 24/7 global marketplace.

The right nootropic for you will help you improve your mental performance without saddling you with dangerous or unpleasant side effects. While there are many different types of nootropics available to consumers, one of the more popular and sought-after substances is Aniracetam. Will Aniracetam work for you? Let’s look at this “smart drug” in more depth.

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What Are Racetams?

An endocrinologist who studies nootropics, Dr. Florence Comite (author of Keep It Up) believes that nootropics in general work by helping to improve the efficiency and overall performance of the human neuroendocrine system.

Racetams, one particular type of nootropics, are synthetic substances that focus on better brain health, through an enhanced supply of the chemicals and nutrients the brain needs to maintain alertness and cognitive excellence. Some examples of racetams include piracetam, Aniracetam, oxiracetam and phenylpiracetam.

There are some similarities between these substances, and they’re all considered part of the same class of nootropics. For example, the underlying molecules are composed of varying structures of hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. Many racetams are considered nootropics. A few, such as seletracetam, help to stave off or diminish the severity of seizures.

How Do Racetams Work?

In general, racetams help activate the receptors of both glutamate and acetylcholine, which are key substances in the human body for cognition and physical action.

Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that’s prevalent within the human body, particularly in the central nervous system and brain. It is crucial to any brain function that results in a neurological message being transmitted through the neural circuit. Glutamate also metabolizes into a substance called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which acts a brake on that system, diminishing the probability of neural communication.

Acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter that helps improve the kind of intrabody communication that governs muscular efficiency and cognition, especially in the area of retained learning and memories. It’s a key player in the parasympathetic nervous system that also helps us process and cycle through stress. Scientists believe that helping to regulate the optimal levels and performance of glutamate and acetylcholine help improve the way the brain and nervous system both work.

What is Aniracetam used for?

Aniracetam is predominantly utilized by people seeking improved mental performance and acuity—that is, as a nootropic. However, it has been made available in European countries as a prescription-only medication which targets diseases of the central nervous system.

It has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. as a medication, and thus isn’t allowed to be sold as a nutritional supplement specifically for the treatment of any disease or illness. However, according to David Tomen, the author and blogger behind NootropicsExpert.com, Aniracetam may be beneficial in addressing symptoms of depression in adults.

What does Aniracetam do & it's Benefits?

When taken orally as a nootropic, Aniracetam may help sharpen your ability to learn, retain and apply various types of new knowledge and data. This area of focus—learning and application of learned information—makes Aniracetam a potentially good choice for people who need to take in and process new information or skills. Dr. J. Josh Lawrence and others also found that Aniracetam may additionally enhance sensory perception (sights, sounds, etc.) and reduce the stress and anxiety that can impair cognitive abilities as well.

Further, as with many nootropics, Aniracetam may help stave off the onset of and symptoms associated with dementia. Studies suggest that it accomplishes this by protecting neurological processes and cerebrovascular health. According to a group of Greek researchers associated with the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, it’s a promising treatment for mild cognitive deficits and helps increase emotional stability in patients with dementia.

Is Aniracetam a stimulant?

There’s no doubt that Aniracetam can indeed produce an energizing effect similar to stimulants, such as Ritalin or other well-known drugs and substances. However, most users who are familiar with its impact report far fewer of the traditional stimulant side effects, such as the sometimes profound sense of “crashing” once it’s left your bloodstream and body.

Is Aniracetam illegal?

In the U.S., Aniracetam is not approved for medical use, with or without a prescription. This doesn’t mean that you cannot obtain Aniracetam here—far from it.  However, it does mean that it cannot be marketed or sold as a medication or supplement, and as a result is not deemed to treat any disease or medical condition.

It’s a different story in Europe, where Aniracetam is available only by prescription. There, it is sold under a few major brand names, such as  Draganon, Sarpul, Ampamet, Memodrin and Referan.

Of course, laws on medications and supplements vary significantly from country to country. You should always double-check to make sure any substance you purchase or use is legal in your area before you attempt to purchase it, either online or in stores.

So far, the World Anti-Doping Agency has not yet banned the use of Aniracetam either in competition or as a whole. However, this could change. If you are an athlete participating in a competition that is governed by WADA rules, it’s important to double-check to ensure you are not using any prohibited substance before competing.

Where can you buy Aniracetam?

Since it’s not approved by the FDA for the treatment of any disease, Aniracetam can’t be procured through a doctor’s prescription. That also means you can purchase it online and, potentially, through local nutritional and health stores as well.

As with any pharmacological substance, it’s critical that you make sure you know what you’re actually getting when you purchase Aniracetam, especially from any online source. Look for vendors and websites that offer full transparency on the sources, lab tests and chemical analyses of their products.

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Is Aniracetam the same as Piracetam?

While Piracetam and Aniracetam both belong to the subclass of nootropics known as racetams, they are not the same substance. Both are seen as effective in improving mental acuity and various cognitive processes, to varying degrees, and on an individual basis. However, there are some differences.

The primary difference is that aniracetam is widely perceived as being a more powerful substance, at least as a nootropic drug—potentially up to ten times more powerful than Piracetam in this regard. It also has been shown to have anxiolytic (stress or anxiety-reducing) properties, and at least one study suggests it might operate as a sensory stimulant, allowing various sensory inputs (flavors, smells and colors, for example) to be experienced with greater intensity.  

Chemically, Aniracetam is fat-soluble while Piracetam is water-soluble. This means that Aniracetam can cross the blood-brain barrier more efficiently than Piracetam. This could also be the catalyst for its perceived ability to take effect faster than Piracetam.

Finally, many users say they perceive Aniracetam to be stronger than Piracetam, in that it offers a heightened set of effects and results to people who take it appropriately. This may be attributable to the difference in chemical structure between the two substances (i.e., fat- versus water-soluble) or it may be due to variations in recommended dosages and practices in taking the two drugs.

How long does it take for Aniracetam to kick in?

Aniracetam enters your bloodstream fairly rapidly once you’ve taken it. According to a study conducted by Dr. Craig Lee, Pharm.D., it takes around forty minutes for Aniracetam to reach peak concentration in your bloodstream after ingesting a dose. This figure may increase or decrease depending on whether you’ve eaten recently, whether you take the substance with food or without, your height and weight, and other medications or supplements you may be taking.

How long do the effects of Aniracetam last?

A substance’s half-life is the metric used to judge the length of its efficacy in the body, according to Medscape. This figure designates the period of time it takes exactly half of the drug or substance which was ingested to metablize and be eliminated from the person’s system. In other words, it’s the amount of time it takes your body to process and eliminate half of the dosage.

In the case of Aniracetam, its half-life is fairly short, especially compared to other racetams. The half-life is approximately 1 to 2.5 hours. Take this into consideration when setting dosage levels and establishing what time of day you should take Aniracetam.

How much Aniracetam should I take? 

While the optimal dosage can vary from person to person, generally you can expect to take about 750 mg of Aniracetam by mouth. People who take this nootropic regularly may take anywhere from one to three doses each day.

It’s generally recommended to start with a smaller dose once a day, then titrate your dosage slowly until you experience the desired effects. Aniracetam does have a short duration of efficacy in the body, so that smaller, more frequent dosages may be more effective for you than a larger single dose. It should be taken with fatty acids in order to aid absorption.

Can you take Aniracetam daily?

Aniracetam should not be taken every single day on a prolonged, ongoing basis. Ryan Ballow of LiveCortex.com says that this is especially true of any nootropic that modifies neurotransmitters, as Aniracetam does. Instead, it’s smarter to cycle your usage of a specific nootropic in order to avoid the cumulation of negative effects and your body’s tolerance level for drug, which can then render your nootropic ineffective over time.

What are the side effects of Aniracetam?

Some users report a significant relaxation of anxiety symptoms, to the point that they feel sedate and unmotivated. If you are exploring nootropics for heightened mental alertness and energy, it’s important to monitor your results carefully to make sure you’re not actually defeating your personal goals.

Of course, if you’re experiencing any side effects while experimenting with Aniracetam (or any other nootropics), it’s best to stop taking the drug immediately and follow up with your doctor at the earliest possible appointment.

Conclusion

It’s only natural to want to improve your performance on the job or in your studies. Nootropics are designed to help you do just that. However, even when they’re available without a prescription in your area, it’s still a good idea to exercise caution when first exploring the use of nootropics such as Aniracetam.

Research your options carefully, and begin with a dose that’s on the smaller side to start with, titrating your dose upwards slowly over time until you get the effect you want. Start simply, then you can explore stacking Aniracetam with other substances later on, if you like.