Aniracetam - An Overview
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Aniracetam (1-p-anisoyl-2-pyrrolidinone) is a nootropic in the racetam family of compounds. It has several nootropic benefits, including:
- Memory and learning enhancement
- Improved mood
- Less anxiety
It’s effects on mood make it unique among racetams.
It primarily acts on AMPA and NMDA receptors in the brain. It releases the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh) and increases glutamate sensitivity.
Aniracetam can increase ACh flow by as much as 300.14Zhao X, et al. Nootropic drug modulation of neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in rat cortical neurons, Mol Pharmacol. 2001
This increase can improve focus, memory, and general cognitive performance. It also seems to modulate the dopamine and serotonin systems, which can raise mood and lower stress.
Many users note a minor stimulant effect (although not nearly to the degree of a drug such as Adderall).15Shirane M, Nakamura K. Aniracetam enhances cortical dopamine and serotonin release via cholinergic and glutamatergic mechanisms in SHRSP, Brain Res. 2001
Aniracetam is also a neuroprotectant and can prevent and reverse cognitive decline. It may be useful for treating conditions such as dementia or concussions.
These effects have made aniracetam a favorite among the neurohacker community. It is a potent nootropic that you can stack with a choline source for maximum impact.
What Does Aniracetam Do?
A 1997 study found that aniracetam improves visual recognition, motor performance, and general intellectual function in healthy adults.
The researchers concluded that this nootropic could have a wide variety of benefits for overall cognition due to its modulation of AMPA receptors.1Ingvar M, et al. Enhancement by an ampakine of memory encoding in humans, Exp Neurol. 1997
Another trial found that aniracetam is effective for enhancing cognitive performance in impaired (i.e., brain-damaged) subjects but appears to be ineffective in healthy subjects.
However, this study looked at relatively low doses of aniracetam in rodent subjects, not humans. We suspect that this may be why they did not see any nootropic effects.2Thomas W. Elston, et al. Aniracetam Does Not Alter Cognitive and Affective Behavior in Adult C57BL/6J Mice, PLoS One. 2014
Aniracetam and Depression
One study found that aniracetam can alleviate depression, at least in rats.
They saw this antidepressant effect in both young and old rats. However, it was more prominent in the older rats who were suffering from cognitive decline.
The researchers concluded that this effect was due to aniracetam facilitating dopamine transmission acetylcholine receptor stimulation.3Nakamura K, Tanaka Y. Antidepressant-like effects of aniracetam in aged rats and its mode of action, Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2001
Aniracetam vs. Piracetam
Piracetam is the original racetam, first synthesized by the “Father Of Nootropics” Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea in the 1960s.
Aniracetam was synthesized a few years later and is 10x as powerful as it’s predecessor.
They both share a pyrrolidone nucleus at their core, but aniracetam adds an anisoyl ring (hence the name).
Aniracetam is more potent, requiring smaller doses to achieve the same effect. And, it has a few benefits piracetam does not.
Aniracetam can have a positive impact on mood, while piracetam only seems to work on cognition.
Aniracetam also gives the user more of a “buzz” when it kicks in. It absorbs into the brain quicker, although it’s half-life is shorter.
Generally, aniracetam has more of a noticeable effect that piracetam, although depending on what you are looking for out of a supplement that may be positive or negative,
Although piracetam is still useful, most nootropics enthusiasts moved onto the newer racetams such as aniracetam.
An animal study found that aniracetam restored object recognition in rats impaired by age, scopolamine (an amnesia-inducing compound), and brain lesions.4Sebastian D. Goldsmith and Arlene McDowell. Designing a Formulation of the Nootropic Drug Aniracetam Using 2-Hydroxypropyl-β-Cyclodextrin Suitable for Parenteral Administration, Pharmaceutics. 2018
Oral doses of aniracetam have also led to improved learning acquisitions and prevented induced short-term amnesia in rodents with impaired learning or memory. 5Sebastian D. Goldsmith and Arlene McDowell. Designing a Formulation of the Nootropic Drug Aniracetam Using 2-Hydroxypropyl-β-Cyclodextrin Suitable for Parenteral Administration, Pharmaceutics. 2018
Aniracetam also improved test results of memory and emotional stability in elderly patients who have Alzheimer’s.
Unfortunately, these studies only tested for cognition enhancement in cases where the subjects had a pre-existing impairment.
They did not find evidence to suggest that the cognition-enhancing effects of aniracetam work in patients with normal cognitive function.
Aniracetam and Cognitive Decline
Aniracetam may protect your brain and mental abilities as you age, possibly because of its action on glutamate.
Glutamate is the primary excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, and it is critical for healthy cognition. But, when levels get too high, such as periods of high stress, it can destroy neurons.
Fortunately, aniracetam can prevent this from happening by keeping glutamate levels in balance. One study found that aniracetam counteracted glutamate cell death in neurons.
This process could be useful for people suffering from degenerative conditions as well as healthy people.6Pizzi M, et al. Attenuation of excitatory amino acid toxicity by metabotropic glutamate receptor agonists and aniracetam in primary cultures of cerebellar granule cells, J Neurochem. 1993
A 1994 study found evidence of the potential benefits of aniracetam use in patients with mild to moderate senile dementia. 1500 mg/day aniracetam was significantly more effective than a placebo when given to elderly participants for six months.
The aniracetam group scored much better on tests of cognitive ability, indicating that the benefits of aniracetam may be cumulative.7Lee CR, Benfield P. Aniracetam. An overview of its pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties, and a review of its therapeutic potential in senile cognitive disorders, Drugs Aging. 1994
A pair of rodent studies looked at aniracetam’s neuroprotective ability by inflicting amnesia on rats through various methods. The rats were then given aniracetam and subjected to various tests.
Across the board, researchers in both studies saw that aniracetam could partially reverse the cognitive damage they inflicted on the rats.
The results indicate that aniracetam improves cognitive functions in spite of impairment.8Cumin R, Bandle EF, Gamzu E, Haefely WE. Effects of the novel compound aniracetam (Ro 13-5057) upon impaired learning and memory in rodents, Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1982 9Bartolini L, Casamenti F, Pepeu G. Aniracetam restores object recognition impaired by age, scopolamine, and nucleus basalis lesions, Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1996
A 2012 study found that aniracetam improves memory in humans that have cognitive impairment. A group of 276 older adults with cognitive disorders took aniracetam for 12 months.
The results indicated that aniracetam “is a promising option for patients with a cognitive deficit of mild severity.”
The researchers also noticed it “seemed to exert a favorable effect on the emotional stability of demented patients.”10Bartolini L, Casamenti F, Pepeu G.. Aniracetam restores object recognition impaired by age, scopolamine, and nucleus basalis lesions, Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1996
Many people on aniracetam notice an increase in sociability when they take it. They report less social anxiety and more fluid conversation. Some even say it improves their vocabulary.
Results of one study indicate that this may be due to the interaction between cholinergic, dopaminergic, and serotonergic systems.
Researchers found that aniracetam could be useful against various types of anxiety-related disorders and social failure.11Nakamura K, Kurasawa M. Anxiolytic effects of aniracetam in three different mouse models of anxiety and the underlying mechanism, Eur J Pharmacol. 2001
How Aniracetam Works In The Brain
A couple of studies suggest that aniracetam may work by modulating AMPA, kainate, and NMDA glutamate receptors in the brain.
Specifically, it may stabilize the glutamate bound conformation and alter the ion flux. Researchers speculated that this could explain the altered cognition and memory improvements observed in animal models.12Jin R, et al. Mechanism of positive allosteric modulators acting on AMPA receptors, J Neurosci. 2005 13Nicoletti F, et al. Excitatory amino acids and neuronal plasticity: modulation of AMPA receptors as a novel substrate for the action of nootropic drugs, Funct Neurol. 1992
Aniracetam Potential Side Effects
Aniracetam has few reported side effects. The main issue is occasional headaches, which is a potential issue with all racetams. These headaches are due to how racetams increase choline utilization, which may lead to choline deficiency.
Taking a good choline supplement, such as alpha-GPC or citicoline, can avoid these effects.
We strive to bring you the most up to date, research-based information about Aniracetam and other nootropics.
Something we missed? Do you use Aniracetam? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
About the author:
Erik Levi is a co-founder of HolisticNootropics.com and a certified holistic nutritional therapy practitioner.
As an NTP Erik takes a nutrition first approach to health. He has worked with many different people to help them use nutrition to optimize their quality of life.
Erik believes that mental health is a physiological process and cognitive enhancement is not something that can be achieved by just taking some pills with good Amazon reviews.
Instead, true cognitive enhancement comes with the right balance of nutrients, movement, and gratitude. Erik continues to stay up to date with the most current nootropic and holistic health research and promises to deliver the best solutions possible.
You can check out his personal health blog/podcast/YouTube Channel all under the name Holistic A-Hole.