If you have ever heard the term "smart drug," then you've already heard of Phenylpiracetam, at least by association.
Some of the most famous smart drugs include Ritalin, Adderall and, of course, caffeine.
While Phenylpiracetam may not yet be a household name like its more well-known peers, it shares many traits in common and has a lot to offer when used properly.
You are about to learn a great deal more about Phenylpiracetam, including a very general crash course in this fascinating drug's usage history with the space program!
But the majority of this article will focus on Phenylpiracetam's many applications today, what you need to know about how it works and tips for how to use Phenylpiracetam yourself.
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What Is Phenylpiracetam?
At the root of this drug's name, Phenylpiracetam," we find "piracetam." This is the original drug developed by a Romanian scientist who was working for the Russian space program.
The original goal for creating piracetam was to combat motion sickness, which is a particular concern during space travel. It didn't take researchers long to discover that piracetam had an unexpected side benefit - taking it helped people feel more alert and mentally clear!
Phenylpiracetam is a more potent version of the original piracetam.
Phenylpiracetam belongs to a larger group of performance-enhancing drugs, aka smart drugs, aka nootropics. The word nootropic essentially means "cognitive enhancement." Dr. Corneliu Giurgea, the creator of piracetam, also coined the term nootropic to describe its impact.
Within the greater group of nootropics, Phenylpiracetam specifically falls into the category of racetam nootropics. Racetam basically means "related structure."
In the case of racetam nootropics, all of these drugs are related through their pyrrolidone-based nucleus, or center.
Unless you are interested in conducting your own research with nootropics such as Phenylpiracetam, you may not need to know more than this, but at least now when you see Phenylpiracetam referred to as a "racetam nootropic" you will know exactly what this means!
What Is Phenylpiracetam Used For?
Given what you just learned in the previous section here, it probably won't surprise you to learn that Phenylpiracetam is primarily used for cognitive enhancement.
It is also worth noting that Phenylpiracetam is sometimes called Phenyltropil when it is used to support the brain in recovering from trauma, which may include stroke, seizures and injury.
The most famous application for Phenylpiracetam, of course, occurred when Russian astronaut Aleksandr Serebrov undertook his 197-day stay aboard Mir, the Russian space station.
Along with all of his other supplies, Serebrov's luggage included an officially sanctioned 197-day supply of Phenylpiracetam. Serebrov famously reported that Phenylpiracetam helped ease his irritability, promoted mental calm and regulated tendencies towards impulsive behavior.
Is Phenylpiracetam Safe?
Just because phenylpiracetam is available without a prescription as an over-the-counter supplement does not mean it is necessarily harmless.
As proof, consider this: the World Anti-Doping Committee has banned use of Phenylpiracetam for athletes competing in the Olympics and other sports.
And in fact, phenylpiracetam is prescription-based in its home country of Russia (under the brand name Phenyltropil).
So there is no doubt that Phenylpiracetam has a known potent impact on cognitive performance and other benefits as well.
Because relatively few studies about the effects of Phenylpiracetam have been conducted, there is still much to learn both about how these types of drugs work and about the potential for side effects if used improperly.
Short-term side effects may include:
- Skin flushing
- Mental fog
Long-term side effects may include:
- Mood swings
As with any supplement or medication, if you are pregnant, trying to conceive or lactating, always talk with your doctor before adding anything new to your daily health and wellness regimen.
The same holds true if you are under a provider's care for the management of any health condition or are taking any required medications on an ongoing basis. Taking the time to talk with your provider can protect you from possible drug interactions and safeguard your health.
How Can You Use Phenylpiracetam?
Phenylpiracetam is primarily used for improving cognitive function, memory, physical performance (especially in very cold conditions), productivity and focus.
Before you start using phenylpiracetam, it is important to know a bit more about how to take it for optimal benefits.
- Fast acting with a short half-life - Phenylpiracetam is fast-acting with a short half-life, which means it takes effect within 20 minutes and will be out of your system after just a few hours. The peak effects are typically felt about 60 minutes after you take it.
- Best taken earlier in the day - Ideally, you want to take Phenylpiracetam in the morning or at least several hours before you plan to retire for the night to avoid any sleep disturbance or insomnia issues.
- Take it with food - Ideally you will want to take Phenylpiracetam with food, especially because it is lipid soluble. This means it is best absorbed by the body when you take it with food and ideally with a higher-fat food.
- Taking Phenylpiracetam - The most common way of taking phenylpiracetam is in capsule form. While you can add the powder to smoothies or soups, people report it doesn't taste very good. The most common dose is 100 to 200 mg up to three times per day.
Benefits of Phenylpiracetam
So now let's take a closer look at the specific ways you can use Phenylpiracetam to meet your personal health, wellness and fitness goals.
One of phenylpiracetam's most universal benefits is its ability to help the body resist or heal from the impact of stress.
On a physical level, the body's own fight-or-flight response releases cortisol into the body. Cortisol, aka the stress hormone, has earned itself the nickname "the silent killer" for good reason.
In turn, the more consistently cortisol levels remain elevated, the more likely you are to experience mood swings, including anxiety and depression.
Cortisol flooding the body weakens the adrenal glands and, in turn, the whole-body immune system response.
One of the most important habits for reducing cortisol levels in the body is regular physical activity. Since Phenylpiracetam helps improve physical performance, it simply makes sense that it also impacts overall physical and mental wellness by decreasing systemic stress.
Ease Depression & Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are linked to elevated cortisol levels in the body, but these issues can arise for other reasons as well.
Russian researchers conducted a 2011 study with laboratory animals to examine Phenyltropil's impact on immune system-related stress and found a positive correlation.
Phenyltropil was found to actually help prevent the typical stress response by protecting the brain and body and thus strengthening the immune system.
Combat Fatigue & Boost Energy
Phenylpiracetam is in a class of drugs known as "psycho-stimulants."
This term basically means that Phenylpiracetam boosts the brain's ability to focus, ignore distractions, fight back against feelings of fatigue or sleepiness and get the job at hand done.
It is this exact benefit that made the original piracetam so vital to the success of some of the Russian cosmonaut space missions.
Because Phenylpiracetam also has anti-stress, anti-anxiety, anti-depressant and brain-balancing benefits, this frees up more of the body's energy reserves and resources for optimal energy levels and mental alertness.
In an era where weight loss and weight management are becoming critical mass health issues worldwide, phenylpiracetam may be due to achieve visibility for one of its lesser-known side benefits: it can help you lose weight.
More importantly, phenylpiracetam can help drop the pounds without impacting physical energy levels, which can be particularly important if you are adopting a new diet and new workout routine to facilitate lasting weight loss.
Improve Physical Function
Phenylpiracetam's known and proven ability to improve physical function and athletic stamina and performance is exactly what has gotten this nootropic placed on the World Anti-Doping list.
But unless you are an Olympic hopeful or participating in sports at some similar level, there is no reason not to harness these benefits in your own personal quest for physical fitness and excellence.
Interestingly, one of the ways that piracetam benefitted the Russian cosmonauts is by strengthening the body's ability to withstand extreme cold! This benefit can be particularly useful if you are engaged in outdoor pursuits during the winter or in cold climates.
As Emerging Athlete reports, phenylpiracetam may well be the strongest and most effective of all the racetam nootropics.
because Phenylpiracetam decreases the physical impact of athletic activity on the body, it can be very effective to help you get over those mid-workout slumps and get your "second wind."
If you learn to take it about 20 minutes before you normally hit your slump, you can avoid the slump entirely and maintain a more consistent performance throughout.
Protect & Heal Your Brain
Phenylpiracetam performed well as an ancillary treatment for cognitive deficit, as reported in a 2012 study published in the Journal of Experimental Pharmacology.
Researchers cited piracetam's protective impact on the brain and central nervous system as one particular benefit of using nootropics to ease cognitive impairment post-surgically, especially in cases where general anesthesia must be used.
Another benefit of using piracetam with patients healing after brain trauma or injury is that this nootropic has few known side effects and patients appear to tolerate it well.
Phenylpiracetam also has a beneficial protective effect on the brain and central nervous system, which can guard against additional trauma in both healthy and healing brains.
Support Recovery from Central Nervous System Issues
A 2010 review of clinical research shows increasing interest in the use of phenylpiracetam for patients diagnosed with various disorders of the central nervous system (CNS).
CNS disorders may include epilepsy/seizure, stroke, traumatic brain injury, neurodegenerative disease, memory and cognition impairment and movement disorders. There is some indication Phenylpiracetam may have heart-protective benefits as well.
Interestingly, Phenylpiracetam's known ability to ease depression, anxiety and the impact of systemic stress may be its most valuable benefit as CNS patients strive to heal.
While researchers are not yet clear about exactly how Phenylpiracetam works to improve clinical outcomes across a range of CNS-based disorders, what does seem clear is that it is a beneficial addition to a comprehensive treatment protocol.
Now you know what phenylpiracetam is, the basics of how and why it works, major known benefits and how to use it.
If you are taking phenylpiracetam for the first time, remember to take it early in the day and with food to get maximum absorption. Finally, remember to start with the lowest dose until you see how your body reacts.
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Shannon is a freelance writer and author of three books. Shannon is passionate about crafting knowledge-based, science-supported articles that provide readers with practical, actionable tools to make healthy life choices.